Dr. Tanvi Tijoriwala, ND

What is Collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the body, which makes up the framework of the skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments (1). The dermal layer of the skin produces type I and III collagen (2) which are responsible for the skin looking healthy and young. Collagen can be supplemented as collagen peptides or found in food sources like bone broth, chicken skin, fish, gelatin and pork skin. As we age, the density of collagen in the dermal layer starts depleting (3). A high intake of sugar, exposure to sunlight and stress can also alter the synthesis and degradation of collagen (2). In this article, we explore how aging affects collagen synthesis in the skin, and the research behind supplementation of collagen and skin quality.

The Role of Collagen in Skin Aging

Skin aging is a natural process which is influenced by several intrinsic or extrinsic factors (3). An imbalance in intrinsic factors such as hormones, cellular metabolism and metabolic process can speed-up the aging process of the skin (5). Furthermore, exposure to extrinsic factors such as pollution, toxins or chronic sun exposure can also negatively affect aging (4). Healthy skin typically looks radiant, firm and smooth (3), however, aging can cause sagging, wrinkles and dry skin due to the depletion of collagen in the dermal layer of the skin (3)(4)

Through the process of aging, skin collagen reduces in thickness and becomes increasingly short and disorganized (4). Collagen fragments are also degraded by enzymes, faster than they are replenished (3). Collagen starts to fragment and the elastic fibers in the dermal layer of the skin are unable to stretch as far into the epidermis due to their short stature. The loss of integrity of the elastic fibers leads to sagging of the skin and wrinkles as seen with aging (4).

Increased dry skin with age can be attributed to the depletion of hyaluronic acid in the epidermis (3). Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a molecule that is primarily responsible for retaining moisture in the skin. It is found in several areas of the body, however more than 50% of HA is found in the skin. As the skin ages, the HA molecules in the epidermal layer of the skin start to deplete, resulting in dry skin. Although the mechanism of action of HA depletion is unknown, it is hypothesized that HA depletes due to the depletion of collagen (6).

Oral Collagen Peptides and Skin Health

There have been several reports on the role of collagen supplementation in improving skin health. One such study looked at the difference between skin hydration and wrinkles in women aged 40-59 years post collagen peptide supplementation. The results stated that those who had an intake of collagen had an increase in skin hydration by 12% compared to the group who did not supplement with collagen (placebo group). Furthermore, results also stated that skin wrinkling significantly reduced post collagen supplementation (3).

A second study done on women aged 40-60 years stated that collagen supplementation shows improvements in skin hydration and wrinkling within 6 weeks of ingestion (5). Oral collagen intake allows the collagen density in the skin to increase while decreasing collagen breakdown (3) thus positively affecting skin health.


Collagen is an important protein in regulating skin health and skin aging. Collagen production is slowed down and depleted faster as we age. Depletion of collagen leads to dry, wrinkly and sagging skin. Oral collagen supplementation has shown to improve skin hydration and wrinkling by increasing collagen density and decreasing breakdown in the skin. However, the research is limited, and more studies need to be done on the safety and efficacy of the supplement. Oral collagen can also be increased through dietary sources such as bone broth and gelatin. Reducing stress, sugar intake and UV exposure are also important factors in regulating epidermal collagen.


  1. Lodish, H., Berk, A. and Zipursky, S. (2000). Molecular cell biology. New York: W. H. Freeman, chapter.22.3.
  2. Sibilla, S. and Borumand, M. (2014). Daily consumption of the collagen supplement Pure Gold Collagen® reduces visible signs of aging. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 9, pp.1747-1758.
  3. Asserin, J., Lati, E., Shioya, T. and Prawitt, J. (2015). The effect of oral collagen peptide supplementation on skin moisture and the dermal collagen network: evidence from an ex vivo model and randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 14(4), pp.291-301.
  4. Ganceviciene, R., Liakou, A., Theodoridis, A., Makrantonaki, E. and Zouboulis, C. (2012). Skin anti-aging strategies. Dermato-Endocrinology, 4(3), pp.308-319.
  5. Kim, D., Chung, H., Choi, J., Sakai, Y. and Lee, B. (2018). Oral Intake of Low-Molecular-Weight Collagen Peptide Improves Hydration, Elasticity, and Wrinkling in Human Skin: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Nutrients, 10(7), p.826.
  6. Papakonstantinou, E., Roth, M. and Karakiulakis, G. (2012). Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging. Dermato-Endocrinology, 4(3), pp.253-258.

Dr. Tanvi Tijoriwala, ND is a naturopathic doctor who graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine and practices in Toronto, ON. She runs a general practice but has a special interest in skin health, digestive health and hormonal health. Dr. Tanvi empowers her patients to live their best life, without letting their health concerns get in the way. She truly believes in educating, healing and empowering people through naturopathic medicine. Outside of the clinic, you can find Dr. Tanvi reading a good book or exploring places around Toronto. You can find her at www.tanvitijoriwala.com or follow her on Instagram (@drtanvitijoriwala) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/drtanvitijoriwala)

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