In the beauty world, Collagen is a word that is frequently used. You must have heard about or come across this word in your activities relating to skin care. You probably have considered it to be one of the of the buzz about beautifying products. Well, there is a lot more to this word than you must have thought. Here in this article, you would be made to understand a lot about what collagen is, where it can be found, what they do and how they can be protected.
Let me start by letting you know that collagen is more than the bustle about beauty products. As a matter of fact, collagen is present naturally in your body without you be in contact with any of those collagen beauty products. Collagen is a vital component present in your skin and plays a very important role in giving you a healthy skin.
It is a science term frequently used by dermatologist and can be a bit complex, but you don’t need to worry as the basics of this science term will be brought to you in a less complex way.
The word Collagen is a scientific term that has its origin from a Greek word – kolla which simply means “glue”. It can be related to the old ways of obtaining glue by boiling skin and tendons of animals. Collagen is made up of specific amino acids which are named Proline, Arginine, Hydroxyproline and Glycine. These amino acids which are built from elements of hydrogen, oxygen and carbon all come together to form triple-helices of elongated fibrils.
Where is it found?
Collagen is better defined as a structural network of protein that is found under the skin. It makes up most of the connective tissues in our body, such as ligaments and tendons. Movements in your body would be impossible without this important protein in your body. Collagen comprises of about 30 per cent of our entire body protein and it is responsible for giving your skin its smooth and firm appearance. Collagen is present in the skin as a fiber framework and keeps the skin and entire body in good shape preventing deformation.
Collagen occurs in different forms depending on where they are found in the body and what function they perform. The collagen tissue in the bone is rigid while that of the tendons and cartilage is less rigid but flexible. The ligaments which are responsible for connecting two bones together majorly at the joint, the tendon which function similarly except that it joins muscles to bones instead of bones to bones, the bones which forms the body structure and shape. All this tissues are made up of collagen, therefore collagen is considered to be a very important component in body structure. Without it, you might not be able to sit or stand straight not to talk of you walking or running.
Collagen function more than the main components in muscles, tendon, ligaments, bones and the entire body framework. It’s also the major component in the skin. Collagen serves as a connective tissue in your skin and provides it with firmness, elasticity, plumpness and also aid in the renewal of your skin cells. Collagen in found in the middle layer of the skin also known as the dermis, and it’s always complimented by elastin- another essential protein. These two proteins provide support for your skin and the ability of your skin to return back to its original state after being stretched.
Types of collagen
Collagen is abundant in the body and it’s not surprising that they are in various forms. According to recent research; about 29 types of collagen have been identified and discovered and have been grouped according the structure they possess. In this article you’ll come across the five most common types of collagen. The five most common type of collagen are; Type 1 collagen, Type 2 collagen, Type 3 collagen, Type 4 collagen and Type 5 collagen. These types of collagen serve different purposes and plays vital roles in the body.
Type 1 collagen. Type 1 collagen also known as bovine is the most abundant of all types of collagen in our body, it is also the most studied. It is found in vital parts of the body such as your skin, ligaments, bones, tendons, blood vessel, corneas and more. It is the main component of the protein present in the bone. It comprises of about 95 per cent of the entire collagen present in the bone. Type 1 collagen is known to be the strongest type of collagen and it serves as the key structural composition of most of the body tissue.
Collagen abounds in the body naturally, but as we age, its abundance begins to diminish in the body and wrinkles and folds may begin to appear. To prevent this, there are supplements that boost collagen level in the body. The supplements that serves anti-aging purposes contains type 1 collagen majorly. Type 1 collagen is widely used in skin care due to its ability to sustain and keep the skin healthy. Type 1 collagen is used in anti-aging products and also applied as an aid for wound healing.
Type 1 collagen for skin supplements can be gotten from the marine collagen as it known to be easily absorbed by the body. It’s also referred to as fish collagen. The collagen present in the white of eggs and in their shells is also rich in type 1 collagen, although it contains other types of collagen in smaller quantities, its major constituent is the Type 1 collagen.
