What Is Collagen: Everything You Need To Know
“Our bodies gradually make less collagen as we age, but collagen production drops most quickly due to excess sun exposure, smoking, excess alcohol, and lack of sleep and exercise. With aging, collagen in the deep skin layers changes from a tightly organized network of fibers to an unorganized maze.”Harvard School of Public Health
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, making up about a third of the total protein. That’s because it’s found just about everywhere! From muscles to bones to skin and nails, collagen is a key part of the body’s connective tissue.
While we tend to think of collagen as something that keeps our skin looking young and plump, it actually plays an important role in many different areas of the body. Collagen is responsible for giving our skin its elasticity and strength, as well as helping to repair any damage that might occur. It’s also essential for the health of our bones, joints, and gut.
In this article, we’ll dive a little deeper into what collagen is and how it works to maintain a healthy and functioning body.
What is collagen?
You probably know collagen as a key ingredient in some beauty creams and serums. But what exactly is it? And does it really work?
Collagen is a protein that’s found throughout your body, from your skin to your bones. It’s responsible for creating that youthful “plump” look, as well as giving skin its elasticity and strength.
As we age, our bodies produce less collagen, which leads to wrinkles and sagging skin. That’s where collagen supplements come in. By taking collagen daily, you can help reduce the signs of aging and promote healthy, glowing skin. So if you’re looking for a way to turn back the clock, collagen just might be the answer.
Where does collagen come from?
Collagen is a major component of skin, bones, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues. It helps maintain flexibility and strength in these structures. Collagen is made up of three proteins called tropocollagen, proline, and glycine. These proteins form long chains called fibrils.
Collagen fibers are arranged in bundles called fascicles. In humans, collagen is produced primarily in the dermis, the layer of tissue beneath the epidermis, or the skin.
What is collagen made of?
As we mentioned, collagen is made up of three proteins: tropocollagen, proline, and glycine. Tropocollagen is the main structural protein found in collagen. It’s made up of two other proteins, proline and glycine. Proline makes up about 20% of the amino acids in tropocollagen, while glycine makes up about 50%.
Glycine is also the simplest amino acid, and it’s responsible for giving collagen its unique structure. This structure allows collagen to form strong bonds with other proteins, which is what gives it its strength.
What does collagen do?
For the most part, collagen helps keep our skin looking young and healthy. It gives our hair strength and thickness, and it keeps our nails strong. It also helps maintain the flexibility and strength of our bones, ligaments, and tendons. Basically, what doesn’t collagen do!
What are the different types of collagen?
Collagen is a protein that helps our bodies stay strong. There are three main kinds of collagen. Types 1, 2, and 3 make up the majority of the human body. These are the most abundant types of collagen in the body.
Type I collagen is a major structural protein found in the extracellular matrix of connective tissue. It’s composed of two left-handed helical chains that coil around each other to form a triple helix. Supplementing with type I collagen has been shown to improve skin health, reduce inflammation, and support healthy joints. Additionally, type I collagen is readily available from animal sources, making it an easy and convenient way to improve your health as you age.
Type II collagen is a structural protein found in cartilage. It’s made up of two left-handed helical chains that twist around each other to form a double helix. Type II collagen supplements have been shown to reduce joint pain and stiffness, and slow the progression of osteoarthritis.
Type III collagen is a structural protein found in skin, muscles, and blood vessels. It’s made up of two left-handed helical chains that coil around each other to form a triple helix. Type III collagen supplements have been shown to improve skin elasticity and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Additionally, type III collagen is readily available from animal sources, making it an easy and convenient way to improve your skin health as you age.
Scientifically proven ways to increase collagen production
There are several ways to increase collagen production and slow the aging process. Here are a few scientifically proven methods:
Although our bodies produce collagen naturally, the production of collagen declines as we age. This leads to the formation of wrinkles, fine lines, and other signs of aging.
1. Eat a diet rich in vitamin C: Vitamin C is a key nutrient for collagen production. It helps the body synthesize collagen and provides antioxidant protection against free radical damage. Free radicals can break down collagen, leading to wrinkles and other signs of aging. Foods that are rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits, bell peppers, broccoli, kale, and strawberries.
2. Get enough sleep: Sleep is important for overall health, and it also plays a role in collagen production. When we sleep, our bodies produce more human growth hormone (HGH), which helps to stimulate collagen production. Additionally, sleep deprivation has been shown to increase the breakdown of collagen.
3. Exercise: Exercise is good for your health in many ways, and it also helps to increase collagen production by delivering the proper nutrition via exercise. When we exercise, our bodies produce more HGH, which helps to stimulate collagen synthesis. Additionally, exercise has been shown to reduce the breakdown of collagen.
