There are so many different nutraceuticals available to help promote healthy, attractive skin. But two of them that deserve special mention are collagen and resveratrol. Of course, there are few people who will be surprised to hear that collagen offers skin related benefits, but many of those same people may be interested to learn that resveratrol similarly offers complementary benefits. This article will speak to both nutraceuticals, starting with resveratrol.
Resveratrol is a natural antioxidant compound found in grapes, peanuts1 and Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum).2 It provides antioxidant protection to the plants—as well as to humans that consume them.3 Resveratrol originally made its introduction splash into the dietary supplement marketplace based upon the consideration that intake of it and other polyphenol compounds from red wine may contribute to the “French paradox”—the unexpectedly low rate of death from cardiovascular disease in the Mediterranean population despite the relatively higher intake of saturated fats.4 Then, excitement increased with the understanding that resveratrol helped activate the SIRT 1 gene, associated with longevity.5 You should also know that there are two primary isomers (i.e., two forms) of resveratrol, trans- and cis-. To be clear, trans-resveratrol has much greater activity than cis-resveratrol.6
Since that time, interest in resveratrol has continued to expand due to human research demonstrating its effectiveness for a range of health benefits. Published human clinical research has demonstrated that supplementation with resveratrol was capable of significantly reducing arterial stiffness (a major indicator of atherosclerosis),7 reducing inflammation,8 increasing gamma delta T cells—important cells in the immune system,9 improve muscle fiber in combination with exercise in older men and women,10 promote cognitive health,11 help promote weight loss,12 and even support healthy blood sugar13 and liver function.14
Now, let’s look at the skin health benefits associated with resveratrol.
Resveratrol, UVB and Collagen Production
There are two basic types of ultraviolet rays that reach the earth’s surface—UVB and UVA. UVB rays are responsible for the greatest damage to skin. In fact, UVB exposure is one of the primary factors responsible for the development of photoaging (premature aging of the skin by the sun). Resveratrol can help in this regard.
A study15 using skin cells and mice was conducted to investigate the photoprotective properties of resveratrol in UVB-induced photoaging, the mechanism involved. The results were that resveratrol had a protective effect against UVB-induced photoaging in both skin cells and mice. Its mechanism of action included reducing the expression of MMPs (matrix metalloproteinases that degrade collagen) and inflammatory factors, balancing oxidative stress in the skin, and exerting antioxidant effects.
Other research has shown16 that formulations with resveratrol can stimulate the proliferation of fibroblasts and contribute to the increase in the concentration of collagen III. Resveratrol has an affinity for the estrogen protein receptors (both ERα and ERβ), thereby contributing to the stimulation of collagen types I and II production. More-over, resveratrol also has the antioxidant properties, and thus can protect cells against oxidative damage associated with the effects of free radicals and UV radiation on the skin, slowing down the process of photoaging.
A mouse study17 was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of resveratrol on diabetic wound healing, and to analyze the underlying mechanisms. Results showed that resveratrol accelerated and quality of skin wound healing. The mechanisms included the stimulation of collagen type I, and the reduced secretion of inflammatory factors (TNF-α, iNOS and IL-1β).
Collagen is the main structural protein found in skin and other connective tissues. Collagen is so vital to our health and well-being, that it actually makes up from 25 percent to 35 percent of the whole-body protein content. “Collagen peptides” refer to a small collagen protein chain. The significance of this is that smaller protein chains—or peptides—tend to be easily absorbed and distributed in the body.18
As dietary supplements, collagen peptides are quite popular for helping to reduce skin wrinkles, while improving hydration and elasticity. How does it work? Laboratory research also shows that collagen peptides can stimulate the production of collagen and can also be metabolized into even smaller peptides known as dipeptides. In turn, these dipeptides can stimulate fibroblasts (cells that contribute to the formation of connective tissues) and chondrocytes (cells responsible for cartilage formation) to synthesize hyaluronic acid, which helps retain water in both the skin and synovial fluid.19 In addition, animal research suggests that collagen peptides can prevent ultraviolet-induced skin damage by increasing the number of fibroblasts and the density and thickness of collagen fibrils in the skin.20
Collagen and Skin Health
Since much has already been written about collagen, I’ll keep this section brief. Two major commercial forms of collagen include Verisol and Biocell. Verisol collagen peptide (bovine source) has been shown to reduce wrinkles by 20 percent, improve skin elasticity, and increase procollagen production with 2.5 g/day.21,22 Biocell is a type 2 collagen (chicken source) that has been shown to reduce skin dryness, and lines/wrinkles, increase collagen with 1,000 mg/day, and support healthy joints with 2,000 mg/day.23
Study: Combination of Collagen and Resveratrol
So, what happens when you combine collagen and resveratrol? This question was answered in an open-label, six-month pilot study24 which was conducted to examine the effect of a daily ingestion of a combination of 1,000 mg collagen (Biocell Collagen) and 100 mg of trans-resveratrol as a dietary supplement (Collagen Booster, Reserveage), in 29 women who displayed visible signs of facial skin aging. Results were that participants had significant improvements in their percentage of facial pores and ultraviolet spots from baseline to six months (P<0.05). Body and skin satisfaction also improved significantly from baseline to six months (P<0.05). Therefore, the findings show that this combination of collagen and resveratrol reduced visible signs of facial skin aging and improved skin and body satisfaction.
