Think of collagen as the glue that keeps much of your body together. The word collagen is in fact derived from the Greek word ‘kólla’ which means glue. Some types of collagen are stronger than steel.
Collagen accounts for about a third of the body’s protein composition. It’s found just about everywhere, from bones to ligaments and from blood vessels to teeth. Here’s more about this clever protein and why it’s so vital to bodily function.
Types of Collagen
There are at least 16 types of collagen. The main ones are types one, two, three and four.
Type one accounts for around ninety percent of your body’s collagen. It’s very strong and is made of densely packed fibers. It gives structure to the skin, bones, tendons, teeth and connective tissue.
Type two is made of more loosely packed fibers. You can find it in elastic cartilage, which cushions joints.
Type three supports the body’s muscles, organs, and arteries. Finally, type four helps with filtration. It’s found in the layers of your skin.
As we grow older, our bodies produce less collagen which is also of lower quality. One of the most visible signs of this is in the skin. It becomes less firm and supple the older we get. Cartilage weakens with age too.
Women tend to experience a huge reduction in collagen synthesis after menopause. By the age of sixty, a dramatic decline in collagen production is quite normal.
Increasing Collagen Production
Collagen starts off as procollagen. The body creates procollagen by combining two amino acids together: these are glycine and proline. The process uses vitamin C and copper.
Egg whites, wheat germ, and dairy products all contain large quantities of proline. You’ll find large amounts of glycine in pork skin, chicken skin, and gelatin.
Copper can be found in certain meats, sesame seeds, and lentils. Citrus fruits, bell peppers, and strawberries are all great sources of vitamin C.
Your body also needs high-quality protein that contains the amino acids needed to make new proteins. Lean meat, chicken, seafood, dairy products, legumes, and tofu are all very good sources of amino acids.
Some Things to Avoid
It’s always a good idea to have a balanced diet. Clearly, there are some food types that will help create collagen. There are also others that can help to destroy it.
Sugar lowers the ability of collagen to repair itself. It’s best to keep your intake of sugar and refined carbs to a minimum. Too much sunlight can also have a negative effect on collagen production.
Smoking interferes with collagen production. It can lead to wrinkles too. Certain autoimmune disorders, like lupus, can also damage collagen.
Natural Food Sources
Collagen can be found in the connective tissues of certain animal foods. These include chicken and pork skin where large quantities can be found.
Bone broth is another great source of collagen. It’s made by boiling down the bones of chicken or other animals. It’s not clear though whether consuming collagen-rich foods will increase the levels the protein in your body.
When you consume protein, it’s broken down into amino acids. It’s then reassembled. That means the collagen you eat may not translate directly into higher levels of it in your body.
Certain supplements have been shown to improve muscle mass and strength in older men. They may also help to reduce pain in those suffering from osteoarthritis.
Supplements can also help with skin elasticity. It’s typically used in topical treatments to improve the appearance of skin. That can mean minimizing lines and wrinkles.
Collagen peptide comes in a powder that can be easily incorporated into foods and beverages. You could also mix it into smoothies, soups or baked goods without affecting the texture of what you’re eating.
More Uses of Collagen
Collagen can be molded into compacted solids or lattice-like gels. Because it is naturally occurring this makes it suitable for various medical purposes.
Doctors perform collagen injections to improve the contours of the skin and fill out depressions. These fillers are used cosmetically to remove lines from the face.
Collagen can also help to heal certain wounds by attracting new skin cells to the affected area. It creates a healing platform for new tissue growth. It’s used on second-degree burns, and chronic wounds that don’t respond to other treatments.
Nails and Hair
Studies have found that oral collagen intake can keep nails healthy and help increase nail growth. It may also significantly lower the frequency of broken nails.
Adding collagen into your daily diet may also reverse signs of hair loss. It is possible that providing your body with the building blocks for collagen may help to improve the health of hair follicles. That might then prevent hair loss.
The eye contains many types of collagen. One, in particular, makes up your cornea, retina, and the white part of your eye. A deficiency of this type of collagen may lead to eye defects and malformations.
By consuming the micronutrients and amino acids that form collagen, the body can create this specific protein on its own.
These are used in periodontal and implant therapy. They promote the growth of specific types of cell. In oral surgery, collagen barriers can stop fast-growing cells around the gum from migrating to a wound in a tooth.
Improving Sleep Quality
Glycine, the primary amino acid found in collagen, could help you to nod off and also experience better quality sleep. That could also help you to feel better than you usually do when you wake up.
The best way to get these benefits is by taking a collagen supplement with your dinner. Studies show you may need to take around fifteen grams of collagen to experience the benefits.
Non-Medical Uses of Collagen
For hundreds of years, collagen was used to create glue. It’s still used today to create strings for certain musical instruments.
In food, it’s heated to create gelatin. That’s then used to make casings for sausages.
A Versatile Protein
The unique amino acid composition of collagen provides us with many benefits that we can see and feel. It plays an essential part in our body’s structure by holding many parts of the body together.
Continue reading our blog for more useful health-related articles. Find out here how to improve joint health naturally.