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What is collagen and why is it important?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, providing structure and strength to the skin, bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments. It helps the skin maintain its firmness, suppleness and elasticity, and plays an essential role in the renewal of skin cells.

Collagen is also a major component of nails and hair. Endogenous collagen is naturally occurring collagen within the body, while exogenous collagen is synthetic and serves several cosmetic and medical purposes. Synthetic collagen can be used to slow down the signs of aging, help heal wounds by attracting new skin cells, and improve joint function in people with osteoarthritis.

What damages collagen?

As we age, our collagen production naturally decreases. This causes skin to sag and wrinkle, hair to lose its luster, joints to stiffen, and tendons to lose their elasticity.

Certain lifestyle factors can deplete collagen levels including UV irradiation which is the most damaging factor to consider and is responsible for 90% of cutaneous aging, a high-sugar diet and smoking. Some autoimmune disorders can reduce collagen as well.

How can you prevent collagen loss?

Topically applied vitamins A and C promote collagen production and the right formulations can be used daily. LED Therapy and massage can also help boost collagen and elastin levels.

Red LED light therapy has been proven particularly effective in stimulating collagen production. It stimulates the fibroblasts to create more collagen and elastin. Red light reaches the dermis, and the depth of its reach also facilitates cell stimulation, releasing adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the major carrier of energy to all cells.

Massage stimulates blood flow, bringing more oxygen to the tissue, which can increase collagen and elastin production.

A healthy diet that contains certain key nutrients can help the body produce collagen. These include proline found in egg whites and meat, anthocyanins found in berries, copper in shellfish and nuts, vitamin C in oranges and strawberries, and vitamin A in dark green leafy vegetables including spinach,chard, sweet potatoes, mangoes, papaya and carrots.

Use sunscreen when you are outdoors for more than 20-30 minutes and UV index is high and avoid smoking and sun exposure which will deplete collagen.

And don’t forget that consistency is key in any treatment, as the results are cumulative.

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