Collagen for Hair
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In the quest for healthy, beautiful hair, it’s easy to be lured by the many cosmetic products on the market with their promises of lustrous locks, added volume and a silky texture. These tempting words may cause you to overlook a natural and essential protein which forms the very foundation of healthy hair. Let’s take a closer look at how collagen works with your own body to truly achieve those glowing results.
The Relationship Between Hair and Collagen
Collagen is a structural protein that strengthens and supports skin, giving it elasticity and hydration. It provides a supportive base for the skin, creating a smooth, firm, and youthful appearance. Although collagen is widely recognised for improving the complexion and skin in general, as well as supporting joints and replenishing cartilage, studies have shown that hair structure is also intricately connected to collagen.
Just like the foundations of a building, collagen acts as a support system for your hair, ensuring its strength and resilience. Collagen peptides, the amino acids derived from collagen, provide the essential nourishment needed for vibrant and healthy hair growth.
There are over 16 different types of collagens but the most prevalent are types I, II, III, and IV.
- Type I – makes up almost 90% of the collagen in the human body. It includes the fibres that create skin, tendons, ligaments, bones, blood vessels.
- Type II – makes up about 50% of cartilage protein, so plays a major role in the cushioning of joints.
- Type III – this group of collagens help with the structure of muscle, supports the strength of internal organs, and creates strong arteries.
- Type IV – helps repair cartilage.
Does Collagen Help Hair Growth?
The centre of each hair consists of a protein called keratin which your body makes from certain amino acids, some of which are found in collagen. When you eat food or take supplements containing collagen, your body breaks it down, along with other proteins, into amino acids which are then used to build new proteins and compounds.
There are 11 nonessential amino acids which only your body can produce, and 9 essential amino acids which can only be provided by your diet (food or dietary supplements). Collagen is made up of 3 of the nonessential amino acids, namely proline glycine and hydroxyproline. Because proline is the main compound in keratin, by regularly eating foods which are rich in proline-dense collagen, you will be giving your body the building blocks it needs to ensure hair growth.
Adding collagen to your diet, either from regular intake of the appropriate foods or by supplementation, will provide certain benefits. Because collagen is bioactive it supplies your body with vital amino acids. A collagen peptide triggers the synthesis and reorganisation of new collagen fibres, and this process supports hair, skin, bones, and joints.
Collage Benefits for Hair
Hair regrowth is one of the chief benefits of taking collagen, but there are other bonuses. As well as reducing hair loss, you will gain sturdier hair follicles, stronger hair, and a reduction in breaking and splitting. You will also notice a boost to the volume and shine of your hair. This is because collagen-rich foods and supplements nourish hair from within.
If you have experienced hair loss or thinning, it is likely that collagen deficiency could be the culprit. It has been discovered that having low levels of proteins, a condition known as hypoproteinaemia, is associated with weak, thinning, brittle, and dry hair. It could also be a cause of hair loss. Without sufficient collagen, your hair follicles struggle to repair and regenerate, leading to brittle, lacklustre hair. Moreover, reduced collagen production can affect the elasticity, texture, and thickness of each strand, leaving you with dull and lifeless hair. Including in your diet a collagen supplement with the correct type of peptides will stimulates hair follicles and help create new, stronger hair.
Research shows that hair follicles are susceptible to free radical damage and collagen has been found to act as an antioxidant in preventing this. Free radicals are unstable molecules that develop in your body, often due to the metabolic process but they can also be the result of stress, smoking (first or second hand), poor dietary choices, excessive alcohol, air pollution, even airborne particles in your home from open fires and log burning stoves play a small part. When there are too many free radicals present this can harm your cells, proteins, and DNA.
Because the body’s ability to fight free radical damage decreases with age, older people are more likely to need the power of antioxidants in general, and this also applies to promoting healthy hair. The problem of hair thinning due to aging has been found to be due to shrinkage of hair follicles.
Hair follicles comprise of three layers, the cuticle, the cortex, and the medulla. The outer layer known as the cuticle, resembles a framework-like structure made of keratin and this forms a protective shield around the inner layers. Your body uses several amino acids to produce keratin and many of these are found in collagen. This is why increasing your collagen intake provides your body with the means to create new hair follicles.
Collagen is thought to improve the connective tissue in the scalp. This is vital for supporting hair follicles and for boosting blood circulation to the scalp.
Best Collagen for Hair Growth
The best collagens for growing new hair have been found to be type I, and type III. Marine collagen, sourced from wild-caught fish, has more collagen type I than bovine collagen and is better for hair regrowth.
Laboratory studies have shown that marine collagen may have the high antioxidant activity needed for repair and health of hair. A study to establish the effects of marine collagen on men and women with hair loss was conducted with participants including 55 men and 5 women with genetic and age-related hair loss – a condition known as androgenetic alopecia. Hair counts taken in close-up photographs showed a 32.4% increase in hair growth in the treatment group and hardly any change in the placebo group after a period of six months. After 12 months, an average hair growth of 63.9% was confirmed and this suggests continued improvement with ongoing treatment. No adverse side effects were reported by the end of the study.
