Collagen supports the skin, providing it with the firmness and elasticity it needs to move and function healthily.
Our bodies naturally make collagen until around the age of 30. From this age on, it produces fewer and fewer hormones and less collagen. By the age of 40, the production of this protein can be reduced by up to 1% per year, and by the age of 70, the loss is around 30% each year.
The gradual loss of collagen in our body causes a weakening of the epithelial structures (tissues composed of several layers of cells) of the skin, making it thinner and more wrinkled.
If you don’t put collagen in your body, you will quickly use up whatever stores you have and become collagen deficient, as is the case with vegans and vegetarians. Vegetarians often try to include pro-collagen (plant-based) sources for collagen, but without the correct synergistic nutrients, it is not going to be used in the body.
Results include wrinkles, saggy and thinned skin, brittle hair and nails, insomnia, increased anxiety, joint pain and inflammation (arthritis), increased injuries from ligament tendons, tight and inflamed, and slow recovery from exercise, among others.
Luckily, there are ways to naturally boost collagen even when on a plant-based diet.
- Whether you are a vegetarian or not, collagen production is boosted by Vitamin C, in addition to amino acids. Vitamin C is an important cofactor of enzymes involved in the stabilization of the collagen triple helix, so it is essential for the formation of stable collagen fiber. Vitamin C can be boosted by eating foods like Brussels sprouts, oranges, grapefruits, peppers, broccoli, and potatoes.
- Vitamin E and its derivatives. Incorporating Vitamin E into your diet will help us protect collagen fibers and elastin. Some foods that contain it are oil, almonds, spinach, and quinoa.
- MSM or Methyl-Sulfonyl-Methane. MSM is a dietary form of sulfur which is an essential component in the formation of collagen, elastin, cartilage, and keratin. Rightly called “the mineral of beauty,” it gives flexibility, tone, and strength to muscles, bones, joints, internal membranes, and especially the skin, hair, and nails. MSM, if of good quality and from a natural source, helps strengthen elasticity, healing, and scarring. It makes cell walls more permeable, allowing the free flow of nutrients and water. MSM can be found in nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes, as well as garlic, leeks, and onions.
- Consuming more K2. K2 is primarily found in meat but can also be found in cheese, fermented soybeans (natto), butter, sauerkraut, and egg yolks.
- Making sure you’re getting enough D3. D3 is another nutrient that can be lacking in a plant-based diet. D3 can be found in mushrooms, egg yolks, soy milk, and orange juice.
- B12 can be difficult to supplement with food on a vegan diet. Luckily, nutritional yeast, tempeh, chlorella, nori, cremini mushrooms, and fortified plant-based milk can help vegans and vegetarians meet their needs.
- Dermo-cosmeceutical creams. While it is true that the most advanced cosmeceutical formulas do not replace the presence of the skin’s natural collagen, they will help increase skin strength, tone, and elasticity. These treatments include Vitamin C and Astaxanthin, which prevent wrinkles in the face and neck, as well as sagging skin. These restorative and antioxidant solutions also have a dual effect: an immediate improvement in the softness of the skin and, in the long term, they firm the structure of the skin.