Type 2 Collagen. This type of collagen is found to be abundant in the cartilage. Type 2 collagen serves as the main collagen component of the cartilage. You know cartilage to be the connective tissue present at the joints. They function as protection to the ends of long bones at the points where they join. Cartilage also serves as structures of other parts of the body such as your ears, nose, rib cage and other parts of the body. This type of collagen is considered to be very important as it serves as protection to our joints.
Due to the importance of type 2 collagen in protecting the joint in form of cartilage. It’s widely used in the production of supplements to help treat general joint problems and counter arthritis. Supplements containing chicken collagen are always rich in type 2 collagen, as chicken collagen is rich in chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate which are widely used in treating arthritis and general joint problems.
Type 3 collagen. Type 3 collagen is always found alongside with the type 1 collagen. It’s in fiber form and is different from all other types of collagen. Type 3 collagen is the main component of the reticular fibers. It’s present in our skin and other vital organs in our body. Type 3 collagen is associated with inflammation conditions of organs like the lungs, kidney, liver and also in vascular disorder. This type of collagen together with type 1 collagen forms the main components of the interstitial matrix.
This type of collagen is found in the skin together with type 1 collagen where is serves the purpose of boosting the elasticity of your skin and making it firm. Type 3 collagen alongside with type 1 collagen also help the heart in regulating and enhancing its function.
A particular Collagen-Bovine collagen which is gotten from the skin, bones and muscles of cows, is widely used in production of collagen supplements. This type of collagen contains majorly the type 1 collagen and type 3 collagen.
Type 4 collagen. This an essential type of collagen that is mainly present in our basement membrane Zone. Type 4 collagen is special type of collagen with high tensile strength and serves as the backbone of the basement membrane. The basement membranes are in form of thin layer of extracellular structure that help support cells in our body. They can also serve as filters that have restrictive permeability in organs of the body like kidney. It serves as a barricade between the tissues and space in organs.
Type 4 collagen has a very high ability to signal whenever it is being degraded by other processes in the body. This ability is also important for pathological and physiological functions. Type 4 collagen forms a network of strongly bounded framework and provides structural support to the interior parts of our blood vessels and inner surface of internal organs.
Type 5 Collagen. Type 5 collagen is another type of collagen in fiber form. It is found in tissues alongside with the type 1 collagen. It is present in organs such as the liver, lungs, muscles, and placenta, and also determine the quality of the tissues. Type 5 collagen is present in the dermal and epidermal junction of the skin. It also helps in the formation of hair and the surfaces of cells in the body.
Type 5 collagen is found in an essential organ in a pregnant woman named placenta. The placenta is responsible for providing a link between the mother and the baby in the womb and provides the baby with oxygen and essential nutrients for its growth and development.
What does collagen do?
All these types of collagen serve different purposes and also compliment themselves in their functions in our body. The functions of collagen in our body cannot be overemphasized, and its absence might result in several problems in our body. Collagen has lots of benefits that cannot be outnumbered. Let’s have a look at few of them.
- Strengthens the gut. As you know that the gut is a major organ for digestion process. Collagen is present in the gut as a connective tissue and helps strengthen it. How strong your immune system is can be determined by how healthy your gut. Therefore, the gut is an important organ of the body that is not to be joked with. With insufficient collagen in the gut, it can become leaky, allowing food particles and infectious particles to pass through the wall of the intestine to the bloodstream which can result in inflammation. When the inflammation gets serious, it may lead to a thyroid condition. A leaky gut can be avoided with the aid of collagen which serves as a strong lining to protect the gut.
- Ease joint pain. As discussed earlier that collagen is present in the cartilage that serves as the connective tissue at the joints of bones. Collagen also helps in the easy movement of the joints, tendons and ligaments as it helps them move with less difficulty. The amino acids present in this protein provides help and support to the joint movement. That is why as you advance in age, and as the collagen production begin to reduce, you may begin to experience stiff and painful joints and difficult movement of the body.The presence of collagen is the cartilage is therefore responsible for supporting the flexibility and mobility of your joints.
