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Discover the Function of Collagen and Its Importance in Your Daily Life

Discover the Function of Collagen and Its Importance in Your Daily Life

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If you are looking for ways to get rid of wrinkles and sagging skin, you may often come across the term,“collagen.” Collagen is perhaps the most important protein in your body. In fact, it makes up about 90 percent of your body. It is found in all the connective tissues, including your skin, bones, organs, mucous membranes, nerves and blood vessels.

Collagen works to impart strength and elasticity. Gelatin, which is commonly used in the food industry as a stabilizer, a thickener or to maintain texture, is made of collagen. Like gelatin, collagen in your body functions to provide structure and firmness. This article will discuss the function of collagen in detail and talk about how it plays an important role in our daily lives.

1. Collagen is a Large Protein

CollagenJust like other proteins, collagen is also made of small building blocks called the amino acids. In other words, amino acids are the structural and functional units for collagen. Amino acids are complex organic molecules consisting of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Due to its complex structure, collagen is often represented as a fiber.

Collagen works with other proteins, like keratin and elastin. Together they help play a wide range of roles in the body. So far, collagen has been known to have 28 types. They are categorized according to the structure they form.

The five most common types of collagen are:

  • Type I: It is commonly found in skin, tendon, bone, organs and vascular ligature.
  • Type II: Type II collagen is mainly found in cartilage.
  • Type III: Reticular or nerve tissues are largely made of type III collagen.
  • Type IV: Type IV collagen forms the basal lamina – an extracellular matrix.
  • Type V: This form of collagen is mainly found in hair, cell surfaces and the placenta.

Type I collagen is the most commonly found collagen in the body. The other types of collagen are often found alongside Type 1 collagen in the body.

2. Fibroblasts: The Source of Collagen

Fibroblasts are the types of cells that manufacture collagen in the body. These cells are found in connective tissues, like your bones and skin. Within these tissues, these fibroblasts release smaller precursors that stick together to form larger collagen molecules. Fibroblasts release different types of collagen depending on the tissue they are in, and the demands of your body.

Discovery of the purpose of fibroblasts in releasing collagen has led to the development of newer anti-aging techniques. In the most recent methods, different growth factors are injected into a certain area of the body, which then stimulate the growth of fibroblasts and cause an increase in the release of collagen.

3. Amino Acids: The Building Blocks of Collagen

amino acidsJust as bricks make a house, amino acids make proteins, but each has a distinct function. Like other proteins, collagen is also made of different types of amino acids, like:

  • Arginine
  • Glutamine
  • Glycine
  • Proline

Vital collagen is made up of 18 amino acids in total. About 50 percent of the total amino acids in collagen include glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. They give collagen its unique properties.

Amino acids are divided into two important groups: essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are those that your body cannot produce by itself, so it is important for you to get them from the food you eat; hence the name,“essential.” Non-essential amino acids, on the other hand, are those are naturally produced in your body.

Most of the amino acids in collagen are of the non-essential variety. Unlike their name, they do have a lot of essential roles to play:

  • Metabolic Function:Glycine and proline are involved in different metabolic processes taking place in the body and therefore ensure your body’s smooth functioning
  • Decrease in Cholesterol Level: Proline forms up to 15 percent of the collagen in your body. It triggers the artery walls to release fat into the bloodstream. This minimizes fat accumulation in the blood vessels and keeps your heart healthy.
  • Healthy DNA:The amino acids help build healthy DNA. DNA is the storehouse of information in your cells.
  • Creatine Buildup: These amino acids also help release creatine, which is essential for the muscle build-up and their proper functioning.

4. The Main Functions of Collagen

Collagen and elastin both work together to provide shape and firmness to your body. While collagen works as a cellular glue, the function of elastin is to provide flexibility to the skin. For organs like skin, both strength and elasticity are of grave importance. This is why, when it comes to the skincare, both collagen and elastin are referred to together.

Collagen provides the rigidity, while elastin allows the skin to stretch and accommodate body movements; therefore, they work together to provide shape and firmness to the body.The complex collagen molecules pack together in long, thin fibrils which are of similar structure. This imparts tenacity to the collagen molecules as it allows them to absorb stress without breaking.

5. Collagen is the Jell-O for Your Bone Matrix

BonesBones comprise of proteins and minerals. Minerals like calcium and phosphate make about 60 percent of bone weight. The remaining is water and matrix. The matrix is formed before mineral is deposited to form bone. For this reason,you can think of it as the scaffolding for your body, just like those on a building. The matrix is essentially collagen, which is vital in bone formation. You can think of collagen as the Jell-O in which the molecules of calcium and phosphate live.

The function of collagen in bone is to help in the maintenance of bone health. Collagen is widely used to treat bone diseases like:

  • Brittle bones
  • Osteoporosis
  • Arthritis

Collagen fibers, like pieces of thread, twist into triple helices to form a strong rope like structure. Mineral crystals then get deposited in between the layers to provide further strength. The twisted collagen fibers called fibrils provide tenacity to the collagen which in turn helps bones to maintain the shape of your body. Also, the function of collagen fibers is to provide the bones with the strength to help us carry out our day to day activities.

