This article has been researched and written by Arelang Naturals® in-house writers.
Collagen & Estrogen: The Fascinating Link
The first thing that comes to mind when we say 'bad skin' is pollutants, face wash, and sunscreen. But it is worth thinking harder about all the things that truly affect the quality of your skin, nails, and hair.
What are Collagen & Fibroblasts
Collagen is something most of us are aware of, but almost always forget that it is our body that produces it and not the powders and creams available over the counter. Collagen is a protein that is the building block of the body's basic structural framework, providing strength, support, and elasticity to various joints, bones, tissues and organs.
As the most abundant protein in mammals, collagen plays a vital role in maintaining the integrity and functionality of the skin, bones, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues. Structurally, collagen consists of long, triple-helix chains of amino acids, primarily glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline, arranged to form fibres with impressive strength. These fibres not only give tissues their structural integrity but also contribute to wound healing, joint health, and overall resilience. It strengthens your bones and gives your skin that bouncy, fresh feeling. Collagen synthesis occurs continuously in the body, with specialised cells called fibroblasts responsible for its production and turnover.
The major types of collagen include Types I, II, III, and IV.
Type I collagen is predominant in the skin, bones, tendons, ligaments, and cornea, providing tensile strength and structural support.
Type II collagen is primarily found in cartilage, where it contributes to its resilience and compressive resistance.
Type III collagen is abundant in internal organs, blood vessels, and skin, maintaining the structure of hollow organs and supporting vascular integrity.
Type IV collagen is crucial for the basement membrane of various organs, including the skin, kidneys, and blood vessels, providing stability and facilitating cellular interactions. Each type of collagen plays a critical role in maintaining tissue integrity, function, and overall health throughout the body.
Fibroblasts are key players in maintaining the health and appearance of the skin. These specialized cells are found in the dermis, the middle layer of the skin, where they play several essential roles like synthesizing collagen. Fibroblasts also produce elastin, another protein that contributes to skin elasticity. Elastin allows the skin to stretch and recoil, providing flexibility and resilience to withstand movement and changes in skin tension. However, fibroblasts may lose their ability to function optimally as we age. This can lead to a decline in collagen and elastin production, resulting in wrinkles, sagging, and reduced skin elasticity.
What is Estrogen?
Estrogen, often hailed as the quintessential hormone of femininity, is a powerhouse that orchestrates numerous physiological processes throughout the body. Produced predominantly in the ovaries but also synthesized in smaller quantities by the adrenal glands and adipose tissue, estrogen exists in three forms: Estrone (E1) which is the enduring source of estrogen postmenopausal, providing essential hormonal support during later stages of life, Estradiol (E2) which is the primary form of estrogen during reproductive years, orchestrating menstrual cycles and promoting reproductive health with precision, and Estriol (E3) which is the nurturing force of estrogen during pregnancy, ensuring uterine support and the well-being of both mother and baby. As women transition through life stages, estrogen and collagen change in diverse ways.
1. Adolescence and Reproductive Years:
- Estrogen: During puberty, estrogen levels surge, helping the development of secondary sexual characteristics and initiating the menstrual cycle. Throughout the reproductive years, estrogen levels fluctuate cyclically, leading to ovulation and maintaining reproductive health.
- Collagen: Collagen levels increase during puberty, contributing to smoother skin and the growth of bones, tendons, and ligaments.
- Estrogen: Estrogen levels soar during pregnancy, promoting uterine growth and ensuring the proper development of the foetus and the health of mom and baby.
- Collagen: Collagen production increases to accommodate the expanding uterus and support new life, maintaining muscle tone and flexibility.
- Estrogen: During perimenopause, estrogen levels fluctuate unpredictably, leading to irregular menstrual cycles and symptoms such as hot flashes, bloating, dryness, and mood changes.
- Collagen: Collagen production begins to decline, resulting in changes in skin texture, decreased elasticity, and the onset of wrinkles, crow feet, and dullness.
- Estrogen: Menopause marks a significant decrease in estrogen production, leading to the stop of menstruation and symptoms such as vaginal dryness, bone loss, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Collagen: Collagen levels continue to decline, contributing to visible signs of ageing like sagging skin, wrinkles, and decreased joint flexibility, muscle, and bone density.
- Estrogen: Estrogen levels remain low postmenopause, impacting various aspects of health including bone density, cardiovascular health, and cognitive function.
- Collagen: Despite decreased estrogen levels, collagen continues to play a crucial role in maintaining skin and joint health, albeit at reduced levels.
What is the link between Estrogen And Collagen?
