Collagen is the most copious protein in the body.
It has important functions, including providing texture to your skin and helping your blood to clot.
In recent years, it has gained popularity as a dietary supplement and ingredient in shampoos and body lotions.
But what is collagen? And what is it for? This article gives you a complete overview of this important protein.
What are the Health Benefits of Collagen??
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body, making up about one-third of the protein’s composition.
It is one of the most important building blocks of bones, skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Collagen is also found in many other parts of the body, including blood vessels, corneas, and teeth.
You can think of it as a “glue” that holds all these things together. In fact, the word comes from the Greek language.
What does it do in your body?
There are at least 16 types of collagen. The four main types are types I, II, III, and IV.
Here is a closer look at the four main types of collagen and their role in your body:
Type I: This type represents 90% of your body’s collagen and is made of densely packed fibers. It provides structure to the skin, bones, tendons, fibrous cartilage, connective tissue, and teeth.
Type II: This type is made of looser fibers and is found in elastic cartilage, which cushions the joints.
Type III: This type is compatible with the structure of the muscles, organs, and arteries.
Type IV: This type helps with filtration and is found in layers of the skin.
As you age, your body produces less and less quality collagen.
One of the visible signs of this is on your skin, which becomes less firm and supple. Cartilage also weakens with age.
Nutrients that increase collagen production.
All collagen begins as procollagen.
Your body produces procollagen by combining two amino acids: glycine and proline. This process uses vitamin C.
You may be able to help your body make this important protein by making sure you get many of the following nutrients:
Vitamin C: Large amounts are found in citrus fruits, peppers, and strawberries.
Proline: found in large amounts in egg whites, wheat germ, dairy products, cabbage, asparagus, and mushrooms.
Glycine – Large amounts are found in pigskin, chicken skin, and gelatin, but glycine is also found in various foods that contain protein.
Copper: It is found in large quantities in meat, sesame seeds, cocoa powder, cashews, and lentils.
Also, your body needs high-quality protein that contains the amino acids needed to make new proteins. Meat, poultry, seafood, milk, beans, and tofu are the best sources of amino acids.
Things that damage collagen:
Perhaps even more important is avoiding the following behaviors that destroy collagen:
Sugar and refined carbohydrates: Sugar interferes with the ability of collagen to repair itself. Minimize your consumption of added sugar and refined carbohydrates (7Trusted Source).
Too Much Sunlight – Ultraviolet radiation can reduce collagen production. Avoid excessive sun exposure (8Trusted Source).
Smoking: Smoking reduces the production of collagen. This can impair wound healing and cause wrinkles (9Trusted Source).
Some autoimmune disorders, like lupus, can also damage collagen.
Natural food sources: Health Benefits of Collagen?
Collagen is found in the connective tissues of food of animal origin. For example, it is found in large amounts in chicken and pigskin.
A particularly rich source is bone broth, which is made by boiling the bones of chicken and other animals.
Gelatin is basically cooked collagen, so it has a high content of amino acids necessary to produce it.
But there is a debate over whether consuming foods rich in collagen actually increases levels in your body.
When you eat protein, they are broken down into amino acids and then reassembled, so the collagen you eat would not translate directly to higher levels in your body.
Health Benefits of Collagen supplements:
Two types of supplements are gaining popularity: hydrolyzed collagen (hydrolyzed collagen) and gelatin. Gelatin is created when collagen is cooked.
These have already broken down the large protein into smaller peptides, which are more easily absorbed in the body.
There aren’t many studies on collagen supplements, but those that exist promise benefits in the following areas:
Muscle Mass: A 2019 study in recreationally active men showed that a combination of collagen peptide supplementation and strength training increased muscle mass and strength more than a placebo.
Arthritis: A 2017 animal study looked at the effects of giving collagen supplements to mice with post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA). The results indicated that supplementation may play a protective role in the development and progression of the disease.
Skin elasticity: Women who took a supplement showed improvements in the appearance and elasticity of the skin in a 2019 study.