6. Function of Collagen for the Skin

While collagen is essential for the functioning of the entire body, a particular function of collagen in skin is most noticeable. It is responsible for the skin’s strength and elasticity. This means collagen helps to prevent your skin from acquiring wrinkles from facial expressions. Elasticity rendered by collagen also helps to maintain your youthful look.

WrinklesHowever, with age, as collagen breaks down, your skin begins to sag. You must take a good care of your skin especially as you age. With age, as skin begins to lose collagen, several signs of aging begin to appear like:

  • Fine lines
  • Wrinkles
  • Age spots
  • Saggy skin

Therefore, collagen treatments are quite popular among people who are looking to preserve their youthful look. Many people prefer taking collagen supplements to restore radiance to their skin. Also, many others inject it into their skin via injections to keep the signs of aging from showing.

7. Collagen: The Fountain of Youth

A wide range of cosmetic treatments in the market are meant to help you with aging skin. Such treatments can be categorized as:

  • Botox Topical treatments
  • Surgical treatments
  • Laser treatments
  • Chemical peels
  • Botox or Dysport
  • Collagen skin treatments

These treatments help:

  • Slowdown the breakdown of collagen.
  • Boost the formation of new collagen molecules.
  • Help repair the already broken collagen.

Your dermatologist will be able to effectively guide you to one of the above methods that most suits your needs. Some treatments like laser, botox and certain collagen skin treatments can be expensive and therefore are not suited for people who are on a tight budget. With all the choices available, you can always choose from a range of skin creams to reduce the signs of aging.

8. Topical Anti-Aging Treatments for Collagen Repair and Regeneration

A plethora of over-the-counter creams in the market make claims of fighting wrinkles effectively. They can be broadly categorized as:

  • creamsTopical retinoid creams
  • Peptide creams

Topical retinoid creams contain retinol as an ingredient, which can smooth wrinkles and eliminate other signs of aging. Retinol is another name for vitamin A. It helps in the regeneration of your cells and helps you maintain your youthful looks. Moreover, vitamin A is a potent antioxidant that prevents toxins from damaging collagen molecules.

Peptide creams, on the other hand, contain peptides that are short snippets of amino acids. These peptides help restore collagen in the skin and reduce the signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles.

Peptide creams, as well as retinoid creams, can have considerable side effects. Therefore, you must always conduct an allergy test before using them. Also, certain products are not advised for use under certain medical conditions so you must consult your doctor before you begin topical treatment for aging skin.

9. Collagen: An Essential Ingredient for Healthy Hair and Nails

When the functions of collagen combine with the function of keratin, they promote healthy hair and nails. Keratin may form hair but collagen works at the hair follicles and hair cuticles to give healthier and shinier hair.

Healthy HairIt helps to particularly treat:

  • Dry hair
  • Damaged hair
  • Frizzy hair

Protein treatments that claim to reduce hair fall and promote healthy hair growth often use collagen as one of their ingredients. However, protein treatments should only be used in moderation even in cases of severely damaged hair.

10. Stretch Marks: When Collagen Breaks

Besides aging, which affects the collagen production in the body, skin collagen can also be affected by rapid growth.

Pregnant womenStretch marks are common in:

  • Pregnant women
  • Growing teenagers
  • People who have suddenly lost or gained a lot of weight

Stretch marks are ugly scars that form when collagen in your superficial skin layers starts to deteriorate. They are mainly formed when your body experiences rapid growth and your skin’s collagen is unable to handle it.Rapid growth makes the skin stretch. However, this sudden change may cause your skin’s collagen to break, which leads to thin scars being formed under the skin.

Stretch marks too, like the signs of aging, can be removed by topical treatments, surgical methods and laser. Since surgical treatments and the laser option are expensive, many people refrain from opting them. Topical skin creams for stretch marks are more popular among people who wish to get rid of their stretch marks without spending a fortune.

There are many stretch mark creams in the market. To know more about the creams that will best suit you, you can visit stretchmarkcreamexperts.com.

11. How to Naturally Prevent Collagen Breakdown

Prevention is better than a cure. It is always better to take necessary steps in order to prevent stretch marks than battle them out later with cosmetic treatments.

Here are some simple ways that can help you keep stretch marks at bay:

  • Drink Plenty of WaterDrink Plenty of Water: Water helps to keep your skin hydrated. Staying hydrated is an effective strategy to prevent the breakdown of collagen when the skin undergoes rapid stretching.
  • Moisturize Your Skin: To keep skin hydrated, you must also use a good moisturizer or simply rub coconut oil or shea butter onto your skin every time you feel your skin is dry.
  • Increasing Your Vitamin C Intake: Vitamin C helps boost collagen production, which in turn helps prevent stretch marks. Moreover, vitamin C is a strong antioxidant that slows the breakdown of collagen.
  • Consuming Fish Oil: Fish oil is a rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Fatty acids promote healthy skin by boosting collagen production.
  • Consuming the Right Amount of Zinc: Zinc deficiency can cause stretch marks. Like vitamin C, zinc is also responsible for promoting the production of collagen in the skin. Therefore, it helps to keep skin healthy and prevent stretch marks.

