September 10 2021
Collagen is the most abundantly found form of protein and forms the main structural protein in the extracellular matrix of the connective tissue found in the human body. Collagen performs many functions, which include holding the human body firmly together, providing a scaffold to provide strength and structure to the body. Exogenous collagen is synthetic and can be taken through supplements whereas endogenous collagen is completely natural and is synthesized in the human body where it performs many important functions. Exogenous collagen is used for many medical purposes.
What exactly is collagen made of and what does it do in the body?
The structure of collagen can be described as hard and fibrous. The molecules in the structure of collagen are packed tightly together and form long and thin fibrils, which provide the skin elasticity and strength by acting like supporting structures. There are 16 different types of collagen, however, around 80 percent of them belong to type 1, 2, and 3.
Collagen is mainly secreted by the cells of connective tissues. However, they are also found in many other types of cells in small amounts. Found in the extracellular matrix, it can be described as an intricate network consisting of macromolecules that help in determining the physical properties of body tissues. In the middle layer of the human skin, collagen helps in the formation of a fibrous network of cells (fibroblasts) which provide a surface for the growth of other cells upon them. Collagen here also plays a great role in replacing and restoration of dead skin cells. Some types of collagen also perform the function of protecting the delicate organs of the human body. Aging is associated with a decreased production of collagen, which is why elder people experience the formation of wrinkles, loosening of the skin, and weakening of joints and cartilages.
What are the uses of collagen?
- Used in skin fillers: with aging, contours and depressions in the skin become visible. Filler injection can help in improving these. Collagen-containing collagen-containing fillers are used by cosmetologists for removing wrinkles, scars (with less sharp edges), and fine lines from the face. The source of this filler injection is human and cow tissues. Collagen can relatively fill the superficial volumes; however, some extreme gaps are filled with silicone, implants, and fats.
- Used in prosthetics: collagen tissue which is sourced from donors has been used in vascular prostheses as well as arterial reconstruction. Collagen prostheses are usually compatible with the human body; however, some types can cause coagulation of the blood.
- Osteoarthritis: A degenerative disease, osteoarthritis is the most commonly found type of arthritis which affects many people around the globe. In this disease, the cartilage that protects the ends of the bones wears down, over time. It mostly affects the joints in the hands, hips, knees, and spinal cord. Collagen supplements may help in the treatment of osteoarthritis, research suggests. A review of many studies has shown that consuming collagen supplements helps in reducing the symptoms (pain and inflammation) and enhancing the functioning of joints.
- Revitalizing skin with collagen: many skincare products claim to revitalize the skin with the action of collagen. However, researchers say it is unlikely to happen as collagen molecules are too large to be directly absorbed by the skin.
- Used as wound dressings: collagen can be beneficial in healing wounds as it attracts new skin cells to be formed on the wound. It also speeds up the process of healing and provides a platform for the growth of new tissues. Collagen dressings can help in healing chronic wounds that are not responding well to other treatments, second-degree burns, rotting wounds, and wounds that expel fluids.
- Used in tissue regeneration: during oral surgeries, collagen barriers have shown positive effects in preventing the fast growth of cells around the gums from drifting towards the oral wounds which preserve some space where the tooth cells can regenerate. Collagen membranes have been used in periodontal therapies as they promote the growth of some specific cells. These membranes can also aid the process of healing in these cases and are also resorbable and need no surgical removal after the main operation.
What damages collagen and how to prevent it?
Some factors have been seen to deplete the levels of collagen in the human body. Hence, it is highly advised to avoid them to keep the skin healthy:
- High levels of sugar intake: a diet that contains a high amount of sugar intake also enhances the rate of glycation which is a process that leads to the formation of new molecules called advanced glycation end products. These molecules can damage the proteins and also make collagen dry and brittle.
- Sunlight: the UV (ultraviolet) rays of the sun may cause collagen to break down rapidly which damages the collagen fibers and builds up abnormal elastin. UV rays in the sunlight damage the collagen in the upper layers of the skin which may cause wrinkles and other skin problems.
- Genetic alterations: genetic changes can directly affect the extracellular matrix, as; the collagen produced during these alterations can be lower, mutated, or dysfunctional collagen.
- Autoimmune disorders and aging: many autoimmune disorders and aging have shown negative effects on collagen production. They may deplete the quality of the upper layers of the skin by reducing elasticity.
There are no ways to prevent collagen loss due to aging. However, you can prevent damage to your skin by avoiding smoking and follow a healthy diet along with daily exercise. These factors help in decreasing visible aging by protecting collagen and keeping skin healthy.
About alvizia’s collagen supplement (hair, skin, and nails)
A unique and comprehensive way of treating your skin, hair, and nails with the goodness of grape seed extract, biotin, collagen, and alpha-lipoic acid, alvizia’s hair, skin, and nails supplement is highly beneficial when taken as a supplement. It comes in a pack of 90 capsules and as a dietary supplement (should not be used in the treatment, diagnosis, and mitigation of any diseases).