The physical ageing process happens to everyone, and one of the first places to bear the visible effects of these changes is your skin. There are hundreds of serums, lotions, treatments and creams you can buy that aim to banish wrinkles or blur away lines and blemishes, but the most effective change may come from within yourself.

What you consume on a daily basis can have a significant effect on your skin. The body needs a variety of nutrients to maintain an optimal level of health, and a change in the amount of these nutrients can cause some of the physical effects of ageing.

In particular, scientists have isolated the loss of collagen as one of the main factors behind the changes seen in skin throughout the years. If you're looking for a way to restore some of that firmness and youthfulness back to your skin, collagen could be the answer.

Why collagen?

Collagen is a fibrous protein that is naturally found in the skin and other organs. Together, collagen molecules form a kind of matrix that helps to provide structural integrity to the skin and other structures in the body. It’s essential for keeping everything in place and aiding in firmness and elasticity. Collagen is made up of various amino acids such as proline, glycine and hydroxyproline.

As well as being a major protein component in skin, collagen is also present in hair, nails, bone and muscles.

In mammals, collagen is one of the key components of any connective tissue and can be found in high concentrations throughout the body. However, as we age the amount of collagen produced by the body begins to slow down. This means the inner layer of the skin starts to lose collagen, and this renders the skin more vulnerable to damage.

Because collagen plays an essential role in the elasticity of the skin, a lack of this protein results in changes in the skin’s strength and texture. Skin can become less firm, more wrinkled and lined and other effects associated with the ageing process can start to appear. Increasing your intake of collagen can replenish the natural amount of this protein in the body and support the skin’s own recovery process.

Which collagen is best?

You can find some of the components needed for collagen production (such as the amino acids proline, lysine and hydroxyproline) in certain protein-rich foods, including egg whites, meat, chicken and fish.

However, collagen sourced from marine species may be a more potent and direct source of the protein.

Marine collagen contains several of the amino acids required for collagen formation, which can assist the body’s own natural synthesis of the protein. This can help to strengthen the skin and reduce the effects of the ageing process. It has a higher level of bioavailability than collagen gathered from cows or pigs, which means the body can absorb it much more effectively.

There are also several antioxidants found in marine collagen that can help to fight the damage caused by free radicals. Found in environmental factors such as ultraviolet rays, these free radicals can cause visible damage to the skin by altering the DNA of cells within this organ.

Collagen sourced from New Zealand marine species benefits from the country’s pristine coastal waters. This means the cold-sea fish are pollution- and disease-free and fished using sustainable practices. In addition to this, marine collagen products are odourless and tasteless, and are a relatively safe addition to the human diet.