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Collagen Loss in the Post-Menopausal Woman and How Collagen Supplementation Can Help

Life-giving collagen plays a such a vital role in so many aspects of our health, but most people are unaware of this fact. With today’s modern but not necessarily healthy lifestyles, a large part of the population is simply not getting enough collagen in their diets.

Dr. Josh Axe, author of The Collagen Diet calls collagen “the essential nutrient that disappeared from our diets.” He says:

“The two staples of the typical Western diet, sugar and refined carbs, fill our bellies but shortchange our health… We are starved for true nourishment… Our ancestors’ diets were rich in collagen. Today, we consume almost none.”

Axe goes on to say that research is currently showing that collagen can regenerate new tissue and bolster the immune system while providing a myriad of health benefits in between.


This same research is strongly suggesting that consciously incorporating collagen into our diets is one of the best ways to fend off the visible and invisible signs of aging and which, for women, tend to really accelerate once she reaches menopause and goes into her post-menopausal life.


Skin collagen decreases proportionally after menopause. When estrogen levels drop during perimenopause, the production of collagen—the structural protein responsible for keeping skin toned and resilient—slows down. This slowdown in collagen production starts to become very evident in skin.


Collagen makes up 75 to 80 percent of our skin when levels are at an optimum. Our mid-twenties is roughly the time our bodies start to produce less collagen—about one percent per year. By the time we reach our fifties, our collagen production is 30 percent less than it was in our twenties.


We’ve discussed the reasons for collagen loss in many previous blog posts, but generally, these include:

During our fifties, and frankly, even earlier, it’s critical to begin replenishing this diminishing generator of youth and vitality.


While there’s no medical test that determines the amount of collagen you have, it’s easy to recognize when collagen is starting to become dangerously low:

  • Arthritis and joint pain: Our joints naturally lose laxity as we age which influences natural joint comfort. Women tend to experience this laxity in the joints more during menopause, according to the research article, Musculoskeletal Pain and Menopause by Fiona E. Watt.(3)

  • Wrinkles, cellulite, and sagging skin: Estrogen levels decrease during menopause and along with it collagen production. The loss of collagen leads to thinner, drier skin and even wrinkles but studies show it’s possible to improve aged and mature skin with collagen supplementation.

  • More frequent cuts and abrasions: Thinning skin because of collagen loss is more vulnerable to daily wear and tear and is slower to heal.

  • Slower wound healing: Collagen is the “glue” that knits skin back together so is there’s notably less collagen the process of healing will take longer.

  • Hair loss and less potent texture: When women hit menopause, female hormone levels of progesterone and estrogen are on the decline. Their androgen hormones also begin to decline which sometimes leads to changes in hair texture and growth and even loss of hair. Hair is made of keratin which is a protein found in collagen. An integrity collagen supplement will provide essential amino acids that will help rebuild hair alongside fighting free radicals which negatively affect the health of hair and scalp.

  • Brittle nails: Though the nail plate is made of keratin, the nail matrix, the birthplace of the nail plate, also contains collagen. A loss of collagen can affect the way the nail plate grows. In addition, out-of-balance hormones which is a condition all peri- and postmenopausal women experience can cause the nail matrix to work more slowly, in turn causing the nail plate to grow thinner, weaker and overly flexible and brittle.

  • Smaller, weaker muscles: The site, Feisty Menopause, says this:

“Research shows the menopause transition is a ‘vulnerable period for the loss of muscle mass.’ In a 2021 study, researchers found that compared to women in early perimenopause, those in late perimenopause had 10 percent less muscle mass in their arms and legs (as measured on the appendicular skeletal muscle index used in scientific studies). Late perimenopausal and postmenopausal women were also overwhelmingly more likely to have sarcopenia (involuntary muscle loss) than premenopausal or early perimenopausal women. Though it’s never too late to start lifting weights, if you’re perimenopausal and haven’t started yet, now is prime time.”

  • Decreased bone density: Women are especially prone here with the first few years of menopause showing notable decreases in bone density. Estrogen is a key regulator of bone metabolism and declining estrogen during menopause makes women more susceptible to bone density loss. (Did you know your bones contain more collagen than calcium?).

  • Gastrointestinal issues (loose stool, gas, bloating): Your digestive tract’s lining is rich with collagen and when collagen decreases so does the integrity of your gut’s lining.

  • Decreased immunity: 70 percent of our immune system is housed in the gut. We wrote the following in our blog entitled, Understanding and Supporting the Gut-Brain Axis,

“60 to 70% of the entire body's immune system lies right behind the gut lining. If you have a chronic ailment, whether it's minor like postnasal drainage or constipation, or more serious like heart disease or obesity, the fact that the condition continues to manifest in your life every day is largely because your inner terrain continues to support that condition.”

