Medically Reviewed By Elizabeth A. Swick, MS, RDN
What Is Elastin?
When you search for ways to improve skin elasticity and firmness, you're likely to encounter information about the protein collagen. As the most abundant protein in the body and the primary support fiber for the skin, collagen does play a big part in keeping skin supple and youthful. However, it's not the only one of the extracellular matrix proteins that you need to be aware of. Elastin is another vital protein that may help fight wrinkles and support healthy joints. Read on to learn what it is and how you can boost collagen and elastin with supplements.
What Exactly Is Elastin?
Elastin is a structural protein that provides resilience and elasticity to organs and tissues and is a crucial part of the middle layer of the skin called the dermis. The protein can stretch. Bundles of elastin fibers present in the dermis help make cells flexible. As a result, the protein is vital for maintaining resilient skin.
Where is elastin found? Although we primarily hear elastin discussed concerning skin care, the protein is also present in other parts of the body, including:
- Lungs: Without elastin, your lungs could not expand and contract when you breathe.
- Arteries: Elastin gives your blood vessels the ability to expand and contract. When arteries lose elasticity and harden, the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke increases.
- Connective tissue: The ligaments that connect muscles and the tendons that connect muscles to bones rely on elastin to stretch in response to your movements and then regain their shape.
How Is Elastin Different Than Collagen?
Collagen is located in the hypodermis, while elastin is found in the upper dermis. The main job of collagen in the skin is to support the tissue. Elastin lends stretch to the skin.
What Happens to Collagen and Elastin As We Age?
We often think of elastin and collagen proteins together because both contribute to the appearance and texture of youthful skin. As we age, the body naturally produces collagen and elastin at a slower pace. Elastin does tend to last longer than collagen, but eventually, it begins to degrade, causing the skin to lose elasticity.
Exposure to pollutants and ultraviolet energy in sunlight can damage collagen and elastin fibers. Reactive free radicals found in the environment drive this process, contributing to the development of premature signs of aging and inflammation. Wearing sunscreen every time you head outside is one way that you can help preserve elastin levels as you age. Antioxidant nutrients found in foods and some dietary supplements may also limit the damage by breaking down free radicals.
Benefits of Elastin Supplements
Those interested in keeping their levels of elastin fibers within the normal range with age can turn to dietary supplements. High-quality elastin supplements can be broken down by the body and potentially converted into new elastin. Elastin supplements may:
Improve Joint Mobility
Without adequate elastin levels, the ligaments and tendons around the joints may lose some of their stretch. Increasing elastin levels may help keep joints more mobile with age. As a result, many joint health supplements contain elastin to help maintain these crucial connective tissues.
Improve Skin Firmness
Although collagen is the primary protein responsible for supporting the skin, elastin loss can also rob the tissue of its suppleness. That's why experts often recommend taking elastin along with collagen supplements to support skin firmness.
Improve Skin Elasticity
Elastin supplements may help skin retain its ability to stretch as you age. When skin elasticity declines, the tissue becomes more prone to sagging due to the effects of gravity. In addition, low elasticity makes it more difficult for the skin to retake its shape when it stretches to accommodate your facial expressions. When this occurs, fine lines and wrinkles are more likely to develop in areas like the forehead, the mouth and the corners of the eyes.
How To Choose the Best Elastin Supplement
When comparing elastin supplement products, follow these tips:
- Check the type of elastin: Not all elastin supplements contain the same quality elastin. Ones that feature Prolastin may provide more benefits due to the properties of their key ingredient. Prolastin is a high-quality form of elastin sourced from marine life found off the coast of France. In addition to supplying the body with elastin fibers, Prolastin has antioxidant properties that may help defend cells from free radical damage.
- Compare dosage levels: The amount of elastin per serving also matters. Body Kitchen Pro-Elastin contains 1000 milligrams of Prolastin per serving, more than what's found in some competitors' products.
- Consider bioavailability: The unique way Prolastin is manufactured makes it highly bioavailable. This means that the body may have an easier time digesting and utilizing the protein.
- Consult your medical provider: Before taking any new dietary supplement, you should always check with your doctor to ensure that the product is ideal for your needs.
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