- Help build muscle. Collagen is present in the muscle. It is a major component of the muscle tissue and also helps in building up muscle mass. Another amazing function collagen performs alongside with muscle building in the body is to help manage weight. Due to the amino acid in collagen which help to buildup muscles in the body, metabolism is increased and the muscle mass helps burn the calories present in your body. Collagen is therefore helps burn fat and keeps your body weight in control even when your body is at rest.
- Keeps the bone healthy. You’ve always known your bones to be constituted of a major component which is calcium. Collagen is also a major component of a healthy bones. As a matter of fact, collagen takes about one-third of your entire bone structure and provide strength and support to it. Collagen also help in the formation, growth and repair of the bones and provides the bones strength with flexibility and strength.
- Improves the appearance of nails and hair. Thyroid condition can result into loss of hair you may have also noticed that as one age, the nails experiences brittles, breakage and splitting. All these happen due to decrease in the collagen level in the body. The hair also begins to grow thin and dry as we advance in age when there is less collagen in the body. Collagen protein is therefore an essential component in our body as it presence help keep the hair, nails and skin healthy. Collagen serves as the building blocks for a shiny and healthy hair and also stronger nails.
- Keeps the heart healthy. Collagen is found in the blood vessels that carry blood to the organs of our bodies. Sometimes fat may begin to deposit in the blood vessels, when this occur, the blood vessels begin to harden and narrowed, this may affect the normal blood pressure and eventually result in series of heart diseases. But with the presence of collagen in its right quantity in the body, fat deposition will be reduced and heart diseases and problems prevented.
- Supports the brain functions. It is well known that collagen is present in the skin tendon, cartilage and bones, but collagen present in the neurons of the brain could be an amazing fact. Collagen is rich in glycine which is an amino acid. Glycine is discovered to help reduce fatigue and also improve the quality of our sleep.This protein is also discovered to help boost the memory of both young and old people.
- Assists the liver. We are exposed to a lot of toxins every day; we take in some of these toxins too. The liver then helps us with its function of detoxification. Glycine, which is a component of collagen assists the liver during the detoxification process in the body. If you consume alcohol frequently, collagen supplements may be a good suggestion for better detoxification. Less collagen in the liver can result in low efficiency of the liver, but with these collagen supplements you can increase its supply in the body.
- Prevents stretch marks. This might be for you, collagen in your body will help prevent stretch marks and even cellulite. Collagen together with elastin present in the skin are necessary in keeping the skin taut and stronger and thereby reducing its chance of having stretch marks. It is therefore important for people who have tendency of having stretch marks and pregnant women to take foods rich in nutrients that help develop collagen in the body.
- Reverses skin aging. Collagen is no doubt an important ingredient in giving your skin a healthier and younger look. A popular benefit of collagen in our body is its anti-aging effects and this is well recognized in the beauty world. The presence of collagen in the dermis of your skin helps give it a plump look, elasticity and also helps reduce the development of wrinkles and folds in your skin. Collagen also help to replace dead skin cells and give room to a healthier, smoother and beautiful skin.
Can collagen be lost?
As the you know that according to nature we lose stuffs, collagen is lost with time and some other factors can also be responsible for it. Some of the factors that increase or worsen the rate of depletion of collagen in the body are listed as below.
- Exposure to UV and blue lights. The UVA, UVB and blue lights present in sunlight penetrates through the skin to the dermis. It then weakens and destroys the collagen structure there. Exposure to blue light from the screen of your digital devices can also destroy collagen in your skin.
- Some lifestyle habits. Unhealthy habits such as smoking or excessive drinking can be hazardous to your skin. Drinking reduces the fluid present in the skin and also destroys the collagen structure in the skin. Sun bathing and other recreational activities cause your skin to get exposed to sunlight and in turn destroys collagen in it.