4. Limit sun exposure: Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can damage the skin and lead to wrinkles and other signs of aging. It’s important to limit sun exposure and wear sunscreen to protect the skin. Additionally, UV radiation has been shown to break down collagen.
What are the benefits of collagen for your body?
Collagen is a vital protein found in our bodies. It provides structural support to our muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, blood vessels, and skin. When collagen is combined with other proteins, it creates stronger connective tissue, making our skin more resilient.
Can you eat collagen?
Yes, collagen is a food protein and is safe to eat. Collagen supplements are typically made from animal sources, such as bovine or fish. However, there are also vegan collagen supplements made from plant-based sources, such as soy.
Collagen supplements are available in powder, tablet, and capsule form. They can be added to smoothies, juices, soups, and other foods.
How can you get more collagen?
There are plenty of ways you can attempt to boost your natural collagen production. This includes things like taking clean-sourced, organic collagen supplements in the form of pills, powders, or beverages, eating collagen-rich foods, using topical collagen treatments, and protecting your skin from UV damage.
While some of these methods may be more effective than others, taking measures to protect your existing collagen is just as important as increasing production. This includes things like avoiding excess sugar, managing stress levels, sleeping enough, and not smoking.
Food containing collagen
If you don’t like the idea of dissolving powders or taking a pill, you’re in luck! There’s ample collagen to be found in foods that you eat on a daily basis!
Some foods that contain collagen include:
- Bone broth
- Organ meats
- Dark leafy greens
- Citrus fruits
- Green tea
Is bone broth healthy?
Bone broth is a healthy food that’s rich in collagen. It’s also a good source of other nutrients, such as amino acids, minerals, and gelatin. Bone broth can be made at home using bones from chicken, beef, or fish. It can also be purchased online or at some health food stores.
Potential health benefits of collagen supplements
While more research is needed, reviews of those currently using collagen supplements have noticed several benefits to boosting their collagen intake. These include:
1. Strong Cartilage and Muscles
Hydrolyzed collagen supplements have been shown to improve joint pain and stiffness in people with osteoarthritis. Additionally, it may help to build muscle mass and reduce the risk of exercise-related injuries.
2. Healthy Teeth
One benefit that many people don’t know about taking collagen supplements is the support it gives to the teeth and enamel! The collagen found in these supplements helps to reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease and keep those chompers looking as strong as ever!
3. Thick Hair
Another external beauty-related benefit that comes from taking collagen supplements is the promotion of thick and lustrous hair, as well as strong nails. This is due to the fact that collagen is a key structural protein in both of these areas.
4. Smooth Skin
Of course, one of the most popular reasons people take collagen supplements is for the improvement of the skin when administered topically. This includes a reduction in wrinkles, dryness, and other signs of aging. Additionally, it can help to heal wounds and scars more quickly.
Potential risks of collagen supplements
There are very few risks associated with taking collagen supplements. However, it’s important to note that they may not be suitable for everyone. For example, those who are allergic to fish or other seafood may want to avoid marine-based collagen supplements. Additionally, people with shellfish allergies should avoid supplements made from oysters.
It’s also important to speak with a healthcare professional before taking any type of supplement, especially if you have a medical condition or are taking medication. This is because collagen supplements may interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners.
How to help your body create collagen naturally
There are two basic kinds of collagen. The first is endogenous collagen, which is naturally produced and synthesized by the body. The other is exogenous collagen which comes from an outside source such as pills and powders in supplement form as well as directly from animal products, such as bone broths.
Unfortunately, it’s part of the “normal” aging process that by the time we reach around age 30, our natural, endogenous collagen production begins to wane. For most people who chose to eat the Standard American Diet (SAD) and live a sedentary yet stressed-out lifestyle, it pretty much goes downhill from there.
As internally created collagen production lessens, the result is not only wrinkles and sagging skin, but also joint pain, aching muscles, blood pressure issues, digestive complications, and increased susceptibility to many kinds of chronic disease. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however.
As with any essential substance, it is always best to eat a diet and live a lifestyle that promotes the healthy synthesizing of your own natural healing and repair mechanisms. This goes for collagen production as well.
To Sum Up
The main takeaway of this article is that collagen is an important structural protein that offers a wide range of health benefits. It’s found in the connective tissues of animals, including the skin, muscles, tendons, and bones. Collagen supplements have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their potential ability to improve joint pain, skin health, gut health, and more. However, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional before taking any type of supplement. Additionally, there are ways to help your body create collagen naturally by eating a healthy diet and living an active lifestyle.
If you’re interested in beginning your journey of collagen supplementation, reach out today! Browse through plenty of clean-sourced, organic collagen products and find something that’s going to work for you!