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The best natural, additive-free collagen supplements for healthy hair
Collagen is a protein that has many important functions in our bodies. As important as collagen is for beautiful skin, it is equally important for the body's other organs to function optimally. Collagen contributes structure to the body's tissues and cells.
Collagen can promote healthy hair in a variety of ways. First, your body can use the amino acids in collagen to build hair proteins and strengthen the skin where your hair roots are located. It can also prevent hair follicle damage and gray hair.
Hair loss is directly linked to our natural collagen stores (our collagen production decreases after the age of 25 and thus our stores of collagen). This is why many men and women experience thinning hair as they age.
Collagen provides the body with the amino acids it uses to build thick and healthy hair, and reduces gray hair. Hair consists mainly of the protein keratin. Exactly the same keratin is also found in our skin and in our nails. Your body uses several amino acids to build keratin - some of which are found in collagen.
When you consume collagen and other proteins, your body breaks them down into amino acids which are then used to build new proteins and other compounds.
Collagen consists mainly of 3 three amino acids: proline, glycine and hydroxyproline.
Proline is also the main component of keratin. Adding proline-rich collagen gives your body building blocks for thick and healthy hair, and reduces gray hair.
The dermis, which is the middle layer of the skin, consists of about 70% collagen, and also contains the root of each individual hair. Collagen especially contributes to the elasticity and strength of the dermis. With increasing age, your body becomes less efficient at producing collagen. This may be one of the reasons why the hair becomes thinner over time. Therefore, collagen can help maintain healthy skin and thus prevent thinning hair.
An 8-week study of 69 women aged 35-55 years found that a daily collagen supplement significantly improved the skin, compared with a placebo group.
Another 12-week study of more than 1,000 adults found that a daily collagen supplement improved the amount of collagen in the skin and reduced the signs of aging skin.
As hair grows out of the skin, the potential of collagen to counteract the effects of skin aging can contribute to better hair growth and reduced hair loss.
Collagen can act as an antioxidant and fight damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are compounds that develop in your body as a result of stress, air pollution, smoking, poor diet, alcohol and other environmental influences. Too many free radicals can damage your cells, proteins in your body and your DNA. Research shows that free radicals can damage the hair follicles. As your body's defense against free radicals decreases with aging, older adults are particularly susceptible to damage to the hair follicles (2). To be able to fight free radicals and promote healthy hair, your body needs antioxidants.
Several studies have shown that collagen - especially from fish - can have a powerful antioxidant effect. Another study showed that marine collagen from fish could fight four different types of free radicals, while another study observed that the collagen protein may be a more effective antioxidant than e.g. another well-known compound found in tea (3) (4) (5).
Due to the antioxidant effects of collagen, the protein can prevent the cells from being damaged and reduce gray hair. Gray hair that comes with age is largely affected by genetics, but free radicals, which damage the cells that produce hair color, may also play a role (9).
As you age, the cells that produce the pigment melanin, which gives your hair its color, naturally begin to die. However, free radicals resulting from poor diet, stress and environmental pollution can also damage the melanin-creating cells (10).
Without enough antioxidants that fight free radicals (which damage your cells), your hair can turn gray prematurely. In fact, one study showed that the antioxidant activity of the gray hair follicles was much lower than that of the hair follicles that still contained pigment (10) (11).
Since collagen has been shown to fight free radicals in test tubes, it can in theory help prevent damage to cells that produce hair pigment. As a result, it may prevent you from getting gray hair prematurely or even slowing down age-related gray hair (12) (13).
Because collagen is found in the connective tissue of mammals, it is found in the skin, bones, joints (tendons, ligaments and cartilage) and muscles of chicken, cattle, fish and pigs.
Broth made from animal bones therefore contains collagen. This bone broth can be sipped as a drink or used as a base for soups.
In addition, foods rich in vitamin C can increase your body's natural collagen production. Oranges, peppers and strawberries are excellent sources of vitamin C.
Finally, and the easiest way to get collagen, collagen can be taken in the form of a powdered dieatary supplement. Collagen powder can be added to a smoothie, or other beverage. It can also be used for baking! According to current research, collagen supplements are a safe supplement.