What is Collagen?

Collagen is the most prevalent protein in your body, making up roughly one-third of total protein content. Collagen refers to a collection of proteins found in the tendon and ligament, as well as the connective tissue layer of the skin dermis, dentin, and cartilage, that are composed of white, fairly inelastic fibres with high tensile strength. Individual collagenous fibres can be divided into fine fibrils, which are made up of even finer filaments with a periodic banded pattern.  Collagenous fibres are found in bundles and they are up to several hundred microns wide, and the individual fibres can be separated into fine fibrils that can give a clearer microscopic view. Collagen is present in the bones, muscles, skin, and tendons and is the most prevalent protein in the human body. Natural collagen produced by the body is known as endogenous collagen. Let us learn more about the types of collagen, chemical composition and the uses of collagen in our human body. 


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Chemical Composition of Collagen

The collagen protein is made up of a triple helix, which is made up of two identical chains (alpha- one) and a third chain (alpha- two) with a slightly different chemical composition. Glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline are the three amino acids that makeup collagen. The collagen molecule is formed like a triple helix (triple spiral) and forms a mesh-like network in the dermis, which is the layer of skin under the epidermis and above the subcutaneous fat. Collagen is a scleroprotein that belongs to a protein family with low water solubility. Collagen is particularly high in glycine and is the only protein known to have a significant amount of hydroxyproline. Collagen is transformed into gelatin when it is exposed to boiling water. 


Types of Collagen 

There are various types of collagen in the body totaling 28 different forms of collagen, each of which has been recognised, described, and classified into different categories based on the structure they form. At least one triple helix can be found in each kind. Collagen has a wide range of functions, as seen by numerous kinds and the most common and prominently present are the below mentioned 5 types of collagen. 

  1. Type I is the most common among the various types of collagen. This form of collagen, which is made up of densely packed fibres, accounts for 90 per cent of your body's collagen. Skin, bones, tendons, fibrous cartilage, connective tissue, and teeth all benefit from it.

  2. Type II kind of collagen. This type is found in elastic cartilage, which cushions your joints and is made up of more loosely packed fibres.

  3. Type III is the most common kind of collagen that is present in the various parts of muscles, organs, and arteries and the collagen supports all such connecting bridges that transmit blood and oxygen to various organs. According to a prior study, this form of collagen is commonly referred to as "baby collagen" because of its significance in the development and early newborn life.

  4. Type IV type of collagen is present in the layers of the skin and aids the filtration mechanism of sweat through its pores.

  5. Type V kind of collagen is present in the hair, cellular surfaces, and placenta.


Uses of Collagen 

  •  It's the glue that holds the human body together by connecting tendons and ligaments to the protein element in the body.

  • Collagen helps produce a fibrous network of cells called fibroblasts in the dermis, or the main layer of skin, on which new cells can grow. It also aids in the replacement and restoration of dead skin cells.

  • Some collagens safeguard delicate organs in the body, such as the kidneys, by acting as a protective covering.

  • Collagen provides strength by forming a scaffold-like structure. 

  • Skin elasticity is maintained by collagen.

  • The presence of collagen makes the skin look youthful and at one age the natural ways of collagen production lessens and then wrinkles start to appear. 


Medical Uses of Collagen

  • Collagen dressings can be used to help attract new skin cells to wound sites. Performing various functions like Collagen fibres have a guiding function when it comes to fibroblasts. Fibroblasts move along a matrix of connective tissue.

  • Collagen strands have a vast surface area, which can attract fibrogenic cells that aid in healing.

  • Collagen can operate as a nucleating agent in the presence of certain neutral salt molecules, causing fibrillar structures to form.

  • Platelets in the blood interact and act as a hemostatic plug and aid in wound healing. 

  • Collagen is employed in bone grafting because it is an extremely strong molecule with a triple helix shape. It is ideal for usage in bones since it does not damage the skeleton's structural integrity. Collagen's triple helix structure protects it from enzyme degradation, allows cells to stick together, and is essential for the appropriate assembly of the extracellular matrix.