These are simple dietary and lifestyle changes that can help prevent collagen in your skin from breaking and causing stretch marks. Besides following these simple rules, you can also avoid stretch marks by taking hydrolyzed collagen supplements, which can add to your overall health too. A bit more about these supplements is in the text to come.

12. What and How of Hydrolyzed Collagen Supplements

Hydrolyzed collagen supplements are derived from animal bone and cartilage. These supplements contain amino acids that help boost collagen formation in your body. These collagen supplements, therefore,can help:

  • Increase lean muscle massSupplements
  • Alleviate arthritis symptoms
  • Rebuild organs
  • Promote weight-loss
  • Gain youthful looking skin
  • Prevent hair loss
  • Aid in nail growth

Some research also suggests that hydrolyzed collagen supplements can bring relief from hypertension, bladder weakness and autoimmune diseases.

13. Things to Beware of While Taking Collagen Supplements

Only 0.1 percent of collagen supplement users have reported of experiencing side effects. A lingering taste in the mouth is the most common side effect that users have reported. However, users have also stated in their reviews that the slight lingering taste often disappears after 30-60 minutes.

Other side effects of collagen supplements that have been noted by users are:

  • Allergic Reactions: Since collagen is extracted from the bones and cartilage of animals like cow, pig, fish, shellfish and chicken, people who are allergic to products from them can experience an allergic reaction from the supplements.
  • Decreased Appetite: Some users have also reported having experienced a decrease in appetite following the use of collagen supplements. However, this effect of collagen supplements was perceived as either a benefit or a side effect depending on the user’s position.

While there may be a few side effects of collagen supplements, their benefits are vast when compared to the side effects. In Japan, women have been enjoying the youth-promoting effects of collagen supplements for many decades.

14. When and How to Take Collagen From the Outside

Amino acids that form collagen are naturally produced in your body. However, if you are sick or over-stressed, the production of these amino acids gets affected. You will then have to provide your body with the necessary collagen in the form of food or supplement.

Some foods have the capacity to restore, repair and regenerate collagen formation in the body. These foods are:

  • oystersFish and oysters
  • Red vegetables, like tomatoes, pepper and beet
  • Green vegetables, like spinach and kale
  • Orange vegetables, like carrots and sweet potatoes
  • Berries and citrus fruits
  • Soy and soy products
  • White tea
  • Egg whites
  • Lean meats
  • Garlic

Your collagen producing capacity also reduces with age. Restoring collagen by including these foods in the diet can also help you fight against aging.

15. Simple Gelatin Vs. Collagen-Boosting Foods: Which is Better?

Consuming collagen is beneficial as it has several vital benefits for the body. Gelatin was first recognized in China as a food and was often administered as a medicine. It is also said that gelatin can be consumed by people who have food allergies and other sensitivities.

When you consume collagen in the form of gelatin, which is made from animal tissue, it reaches the stomach where it is broken down into amino acids. However, rarely do these amino acids help to form collagen.

Instead, to boost collagen production in your body, you must consume foods that aid in the production of the amino acids necessary for collagen production. Also, supplements containing bioactive collagen peptides help to enhance the natural production collagen in the body. Bioactive collagen peptides:

  • Contain almost all the amino acids that constitute collagen in your body.
  • Are high in glycine, hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine found abundantly in collagen.
  • Rapidly increase the synthesis of procollagen which is the precursor for collagen.
  • Help reduce signs of aging and give you stronger bones.

Food and dietary supplements help to keep the effects of collagen deficiency at bay. They provide you with a natural method for maintaining your youthful look.

16. Collagen for Weight Loss

Weight LossCollagen can help suppress appetite. This makes it highly beneficial when it comes to weight loss. Unlike other products that promote weight-loss, hydrolyzed collagen contains no:

  • Fillers
  • Hormones
  • Acids
  • Forms of harsh processing

This means that consuming collagen does not affect your body negatively. Further, hydrolyzed collagen helps to eliminate fat from your arteries thus decreasing your chances of developing heart diseases. Collagen supplements can also suppress the appearance of cellulite as you progress towards weight-loss and gain an attractive body.

17. Collagen for a Sound Sleep and a Peaceful Mind

SleepIf you are unable to establish a decent sleeping pattern, and feel constantly tired and lethargic as a result, collagen can help to induce sleep and bring relief from insomnia. The amino acid known as glycine in collagen is a neurotransmitter. It is a sleep-promoting chemical found in your brain.

Glycine calms your brain, makes you feel better and helps you sleep well. Moreover, it has the ability to relieve stress and reduce anxiety; thus it can promote a better night’s sleep.

There are several other body proteins that resemble collagen. For instance, amylase is a protein-based enzyme found in the digestive tract and hemoglobin is another protein responsible for carrying oxygen through the body. Immunoglobulins are proteins that help fight infections.

Just as the function of amylase, function of hemoglobin and function of immunoglobulin are vital to proper functioning of your body, the function of collagen is extremely important. Only with the appropriate production of collagen in your body will you be able to look and feel youthful. Collagen helps you live your life to the fullest.

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