Is collagen a protein?
Collagen is the richest protein that your body possesses. The basic job of collagen is to provide support and to assist the structure formation of your bones, muscles, skin, and connective tissues.
Collagen is also present in various organs and blood vessels. The Amino acids, glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline are the building blocks of collagen.
Collagen enables tissues to be resilient and flexible and therefore helps slow down their wear and tear. Aging and external factors can cause a slowdown in the production of collagen.
Wrinkles are one of the commonly observed changes occurring due to the fall in production. After menopause, collagen production in the female body reduces significantly.
Insufficient collagen production not only affects the appearance of the skin but may also result in problems such as joint pain, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal issues.
Types of collagens
As of now, we know about 28 types of collagens that are available to humans as protein.
Factors such as the placement of the molecules and the location in the body wherein the collagen is being used, determine the difference between the types. Following is the list of five important types of collagens:
Type I: Around 90% of collagen produced by your body is type 1 collagen. Ligaments, skin, tendons, and bones are structured through the assistance of this type.
Type II: The cartilage contains this type. Its presence ensures healthy joints.
Type III: It is present in organs, muscles, and arteries.
Type IV: The skin carries this type of collagen.
- Type V: The cornea of the eyes and some layers of the skin carry type V collagen.
The most effective form of protein - Collagen
All types of collagens that have been listed above are crucial for your body. The type of collagen that is present most abundantly in your body is Type 1.
The type 1 collagen present in many dietary supplements is obtained from animals. However, plant-based options are also available.
Collagen supplements are available in capsule or gel form, as tablets or powder. Ten grams of collagen is the approximate dosage your body needs. And a hydrolysed collagen formula is the best form to purchase.
To reap the true benefits of collagen supplements, these two requirements should be fulfilled. Daily consumption of collagen is said to be very beneficial.
Lifestyle factors that damage this protein (collagen)
Collagen damage occurs among older individuals. it is natural for collagen production in the body to slow down over time. But modern lifestyle has led to premature damage to collagen.
Some external and lifestyle factors accelerate collagen damage. Some of these factors are difficult to avoid but one can always try to limit exposure. Following are some of the factors that hinder collagen levels in your body:
Aside from the general health hazards associated with smoking, it is also a factor responsible for the reduction in collagen production. Elastin damage leads to a reduction in the wound-healing process and an increase in wrinkles.
Nicotine is responsible for the obstruction of blood vessels present close to your skin surface. This obstruction causes insufficient oxygen and nutrient flow.
Excess consumption of refined carbs and sugar:
When sugar attaches itself to proteins, it results in the creation of certain products. The molecules of these products weaken or disrupt nearby proteins. As a result of this activity collagen weakens.
It has been put forth often through media that ultraviolet rays cause a speedy breakdown of collagen. These rays also contribute to the development of wrinkles on the skin.
The damaging effects of UV rays can be reduced by using appropriate sunscreen and by limiting sunlight exposure.
Apart from lifestyle factors some health conditions also cause collagen damage. Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus can cause damage.
Genetic mutations can also cause a decline in collagen. Looking out for such serious issues is essential.
Which foods help boost collagen production?
Your body is not capable of directly absorbing collagen in its whole form. For its efficient absorption, the collagen entering through food is broken down by your body into amino acids.
Mere consumption of collagen-rich ingredients is therefore insufficient. However certain foods do possess the materials required for boosting collagen production.
The foods that provide your body with the amino acids, proline and glycine, vitamin C, copper, and zinc should be consumed. Following is a list of foods to include in your diet:
- To increase Vitamin C levels, foods such as strawberries, broccoli, bell peppers, potatoes, oranges, and Brussel Sprouts can be consumed.
- To increase Proline, fish, meat, and dairy products can be consumed. Plant-based sources of proline are asparagus, cabbage, and mushrooms.
Glycine is obtained through red meat, chicken, pork, turkey, salmon, granola, and peanuts.
Copper is present in shellfish, organ meats, whole grain products, seeds and nuts, and chocolate.
- Zinc-rich food sources are seeds like sesame and pumpkin. Green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and spinach are also good sources. Red meat, dairy products, and poultry are notable sources.
Are collagen supplements effective protein supplements?
Randomized control trials for collagen have been limited but various studies on the protein have put forth a positive view of collagen supplements.
Collagen peptides or hydrolysed collagen can be beneficial for improving skin hydration and elasticity. It can also be used for the provision of relief from joint pain.
Some clinical trials show that supplements can slow down the body’s collagen breakdown process. Supplements are especially a good option for individuals over the age of 40.
Collagen skin care products however may not be effective. Only peptides are somewhat successful in entering the deeper layers of the skin. Even if peptides are present in skin care products, dietary supplements are a better option.
Using collagen supplements has not produced any negative side effects so far. Trying them is therefore not associated with health risks.
Merely using collagen supplements may not be a fool proof method of ensuring efficient production of protein. However, a combination of healthy lifestyle habits and consumption of collagen-rich foods works best for all.
You should not treat supplementation as a means to escape a healthy lifestyle. If all other health precautions and efforts fail, supplements can come to the rescue.