Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and is found in bones, muscles, skin and tendons. It has a variety of important roles, including providing structure to your skin and helping your blood clots. Collagen is also found in many other body parts, including blood vessels, corneas and teeth.
WHAT IS COLLAGEN
Collagen is a hard, insoluble and fibrous protein that accounts for one-third of the body’s protein.
In most collagen, molecules are packed together to form long, thin fibrils.
FUNCTIONS OF COLLAGEN
These serve as support structures and anchor cells to each other. They give the skin strength and elasticity.
There are at least 16 types of collagen. The four main types are types I,II,IIIand IV
Here are the four main types of collagen and its role in the body:
- Type I:
this type accounts for 90% of the body’s collagen and is made from dense fibers. It provides structure for the skin, bones, tendons, fibrous cartilage, connective tissue and teeth.
- Type II:
It is found in more loosely packed fibers and elastic cartilage, which cushions your joints.
- Type III:
This type supports the structure of muscles, organs and arteries.
- Type IV:
It helps to filter and is found in your skin layer.
FOOD NUTRIENTS THAT INCREASE PRODUCTION OF COLLAGEN
All collagen begins as pro-collagen.
Pro-collagen is made by the body 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, ensuring that you get enough of the following nutrients:
- Vitamin C: is found in large quantities in citrus fruits, bell peppers and strawberries.
- Proline: this is found in large quantities in egg whites, wheat germ, dairy products, cabbage, asparagus and mushrooms.
- Glycine: found in large quantities in pork skin, chicken skin and gelatin, but glycine is also found in a variety of protein-containing foods.
- Copper: this is found in large quantities in organ meat, sesame seeds, cocoa powder, cashew nuts and lentils.
HABITS THAT CAN DESTROY PRODUCTION OF COLLAGEN
Certain habits that destroys collagen in our bodies and so it is very important to avoid such behavior. These includes:
- Eating too much sugar and refined carbohydrates: Sugar interferes with collagen’s ability to repair itself. Try to Minimize your consumption of added sugars and refined carbohydrates.
- Too much sunlight exposure: UV radiation can reduce collagen production. Avoid excessive sun exposure.
- Smoking: smoking reduces collagen production. This can damage wound healing and lead to wrinkles.
USES/BENEFITS OF COLLAGEN: BOTH COSMETIC AND MEDICAL
Collagen is absorbable. This means that collagen can be broken down, converted and absorbed back into the body. It can also form compacted solids or lattice-like gels.
Its diverse functions and the fact that it is naturally occurring make it clinically versatile and suitable for a variety of medical purposes.
Collagen for medical use can come from humans, cattle, pigs or sheep.
Collagen can help heal wounds by attracting new skin cells to the wound site. It promotes healing and provides a platform for new tissue growth.
Collagen dressings can help with healing:
- Chronic wounds that do not respond to other treatments
- A wound that drains body fluids such as urine or sweat
- Granulation wounds, on which different tissues grow
- Necrotic or rotting wounds
- Local and full thickness wounds
- Second-degree burns.
- Skin donation and skin transplant sites
- Collagen dressing is not recommended for third degree burns, wounds covered in dry eschar, or for patients who may be sensitive to products sourced from cows.
Collagen injections can improve the contours of the skin and fill the depressions. Fillers containing collagen can be used for cosmetic removal of fine lines and wrinkles on the face. Additionally, It can also improve scarring, as long as these do not have sharp edges.
These fillers come from humans and cows. Skin tests should be performed prior to the use of cow collagen to avoid aggravating any allergies.
Collagen can fill the volume relative to the surface. The wider gap is usually filled with substances such as fat, silicone or implants.
TREATMENT OF OSTEOARTHRITIS
Collagen supplements or formulations can help treat osteoarthritis.
A 2006 review found that supplements containing collagen help reduce pain symptoms and improve joint function in patients with osteoarthritis.
As the supplement is absorbed, collagen accumulates in the cartilage, which helps to rebuild the extracellular matrix.
However, not all studies support these findings.
Many products containing collagen, including creams and powders, claim to rejuvenate the skin by increasing collagen levels in the body. However, this is not possible because the collagen molecules are too large to be absorbed through the skin.
Any benefit may be due to the moisturizing effect of these products. They do not directly increase collagen.
This treatment is also not classified as a drug, so any claims about its efficacy do not require scientific proof. Caution is recommended when using these products containing collagen.
Collagen tissue grafts from donors have been used for peripheral nerve regeneration, vascular prosthesis and arterial reconstruction.
Although collagen prostheses are compatible with the human body, some have been found to be thrombosis, or may cause blood clotting.
Collagen is an important protein that provides structure to many parts of the body.
Interestingly, the foods and nutrients you eat can help your body make this protein.
Alternatively, collagen supplements may be beneficial. Some preliminary studies have shown that they can improve skin quality, muscle function, and reduce pain associated with osteoarthritis.