  • Collagen's contribution to cardiac performance is essentially a constant torsional force opposing the fluid mechanics of blood pressure emitted by the heart. The collagenous tissue that separates the upper and lower chambers of the heart is an impermeable membrane that, for physiological reasons, excludes both blood and electrical impulses. Smooth muscular mass is coated with collagen in various densities. The compliance required to transfer blood back and forth is influenced by the mass, distribution, age, and density of collagen. And this mechanism helps in cardiac imaging technology that measures blood input and output in the cardiac tissues. 

  • Collagen scaffolds, whether in sponges, thin sheets, gels, or fibrous forms, are utilised in tissue regeneration. Pore structure, permeability, hydrophilicity, and in vivo stability are all beneficial features of collagen for tissue regeneration. Collagen scaffolds also aid in the deposition of cells such as osteoblasts and fibroblasts, and once in place, they allow normal growth to occur.


Risk Factors That Damage Collagen

  • Too much sugar and refined carbohydrates are consumed. Collagen's capacity to repair itself is hampered by sugar. Reducing the intake of added sugar and refined carbohydrates are advised.

  • Too much exposure to the sun. Collagen formation can be slowed by ultraviolet exposure. Excessive sun exposure should be avoided.

  • Tobacco use. Collagen formation is reduced when one indulges in smoking. This can cause wrinkles and slow down the process of wound healing. 

  • Lupus, an autoimmune disorder, can also cause collagen damage.


Natural Ways to Enhance Collagen Production

Procollagen, the precursor of collagen present in the body, is made by mixing the amino acids glycine and proline. And to start the conversion of procollagen to collagen vitamin c is essential.

  • Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. Citrus fruits, bell peppers, and strawberries have a lot of it.

  • Egg whites, wheat germ, dairy products, cabbage, asparagus, and mushrooms all contain significant amounts of proline.

  • Glycine is a kind of amino acid. And glycine is abundant in hog skin, chicken skin, and gelatin, although it can also be found in a variety of protein-rich meals. 

  • Copper is a metal that has a lot of presence in the organ meats, sesame seeds, cocoa powder, cashews, and lentils all contain significant amounts.

  • Amino acids are also abundant in meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, legumes, and tofu.


Collagen Supplements

Collagen supplements are very widely used for anti aging purposes and are popular among both men and women. Collagen peptide is available as a powder that may be mixed into food. Because the peptide form does not gel, it can be added to smoothies, soups, and baked products without altering their texture. One can make homemade Jell-O or gummies with gelatin. Marine collagen, which is derived from the fish skin, is also very widely used. 


Conclusion

Collagen is a protein present in the skin, bones, ligaments and tendons, teeth, and connective tissues, among other places. By avoiding habits that harm collagen, you can assist your body preserve and protect it. Excessive sugar consumption, smoking, and getting tanned are all examples. A nutritious, well-balanced diet with enough protein, that includes leafy greens, beans, cashews, berries and garlic along with proper sunscreen habits, topicals and other dermatologic procedures can all help your body receive and generate what it needs to feel good and look younger. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is Collagen's Primary Function?

Answer. Collagen is the major component of cartilage, ligaments, tendons, bone, and teeth, and has high tensile strength. It is responsible for skin strength and flexibility, together with soft keratin, and its breakdown leads to wrinkles that accompany ageing. It helps to build blood vessels and aids in tissue formation.

2. Is it Better to Take Collagen Pills or Powder?

Answer. Personal preference determines which collagen supplement is best for you. Collagen powders are simple to incorporate into drinks and meals, and they're an excellent way to get more collagen. Collagen capsules are a convenient method to get your collagen without having to mix it.

3. Is it True that Collagen Can Help You Lose Abdominal Fat?

Answer. Collagen, unlike many other supplements on the market, has been shown to aid in weight loss and body fat reduction! Collagen can aid with weight loss, skin texture, inflammation reduction, and GI health, among other things.

4. Is it True that Collagen Makes Hair Thicker?

Answer. Collagen can help you grow healthy hair in a number of ways. For one thing, the amino acids in collagen may be able to help your body create hair proteins and strengthen the skin around your hair roots. It may also help to prevent greying and hair follicle damage.