For many years, the benefits of collagen as a beauty treatment have been widely known. Now, it’s increasingly being used as a health remedy. Sarah Millington finds out more about the substance tipped as the top wellness trend for 2017

WHEN footballer George Taft tore his anterior cruciate ligament during a match in October 2015, he was told he’d be out of action for nine to 12 months. Under normal circumstances, he would have been forced simply to accept this, watching from the sidelines while a chunk of his career slipped away. Fortunately for George, he had a powerful weapon in his armoury – namely collagen. Within a mere five months, he was back training for Mansfield Town and ready to start rehab; a situation he directly attributes to taking the supplement Pure-Col.

For several years, collagen has been used as a cosmetic treatment to plump out skin and smooth fine lines and wrinkles. Its efficacy is well-documented, with celebrities and others keen to halt the signs of ageing queuing up to be injected.

Now, increasingly, it’s being used as a health supplement, with its ability to speed the body’s natural healing process. Perfect Look & Health, a leading manufacturer of natural health, beauty and sports supplements, based in Whitley Bay, identified the trend some time ago and started supplying Pure-Col, a capsule made from 100 per cent, easily-absorbed collagen. It’s been embraced by, among others, professional sports people, including footballers like Newcastle United’s Paul Dummett, Celtic FC centre back Jozo Simunovic and Sunderland player Patrick Van Annholt, as well as Mansfield Town’s Matt Green and George Taft.

Other collagen supplements, such as Yana, have also come onto the market, designed as an easy to drink daily shot. This highly concentrated blend of collagen peptides, ceramides, antioxidants and vitamins is said to boost beauty from within. (£99 for 473ml,

But what exactly is collagen and how can it benefit you? Here’s a guide to all you need to know.

What is collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and is basically the glue that holds it together. It’s found in your bones, muscles, skin and tendons and provides strength, structure and elasticity.

Why do you need to supplement it?

Collagen production declines naturally with age, leading to sagging skin, the formation of lines and wrinkles and the weakening of cartilage in joints. When you’re young, your body consistently produces collagen but this begins to decline at around 40, with a dramatic reduction in women after the menopause. By 60, production is generally a lot less.

How can collagen boost your health?

Collagen is used in a variety of ways to tackle a wide range of health problems. Supplements like Pure-Col can be taken by sports people or anyone with an active lifestyle to stimulate the growth of cartilage, protect and repair muscles and eliminate aches and pains. Collagen is also an effective treatment for arthritis and is used in dressings to help heal wounds.

What are the beauty benefits?

As collagen is so integral to your body’s functioning, boosting your level is credited with everything from improving your skin, hair, teeth and nails to reducing cellulite. Injected directly into your skin, it smooths contours and fills out depressions, reducing the signs of ageing and acne scarring. However, it only works for relatively superficial defects and the effects are temporary, with some experts recommending up to four injections a year.

What happens when the results fade?

You can either have more injections or opt for another, similar cosmetic treatment like a chemical peel, microdermabrasion (intense exfoliation) or microneedling (where fine needles stimulate skin regeneration).

Do creams work?

No – or at least, not to the same extent. Some products containing collagen may claim to revitalise your skin but they can only act as a moisturiser, as collagen molecules are too big to be absorbed.

Can your diet help?

Yes. Collagen is made up of amino acids, some of which come from your diet. Foods which support its production include: egg whites, cheese, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, raspberries, peppers, shellfish, nuts and red meat.

Collagen Facts

  •  The word "collagen" is derived from the Greek "kolla," meaning glue.
  •  Collagen in medical products can be derived from humans, cattle, pigs or sheep.
  •  Factors that damage the production of collagen include sunlight, smoking and high sugar consumption.
  •  Women have lower collagen density than men. This is one of the reasons why men typically appear to age slower than women.
  •  There are 12 types of collagen, making it the most abundant protein found in nature.