Collagen is the most plentiful protein in the human body. It makes up between 25% and 35% of your body’s total protein content. Collagen is in the body’s connective tissue, joints, ligaments, and tendons. It is a structural component and essential to many parts of the body, including your hair.
You might have heard that hair isn’t made of collagen, and you’d be right. However, hair is made of keratin, which is produced by the interaction of a couple of important amino acids. These amino acids can be derived from, you guessed it, collagen. That’s why collagen found in food and in supplemental forms can help you to grow healthier hair. Here are some of the ways this works.
As already mentioned, collagen is made up of amino acids. These are the building blocks of protein synthesis. There are 20 different amino acids that the body uses. Eleven of these are non-essential amino acids, meaning that our body makes them on its own. The other nine are essential amino acids, meaning that the body doesn’t make them, and we only get them from our food.
To make things a little more complicated, collagen is primarily made up of three of the non-essential amino acids, proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline. Proline is the primary compound in keratin, which in turn makes up the bulk of human hair. So it stands to reason that collagen can help produce healthy hair, even though the specific process has been elusive to science.
Preserving Healthy Hair Follicles
The body naturally produces free radical cells as we age or as a result of lifestyle choices that can disrupt normal collagen production. These free radicals are caused by pollution, smoking, alcohol, stress, and what is in our food and water. Free radicals damage the body in several ways and can contribute to a number of health problems, including disruptions to collagen production.
Antioxidants are one way to help reduce or remove these free radicals while protecting the healthy cells in the body. Collagen has been found to be a powerful antioxidant, particularly marine collagen (collagen sourced from fish scales). Free radicals can damage hair follicles just as well as anything else, and it is thought that they are one of the primary causes of baldness and other hair issues. So dietary collagen and collagen supplementation may help.
We’ve already covered how collagen makes up most of our bodies’ connective tissues. This class of body tissues also includes the dermis, a thick layer of skin where the hair follicles grow. As we age, the dermis tends to become thinner, which can threaten the health of the hair follicle.
It is thought that by increasing dietary collagen, the health of the dermis layer of the skin may be preserved. As elsewhere, it’s difficult to prove just how much help supplemental collagen is in the attainment of this goal, but it has been said that collagen-rich foods like animal skins are good for the skin, so it’s possible that future studies may verify what we’ve long known in this case.
If you don’t naturally get a lot of collagen in your daily diet, supplementing is the next best thing. Fortunately, high-quality collagen is readily available and affordable. We can recommend some specific products that may be just the thing for you. Collagen supplements are also considered to be tolerated well by almost everyone, meaning that you should be able to add this to your daily regimen with minimal side effects.
- Collagen Skin Hair & Nail Formula from Youtheory is a collagen supplement with the types of collagen your body needs to maintain healthy-looking skin, hair, and nails.
- Collagen Peptides Powder from Vital Proteins is a flavorless powder formula you can add to your favorite sports drink, smoothie, or just about any recipe. It’s also a fast way to get more collagen each day.
Keep in mind that many collagen products derive their amino acid content from animal sources, so they are not vegan. Some foods, such as tofu, legumes, seeds, and nuts, can be a source of collagen, but the amounts found in these foods are less plentiful. If you are curious if a vegan collagen supplement is right for you, check out Collagen Builder Vegan by Reserveage Nutrition.
If you want to see if collagen works for your hair, we urge you to give it a try!