Although aging impacts the whole body, the most visible effects occur in our skin, hair, and nails.
As we mature, our outer tissues lose their framework of structural proteins, namely keratin, collagen, and elastin.
Loss of structural proteins in the body is further compounded by external factors such as pollution and sun exposure.
To counter this visible deterioration, scientists have investigated nutrients that can be taken orally to rebuild the underlying architecture of the skin, hair, and nails.
Their work has resulted in targeted nutritional interventions—highly bioavailable forms of collagen peptidesand solubilized keratin, combined with biotin and silicon.
These nutrients have been shown to support more youthful, vibrant skin, lustrous hair, and stronger nails from the inside out.
Rebuilding Youthful Skin, Hair, and Nails
With age, our bodies produce less of the structural proteins that are essential to the integrity of the tissues that make up hair, skin, and nails. These proteins include:
- Keratin, a structural component of hair, nails, and the outer layer of skin,
- Collagen fibers, the principle source of the skin’s strength, and
- Elastin, an elastic protein in connective tissue that allows many tissues in the body to resume their shape after stretching or contracting.
By the age of 21 we start losing about 1% of the collagen in our skin every year.
The visible effects of a decrease in these proteins include thin, wrinkled, sagging, and dry skin; thinning, weak, dull hair; and dull, brittle nails.
But the age-related decline in these critical proteins goes far beyond the external, cosmetic effects. They reflect more serious problems on the inside, including adverse changes in blood vessel walls, bone, connective tissues, and other vital organs where these structural proteins predominate.
In addition, skin exposed over time to the sun’s radiation undergoes a breakdown and alteration of collagen fibers and accumulates disorganized elastin proteins throughout the dermis, the deeper layers of the skin.
The good news is that a number of highly bioactive compounds have been found to reverse these age-revealing structural changes.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Targeted Support for Youthful Hair, Skin, and Nails
- The most obvious signs of aging can be seen in our skin, hair, and nails.
- This is affected both by intrinsic biological aging and extrinsic environmental factors such as ultraviolet radiation.
- The underlying architecture of these body areas is rapidly diminished by the resulting loss of structural proteins, notably keratin, collagen, and elastin.
- Fortunately, novel and bioavailable forms of collagen peptides and solubilized keratin have been developed to reverse this process in skin, hair, and nails.
- Biotin and silicon have been documented to enhance these rejuvenation effects.
Rebuilding Your Skin’s Structure
Many keratin supplements on the market aren’t very effective because of how they’re processed. But in a critical advance, scientists developed a patented process that converts keratin into a form our bodies can use.
As a result, this solubilized keratin provides highly bioavailable, protein-forming building blocks needed to replace the body’s natural keratin lost in the aging process. This allows the delivery of high-quality keratin proteins directly to the cells that make up the skin, hair, and nails. And their high bioavailability means they can quickly replenish depleted keratin levels.
In vitro studies show that soluble keratin stimulates skin cells to proliferate at a rate up to 160% greater than they otherwise would, permitting cells to increase their own production of diminished structural proteins.
Because of its improved delivery, this patented solubilized keratin has been documented to:
- Reduce hair loss from washing, improve hair strength, and increase hair brightness and luster
- Provide nails with improved strength, elasticity, and moisture retention
- Reduce fine lines and wrinkles
- Promote skin firmness and elasticity
- Decrease inflammatory redness of skin
- Add brightness and radiance to the skin, and
- Reduce water loss from the skin.
Impressive clinical studies validate the benefits of this novel “solubilized” keratin.
Improvements in Hair and Nails
When it comes to improving the strength and appearance of hair and nails, several studies show that solubilized keratin is especially effective.
In one study, women with damaged, fragile, and stressed hair took two capsules of a special formulation daily, providing a total of 500 mg of solubilized keratin, along with biotin, zinc, copper, and vitamins B3, B5, and B6.
After 90 days, electron microscope photos showed that uneven hair surfaces had become smooth, interlocking, and watertight—which translates into smoother, shinier hair. Also, the number of hairs lost during washing was reduced by 30%, and hair strength was increased by 12%. The researchers concluded that the keratin supplement promoted hair growth, strength, and appearance.
Another trial found that taking two capsules of the same formulation daily decreased hair loss and improved the strength and appearance of nails in adult women. By day 90, the women experienced:
- 47.1% subjective improvement in hair appearance,
- 5.9% improvement in hair strength,
- 9.2% increase in hair follicles in the growth phase, and a
- 47% reduction in the number of hairs that could be removed in a hair-pull test.
Also, their nails demonstrated:
- 87.5% improvement in the tendency to break (compared with 28.5% in the placebo group),
- 50% increased hardness,
- 54.2% greater resistance to breaking,
- 33.2% improved overall integrity,
- 37.5% increased smoothness, and
- 20.8% improved natural appearance.
An additional placebo-controlled study showed that keratin can also reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Scientists again gave two capsules of the same keratin formulation daily to women between 40 and 71 who had obvious skin aging. By day 90, they documented:
- 30.4% improvement in skin moisture, almost a 12% reduction in wrinkle depth,
- 58.3% of subjects showed visible improvement in wrinkle depth,
- 16.8% improved skin elasticity,
- 17.9% improved skin smoothness, and almost a 9% decreased skin roughness.
Stronger Skin from Within
Collagen is an important component of youthful skin. It makes up 70% of the weight of the dermis, the inner layer of the skin. It also supports levels of elastin, the protein that allows skin to stretch and return to its original shape—which makes collagen a critical element in maintaining supple, flexible skin.