- Genetic conditions. We possess different genes and characteristics. These characteristics can determine the type of skin we have. The level of collagen in skins of people varies and the rate at which the diminish in supply also varies. Some skins have different ability to withstand stress different chances of wrinkling than others.
- Environmental pollution. If you stay in a polluted environment or you work under such circumstances, your skin might wrinkle faster than someone who is not exposed to such level of pollution. This is a result of the collagen you lose due to the action of oxidation stress induced by pollutants on your skin.
- Aging. This occurs naturally. As we get older the collagen supply in our body begins to decline and when there’s no enough replacements, the collagen level begins to drop.
These factors should be avoided to prevent the adverse effects of reduction of collagen in the body. When collagen starts to depreciates in the skin, you may begin to notice problems like joint pain, stiffer ligaments, weak muscles, wrinkles and folds. Some of the results of collagen loss in the skin and body at large are:
- Skin wrinkles and sagging
- Poor bone formation and bone loss.
- Leaky guts.
- Poor nails and hair growth.
How to promote collagen production?
To prevent or reduce the depletion of collagen in the body, you can increase the collagen production in your body by these ways;
- A healthy diet. Collagen is present in the connective tissues of animals. Therefore, foods rich in animal protein such as chicken, beef and fish can help boost the collagen level in your body. Some foods also contain gelatin which is derived from collagen when it is cooked, such food is bone broth. These foods are broken down into basic substances that are easily ingested into the body.
- Protection from sunlight. As you know that sun is the main culprit in collagen damage causing skin aging. When the ultraviolet rays from the sun get to the skin. It destroys the collagen framework and cause the skin to sag and lose its elasticity. Therefore, protection from sunlight should be a major precaution put in place to reduce the effects of the sun on the skin. Sunscreen can be a very useful product in this case.
- Skin massage. When you massage the muscles in your face and body, you’re helping the collagen around that part of the body by stimulating blood flow to those parts. Doing the massage first thing when you wake up with gentle touch and upward massage will help stimulate collagen production in the skin.
- Red light therapy. This involves the use of low-level laser light applied to the skin to help increase the rate of collagen growth in the skin. Red light therapy is a nice way of boosting the collagen level of the body to reduce wrinkles and creases in the skin. It is an ideal method as it has no side effects. It is also available for domestic use in form of therapy kits.
- Collagen supplements. In supplements, collagen is already in their simpler forms. The purpose of this is to make the collagen easily absorbed into the body than the ones present in our foods. The type of collagen in supplements is referred to as hydrolyzed collagen.
Collagen as a supplement is widely gotten today by the use of collagen products such as collagen capsules, which is being ingested into the body and after being digested like the regular proteins help boost the collagen level of the body and in turn help make our skin look plump and free from wrinkles. Collagen products are also available in forms of body creams that is claims to smother the skin when applied to it. They contain the synthetic form of collagen that helps provide the skin with moisture and smoothness. Some collagen products are also taken in liquid forms; these liquid forms of collagen may also contain the synthetic type of collagen or the gotten from animals’ protein or the bones of animals.
These collagen supplements help boost the collagen level in the body directly and indirectly. It may be a bit difficult task to make a choice of what collagen product to use or which one will work better for you. So if you’re interested in a collagen supplement, it will be necessary for you to make your findings about the best for you and put into consideration important factors like your allergies and health conditions. You can also contact your dermatologist or healthcare team for a good choice of collagen supplement to use.
Going through the whole of this article, you must have felt that there’s a lot about collagen. You’ve had a lot of insight into facts about what collagen is, types of collagen, what they do, how it can be lost and how to boost its supply in our body. Collagen is important to give a healthy skin and a healthy skin can be a symbol of a healthy body.
In your endeavors to have and maintain a young looking and beautiful skin, it would be necessary to always put into consideration the importance and role of collagen in giving you that beautiful and ever-radiant skin. Remember to be good to your skin, you’ll wear it for the rest of your life.