The Role of Collagen and Why it is Crucial to Youthful Plump Skin and Anti-Aging

White cream for skin in a pink container on a blue background. View from above.

Collagen is a type of protein which is vital for giving strength and structure to many parts of the body. It acts like glue to hold the body parts together. Collagen is predominantly found in all connective tissues ranging from skin, bone, blood vessels, ligaments and cartilage, cornea of eye and even the intestine. It is because of collagen the skin and blood vessels are able to maintain their elasticity. In fact collagen is responsible for the skin to appear and feel supple, smooth and young.

Degeneration of collagen fiber is responsible for formation of wrinkles and lines.
With growing age collagen fibers begin to degenerate and the production slows down. This results in loss of skin elasticity and wrinkle formation. The joints lose its flexibility and the bones begin to deteriorate. Environmental factors such as sunlight, pollution, free radicals also harm collagen. It is natural for the body to produce and repair the damaged collagen fibers. This ability gradually decreases after the age of 35. The production and repair tapers off. Its quality is also compromised.

Signs And Symptoms Of Collagen Deficiency
Since collagen is present in many tissues and organs, there are wide varieties of symptoms manifesting collagen deficiency.

Skin: Collagen is the main support for skin. The layers of skin contain collagen. Deficiency of collagen reflects into formation of wrinkles, sagging skin, easy bruising, and loss of elasticity. Wounds take time to heal with lack of collagen.

Muscles: Collagen is a cementing agent for muscle fibers. Patient with collagen deficiency may complain of frequent muscle ache.

Cartilage: Cartilage is thin tissue found in joints. It keeps the structures in joints bound together. Joint is made up of various structures such as tendons, bones, blood vessels. Deficiency of collagen in cartilage can affect joint stability besides producing stiffness and joint pains.

Blood vessels walls: Deficiency of collagen can affect the blood vessels. It can produce chest pain, dry eyes, headaches, skin rashes, breathing difficulty etc.

Teeth: Collagen substance aids in anchoring the teeth to gums. Lack of collagen loosens teeth which may result in toothache and early destruction of teeth.

Treatment Options For Deficiency Of Collagen
Vitamin C is essential nutrient required for production of collagen. Lack of vitamin C can affect collagen secretion. Therefore adequate amount of vitamin C is necessary in the body for reducing collagen deficiency. The rich source of vitamin C is fruits and vegetables. Eat fruits and vegetables liberally as you age. This will help collagen to sustain its life for more period of time.Skin fillers are available to improve skin contour. Collagen is available in jelly form and collagen blocks. The material is prepared from bovine and human collagen source. It can be injected under the skin to treat wrinkles and sagging skin.In chronic non healing ulcers collagen containing ointments are used to enhance the healing of wound. Collagen dressing is also used in first and second degree burns to prevent scarring. Collagen supplements are also used in osteoarthritis, where the cartilage is damaged. It is available in pills and liquid form.Since collagen supplements are produced from animal sources it may cause allergy in some people. Therefore if you are allergic to certain substances, always inform your doctor before taking any type of collagen therapy.

There are at least 16 types of collagen. The four main types are type I, II, III, and IV (1Trusted Source).

Here’s a closer look at the four main types of collagen and their roles in your body:

  • Type I. This type accounts for 90% of your body’s collagen and is made of densely packed fibers. It provides structure to skin, bones, tendons, fibrous cartilage, connective tissue, and teeth.
  • Type II. This type is made of more loosely packed fibers and found in elastic cartilage, which cushions your joints.
  • Type III. This type supports the structure of muscles, organs, and arteries.
  • Type IV. This type helps with filtration and is found in the layers of your skin.

As you age, your body produces less and lower quality collagen.

One of the visible signs of this is in your skin, which becomes less firm and supple. Cartilage also weakens with age.

All collagen starts off as procollagen.

Your body makes procollagen by combining two amino acids — glycine and proline. This process uses vitamin C.

You may be able to help your body produce this important protein by making sure you get plenty of the following nutrients:

  • Vitamin C. Large amounts are found in citrus fruits, bell peppers, and strawberries.
  • Proline. Large amounts are found in egg whites, wheat germ, dairy products, cabbage, asparagus, and mushrooms.
  • Glycine. Large amounts are found in pork skin, chicken skin, and gelatin, but glycine is also found in various protein-containing foods.
  • Copper. Large amounts are found in organ meats, sesame seeds, cocoa powder, cashews, and lentils.

Things that damage collagen

Perhaps it’s even more important to avoid the following collagen-destroying behaviors:

  • Eating too much sugar and refined carbs. Sugar interferes with collagen’s ability to repair itself. Minimize your consumption of added sugar and refined carbs.
  • Getting too much sunshine. Ultraviolet radiation can reduce collagen production. Avoid excessive sun exposure.
  • Smoking. Smoking reduces collagen production. This can impair wound healing and lead to wrinkles

Some autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, can also damage collagen.

Collagen types contain different proteins which serve separate purposes within the body. Types 1 & 3 can be taken together and may support skin, muscles, bone health, and hair and nail growth and maintenance*. Collagen Type 2 protein makes up the fluids and function in the cartilage and joints. Type 2 collagen supplements should be taken separately from Types 1 & 3 to ensure adequate absorption*.

There are 19 amino acids (proteins) found in Collagen Types 1 & 3 – each essential to functions and maintenance within skin, muscles, and bones. These types are produced by fibroblasts (cells in connective tissues) and osteoblasts (cells that make bones).

Over 90 percent of collagen in the body is comprised of Type 1 & 3 Collagen. Proteins in these types include glycineprolinealanine, and hydroxyproline.

  • Glycine – the amino acid found at the highest levels in collagen, requires more serine than our bodies can naturally produce. Studies suggest the need for glycine supplementation to achieve ideal metabolic processes 1.
  • Proline – a non-essential amino acid synthesized from glycine and important in function of joints and tendons 2
  • Hydroxyproline – amino acid that plays an essential role in the stability of collagen 3
  • Alanine – amino acid used in the biosynthesis of proteins 4

Collagen Type 2 is produced by chondrocytes (the non-cellular matrix of cartilage) – a liquid-like filling within the cartilage.

Collagen Types 1 & 3 for Hair, Skin, Nails, and Bones

Suggested use to take with juice or Vitamin C supplement in the morning. Take separately from Type 2 Collagen.

Collagen Types 1 & 3 may:

  • minimize fine lines and wrinkles*
  • improve elasticity*
  • support the bone matrix (36% of bone is made up of collagen Type 1 and 3)*
  • correct weak or damaged nail beds*
  • thicken fine hair, slows hair loss*
  • improve circulation*
  • promote glycine production which builds leans muscle and helps burn fat during sleep*

Supplementing with collagen may also, “increase skin hydration by 28%, decrease micro-furrows by 26%, and increase skin suppleness by 19%”

Collagen Type 2 for Joint and Cartilage Support

Collagen Type 2:

  • makes up 50-60% of protein in cartilage
  • makes up 85-90% of collagen in articular cartilage
  • may reduce popping knees*
  • may support back, jaw, and joints*
  • includes glucosamine, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid

Finding a high-quality collagen supplement in the type you need and formulated for easy absorption is easy once you know what to look for. Collagen supplements are appropriate and beneficial for adults of all ages. Hydrolyzed collagen supplements are available in the form of tablets, capsules, powder, or even tasty chewables!

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