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What hormone increases collagen?

Quick Answers

The main hormone that increases collagen production is estrogen. Estrogen plays a key role in maintaining skin collagen content and structure. As estrogen levels decline with age, collagen production also slows down leading to sagging skin and wrinkles. Other hormones like growth hormone, thyroid hormone, and insulin also support collagen production.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and is a major component of connective tissues such as skin, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. It provides strength and structure to our bodies. Collagen production naturally declines with age leading to common signs of aging like wrinkled skin, stiff joints, and weakened bones and muscles. Understanding the hormones that affect collagen production can help target treatments to reduce age-related collagen loss.

Role of Estrogen in Collagen Production

Estrogen is the dominant female sex hormone. It plays a critical role in regulating collagen production in the skin and connective tissues. Studies show that estrogen directly stimulates genes involved in collagen synthesis like procollagen and fibronectin. It also inhibits collagen degradation by reducing the activity of enzymes like collagenase that break down collagen.

Estrogen helps maintain skin thickness and elasticity by promoting collagen production in fibroblasts, the cells that make collagen. It prevents age-related thinning of skin and wrinkle formation by preserving collagen content. Estrogen deficiency causes a marked reduction in skin collagen which contributes to postmenopausal skin aging.

Estrogen and Skin Aging

Many studies demonstrate the anti-aging benefits of estrogen on skin. Postmenopausal women with lower estrogen often experience accelerated skin aging compared to premenopausal women. Estrogen therapy in postmenopausal women has been shown to increase skin thickness, improve skin moisture and elasticity, and reduce wrinkles.

Topical estrogen creams may also modestly increase collagen content in postmenopausal skin. However, the extent of benefit is lower compared to systemic hormone therapy.

Role of Other Hormones

While estrogen has a dominant role, other hormones like growth hormone, thyroid hormone, and insulin also support collagen production:

Growth Hormone

Growth hormone (GH) stimulates collagen synthesis and fibroblast proliferation. GH levels decline naturally with age. GH deficiency is linked to reduced skin thickness and elasticity. GH replacement in deficient adults can improve dermal collagen content.

Thyroid Hormone

Thyroid hormones T3 and T4 regulate metabolic activity in the skin and modulate gene expression of collagen. Hypothyroidism leads to reduced collagen content in skin and tendons. Treatment of hypothyroidism with thyroid hormones can improve collagen production.


Insulin stimulates the growth of fibroblasts and expression of collagen genes. People with diabetes tend to have accelerated skin aging partly due to impaired insulin activity and advanced glycation end products that damage collagen.

Collagen Boosting Strategies

Here are some evidence-based ways to boost collagen levels and reduce age-related collagen loss:

Consume Collagen Supplements

Collagen supplements containing hydrolyzed collagen peptides can modestly increase collagen in skin. They provide extra collagen from animal sources that the body can incorporate into tissues.

Eat Foods Rich in Collagen Building Blocks

Consuming foods high in nutrients needed for collagen formation like vitamin C, copper, proline, glycine and zinc can support natural collagen production. Citrus fruits, berries, leafy greens, nuts and seeds are good sources.

Use Topical Retinoids

Retinoids like retinol increase fibroblast growth and collagen production in skin when applied topically. They are considered first-line anti-aging ingredients.

Wear Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

UV radiation damages existing collagen and interferes with collagen synthesis. Using broad spectrum sunscreen daily prevents UV-induced collagen breakdown.

Don’t Smoke

Smoking causes biochemical changes that reduce collagen synthesis and accelerate the breakdown of existing collagen in skin. Avoid smoking to preserve collagen.

Treat Other Health Conditions

Managing diseases like diabetes and hypothyroidism can improve hormonal balance and collagen production. Follow your doctor’s treatment plan for such conditions.

Consider Bioidentical Hormone Therapy

For postmenopausal women, bioidentical hormone therapy using estrogen and progesterone under medical guidance may restore hormone levels and improve collagen status. Discuss risks and benefits with your doctor.

Try Skin Rejuvenation Therapies

Procedures like laser resurfacing, microneedling and peels cause mild injury that stimulates new collagen production. They can improve skin texture and elasticity when other collagen boosting methods prove inadequate.

The Takeaway

Estrogen is the primary hormone that maintains collagen levels in our skin and connective tissues. Age-related estrogen decline leads to reduced collagen which contributes to skin aging. Supporting our body’s natural collagen production with diet, lifestyle, supplements and hormone balance under medical supervision can help counteract this effect. Proven anti-aging therapies are also available for improving collagen status when needed.