You may have heard that increasing your collagen levels can do wonders for your skin, but did you know that collagen is also needed for healthy hair production? With the right amount of collagen at your body’s disposal, you can have thicker and more lustrous locks.
Collagen and Hair: What’s the Connection?
Collagen is the primary protein in all animals (including people). It helps to maintain structural integrity in bones, tendons, cartilage, and ligaments. Collagen also plays a big part in renewing cells in general, and the cells in hair are no exception. The body relies on the amino acids found in collagen to create hair strands, which are made primarily of a tough protein cousin to collagen called keratin.
Collagen is a building-block protein for hair as it surrounds and protects each strand. Collagen also helps to protect hair from the damaging effects of too much sun, as well as chemical irritants in the water and toxins in the air and soil. It possesses antioxidant properties which help to fight free radicals in the body.
Why We Lose Hair as We Age
As we get older, our collagen levels decrease. This is considered a “natural process” that will continue unabated – unless we’re proactive in curbing the decline through proper diet, lifestyle, and supplementation.
Some estimate that by the time a woman is in her 50s, her collagen levels may have declined by as much as 40%. With less collagen to protect it, hair falls victim to free radicals and begins to weaken. Dull, listless hair, graying, and even patterned baldness may be the result.
Both male and female pattern baldness affects millions in the U.S. alone. According to statistics gathered by the American Hair Loss Association , by the time most men are age 35, two-thirds of them will be experiencing some degree of hair loss. Another survey found that roughly 50% of women over 65 will experience thinning of their hair at some point in their later years. For both women and men, hair loss (especially at a young age) can lead to depression as well as social isolation.
The Link Between Decreasing Collagen and Thinning Hair
Hair loss can occur for a number of reasons. A few possible causes include:
- iron deficiency
- zinc deficiency
- free radical damage
- low thyroid levels
- autoimmune disease
- hormonal imbalances
Another huge reason for hair loss and thinning is collagen deficiency, especially as we age. In 2016, researchers from the Tokyo Medical and Dental University  found that aging mice had thinner hair follicles than younger mice and the common denominator was collagen. The investigators discovered the link between decreasing collagen levels in stem cells near hair follicles, especially type XVII, and hair loss.
In an earlier Japanese study , investigators studied the scalps of women over 50 and found that they had smaller hair follicles than women in their 30s and even 40s. These discoveries could lead to possible remedies for pattern baldness in both men and women where augmenting collagen stores in the body may play a major role.
Collagen Benefits for Hair
Happily, other studies have also discovered the link between collagen supplementation and the return of healthy hair. A 2012 study conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that supplementing with collagen promoted “significant” hair growth in women with hair thinning. They also determined that collagen supplements were safe and effective .
Studies like these are promising news for people of all ages who want to regrow hair; this can be life-changing and even life-saving for some. Many studies, such as a 2001 investigation conducted by the University Hospital of Wales, have linked alopecia (a condition where hair falls out) with loss of self-confidence and low self-esteem. Visible hair loss also seems to take its psychological toll on women more than on men. An older survey study  conducted in the Netherlands found that women who had hair loss scored higher for “inadequacy, rigidity and general psychological maladjustment” as well as having more psychosocial problems than men who had the same condition.
Collagen may also help hair that is dry, brittle, or gray as well. As stated earlier, collagen supports the health of each hair follicle. At the intersections where collagen and keratin meet are also where the pigment is produced that gives your hair its unique color. Restoring the right levels of collagen to hair follicles and cells around the hair could help bring back pigment. Its hair-supporting nature is also the reason why having the right amount of collagen in your system can help dull, drab, split-end hair regain its shine and luster as well as retain moisture.
Use Only the Best Collagen Supplement for Hair Growth
There is ample evidence to support the notion that raising the bar on your collagen levels, in general, may help bring back healthy hair. You can do this is many ways. Reducing stress and eating a diet that is rich in amino acids and minerals such as zinc, iron, and vitamin C is definitely one step.
Broccoli, bell peppers, dark, leafy greens, and fish like salmon (which contains high amounts of omega-3s) are just some examples of foods that can help support the natural mechanisms in the body that build collagen.
Collagen supplementation is also a good option for restoring low collagen levels. Be sure you obtain the best collagen supplement for your needs that is of the utmost quality.