man straining to open pickle jar with prominent tendons made from collagen

Anti-aging & Collagen

What is collagen?

It is a protein, also called an extracellular matrix protein (ECM). It’s the most abundant protein in the human body and helps hold the whole works together. Think of it like a scaffolding that provides support and structure.

Why is it important?

Collagen is found in your bones, muscles, skin and tendons. There are more than 25 different types in your body. It makes up one third of your body’s protein and three quarters of the dry weight of your skin. It’s important because without good collagen production, your skin sags, muscles become weak and poorly defined, bones can develop osteoporosis and tendons can break more easily. Osteoporosis isn’t only about calcium.

What do I need to build it?

All proteins are built from amino acids. The key amino acids in making collagen are proline, glycine and lysine. The enzymes that aid in building it also require vitamin C  and copper as co-factors in its production.

What about taking it as a supplement?

Intact collagen is too large to be absorbed in the gut. In the hydrolyzed form, it has been broken down or digested by enzymes into smaller amino acid chains called peptides. These can be absorbed and have been shown in at least one study to be absorbed into the blood stream and bone of mice. Another study found that oral supplementation of marine collagen peptides with antioxidants (CoQ10, resveratrol luteolin + selenium) remarkably improved skin elasticity, sebum production, and skin ultrasound markers.

Collagen and Hypertension

Changes in the walls of the arteries and collagen function are involved in arterial stiffening in several disease states, including hypertension (high blood pressure). Maintaining healthy collagen, may help lower hypertension and maintain a healthy heart and blood vessels. One study from Oregon State University found that after 1 month of taking 500 mg of vitamin C per day, systolic (the top number, for example in 120/80 blood pressure, systolic is 120), diastolic (the bottom number) and mean blood pressures all declined about 9 percent.

By Dr Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), Naturopath

For help with anti-aging, maintaining healthy skin, bones, arteries and veins, and any other health issue, book a consultation with our naturopathic doctors.


Matthew D. Shoulders and Ronald T. Raines. COLLAGEN STRUCTURE AND STABILITY, Annu Rev Biochem. 2009; 78: 929–958.

De Luca C, Mikhal’chik EV, Suprun MV, Papacharalambous M, Truhanov AI, Korkina LG. Skin Anti-aging and Systemic Redox Effects of Supplementation with Marine Collagen Peptides and Plant-Derived Antioxidants: A Single-Blind Case-Control Clinical Study. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2016;2016:4389410. doi: 10.1155/2016/4389410. Epub 2016 Jan 19.

Watanabe-Kamiyama M, Shimizu M, Kamiyama S, Taguchi Y, Sone H, Morimatsu F, Shirakawa H, Furukawa Y, Komai M. Absorption and effectiveness of orally administered low molecular weight collagen hydrolysate in rats. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Jan 27;58(2):835-41. doi: 10.1021/jf9031487.

Oregon State University. “Vitamin C Can Reduce High Blood Pressure, Study Finds.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 December 1999.