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What is Collagen? Exploring the Key to Skin Health 

Explore the mystery of collagen: What is Collagen? Learn its importance in skin health, ways to boost levels and the debate over supplements.

What is Collagen?
Essentially, collagen is a protein that plays a major role in keeping our skin youthful, our joints moving smoothly, and our cardiovascular system in top shape.

In this guide, we’ll delve into the world of collagen – from the most well-known types to the less common ones. We’ll explore how ageing affects our collagen production and what can harm our natural collagen-making processes.
So, let’s kick off this journey to understand collagen and appreciate its importance in maintaining our skin health and overall wellness.
But if you have existing concerns about your skin losing its firmness, don’t let it bother you any longer. Reach out to Harley Street Healthcare, our London Dermatology clinic, today. Explore our services and pricing. Click here, and let’s get started!

Table of Contents:

The Power of Collagen: An Essential Protein
Different Types and Functions of Collagen
The Aging Process and Collagen Loss
Factors Damaging Collagen Production
Medical Uses for Collagen
• Boosting Collagen Levels: A Witty Guide
• Cracking the Code on Hydrolysed Collagen
• Collagen: The Cardiovascular Superhero
The Importance of Diet
The Debate Over Collagen Supplements

The Power of Collagen: An Essential Protein

Collagen is the superhero protein that keeps us together.
It’s like the binding agent that keeps our bodies intact. With about 28 different types, each with its own unique functions, collagen is a true multitasker.
Did you know that collagen makes up one-third of our total proteins and that three-quarters of the dry weight of our skin is collagen? That’s a lot of collagen power, making it the star of the show.
But collagen isn’t just about looks. It’s also a key player in wound healing and maintaining our cardiovascular system.
Healthy levels of collagen are essential for keeping our hearts healthy too.

Different Types and Functions of Collagen

Collagen is like the ultimate task force of proteins in our bodies, boasting an impressive amount of about 28 unique types.
Each of these variants plays a crucial role in maintaining our overall health and strengthening our skin, bones, and connective tissues that bind our organs together.
Type I, II, and III collagens are major players in this protein squad.

• Type I is a heavy lifter, comprising a staggering 90% of the total collagen in our bodies. It’s primarily tasked with maintaining our skin’s health and bones’ strength.
• Type II collagen is a custodian for our cartilage—the flexible tissue that ensures smooth joint movements. Meanwhile,
• Type III collagen is assigned to the protection of our cardiovascular system, offering structural support to our organs.
• Type IV collagen, akin to a filtration crew, assists our kidneys in removing waste.
• Type V collagen facilitates hair growth and plays an indispensable role in the development of the placenta during pregnancy, a vital organ for nutrient transfer from mother to foetus.
In summary, collagen is an essential team of multifaceted proteins that perform various functions to keep our bodies at their best. Each variant has a unique role in ensuring our well-being and contributes significantly to our biological processes.

The Ageing Process and Collagen Loss

As we age, our bodies gradually produce less collagen, the crucial protein responsible for maintaining the youthful elasticity of our skin. As a result, we find ourselves with diminishing collagen and more evident signs of ageing.
The decrease in collagen levels can be likened to a chaotic game of Jenga, where pieces are removed more rapidly than they can be restocked. The outcome is that our skin becomes noticeably thinner and weaker.
Indications like wrinkles, drooping skin, and dryness are common signals of declining collagen levels. Studies suggest that our collagen levels fall after we cross the 40-year milestone, and we lose around 1% of our body’s inherent collagen yearly. Moreover, for women, this rate accelerates post-menopause.
So, let’s concentrate on strategies to boost collagen production, halt collagen loss, and maintain our skin’s radiant glow. By supplementing our collagen intake, we can potentially delay any need for surgical interventions and allow our refreshed, glowing skin to do all the talking.

Factors Damaging Collagen Production

The impact of certain lifestyle habits, such as smoking and excessive sugar consumption, on our body’s collagen production is often underestimated. These habits are notorious for their detrimental effects on connective tissue, leading to a significant loss of collagen. Here’s how they do it:
When you smoke, harmful chemicals are released into the body, damaging collagen and elastin—the critical proteins that give our skin strength and elasticity. This damage accelerates the ageing process, making skin sag and wrinkle prematurely. Similarly, sugar attaches to proteins in our bloodstream and creates harmful molecules called ‘advanced glycation end products‘ (AGEs).
These AGEs damage nearby proteins, and since collagen is the most prevalent protein in the skin, it’s an easy target.
The more sugar we consume, the more AGEs we develop, leading to collagen degradation. 
In addition, prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunbathing or tanning beds can harm existing collagen. UV radiation stimulates the production of free radicals—unstable atoms that can damage cells—causing collagen fibres to break down at a higher rate, leading to premature skin ageing.
Moreover, certain health conditions can adversely impact collagen production.
Autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can cause inflammation that wreaks havoc on collagen, damaging these crucial fibres.
Certain genetic mutations can also interrupt the normal collagen production process, causing conditions like osteogenesis imperfecta, commonly known as brittle bone disease.
To prevent further collagen loss and support your body’s collagen production, making informed lifestyle choices is vital.
These can range from quitting smoking, reducing sugar intake, and wearing sunscreen, to managing autoimmune diseases effectively.
When we treat our bodies with care, our skin responds with a youthful, healthy glow.

