Collagen maintains your skin's youthful appearance.

How to Reverse Collagen Loss as You Get Older

by Lindsay Christinee

Collagen is a protein made of amino acids that is part of the connective tissue in skin. It helps to maintain your skin's firmness, suppleness and consistent renewal of skin cells. With age, collagen production decreases and skin becomes prone to damage, wrinkles and sagging. To increase your skin's production of collagen, adopt a healthy lifestyle and diet, and seek out topical treatments proven to be effective in maintaining the youthful appearance of your skin.

1. Change Your Diet

Make a few changes to your diet to increase cell turnover and boost the production of collagen fibers. Avoid refined sugar and carbs, as sugar damages collagen production. Instead, satisfy your sweet tooth with whole foods such as berries, carrots and oranges. Be careful not to cut out healthy fats and carbs from you diet -- such as nuts, avocados and brown rice -- to avoid being deficient in vitamins and nutrients that aid in the production of collagen.

2. Exercise

Adopt an exercise regimen. Lift light weights or do resistance training to build muscle. Muscle development can stimulate collagen growth, while muscle loss can contribute to sagging skin. Further boost your body's collagen production by going on a 10-minute jog in the midday sun to get your daily dose of vitamin D. While vitamin D hasn't been proven to increase the body's production of collagen, studies have shown that a vitamin D deficiency can reduce collagen synthesis.

3. Vitamin A Treatments

Use a topical application of vitamin A to increase your skin's collagen production. Look for retinol -- a derivative of vitamin A -- in the ingredient list of creams, serums and spot treatments. Studies have shown retinol to effectively stimulate collagen synthesis in naturally aged skin. Keep in mind that retinol acts as a gentle exfoliant, so your skin will be more prone to sun damage. Protect your skin by wearing a broad-spectrum sunblock or sunscreen.

4. Avoid Collagen Killers

Adopt a healthy lifestyle to aid your body in producing collagen. Minimize time in the sun, and ensure that you properly protect your skin when out in the sun by wearing sunscreen or sunblock. Do not smoke and avoid environments where you might be prone to secondhand smoke. Minimize emotional stress or engage in relaxing activities such as yoga. Ensure that you get a good night's sleep, as this is the time when the body -- including your skin -- repairs itself.

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