Collagen is a key structural protein that is found in our tendons, cartilage, connective tissue, bones and skin. Known as the “glue” within our body, collagen accounts for 30 per cent of the body’s protein.
While collagen helps with tissue repair and provides strength and support for the body, it is best known for keeping skin springy, firm, wrinkle-free and radiant – a look that is also known as “that youthful bounce”.
However, the body’s ability to produce collagen is finite, especially as one ages.
By the age of 20, a person produces about 1 per cent less collagen in the skin each year, according to science journal magazine Scientific American.
This loss could be accelerated by external factors such as a poor diet, notes Dr Park Ji-Youn, a Korean board-certified dermatologist and founder and director of the Ozhean Skin and Plastic Surgery Network, which manages Ozhean Zoey Medical & Aesthetic Clinic.
Water is a crucial component in your diet that can impact skin ageing and a lack of it can lead to tissue dehydration. A deficit of the key amino acids that form the collagen protein molecule could also have an impact, as well as insufficient antioxidants and minerals, in particular Vitamin C, zinc and copper.
“If you see hollowing of the cheeks, temples and eyes, coupled with the appearance of deep and fine lines on the face, then you are probably seeing signs of ageing,” notes Dr Mark Twoon, a resident aesthetic physician at Ozhean Zoey.
Collagen loss in men and women
While men start off with a higher collagen density than women, they lose collagen faster at a younger age so they age faster than women at the beginning, notes Dr Park.
“However, as women approach menopause, they start to lose collagen at a swifter rate than men,” adds Dr Park. “Studies have shown that women can lose up to almost one-third of collagen in the first five years after menopause.”
When that happens, women lose skin firmness and elasticity, and wrinkles and sagging skin become more prominent.
“Since we start to lose collagen as early as in our 20s, it will seem wise to start preparing our skin when it’s at an optimal state to slow down skin ageing,” adds Dr Park. “Our propensity for collagen production is also stronger when we are younger.”