  • Chronic inflammation: If the amino acid glycine found in collagen is not in enough abundance in the gut, it cannot do its job of protect its mucus lining. Additionally, the amino acid glutamine is shown to reduce inflammatory processes in the intestinal wall while improving intestinal permeability.

  • Food sensitivities: A lower collagen content in the gut lining makes you more susceptible to aggravating foods and women tend to be more sensitive to foods than men.

  • Heart issues: Lower collagen leads to degradation of the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the tissues and consequently, this creates risk factors for heart disease and high blood pressure.

By getting enough collagen in your diet, you can not only treat but prevent, many of these problems.


A recent study published in the journal Nutrients examined the effects of oral collagen supplementation in the skin of aging mice. After eight weeks, not only did their skin have more collagen, but the skin’s ability to repair frayed collagen fibers had improved, its antioxidant enzymes were more active and the skin itself was notably firmer.


In 2018, German researchers conducted a study on collagen and bone loss. They enrolled postmenopausal women whose bones were thinning. Some of the women consumed five grams of a collagen supplement every day for a year while the remaining women were given a placebo.


After one year, the collagen supplement-consuming group showed remarkably greater bone mineral density in their spines and the top of their femurs (that bone associated with broken hips in older age). The placebo-consuming group demonstrated bones that had become even more fragile than the year prior.


A 2019 scientific review of 11 studies with more than 805 participants in concluded decisively that oral collagen supplements increase the elasticity, hydration and density of aging skin’s collagen-rich dermis(1) and without any side effects.


We can provide you with an even more exhaustive report we’ve compiled on the topic of collagen supplementation: The Collagen Report: Facts You Need to Know When Choosing a Collagen Supplement. Please send us an email to request it. It will help seriously help you make your best decision as you go about looking for a good integrity collagen supplement.


We would immediately suggest, however, that you take a look at collagen industry pioneer Modere’s Liquid BioCell which offers an advanced extremely bioavailable liquid delivery system. It’s important to keep in mind that in their natural state, collagen molecules are simply too large to be effectively absorbed by the body and will ultimately be digested as proteins. But Modere has identified the precise molecular weight range for both ingestible and topical use of collagen and patented collagen micromolecules for optimal absorption.


The micromolecule Liquid BioCell collagen formulation is composed of:

  1. highly absorbable naturally occurring hydrolyzed collagen Type II (see endnotes)

  2. naturally occurring chondroitin sulfate

  3. naturally occurring hyaluronic acid and

  4. resveratrol.

Chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid are the ingredients most collagen supplements are missing.


Conclusion The reason why collagen creates such constructive and diverse positive effects on so many different parts of the body is this: It’s an invisible suit of armor that protects the tissues all the way from the innermost layer of the blood vessels to the outermost layer of the skin.


Wherever it is found in the human body, it strengthens, fortifies, builds, and rebuilds tissues at the cellular level. For this reason, it’s one of our best defenses against the ravages of age as it strengthens the health of the entire body and produces overall wellness.


Endnotes:

  1. Dermis: The thick layer of living tissue below the epidermis which forms the true skin, containing blood capillaries, nerve endings, sweat glands, hair follicles, and other structures; it largely determines whether your skin is smooth or wrinkled.

  2. Musculoskeletal Pain and Menopause - Fiona e Watt, 2018 - Sage Journals. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2053369118757537.

Sources:

  • Axe, Josh. The Collagen Diet: A 28-Day Plan for Sustained Weight Loss, Glowing Skin, Great Gut Health, and a Younger You. United States, Little, Brown, 2019.

  • Musculoskeletal Pain and Menopause - Fiona e Watt, 2018 - Sage Journals. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2053369118757537.

  • Choi FD, Sung CT, Juhasz ML, Mesinkovsk NA. Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Review of Dermatological Applications. J Drugs Dermatol. 2019 Jan 1;18(1):9-16. PMID: 30681787.

  • Kirsten Nunez, M.S. “Is There Anything Women Need to Know about Taking Collagen Supplements?” Mindbodygreen, Mindbodygreen, 10 June 2022, https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/collagen-benefits-for-women-what-to-expect-from-supplement.

  • Newman, written by Marian. “Menopause and Brittle Nails.” NailKnowledge, 11 Sept. 2021, https://nailknowledge.org/es/blog/menopause-and-brittle-nails.

  • Ko J, Park YM. Menopause and the Loss of Skeletal Muscle Mass in Women. Iran J Public Health. 2021 Feb;50(2):413-414. doi: 10.18502/ijph.v50i2.5362. PMID: 33748008; PMCID: PMC7956097.

  • “Why Menopausal Women Need All the Muscle They Can Make.” Feisty Menopause, https://www.feistymenopause.com/blog/why-menopausal-women-need-all-the-muscle-they-can-make.

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