Collagen and resveratrol are two nutraceuticals demonstrated to help promote healthy, attractive skin. When combined together, research indicates that this combination is capable of reducing visible signs of facial skin aging (including reduction of pore size and UV age spots) and improving skin and body satisfaction.
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8 Samsami-Kor M, Daryani NE, Asl PR, Hekmatdoost A. Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Resveratrol in Patients with Ulcerative Colitis: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-controlled Pilot Study. Arch Med Res. 2015 May;46(4):280-5.
9 Espinoza JL, Trung LQ, Inaoka PT, Yamada K, An DT, Mizuno S, Nakao S, Takami A. The Repeated Administration of Resveratrol Has Measurable Effects on Circulating T-Cell Subsets in Humans. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017:6781872.
10 Alway SE, McCrory JL, Kearcher K, Vickers A, Frear B, Gilleland DL, Bonner DE, Thomas JM, Donley DA, Lively MW, Mohamed JS. Resveratrol Enhances Exercise-Induced Cellular and Functional Adaptations of Skeletal Muscle in Older Men and Women. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2017 Nov 9;72(12):1595-1606.
11 Witte AV, Kerti L, Margulies DS, Flöel A. Effects of resveratrol on memory performance, hippocampal functional connectivity, and glucose metabolism in healthy older adults. J Neurosci. 2014 Jun 4;34(23):7862-70.
12 Méndez-del Villar M, González-Ortiz M, Martínez-Abundis E, Pérez-Rubio KG, Lizárraga-Valdez R. Effect of resveratrol administration on metabolic syndrome, insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion. Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2014 Dec;12(10):497-501.
13 Anton SD, Embry C, Marsiske M, Lu X, Doss H, Leeuwenburgh C, Manini TM. Safety and metabolic outcomes of resveratrol supplementation in older adults: results of a twelve-week, placebo-controlled pilot study. Exp Gerontol. 2014 Sep;57:181-7.
14 Faghihzadeh F, Adibi P, Hekmatdoost A. The effects of resveratrol supplementation on cardiovascular risk factors in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Br J Nutr. 2015 Sep 14;114(5):796-803.
15 Cui B, Wang Y, Jin J, Yang Z, Guo R, Li X, Yang L, Li Z. Resveratrol Treats UVB-Induced Photoaging by Anti-MMP Expression, through Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant and Antiapoptotic Properties, and Treats Photoaging by Upregulating VEGF-B Expression. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2022 Jan 4;2022:6037303.
16 Ratz-Łyko A, Arct J. Resveratrol as an active ingredient for cosmetic and dermatological applications: a review. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2019;21(2):84-90.
17 Ding Y, Yang P, Li S, Zhang H, Ding X, Tan Q. Resveratrol accelerates wound healing by inducing M2 macrophage polarisation in diabetic mice. Pharm Biol. 2022 Dec;60(1):2328-2337.
18 Oesser S, Adam M, Babel W, Seifert J. Oral administration of (14)C labeled gelatin hydrolysate leads to an accumulation of radioactivity in cartilage of mice (C57/BL). J Nutr 1999;129:1891-5.
19 Schwartz SR, Park J. Ingestion of BioCell Collagen, a novel hydrolyzed chicken sternal cartilage extract; enhanced blood microcirculation and reduced facial aging signs. Clin Interv Aging. 2012;7:267-273.
20 Schwartz SR, Park J. Ingestion of BioCell Collagen, a novel hydrolyzed chicken sternal cartilage extract; enhanced blood microcirculation and reduced facial aging signs. Clin Interv Aging. 2012;7:267-273.
21 Proksch E, Schunck M, Zague V, Segger D, Degwert J, Oesser S. Oral intake of specific bioactive collagen peptides reduces skin wrinkles and increases dermal matrix synthesis. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2014;27(3):113-9.
22 Proksch E, Segger D, Degwert J, Schunck M, Zague V, Oesser S. Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2014;27(1):47-55.
23 Schwartz SR1, Park J. Ingestion of BioCell Collagen(®), a novel hydrolyzed chicken sternal cartilage extract; enhanced blood microcirculation and reduced facial aging signs. Clin Interv Aging. 2012;7:267-73.
24 Hausenblas H. Effects of Resveratrol and Collagen Supplementation on Facial Aging. Natural Medicine Journal. Jan. 15, 2014. Retrieved February 23, 2023 from www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/journal/effects-resveratrol-and-collagen-supplementation-facial-aging.
Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, the provost for Huntington University of Health Sciences, is a nutritionist, herbalist, writer and educator. For more than 40 years he has educated and trained natural product retailers and health care professionals, has researched and formulated natural products for dozens of dietary supplement companies, and has written articles on nutrition, herbal medicine, nutraceuticals and integrative health issues for trade, consumer magazines and peer-reviewed publications. He can be reached at email@example.com.