By Lisa Petty, MA, ROHP
Of course, you want to have smooth complexion and healthy glow because… well, who doesn’t want to look good? But vanity aside, a properly functioning skin system prevents water loss and provides a barrier to allergens and bacteria. So how can you keep it healthy?
Plump, supple skin depends not only on making sure we drink enough water, but also that we are able to retain the moisture in our skin. One of the greatest threats to skin hydration is trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), or the water that evaporates from our skin. Evaporation can occur because of hot weather, certainly, but we are equally at risk walking in a brisk winter wind or being cooped up in our centrally-heated homes. Dehydration is a problem because it can highlight tiny lines and wrinkles, and it can also cause dry skin that tears easily. A broken skin barrier can provide easy access for pathogens and allergens to get into your body. TEWL is also a factor in atopic dermatitis (eczema).
Some research suggests that eczema is associated with abnormal essential fatty acid (EFA) metabolism and cell membrane function. Research has also shown that eczema has been related to a deficiency of the enzyme delta-6-desaturase, which is responsible for the conversion of linoleic acid to gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). To keep skin healthy, we want to minimize TEWL.
Feed your skin
The quality of your diet is clearly reflected in your skin. To reduce moisture loss, consider supplementing with GLA directly. Borage oil is a superior source and contains two to three times more GLA than evening primrose oil. Borage oil can be used topically and taken orally. 1
You’ll also want to fill up on antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. Research shows that micronutrients including carotenoids, vitamins E and C, and polyphenols may help to protect against sun damage that is associated with the majority of our skin aging. Antioxidants also protect cells including collagen against free radical damage associated with skin aging. 
What is collagen?
A fibrous protein that makes up one-third of the protein in your body, collagen provides structure, strength and elasticity to skin. Collagen is created with triple strands of amino acid chains, each of which is made up of three amino acids: glycine, proline and one other. Collagen gets its strength from powerful enzymatic cross-links, but these links are impacted by tissue turnover rates. As we age, the rate of collagen break-down surpasses collagen production, which leads to an overall decrease in collagen levels in the dermis. Skin becomes thinner. At the same time, collagen becomes disorganised and loses elasticity. Fortunately, we can get boost the benefits of collagen by adding it to the menu.
Food sources of collagen
Collagen is only found in fish and animal foods, including chicken, egg whites, egg yolk, and natural eggshell membrane. To synthesize a single picogram of Type II collagen, more than 1 billion glycine molecules and 620 million proline molecules are required – which is a tall order. To complicate matters, some people have problems digesting food sources of collagen and may miss out on all the benefits.
How hydrolyzed collagen helps
Hydrolyzed collagen is broken down to its smallest form to boost absorbability. Studies have shown that supplementing with hydrolyzed collagen enhances collagen and elastin and helps to decrease skin moisture loss. Research shows that Collactive TM collagen sourced from wild fish can improve the appearance of wrinkles in as few as 28 days. Glow on, now.
 Wakefield, J., Krutmann, J., & Humbert, P. (2011). Skin Barrier Function. In Nutrition for Healthy Skin: Strategies for Clinical and Cosmetic Practic.e 208 pp. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-12264-4_4
 Helfrich, Y., Sachs, D., & Voorhees, J. (2008). Overview of skin aging and photoagingDermatology Nursing, 20(3), 177–183.
 Daneault, A., Prawitt, J., Fabien Soulé, V., Coxam, V., & Wittrant, Y. (2017). Biological effect of hydrolyzed collagen on bone metabolism. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 57(9), 1922–1937. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2015.1038377
 Asserin, J., Lati, E., Shioya, T., & Prawitt, J. (2015). The effect of oral collagen peptide supplementation on skin moisture and the dermal collagen network: evidence from an ex vivo model and randomized, placebo‐controlled clinical trials. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 14(4), 291–301. https://doi.org/10.1111/jocd.12174