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Skin is our largest organ and serves as the first line of defense against environmental toxins, as well as a secondary elimination organ for internal toxins.

The primary detoxification organ in the body is the liver, while the colon and kidneys are the primary elimination organs.  Excess toxins that cannot be eliminated through the colon and kidneys end up in the bloodstream where they pass to the lungs, skin, and lymphatic system.  Poor complexion, blemishes, and other skin problems are often signs that the skin is trying to deal with toxic overload in the body. Skin consists of three layers; the dermis lies between the outer epidermis and the inner subcutaneous layer.  The dermis houses nerve endings, blood vessels, and oil and sweat glands.  Collagen is the fibrous protein mesh that stabilizes contact between the dermis and epidermis, giving the latter shape, support, and elasticity.  It is a critical building block for skin, bones, teeth, cartilage, muscles, tendons, and other connective tissues.  In fact, collagen makes up the bulk of all connective tissue, accounting for approximately one third of the body’s total protein content.  Type 1 & 3 collagens are found predominately in connective tissue, while type 2 aids in joint cushioning and lubrication.

Levels of all three types of collagen naturally decrease with age.  The wrinkly skin associated with age indicates a decline in collagen production and repair, and a weakening of its structure.  What are some things we can do to preserve our skin and support collagen production?  First, limit exposure to UV rays from the sun and tanning beds.  Although some sun exposure is healthy, excessive exposure to UV rays produces free radicals that damage collagen and collagen-producing cells.  Other factors that can lead to free radical production are exposure to chlorine and other chemicals, smoking and air pollution, and experiencing emotional stress.  Finally, too much sugar in the blood can react with and damage collagen molecules in a process called glycation.
Fight these collagen enemies by eating a diet rich in antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables, healthy fats such as omega-3 fish oils, and plenty of quality protein.  Additionally, supplements are available to boost collagen levels.  Hydrolyzed marine collagens, derived from wild cold-water fish, are more readily absorbed and utilized by the body.  In addition to improving skin elasticity and tone, supplemental collagen supports healthy hair growth and strengthens weak nails.  Other nutrients such as hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, and the minerals zinc, selenium, and silica are vital to nurture our skin from within.