When we are young, our collagen is fully intact and our skin is moisturized, firm and elastic. Abundant collagen in youth gives the skin a smooth, healthy “glow”.
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Collagen depletion is a natural part of aging. Aging occurs due to changes in hormonal levels. Peak levels of hormonal vitality are between the ages of 25 and 27 years old. However, after our late twenties, our collagen starts to deplete and decline by about 1-1.7% each year without being naturally replenished by our bodies. By the age of 60 years, there has been a considerable decline of collagen.
Science behind collagen and its depletion
Collagen is defined as insoluble fibrous protein. It is the most abundant protein in the body making up 25-35% of the total body protein content. It is found in connective tissue throughout the body and supports and strengthens muscles, bones, teeth, tendons, ligaments, skin and internal organs. It also helps the blood to clot.
The dermis layer of our skin loses between 20-80% of its thickness during the aging process. This is due to changes in the fibroblasts, which are the cells responsible for collagen, elastin and glycosaminoglycan (GAG) biosynthesis. Consequently, the structural integrity of the skin declines and wrinkles form, skin becomes drier, less firm and elastic, while also weakening the joint cartilage.
Other reasons collagen can deplete:
1. Overexposure to the sun
Ultraviolet rays in sunlight cause collagen to break down more quickly, thus damaging collagen fibers and causing abnormal elastin to build up.
2. Cigarette smoking
Many chemicals present in tobacco smoke damage both collagen and elastin in the skin. Nicotine also narrows the blood vessels in the outer layers of the skin affecting healthy circulation for the skin.