Medical Uses for Collagen

In the sphere of medicine, collagen emerges as an indispensable protein with diverse applications, and its unique properties make it an integral component in numerous medical procedures.
For instance, collagen is frequently employed as a dermal filler. Collagen fillers can rejuvenate sagging skin, iron out wrinkles and restore a youthful appearance.
However, its benefits extend beyond just aesthetics.
Its healing properties are particularly remarkable. Collagen is often used in wound care for treating burns and other injuries. Its application encourages faster healing, aids the prevention of infections, and plays a significant role in patient recovery.
The use of collagen is not confined to skincare and wound healing; it also makes significant contributions to dentistry and vascular surgery.
Dentists utilise collagen-based products to manage and treat gum diseases effectively.
In vascular surgery, collagen’s elasticity and strength make it an ideal candidate for creating artificial blood vessels, which can mimic the durability and flexibility of natural ones, providing an effective solution for patients requiring vascular replacements.
The diverse applications of collagen underscores the importance of maintaining optimal levels within the body.

The Importance of Diet

In terms of dietary interventions for enhancing collagen levels, several foods have been identified as particularly beneficial due to their high collagen content. The foremost among these are bone broth, chicken skin, fish, and shellfish.
Bone broth, traditionally made by boiling down animal bones and connective tissue, is a powerhouse of collagen. Similarly, chicken skin, despite often being removed for aesthetic or dietary preferences, is a notable source of dietary collagen. In the aquatic realm, certain species of fish and shellfish, particularly their scales and exoskeletons, provide a valuable collagen reservoir.
Moreover, collagen synthesis within the body is a complex process that involves multiple nutrients, with vitamin C playing a particularly crucial role.
This indispensable vitamin acts as a cofactor for two enzymes, prolyl hydroxylase and lysyl hydroxylase, which are responsible for stabilising the collagen molecule structure. Consequently, a sufficient vitamin C intake is paramount for optimal collagen production.
Various fruits and vegetables are naturally abundant in vitamin C. Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits are well-known for their high vitamin C content. Additionally, bell peppers, strawberries, and broccoli are rich sources of this essential vitamin. Therefore, a balanced diet incorporating these foods can effectively support the body’s collagen synthesis process, promoting the health of the skin, bones, joints, and other collagen-dependent structures.

The Debate Over Collagen Supplements

The quest for agelessness and optimal health has seen taking collagen supplements rise in recent times.
Promising to boost natural collagen production and maintain skin vibrancy, these products have become a mainstay in many health and beauty regimens.
Yet, the critical question remains – do these supplements genuinely deliver on their promises?
Modern research presents a complex picture of the effectiveness of collagen supplements. Some studies, notably those centred around supplements with hydrolysed bioactive collagen peptides, suggest that these products may help elevate collagen levels and forestall further loss. This potential effect may make these supplements valuable in promoting skin health and overall wellness.
These collagen supplements predominantly come from two sources:

1. Bovine (cow) – Bovine collagen is rich in Type I and Type III collagen beneficial for skin, bones, and muscles.
2. Marine (fish) – Marine collagen primarily provides Type I collagen, known for its bioavailability and absorption. This form of collagen is particularly effective in enhancing skin hydration and elasticity and reducing signs of ageing.
However, these positive views are not universal.  
Detractors argue that the existing research is still insufficient to affirm the effectiveness of these supplements conclusively.
There is a contention that collagen supplements may produce a placebo effect, wherein the psychological belief in their efficacy leads to perceived improvements.
So, where does this leave individuals considering collagen supplements?
The decision ultimately rests with you. While these supplements, whether bovine or marine, may offer potential benefits, they are not an assured antidote to ageing. So if you include them in your wellness journey, do so with informed scepticism.
Remember, no supplement can replace a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle, the cornerstones of overall well-being and vitality. 


Q: Is collagen consumption suitable for vegetarians and vegans 
Traditional collagen supplements derived from animal sources are not suitable for vegetarians or vegans. However, vegan collagen supplements derived from genetically modified yeast and bacteria are available.

Q: Are there any side effects of collagen supplements? 
Generally, collagen supplements are well-tolerated but may cause digestive side effects in some individuals. If you have allergies, verify the supplement’s source.

Q: Can I procure enough collagen from my diet? 
While you can augment your collagen intake through diet, reaching optimal levels through food may be challenging. This is where supplementation can be beneficial.

Q: Is topical collagen effective? 
No. Collagen molecules are too large to be absorbed through the skin. While collagen-infused skin products may offer temporary benefits, ingesting collagen provides more lasting effects.


Collagen is the cornerstone protein of our body. It underpins the strength and integrity of our skin, bones, tendons, and connective tissues. Its inherent capabilities warrant it being described as the body’s ‘superhero’ protein.
However, as we age, there is a natural decline in collagen production which manifests as skin wrinkles or reduced joint mobility, signs that reveal our body’s diminishing collagen reserves.
But science has paved the way for effective countermeasures, most notably in the form of collagen supplements. These products typically encompass hydrolysed bioactive peptides specifically formulated to optimise absorption and bioavailability, bolstering our body’s collagen levels.
Lifestyle modifications can also play a substantial role for those wishing to optimise their collagen levels. Reductions in sugar consumption, quitting smoking, and avoiding the UV rays from the sun, can significantly impact factors known to degrade collagen and offer additional avenues for collagen preservation.
At Harley Street Healthcare, our mission is to aid you in navigating your journey toward skin health, vitality, and self-confidence. To learn more about our services and pricing, we invite you to visit our website or contact our London Dermatology Clinic. Our dedicated team looks forward to discussing your specific skin concerns and helping you harness the rejuvenating power of collagen.

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