Why You Need Collagen and Vitamin C

Collagen is a special protein that makes up the important structural components of our bodies. Long, chain-like molecules form to support tissues like skin, ligaments, tendons, bones, and internal organs. Collagen production keeps our skin stretchy and elastic, allows us to heal after injury, and keeps our joints strong and flexible as we move our bodies [1]. 

It’s important to note that collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies. It makes up about a third of our total protein, accounts for about 75% of our skin, and about 60% of our cartilage [2-4]. We need a lot of collagen to keep ourselves looking and feeling our best. And, considering that natural collagen production drops off around age 20, and continues to decrease over time, it’s important for us to continue to optimize our collagen intake as we age. [5]

Optimizing Collagen Production

If we want to optimize our collagen stores and production, there is another important nutrient we need to consider – vitamin C. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is important for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of the body, especially bones, muscles, and skin. Collagen and vitamin C work together: vitamin C is necessary for collagen production, and vitamin C deficiency can lead to collagen destabilization and weakened structure of the protein. [6]

Vitamin C also plays an important role in our bodies, acting as an antioxidant and protecting against harmful free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage the healthy cells in our bodies in order to stabilize themselves. We accumulate free radicals from environmental exposure to toxins, such as tobacco smoke and UV light, and also as a natural byproduct of our body’s metabolic processes. Vitamin C, and other antioxidants, protect against these free radicals by stabilizing and neutralizing them, rendering them benign. [7]

So, should you boost your vitamin C along with your daily dose of collagen? Let’s dig a little bit deeper into the science-backed benefits of this dynamic duo.

Anti-aging

Collagen is known to play an important role in our skin’s elasticity, hydration, and texture. As mentioned previously, collagen production begins to drop off around age 20, and continues to decrease as we age. It is estimated that collagen production decreases by a minimum of 1-1.5% every year. This decrease can be accelerated even more with certain behaviors, like smoking and exposing the skin excessively to UV light. Due to this decrease of natural collagen production, there have been many studies to explore the effect of collagen supplementation on improving skin elasticity, hydration, and texture in an aging population. The evidence supports that collagen supplementation is an effective way to increase collagen synthesis and reduce the appearance of aging [8-10]. 

Additionally, vitamin C plays an important role in skin health and protection. It does this in a few different ways. We know that collagen is highly dependent on vitamin C – without it, collagen would lose its strength, and the rate of synthesis would decrease significantly. Research has proven that collagen-producing cells replicate much quicker in the presence of vitamin C compared to cells without vitamin C. [5] Vitamin C also plays an active role in protecting your skin from the damage that UV rays cause when you get sunburned (though you should still wear sunscreen!). And last, there is some evidence to show that vitamin C inhibits melanin production, which essentially means that vitamin C can help prevent and repair those stubborn dark spots on your skin. [12] 

Now, while it seems that vitamin C and collagen both play an important role in the aesthetic appearance of our skin, it’s also important to note that they both contribute to the structural integrity of our skin and body as well. 

Healing

Though deficiency is very uncommon, it is known that low vitamin C levels are associated with gradual loss of skin function, such as poor wound healing. This decreased ability to heal is closely related to vitamin C’s role in producing collagen. Collagen is a key component in wound healing, and is involved in the creation of scar tissues that forms as a means of strengthening broken skin. 

The relationship between collagen, vitamin C, and healing is not just limited to the skin either. There is evidence to suggest that vitamin C supplementation results in increased collagen synthesis and accelerated healing after bone fractures. [13] 

The role that vitamin C plays in increasing collagen synthesis is very important. Without adequate vitamin C, the collagen in our bodies would be weak and unstable, and our ability to recover from wounds would be compromised. It’s been shown that improving collagen production helps improve our ability to heal soft tissue injuries, may help prevent re-injury, and may reduce the symptoms associated with diseases that affect our joints, like osteoarthritis. [14-16] 

So, it seems fair to say that in optimizing the health and appearance of our skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones, we need adequate amounts of vitamin C and collagen. Because natural collagen levels slowly decline as the years go on, it’s important to supplement to make sure you’re getting enough! For a simple way to promote healthy skin and healing, try Complete Collagen+. Just one serving a day can provide your body with 1000mg of collagen! Make sure to pair your collagen with vitamin C, to optimize the effects of collagen. We love PuraTHRIVE’s Micelle Liposomal Vitamin C – it’s a carefully crafted Vitamin C supplement designed with improved absorption and potency in mind.