The intricate relationship between estrogen and collagen holds the key to maintaining the strength of our body's tissues. Collagen, the primary structural protein found in connective tissues, owes much of its synthesis and sustenance to estrogen. Together, they provide strength, support, and flexibility to tissues throughout the body, including skin, bones, tendons, ligaments, and organs. Changes in estrogen levels can lead to alterations in collagen quantity and quality, affecting tissue health and function. This estrogen-collagen partnership is particularly evident in collagen-rich tissues, where estrogen plays a huge role in maintaining firm, youthful-looking skin. However, during menopause, estrogen levels decline, resulting in reduced collagen production and visible changes like increased wrinkles and diminished skin tone. Beyond the skin's surface, estrogen's influence extends to bones, tendons, and ligaments, where it regulates collagen synthesis and plays a vital role in maintaining bone density. Consequently, conditions like osteoporosis, characterized by decreased bone density, can arise from the decline in estrogen levels associated with menopause. Understanding and nurturing the delicate balance between estrogen and collagen is essential for preserving the structural stability and functional capacity of our body's tissues, ensuring optimal health and well-being throughout life.
Unveiling the Science Behind the Estrogen and Collagen Connection:
The connection between these two hormones is rooted in science and is a complex interplay of multiple factors:
1. Estrogen Receptors on Cells: Estrogen exerts its effects via specialized receptors, known as estrogen receptors (ERs), scattered and carried throughout various tissues, including those rich in collagen. These receptors, consisting of two primary varieties—ERα and ERβ—serve as the binding sites for estrogen, and are responsible for cellular responses that govern collagen production and function.
2. Stimulating Fibroblasts for Collagen Synthesis: A Research study by Julie Carnesecchi* sheds light on estrogen's role in stimulating fibroblasts, the cellular architects responsible for collagen synthesis in connective tissues. Through intricate signalling pathways, estrogen prompts these fibroblasts to ramp up collagen production in the body.
3. Reducing Collagen Breakdown: Beyond fostering collagen synthesis, estrogen also regulates collagen breakdown. By modulating the activity of enzymes like collagenase, which are involved in collagen degradation, estrogen helps preserve the integrity and longevity of collagen fibers, preventing premature tissue deterioration.
So given the equation between the two hormones, it is safe to say that to replenish collagen production in the body you need to replenish estrogen levels. Here are a few tips:
1. Diet: Incorporate phytoestrogens into your meals; these natural plant compounds mimic estrogen's action in the body. Try legumes, flaxseeds, and soy products to support hormonal balance and overall health. If you are unable to find the right phytoestrogens, try Rekindle For Women, dark chocolate bites made of natural plant-based ingredients and phytoestrogens that give the body essential nutrients to help balance estrogen levels.
2. Nutrients: Opt for a diet rich in minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, which are essential for collagen synthesis. Indulge in nuts, citrus fruits, leafy greens, and berries to promote skin elasticity and tissue health. You can also try supplementing with natural plant-based gummies like Replenish With Greens which combines 10 powerful potent herbs that provide essential micronutrients to help stimulate fibroblast production that promotes the body's collagen production.
3. Prioritize Healthy Fats: Include sources of healthy fats in your diet to support hormone synthesis, including estrogen. Avocados and olive oil are excellent choices for maintaining hormonal balance and overall well-being.
4. Hydrate, Hydrate, Repeat: Maintain optimal body hydration to support collagen health and skin elasticity. Ensure you drink enough water to facilitate natural body processes and promote firm, supple skin.
5. Quality Sleep Matters: Make quality sleep a priority to maintain balanced estrogen levels and support tissue regeneration. Deep sleep plays a crucial role in hormone equilibrium and collagen synthesis, contributing to overall skin health and well-being. Try supplements like Restore Your Sleep that help boost natural melatonin production in the body using a pro-melatonin formulation. Remember to pay attention to the importance of a good night's sleep.
6. Manage Stress: Chronic stress can disrupt hormonal balance, impacting collagen integrity and overall health. Incorporate stress-relieving activities like mindfulness or relaxation techniques to promote hormonal equilibrium and support tissue health. It is also wise to incorporate adaptogens in your diet that help relieve stress naturally.
The human body is fascinating, but with a little bit of reading research, and understanding, you can make big changes in the way your body feels. Always remember the more natural the solution, the better it is for your body.
1. * Carnesecchi J, Malbouyres M, de Mets R, Balland M, Beauchef G, Vié K, et al. (2015) Estrogens Induce Rapid Cytoskeleton Re-Organization in Human Dermal Fibroblasts via the Non-Classical Receptor GPR30. PLoS ONE 10(3): e0120672. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0120672