Have you noticed that whenever you pick up an anti-aging product or see advertising for such products, the word collagen is heavily featured? Yet, do you know what collagen is and why it is considered vital for keeping us looking fresh and youthful? Let’s investigate.
What Collagen Is
Collagen is a type of protein
. It comprises about a quarter of all the proteins found in the human body. There are more than just one type of collagen in the body. There are, in fact, about 25. More than a dozen of these are only present in your skin.
What Collagen Does
Collagen provides structural support to your body's tissues. That is why there is a lot of collagen in muscles, tendons, and skin. You also have collagen in your teeth, your internal organs, and your bones.. Collagen works with other proteins such as elastin to connect and support body tissues. The flexibility of elastin is balanced by the strength of collagen.
Collagen's Role in the Skin
The skin is made up of a number of layers. The middle one is called the dermis. It is about 80% collagen. A network of collagen fibers weave their way through the dermis, providing growth stimulus for new cells. In addition, collagen works in concert with keratin to maintain the flexibility, strength, and resilience of the skin.
Collagen's Role in Aging
Collagen production slows down as we age. As early as our late-20s we start producing less collagen, with the result that our skin starts to lose its flexibility. At the same time, the production of new cells slows down. Moving into our 30s, these changes manifest themselves as wrinkles, fine lines, and other changes to the skin. Lifestyle habits such as smoking and exposing ourselves to sun without the benefit of sunscreen will also accelerate the aging of our skin. That’s why we see so many anti-aging products that are designed to increase the levels of collagen in the body. The more collagen we have, the healthier and younger our skin will look.
Collagen and Disease
Aging isn’t the only reason that we many have less collagen in our bodies. Sometimes the structure of collagen modules malfunctions, resulting in diminished production. There are also genetic conditions that lead to low collagen production. A condition that results in lower than normal collagen production is called osteo-genesis imperfecta. This is more commonly known as brittle bone disease
Medical Uses of Collagen
Collagen is sourced for medical use from the skin of cows, pigs, and deceased human donors. The medical community uses collagen as a facial filler and to make cosmetic improvements of the skin. Collagen is also available as a nutritional supplement
. It is especially useful for those who are plagued with joint complaints and for people with severe burns.
Benefits of Collagen Supplementation
There are four key benefits to collagen supplementation
: (1) Improves digestion; especially beneficial for leaky gut syndrome (2) Helps with joint health and joint discomfort (3) Tones and tightens the skin (4) Helps to speed up the metabolism for fat burning and muscle building Collagen is beneficial for a lot of people who cannot tolerate other formulations. It is dairy- free and gluten-free, but it is not a vegetarian product, and it is easily digestible. In the stomach, collagen can tighten and tone the digestive tract to mend holes in the lining of the gut that lead to leaky gut syndrome. Collagen is great for increasing the overall amount of protein in your diet. It is especially helpful for people who cannot take protein powder or dairy products. Increased protein will lead to fewer cravings, support a healthy metabolism, and create lean muscle tissue. One tablespoon of collagen powder contains about 7 grams of protein. However, collagen is in the form of amino acids, meaning that it is already predigested protein before you consume it. That will allow it to digest a lot more quickly and efficiently. Collagen supplementation
simply makes sense. It will help your skin to look younger, your gut to work better, and your muscles to be leaner and stronger. When searching for a quality collagen product, be sure that it comes from animals that are grass fed. Add two tablespoons of collagen to your morning smoothie
, and you will be fortifying your collagen levels to benefit yourself in so many ways.