Collagen is a vital protein that amounts to about 30% of the body’s protein content and 70% of the skin’s protein content. It is because of this protein that our skin exudes a youthful glow and looks supple, smooth and bouncy. Collagen levels can deplete or be damaged for many reasons. Some are natural, and we can’t do much about them, while some other collagen-damaging factors can be controlled. What are these factors that trigger collagen damage? Let’s go into the details!
5 Things That Are Damaging Collagen In Your Body
The body’s natural ability to produce collagen is affected by progressing age. However, there are certain factors that are part of your lifestyle that may be causing collagen damage in your body. Let us take a look at 5 such factors causing the loss of collagen.
Due to Age
Intrinsic skin aging is the primary factor causing collagen loss. Fibroblasts are the collagen-producing cells in the body; as they age, their collagen-producing potential diminishes. With progressing age, the quantity of fibroblasts itself also declines. Other components of the skin, such as elastin and hyaluronic acid, that are required for youthful-looking skin are also on the decline. This results in the skin becoming flaccid and it is not able to hold as much water as is required. This gives rise to dull-looking skin that is riddled with fine lines and wrinkles. However, intrinsic skin aging amounts to only 3% of collagen damage. This means the remaining 97% is still in your hands and easy to control with a few lifestyle changes.
Due to UV Exposure
Unprotected sun exposure is the primary external cause of loss of collagen and skin aging. The sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays enter the middle layer of the skin known as the dermis, and break down collagen at a faster rate than normal. It also gives rise to free radicals that lead to further breaking down of collagen by increasing the presence of enzymes in the skin. UV exposure also affects the normal rate of collagen production in the body. Thus, it poses a dual attack and can be avoided by using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or above.
An Unhealthy Diet
Another important factor leading to collagen degradation is an unhealthy diet. Collagen production in the body is strongly influenced by its nutrient intake and including food items like meat and poultry is an excellent means of boosting collagen production. Excessive consumption of sugar is detrimental as it leads to the breaking down of elastic and collagen in the body giving rise to premature signs of aging. Thus, one needs to substitute their refined sugar intake with other natural sugar options.
Due to a Lack of Vitamin C
Vitamin C fights free radicals and limits the damage caused by the sun’s UV rays. Its antioxidant-rich properties also help prevent the skin from damage caused by pollution. Increasing the number of antioxidants in the body is the simplest way to limit the damage caused by free radicals. An excellent way to do that is to include a lot of fruits and greens that contain Vitamin C in your diet. Applying Vitamin C topically also aids with smoothening skin texture and boosting skin radiance.
Stress is commonly known to be pro-inflammatory, which hampers the body’s natural ability to produce collagen. Stress also leads to an increase in the hormone cortisol which leads to a decreased level of collagen production. When the body is in a high-stress state, most of the body’s resources are focused on countering stress and the inflammation that is produced as a result. This proves detrimental to collagen production and gives rise to signs of aging in the skin.
Collagen Side Effects
This protein is produced naturally in your body, and hence there are no collagen side effects on skin. Some collagen supplements may also contain other vitamins, which, taken in excess, could trigger some health problems, but in isolation, there are no collagen supplement side effects. Very few people have reported collagen supplement side effects like a heavy feeling in the stomach and a slight case of diarrhea. People taking any medication or those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult their healthcare provider before they start taking any new supplement.
Now that it has been established that unprotected exposure to the sun, an unhealthy diet, stress, and smoking, play a major role in skin collagen damage, it is time to adopt certain lifestyle changes to limit this damage. Collagen is the protein holding the skin together, and a lack of it will result in a barrage of skin issues that are not just limited to the emergence of the signs of aging. In order to maintain healthy glowing skin, you must replenish the collagen reserves of the body and prevent any damage leading to its loss.