Citations

  1. “Collagen.” Physiopedia, https://www.physio-pedia.com/Collagen. 
  2. “Collagen.” The Nutrition Source, 27 May 2021, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/collagen/. 
  3. Mandal, Dr. Ananya. “What Is Collagen?” News, 5 June 2019, https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Collagen.aspx#:~:text=One%20of%20the%20most%20predominant,the%20whole%2Dbody%20protein%20content. 
  4. “An Overview of Your Skin.” Cleveland Clinic, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/10978-skin#:~:text=Collagen%3A%20Collagen%20is%20the%20most,off%20wrinkles%20and%20fine%20lines. 
  5. “Collagen Synthesis.” Collagen Synthesis – an Overview | ScienceDirect Topics, https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/collagen-synthesis. 
  6. Reilly DM, Lozano J. Skin collagen through the lifestages: importance for skin health and beauty. Plast Aesthet Res 2021;8:2. http://dx.doi.org/10.20517/2347-9264.2020.153
  7. “Understanding Antioxidants.” Harvard Health, 10 Jan. 2019, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-antioxidants.
  8. Bolke L, Schlippe G, Gerß J, Voss W. A Collagen Supplement Improves Skin Hydration, Elasticity, Roughness, and Density: Results of a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Blind Study. Nutrients. 2019;11(10):2494. Published 2019 Oct 17. doi:10.3390/nu11102494
  9. de Miranda RB, Weimer P, Rossi RC. Effects of hydrolyzed collagen supplementation on skin aging: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Dermatol. 2021 Mar 20. doi: 10.1111/ijd.15518. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33742704.
  10. Choi FD, Sung CT, Juhasz ML, Mesinkovsk NA. Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Review of Dermatological Applications. J Drugs Dermatol. 2019 Jan 1;18(1):9-16. PMID: 30681787.
  11. Phillips CL, Combs SB, Pinnell SR. Effects of ascorbic acid on proliferation and collagen synthesis in relation to the donor age of human dermal fibroblasts. J Invest Dermatol. 1994 Aug;103(2):228-32. doi: 10.1111/1523-1747.ep12393187. PMID: 7518857.
  12. Pullar JM, Carr AC, Vissers MCM. The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. Nutrients. 2017;9(8):866. Published 2017 Aug 12. doi:10.3390/nu9080866
  13. DePhillipo NN, Aman ZS, Kennedy MI, Begley JP, Moatshe G, LaPrade RF. Efficacy of Vitamin C Supplementation on Collagen Synthesis and Oxidative Stress After Musculoskeletal Injuries: A Systematic Review. Orthop J Sports Med. 2018;6(10):2325967118804544. Published 2018 Oct 25. doi:10.1177/2325967118804544
  14. Clark, K. L., Sebastianelli, W., Flechsenhar, K. R., Aukermann, D. F., Meza, F., Millard, R. L., & Albert, A. (2008). 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Current medical research and opinion, 24(5), 1485-1496.
  15. Zdzieblik, D., Oesser, S., Gollhofer, A., & König, D. (2017). Improvement of activity-related knee joint discomfort following supplementation of specific collagen peptides. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 42(6), 588-595.
  16. Lis, D. M., & Baar, K. (2019). Effects of Different Vitamin C–Enriched Collagen Derivatives on Collagen Synthesis. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 29(5), 526-531.

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