Uses, side effects and benefits of collagen
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What is collagen
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. These proteins form fibers that help build and hold parts of the body together, including muscles, hair, skin, bones, and tendons.
Researchers have identified at least 28 types of collagen, but those classified as type I, II, and III make up 80-90% of all collagens.
People lose collagen as they age, resulting in softer skin, weaker cartilage in the joints, and other changes. For this reason, collagen supplements have become popular.
Collagen vs collagen peptides
When we eat foods rich in protein, the body uses amino acids to make collagen. But collagen in its natural form is difficult to digest because it is made up of long, tight fibers.
Most collagen supplements use smaller, easier to digest forms of collagen called collagen peptides, also known as hydrolyzed collagen. Manufacturers produce collagen peptides by applying chemicals or high heat to collagen to break it down into small pieces.
What does collagen do?
The main role of collagen is to provide building blocks to parts of the body and keep them strong and flexible. Each type of collagen has different properties and functions.
Like a cord of intertwined strands, each collagen fiber is woven together by millions of proteins called peptides.
All types of collagen help the body’s tissues to maintain their shape, elasticity and strength.
Types of collagen:
- Type I: The most abundant amount of collagen; made up of long, tight fibers found in the skin, ligaments, teeth, bones and tendons.
- Type II: Shorter fibers found in cartilages that form hard, flexible tissues in parts of the body such as the joints, ears, and nose.
- Type III: Present in parts of the body such as blood vessels, intestines and skin; helps blood clot and wound healing.
What are the uses of collagen?
Collagen is easily converted, broken down and absorbed by the body. This makes it useful for several medical and cosmetic purposes.
Manufacturers take collagen from humans and animals for use in supplements and medical products.
Collagen can be used in reconstructive, cosmetic and oral surgery. It can also help heal wounds and burns by promoting the growth of new tissue. Some people can use collagen supplements to decrease the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
The properties of collagen make it widely used in cosmetic applications. Because it helps retain moisture, manufacturers add it to some skin creams and hair treatments. In aesthetic medicine, injected collagen fillers improve the quality and density of the skin.
Research results on the benefits of collagen supplements are mixed.
Some studies have found supplements helpful in increasing muscle mass and strength, relieving arthritis pain, and reducing the appearance of wrinkles.
Factors Affecting Collagen Production
Age is the number one factor that leads to decreased collagen production.
In fact, people produce 1% less collagen in the skin each year after the age of 20, according to Suzan Obagi, assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Pittsburgh and director of the Center for Cosmetic Surgery and Health at the University of Pittsburgh. skin.
In addition to age, several factors contribute to the decrease in collagen production.
Factors that can decrease collagen production include:
- Smoking – Smoking damages collagen and decreases the amount of oxygen reaching the skin, which makes tissue regeneration difficult.
- Diet – A diet high in processed meats and refined sugar can cause inflammation and hardening and fragmentation of collagen.
- Sleep – Getting enough sleep is important because the body produces new cells and collagen during sleep.
- UV rays – Too much exposure to ultraviolet light breaks down collagen and encourages skin cells to rebuild incorrectly, causing wrinkles.
- Health conditions – Autoimmune diseases and connective tissue diseases cause inflammation and antibodies that attack the collagen in the skin, joints and other parts of the body.
- Avoid stress – Too much stress decreases the production of collagen.
Can You Increase Collagen Production?
There are things people can do to help the body make more collagen, even though production naturally declines with age.
The two main ways of doing this are diet and supplements. The science on collagen supplements is not very strong, but there is some evidence of benefits.
Natural sources of collagen
Natural sources of collagen include certain foods, skin creams, and supplements.
Research has not proven that the direct consumption of collagen can benefit the skin or joints because it breaks down when digested. But a good way to support natural collagen production is to eat healthy foods that are rich in amino acids and nutrients.
Foods that can help the body produce collagen include:
- Animal bone broth made from bones simmered in water and a small amount of vinegar for 4 to 24 hours.
- Foods rich in protein such as poultry, fish, meats, dairy products, eggs, legumes and soybeans.
- Foods that contain zinc, such as nuts, whole grains, legumes, and shellfish.
- Foods that contain vitamin C, including berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, leafy greens, and peppers.
- Foods containing sulfur, such as broccoli, onions, and garlic.
Collagen creams and injections may have some benefits, although science is mixed on their effectiveness. Additionally, collagen injections can cause allergic reactions.
Another natural way to get collagen is through supplements.
Because the chemical structure of collagen is so complex, scientists have struggled to recreate it. But researchers are getting closer to making synthetic collagens for biomedical applications that don’t come from animals or humans.
For example, scientists at Rice University have developed synthetic collagen that could help heal wounds. Scientists at Emory University have developed shape-changing collagen that can be used to control drug delivery and in tissue engineering.
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Collagen supplements have become increasingly popular, primarily as a way to rejuvenate aging skin, increase muscle mass, and reduce arthritis pain.
The supplements come from animal sources of collagen such as cows, fish or chickens. People can buy them as powders, liquids, or capsules.
But most researchers agree that there isn’t enough high-quality evidence to know whether it works or not. While the research is promising, there are many studies from collagen supplement manufacturers.
âWe don’t really know if collagen supplements are beneficial to us,â said Dr. Ohara Aivaz, dermatologist at Cedars Sinai. âThe problem is, most of the things we eat are broken down by stomach acids and not absorbed into the bloodstream. It is not known whether we absorb the ingested collagen or whether it is completely broken down in the stomach.
Safety is another issue, as the United States Food and Drug Administration does not regulate collagen supplements, and some experts are concerned that the supplements contain heavy metals or other contaminants.
Please seek the advice of a healthcare professional before making any healthcare decisions.
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