Collagen and ElastinCollagen and elastin are two of the main proteins found in the dermis, the middle layer of the skin located below the exterior surface. They are well known as two key proteins critical for skin vibrancy, as they work together to create a strong skin structure. Naturally found in the skin, collagen is the protein that helps maintain strength and firmness, as well as the soft and smooth texture of the skin — creating a more youthful appearance. Elastin, the other significant protein, is critical for the skin’s ability to return to its original shape after stretching. It essentially allows our skin to bounce back. Like collagen, as we age the elasticity of the skin declines which leads to a sagging appearance.2 There are two major factors that affect the collagen and elastin content of our skin. The first is that as we get older, our bodies slow down collagen and elastin production. Secondly, these skin proteins are susceptible to break down due to the production of free radicals brought on by UV exposure, smoking, and environmental factors such as pollution. This loss and depletion of collagen and elastin leads to all of the typical signs of aged skin including wrinkles, lines, sagging and transparency.2 To maintain healthy and beautiful skin, we want to do everything we can to boost and replenish our skin’s collagen and elastin and avoid damage. Maintenance and restoration of the proteins are integral processes for the vitality of the skin. What’s more, scientific studies have shown that we can naturally stimulate collagen and elastin production in our skin by ingesting the right foods containing key nutrients. Here are some of the nutrients that when added as part of a healthy diet, can boost our body’s production of collagen and elastin:
Pro-Collagen & Pro-Elastin Nutrients and Foods
Vitamin C, Linoleic Acid (Omega-6 Fatty Acids) & Vitamin EVitamin C is known to regulate the body’s synthesis of collagen and is widely used in creams and serums for topical application to the skin. But recent studies have shown that in addition to applying it to the skin, eating foods high in vitamin C can also have a positive impact of neutralising the free radicals that when left alone, will attack collagen.1 Vitamin C also seems to have a greater impact on the skin when combined with other skin friendly nutrients. One specific study examined the incidence of the telltale signs skin ageing wrinkles and skin atrophy or thinning in over 4,000 women after consuming vitamin C and linoleum acid.3 The results indicated that participants whose diets included higher vitamin C had a lower incidence of wrinkled skin. The test also demonstrated that higher dietary intakes of vitamin C in combination with linoleic acid resulted in less skin atrophy and a reduced wrinkled appearance. Also notable, were the findings of a correlation between higher carbohydrate diets and the appearance of skin wrinkles. Although the data is somewhat limited, another revealing study found that vitamin C can actually have a larger impact on skin ageing when ingested in combination with vitamin E. Vitamin E is another ingredient commonly found in anti-ageing skin cosmetics for the face, but here it proves to be beneficial in our diet as well. One study offers positive evidence that ingesting foods with vitamin E helps protect against collagen crossing linking which leads to a breakdown in the structure of the skin.1 When combined, vitamin C and vitamin E are shown to have a synergistic quality, warding against sunburn and UV damage that leads to age-associated wrinkles.4 Adding foods with all three of these micronutrients to your diet may just prove to keep your skin looking younger as you age. Here are some food sources for vitamin C, linoleic acid, and vitamin E:
- Fruits and vegetables are great sources of vitamin C. Fruits (and juices) high in vitamin C include guava, citrus, kiwi, strawberries, tomatoes. Vegetables with significant vitamin C content include cabbage, as well as dark green vegetables like spinach and kale.
- Foods high in linoleic acid include flaxseeds and oil, tofu, canola oil, walnuts, soybeans and soybean oil, pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil.
- Some of the best dietary sources of vitamin E are sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, safflower oil, beets, and swordfish, to name a few.
This body of scientific studies is evidence of the fact that a healthy diet does indeed contribute to healthy skin. These studies show that specific nutritional factors play a critical role in dermatological health. Collagen and elastin are two key proteins that make up the strong and resilient dermis layer of the skin. When we consume a nutrient-rich diet that both protects and boosts the production of collagen and elastin proteins that support our skin, we can enjoy a more radiant and youthful appearance as we age.
References and Sources
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