Collagen is a protein type which is important for structural formation of body cells, organs and tissues. This protein occurs in group naturally and is usually present in the skin and connective tissues of the mammals. The percentage content of this protein in the body usually ranges up to 25 to 30 percent.
Collagen is mainly present in fibrous tissues of the body like tendon, ligament, skin, cartilage, cornea, bones, gut, blood vessel and intervertebral disc. The bones usually consist of collagen along with necessary minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. This protein is helpful in providing strength, smoothness, glow and durability to the skin.
There are approximately more than 25 types of naturally occurring collagens in the body.
In the body, collagen is synthesized by skin cells which are located in the dermis. These skin cells are also known as fibroblasts. Fibroblasts are also responsible for creation of elastin and glucosaminoglycans. First, subunits of collagen, known as pro collagen are produced by fibroblasts which are released from the cells and then eventually transform into collagen molecule. The formation of collagen usually happens in the presence of vitamin C. The deficiency of the vitamin may lead to disrupted collagen growth in the body which further results in skin diseases.
This protein synthesis is an ongoing process through which old and damaged collagen is replaced by new cell structures. The production of collagen, however, decreases with the age.
Collagen is an important body protein which functions and benefits in various ways. Here are some of them:
· Acts as a connector – Collagen is fibrous in nature and thus connects and supports the body tissues such as bones, skin, tendons, cartilage and muscles.
· Coordinates with elastin – Collagen works efficiently with elastin and helps in supporting the body tissues. Where on one hand, elastin provides the skin elasticity; collagen, on the other hand, gives firmness and strength.
· Works as anti-ageing protein – Collagen, along with keratin, helps in making the skin tight and wrinkle free. The production of collagen works as an anti- ageing formula for the skin.
· Strengthens blood vessels – Collagen plays a vital role in strengthening the blood vessels and in development of tissues. It is even found in the cornea and eye lens.
· Skin care and maintenance – Collagen extracted from cows or human is used to inject in skin tissue to get rid of wrinkles and fine lines. Human collagen is expensive than bovine collagen. However, bovine collagen tends to cause allergy in human body. Collagen injections are commonly used for lip augmentation and for elimination of wrinkles. The effect of these injections usually lasts for a period of 12 months.
· Useful in cosmetic surgeries – The protein collagen is also useful in various cosmetic surgeries. It is even available as a supplement in the stores for joint flexibility.
· Treating burns – Collagen is also important in treating severe burns and sores.
· Managing weight – Collagen in hydrolyzed form is also useful for managing weight. It gives a feeling of fullness and helps in weight reduction.
· Medicinal purpose – Animal derived collagen is often used in medicines. Collagen is also used for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis pain.
· Industrial uses – Gelatin, which is produced from collagen is often used for industrial purposes. Various foods contain gelatin as one of the ingredients and it is also used in medicines. Gelatin is often included in diet for having polished and shiny nails and hair.
Collagen Consisting Foods
Collagen is an important body protein and is necessary for healthy and glowing skin. There are various foods that aid in collagen production in the body. Here are some of them:
· Soya products and cheese – Soya products and cheese are rich source of genistein which helps the body in production of collagen.
· Red colored fruits and vegetables – Fruits and vegetables like red pepper, beetroot, tomatoes contain lycopene which facilitates collagen production.
· Dark green vegetables – Dark green vegetables are also beneficial for the body as they are a rich source of vitamin C which helps in collagen production.
· Foods rich in fatty acids – Almonds, avocados, cashews, and fish like salmon and tuna are rich sources of omega fatty acids which is necessary for creating an ideal environment for production of collagen in the body.
· Sulphur rich foods – Sulphur rich foods such as black and green olives, celery and cucumbers also aid in collagen production.
Around 28 types of collagen have been described and identified so far through research and clinical trials. However, the five most common types of collagen are:
Collagen I – Over 90 percent of collagen found in the body belongs to this type. It is present in skin, tendon, bones and organs.
Collagen II – this type forms the main cartilage component.
Collagen III – it is the main component of reticular fiber in the body and is mostly found with collagen I.
Collagen IV – this type forms the basement of cell membrane.
Collagen V – This type blocks surfaces, placenta and hair.
Dosage and Precaution
The intake of collagen can be done in various ways. Now a days, many collagen tablets and supplements are available commercially. For getting relief in arthritis pain, three grams of shark cartilage or 7- 10 grams of gelatin is often recommended.
Collagen injections should be taken under a licensed dermatologist or medical officer. People allergic to cow collagen or those who suffer from other allergies should take care before these injections. It is recommended to do a prior allergy test before taking these injections.