July 31 2021
Collagen is the most abundantly found protein in the body attributing to about one - third of the total protein content. The main function of collagen is to provide structure to the skin and also to help in blood clotting. Collagen has been widely used as a key ingredient by pharmaceutical manufacturers such as Alvizia hair, skin and nails supplement to improve total well being of the body.
Collagen is found in the extracellular matrix and it amalgamates a complex network of macromolecules which mould the physical properties of the body tissues. In the middle layer of the skin called the dermis, collagen forms a fibrous entanglement of cells called fibroblasts which helps the new cells to grow. Collagen plays a crucial role in the replacement and restoration of dead skin cells.
Collagen word has been derived from the Greek word ‘ kolla’ which means glue. Collagen constitutes the major proportion of the building blocks of bones, skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The other body parts where collagen is found are blood vessels, corneas, and teeth.
There are 16 major types of collagen. The four main types are type I, II, III, and IV. The roles of these four types of collagen play in our body are:
Type I. This type of collagen forms the basis of about 90% of the body’s collagen content and it essentially consists of densely packed fibres. It is mainly involved in forming the structure of the skin, bones, tendons, fibrous cartilage, connective tissue, and teeth.
Type II. This type of collagen consists of a majority of loosely packed fibres and it is mainly abundant in elastic cartilage, which cushions the joints and protects them.
Type III. This type of collagen forms the structural backbone of the muscles, organs, and arteries.
Type IV. This type of collagen is involved with the filtration process in the body and is embedded within the layers of the skin.
With age, there is lesser quantity and quantity production of collagen in the body. This manifests as less firm and supple skin. There is also weakening of cartilage with advancing age.
How to nutritionally increase collagen production
Procollagen is the precursor of collagen. Procollagen is produced by the combination of two amino acids using vitamin C - proline and glycine. We can also nutritionally supply procollagen by integrating the following products in the diet:
- Vitamin C - mainly found in citrus fruits, strawberries and bell peppers.
- Proline - abundantly found in dairy products, egg whites, cabbage and mushrooms.
- Glycine - largely obtained from pork and chicken skin, gelatin and other protein-containing foods
- Copper - outsourced from sesame seeds, cocoa powder, cashews and lentils.
The main nutritional sources of collagen are meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, legumes and tofu. Collagen can be obtained in large amounts from the connective tissue of animal foods such as in chicken and pork skin. Bone broth, which is prepared by boiling the bones of chicken and other animals, is a very good source of collagen. Gelatin, which is nothing but cooked collagen, has a very high amount of amino acids.
There are no concrete studies to prove that consumption of collagen-rich foods markedly increases the level of collagen in the body. Ingestion of protein leads to it being broken down into amino acids which are then reassembled to form the required protein. Thus the collagen which is consumed is not directly converted to its higher levels in the body.
Factors which can lead to collagen damage
The following collagen destroying behaviour should be avoided:
- Excessive sugar intake and consumption of refined carbs should be discontinued. Sugar hinders the ability of collagen to repair itself after any damage.
- Overexposure to sunshine should be avoided as ultraviolet rays can adversely impact collagen production.
- As smoking decreases collagen production, it should be stopped. Addiction to smoking can impair wound healing and leads to the formation of wrinkles.
- Lupus, which is an autoimmune disorder, can also damage collagen.
Uses of collagen
Collagen can be broken down, changed into the required form and then absorbed back into the body. This feature of collagen is used to form compacted solids or lattice-like gels which can be well put into use in the cosmetic industry. Collagen can help in filling out the contours and depressions of the skin by its application in the injection form. Collagen fillers can cosmetically be used to erase lines and wrinkles from the face. They also cause an improvement in the scars and these types of fillers can be obtained from humans and cows.
Collagen can be used in wound dressing by attracting new cells to the wound site and by providing a platform for new tissue growth thereby promoting wound healing. Periodontal and implant therapy applies the use of collagen-based membranes thus preventing cells around the gum from migrating to a wound in the teeth.
Advantages of taking collagen supplements
There are mainly two types of collagen supplements in the market - collagen hydrolysate and gelatin. Cooking collagen leads to the formation of gelatin. The larger protein gets broken down into smaller units called peptides which are easier to absorb by the body. Supplements like Alvizia hair, nail and skin utilise this quality of collagen in its product and provides all-round skin and hair nourishment.
Studies show that a combination of collagen peptide supplements and strength exercises enhances muscle mass and strength. Experiments conducted on those with post-traumatic osteoarthritis show that collagen supplementation provides a protective role in the development and progression of arthritis. There was found to be a marked impact in the skin appearance and elasticity in women who have a daily intake of collagen supplements. Topical application of skin creams endowed with collagen improves the appearance of the skin by reducing wrinkles and lines. Research is still going on to determine whether collagen is effective in leaky gut syndrome.
Some of the known side effects of collagen supplements are a lingering unpleasant taste and the feeling of heartburn and heaviness in the chest. Those who are allergic to collagen may also have some allergic reactions after its intake.