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August 24, 2021


Anisha Rao, MPH
Factors That Affect Collagen Breakdown

Fact Checked By Anisha Rao, MPH
 August 24, 2021

Collagen Breakdown

We cannot control all the factors that lead to the decline of our ability to produce collagen.

For example, we cannot control the fact that as time passes, we will age.

Fortunately, certain lifestyle factors are in our power to influence our collagen levels.

So, let’s talk about those.

Stages of Change Model

Before we dive into those factors, let’s review the Stages of Change Model.

We may need to change our behaviors and lifestyle factors to reap the collagen health and beauty benefits that we seek.

To succeed as we change, we need to understand the three crucial elements to change our behavior:

  • Readiness to change: Do we feel ready and committed to taking the necessary actions to boost our collagen production? Are we willing to reduce the behaviors that rob us of collagen?

  • Barriers to change: Are there any barriers preventing us from changing?

  • Likelihood of relapse: What might trigger a return to a former behavior? For example, if we try to quit smoking, what might tempt us to smoke again?

    If we are trying to eat healthier meals, then what may tempt us to eat unhealthy meals? How will we bounce back if we steer off course?


The Stages of Change are:

  • Pre-Contemplation: We may be in denial and have no intention of changing our behavior. We may need more awareness to feel the desire and need to change.

    We may not realize the importance of collagen and how collagen declines. We may not yet realize that there are ways we can increase and decrease our collagen levels.

  • Contemplation: We are aware that our collagen declines, but we are not yet committed to controlling the factors within our power.

    We may be ambivalent and uncertain. We may need to understand why we should choose to change as we increase our pros for change and decrease our cons.

  • Determination: We are committed to changing and are in the process of determining our plan to change.

    We are working on identifying the appropriate change strategies. We may need to adjust our thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors as we evolve to progress.

  • Action: We are taking steps toward change to boost our collagen levels. We may benefit from encouragement to implement change strategies and eliminate potential relapses.

    We may reach out for help. We can write down our steps and prepare a plan of action. Avoid previous triggers and temptations that robbed us of our collagen.

  • Maintenance: We are living a new lifestyle as we work on sustaining change. We are trying to avoid and limit temptations and triggers.

    We may benefit from developing coping strategies to help with our attractions to return to our old behaviors. Remember to reward yourself for your progress.

  • Relapse: An event may occur that leads us to return to our original behaviors. For example, we may attend a social event where there is unhealthy food, or our friends are smoking.

We may feel frustrated and disappointed about relapsing.

If you do relapse, then focus on identifying the triggers and temptations.

Recognize your barriers to success and what you can do differently next time.

Remind yourself about your goal and your commitment to change.

Consider sharing your goals and reasons for change with your friends and family, who will encourage you along your journey and may even join you too.

Ultraviolet Radiation

When we expose our skin to the sun, our body produces Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium to build and maintain healthy bones.

Vitamin D also helps prevent cancer, depression, elevated blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.

Sunshine exposure also regulates our circadian rhythm and helps us sleep better. For most people, 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure can help soak in the benefits.

Unfortunately, ultraviolet radiation is one of the most hazardous external factors resulting in physical and chemical changes (1).

Too much exposure to the sun can damage our skin, lead to skin cancer, and reduce our ability to synthesize collagen.

In fact, ultraviolet radiation can cause our collagen to break down faster than usual, through normal aging.

This happens as the radiation penetrates our dermis and causes an abnormal buildup of elastin.

We then produce enzymes, which break down our collagen and speed the process of wrinkling and skin sagging.

We may experience enlarged blemishes, freckles, age spots, and discoloration.

Sun exposure is also the most critical risk factor for developing melanoma, a form of skin cancer that begins in the cells that control our skin pigmentation.

We can avoid the harmful effects of the sun by trying to avoid too much exposure to the sun in the middle of the day, from around 10 am to 3 pm.

If you go outside, then wear protective clothing, sunglasses, a wide-brim hat, and sunscreen.

Apply sunscreen every day, even on cloudy days. And try to stay in the shade when the sun is glistening its brightest.


Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including more than 60 carcinogens.

Many of these chemicals destroy our elastin and ability to synthesize collagen.

So, you may experience premature aging as your skin loses its firmness.

Repetitive squinting and lip pursing also lead to lines and wrinkles. Also, heat may dry and damage the surface of our skin.

Nicotine causes our blood vessels to narrow, which reduces the flow of our oxygen and nutrients to our skin cells.

Our body may increase the production of free radicals.

As discussed in our last article, if we cannot efficiently process and remove free radicals, we may experience oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress harms our cells, body functions and contributes to several alarming health conditions.


While there are foods that support our ability to synthesize collagen, there are also foods that destroy our collagen and age us faster.

Here are a few examples of foods to try to steer clear from:

  • Sugar: Sugar leads to inflammation, exacerbates skin conditions, and degrades our collagen and elastin.

If you are craving something sweet, then opt for dark chocolate or fresh fruit instead.

Your youthful, healthy, radiant skin will thank you.

  • Alcohol: Like sun exposure, alcohol breaks down our collagen and depletes our body of crucial nutrients.

  • Fried Foods: Foods that are fried in oil can lead to inflammation and destroy our collagen.

    Fried food can damage the cellular structure of our dermis and epidermis. They may also release free radicals, lead to excess oil production, and harm our complexion.

  • Processed Meats: Sodium nitrate is a preservative added to many processed foods. Processed meats can lead to inflammation, puffiness, and break down collagen and elastin.

Instead, try replacing processed meats with organic, grass-fed meat to avoid excess sodium and sodium nitrates.

What if you tried supplementing with a multi-collagen peptide power?

The supplements can absorb more efficiently to help boost collagen levels quicker.

Our bodies need to convert most collagen sources into simpler amino acids that we can then synthesize to create collagen.

Hydrolyzed collagen sources have been created to embrace the powers of amino acids that have already been broken down into smaller parts.

We can then efficiently synthesize and rapidly enjoy the collagen benefits we seek.

Multi-source collagen offers multiple benefits for more bang for our buck in a more efficient way.