As we get older, the number of collagen fibers in the dermis steadily decreases, and elastin fibers begin to fray and lose elasticity. This deterioration leads to wrinkledand sagging skin.
Scientific innovators have developed a patented composition of different bioactive collagen peptides, which are derived from type I collagen that has been partially broken down using water. This unique process makes these peptides highly bioavailable, which provides the building blocks for collagen synthesis and stimulates the production of new collagen and elastin in the extracellular matrix of the skin.
Another way these collagen peptides protect the skin is by reducing the activity of metalloproteinase 2, a “protein-melting” enzyme that breaks down collagen and hastens skin aging.
The effect in skin tissue is a remarkable reduction of skin wrinkles and improved dermal matrix synthesis.
Reduce Wrinkles in Eight Weeks
Scientists put bioactive collagen peptides to the same rigorous clinical testing as solubilized keratin, and the results were equally impressive.
In one study, supplementing with either 2.5 or 5 grams of this oral supplement for eight weeks led to a 7%improvement in skin elasticity. This higher elasticity persisted even four weeks after they stopped taking the supplement, showing the lasting benefits of replacing the body’s lost collagen.
Another placebo-controlled trial demonstrated that women ages 45 to 65 who took 2.5 grams of bioactive collagen peptides daily for just eight weeks achieved healthier, more supple skin. This was indicated by:
- 20.1% reduction in wrinkle depth,
- 65% increase in the accumulation of essential type-I pro-collagen, and 18% increase in elastin fibers.
As an added benefit, restoring dermal architecture can also decrease the appearance of cellulite by lessening the amount of fat showing through the skin. A 2015 study found that taking 2.5 grams of bioactive collagen peptides daily for six months reduced cellulite scores in women by 9% and decreased thigh skin waviness by 11.1%.
In 2017, scientists reported that drinking a liquid blend of collagen peptides and antioxidants daily for 90 days improved skin elasticity by 7.5% and significantly enhanced skin texture.
Clinical trials now validate that these oral ingredients quickly change the effects of aging that occurs in skin, hair, and nails.
Although the development of uniquely bioavailable forms of solubilized keratin and bioactive collagen peptides have revolutionized the rejuvenation of skin, hair, and nails, two important nutrients have the capacity to act as catalysts in this structural rebuilding: biotin and silicon.
Building Stronger Nails
Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin. Animal and human studies indicate that biotin supplementation improves the hardness and integrity of the nail structure.
One study showed that taking 2.5 mg of biotin every day for an average of 5.5 months transformed aged and damaged fingernails into firmer, harder nails in an amazing 91% of treated subjects.
In another study, when women with brittle, splitting, or soft fingernails took biotin, they experienced a 25%increase in nail thickness and reduced nail splitting. Electron microscopy scanning revealed that the irregular arrangement of cells on the nail surface of brittle nails had become more regular.
Finally, a third study found that when people with brittle and splitting nails took 2.5 mg of biotin per day for at least one month, 63% of the subjects experienced a clinical improvement in nail integrity, brittleness, and splitting.
BIOACTIVE COLLAGEN PEPTIDES IMPROVE NAIL BRITTLENESS AND GROWTH RATE
A recent compelling study reported by the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology demonstrated that oral supplementation with bioactive collagen peptides accelerated nail growth, improved nail brittleness, and powerfully decreased the frequency of nail breakage.
Brittle nail syndrome affects about 20% of the population, with women being affected twice as often as men. This challenging disorder is characterized by fragility of the nail plate, roughness, raggedness, and peeling. Patients often complain that their nails are too soft, weak, slow-growing, and easily broken. Usually underlying these symptoms is an impaired water-binding ability, which might reflect an abnormality in keratin or lipid content.
In this trial, 25 healthy women ages 18 to 50 were given 2.5 grams of bioactive collagen peptides once daily for 24 weeks and then were removed from treatment for another four weeks. Nail characteristics and growth rate were assessed during treatment and after the off-therapy period.
Bioactive collagen peptides were found to have resulted in an increase of 12% in nail growth rate and a decrease of 42% in the frequency of broken nails.
Additionally, treatment with bioactive collagen peptides clearly attenuated the symptoms of brittle nails. Clinical improvement in nail brittleness was observed in 64% of participants after the 24-week treatment period. This beneficial effect was even more pronounced after the four-week washout period, when 88% of study participants showed clinical improvement in nail brittleness. The study author concluded that this positive effect likely resulted from the direct effect of the peptides on the nail matrix.
The vast majority of participants, 80%, agreed that the use of the bioactive collagen peptides had improved their nails’ appearance, and they expressed their complete satisfaction with the treatment results.
Silicon is an essential trace element involved in the metabolism of connective tissue in skin and hair. It activates “hydroxylation” enzymes that cross-link collagen, which improves strength and elasticity.7 Silicon is also associated with the synthesis of molecules known as glycosaminoglycans, which help create the substance that fills the space between collagen and elastin. Because of these important roles, silicon is an important component of healthy hair, nails, and skin.
It has been suggested that hair strands that have higher silicon content have a lower rate of falling out and greater brightness.
Silicon is also a predominant mineral in the composition of healthy nails. As a 2016 study indicated, “The presence of soft and brittle nails can indicate systemic deficiency of silicon.”
Better collagen ultimately translates into better hair, skin, and nails.