Youthful, radiant skin
Healthy, youthful, radiant skin relies on the dermis, which is where cells are renewed. The skin is the body’s largest organ. It is responsible for several important physiological functions. These include the skin’s role as an interface between the individual and society. This is the main reason for the importance of research into skin ageing in recent years, both in the field of dermatology and in targeted nutrition.
The skin is made up of:
- 70% water (its distribution varies; the hypodermis is the most hydrated layer)
- 27% proteins (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, as well as amino acids, proteins, hormones and enzymes)
- 2% lipids (carbon, hydrogen and oxygen as well as phospholipids, fatty acids, triglycerides, etc.)
- 0.5% mineral salts (sodium, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, zinc, sulphur, phosphorus, iodine, manganese, etc.)
CROSS-SECTION OF THE SKIN SHOWING THE DERMIS AND EPIDERMIS
Cells in the epidermis are nourished by a process of diffusion from the dermis.
The most important factor for beautiful skin based on nutrition is therefore promoting the production of collagen in the dermis and avoiding its destruction. Collagen is extremely important. A high level of collagen is essential for the robustness, elasticity and structure of the skin.
Promoting collagen relies first and foremost on the contribution made by peptides, which play an important role in maintaining high concentrations of collagen in the skin. Peptides are natural signals in the skin, which control the production of collagen. Each protein has its own, specific sequence of amino acids: each provides a specific, powerful anti-ageing benefit to help stimulate the natural production of collagen. Amino acids are molecules that serve as the “building blocks” of proteins in the skin, by forming chains known as peptides.
Collagen is the most abundant structural protein in the human body; it is the main structural element in the skin and is responsible for its cohesion, elasticity and regeneration. Along with keratin and elastin, collagen provides the structure and robustness that support the epidermis, bones, muscles and tendons. When collagen molecules are damaged, the skin loses its elasticity and starts to sag, wrinkle and age. Maintaining a high level of collagen is therefore essential for the robustness, elasticity and structure of the skin.
The most common amino acids include glycine, proline, hydroxyproline and arginine. These provide nutrients that nourish the skin, hair and nails, and are essential in maintaining an adequate concentration of collagen. These amino acids are made up of three tightly intertwined chains, creating a three-dimensional, helical structure. Hydroxyproline plays a particularly important role in stabilising the triple helix of collagen, and prevents it from deteriorating or being eliminated by the body. This process requires vitamin C. Since our bodies cannot produce it naturally, it is essential to use a supplement that delivers a bioavailable source of vitamin C.
Maintaining the level of collagen is thus the key to beautiful skin. However, collagen production begins to slow down as part of the natural ageing process and cell structures becomes less robust. Women produce less collagen than men, and it disappears at a rate of around 1% a year after the age of 25. This means that a woman naturally loses almost half the collagen in her skin between then and the age of 50. As a result, the skin becomes fragile and less elastic, and wrinkles begin to appear. This is the point at which collagen supplements should be introduced into your daily routine.
Collagen supplementation for skin is more effective using a specific form, known as hydrolysed collagen: this contains small amino acids (also known as collagen peptides), which are rapidly absorbed by the body and stimulate the organism’s natural production of collagen. Clinical studies have shown that this bioavailable form of collagen significantly reduces the depth of wrinkles and increases the skin’s elasticity and level of hydration. Thanks to the absorption capacity of hydrolysed collagen, significant increases in the number of fibroblasts (the cells responsible for generating new collagen), resulting in better skin density, have also been shown.
In addition, collagen is significantly affected by environmental stress, or what is known as oxidative stress. As well as protecting and stimulating the natural production of collagen intrinsically in the skin, healthy, radiant skin needs protection from the free radicals produced extrinsically. Antioxidants therefore play a very important role in protecting collagen fibres from the damage caused by free radicals.