To boost marine collagen from eating seafood you would need to eat whole fish, including skin, bones, heads, scales, and cartilage. These are the parts of the fish that contain collagen, but they are usually the bits you discard when preparing a fish dish. One way to ensure you get your collagen is by eating whole fish such as sardines, anchovies, or whitebait.
If you wish to add more hair restorative collagen to your diet, you may find that taking a marine collagen supplement is the easiest and most certain method. Supplements contain much higher collagen amounts than you could get by regularly eating fish fillet, and you would need to eat regular meals of whole fish to ensure you get sufficient collagen.
Ways to Add Collagen to Your Diet
It’s possible to add collagen to your body through choosing to include certain foods in your regular diet, or by taking a collagen supplement. Collagen makes up the connective tissue of mammals, so is found in the skin, bones, and muscle tissue of chicken, beef, pork, and fish.
Because marine collagen has been found to be the best type of collagen for hair benefits, you may wish to add this to your diet. If you choose to do this purely from food rather than in supplement form, you will need to eat whole fish. This means including small, whole fish, such as sardines, anchovies, and whitebait in your diet on a regular basis (2-3 sardine meals per week is the recommended amount)
- Sardines – Fresh sardines grilled or cooked on a BBQ are delicious. Tinned sardines are equally rich in collagen and make a quick lunch when mashed onto a slice of wholemeal toast and flashed under a hot grill.
- Anchovies – Great added to casseroles or used in tomato-based sauces to which they give an instant depth of flavour. The whole tiny fishes break down completely in cooking, even the bones blend in with the sauce. They are also good with salads (think salad niçoise), egg dishes, and on pizza.
- Whitebait – Excellent dipped in a light batter and fried as a starter with tartar sauce and lemon wedges.
- Other Fish – When eating salmon or other types of fish, if you can include the skin, you will help your collagen intake. This is usually more palatable if you fry the fish so you can get the skin crispy.
To include bovine collagen in your regular diet, you can make or buy a ready-made version of broth made from animal bones. This contains plenty of collagen, including gelatine (which is also a form of collagen). This broth can be taken as a hot drink or used as a base for soups and casseroles. Alternatively, add a bovine collagen supplement to your daily routine.
Another way to ensure your body has the fuel to produce its own collagen is to eat plenty of foods rich in vitamin C. Oranges come naturally to mind but there are other fruits and vegetables which are not so widely recognised for their C-boosting powers. Try using slices of sweet red pepper instead of pitta bread with dips such as hummus. Fresh strawberries and blueberries are good sources of vitamin C and are handy to add to muesli or scatter over porridge. The Guava fruit is a very rich source. Kiwi fruits, and blackcurrants are also good. Brussels sprouts and broccoli contain vitamin C, but if you’re not sure you can include these foods in your diet on a regular basis, you can always add a wholefood vitamin C supplement to your daily routine.
It’s reassuring and convenient to add collagen to your diet as a supplement. Most collagen supplements are hydrolysed, meaning they are already in a broken-down form, which makes them easier for your body to absorb. It is possible to find collagen supplements in both capsule and powder form. It is recommended to choose a collagen peptides powder which contains much more collagen than capsules can hold. You would have to take many capsules each day to get the recommended amount, and this may not be convenient or desirable.
Collagen powder is pleasant to take and may be added to yogurt, smoothies or cold drinks. Our Marine Collagen Powder is a vanilla flavoured, high quality, protein-rich hydrolysed collagen, blended with hyaluronic acid. It also contains a powerful micro-algae-based antioxidant. This supplement provides unique support for youthful and healthy skin and hair.
Can Topical Application of Collagen Work?
Good quality collagen-infused cosmetic products such as shampoos and conditioners used on the hair and scalp will help to keep hair hydrated, creating a softer and smoother appearance, but they can’t help with hair regrowth. Collagen needs to reach the bloodstream to be effective for follicle repair and regeneration. Any collagen molecules in a topically applied product would be too large to penetrate the upper layer of the scalp (epidermis) and reach the hair follicles in the dermis. The only way collagen can positively affect the health of newly grown hair is when it is consumed through diet, either in the form of appropriate foods or as a dietary supplement.
Top 10 Key Takeaways:
- Collagen is crucial for maintaining hair strength, elasticity, and vitality.
- Collagen provides the building blocks for hair growth.
- Hair loss, thinning, and brittle hair can be caused by collagen deficiency.
- Collagen supplementation enhances hair shine, volume, and strength.
- Increased collagen levels promote hair vitality and rejuvenation.
- It prevents and reduces hair breakage.
- Collagen acts as an antioxidant in preventing free radical damage to hair follicles.
- The best collagen for hair has found to be marine collagen.
- Collagen-rich foods and supplements, including vitamin C, nourish hair from within.
- Topical application of shampoos and conditioners containing collagen cannot help with hair regrowth. However, they may help to hydrate hair.
When it comes to keeping you informed on health and nutrition, we’re here for you and aim to help where we can. If you would like to discuss any aspect of using natural supplements, or would find advice helpful, please feel free to contact us on 01297 553932.