Collagen the glue of the body

What is collagen?

Collagen is an important protein that provides structure for many parts of the body including your bones, skin, tendons, and ligaments. Collagen is the glue that holds all these things together. In fact, the word comes from the Greek word kólla, which means glue.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body, accounting for about one-third of its protein composition. It’s one of the major building blocks of bones, skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Collagen is also found in many other body parts, including blood vessels, corneas, and teeth.

What does it do in your body?

There are at least 16 types of collagen found throughout the body providing structure and support. The four main types are type I, II, III, and IV (1). As you age, your body produces less and lower quality collagen. One of the visible signs of this is in your skin, which becomes less firm and supple. Cartilage also weakens with age.

Collagen Type I - This type accounts for 90% of your body’s collagen and is made of densely packed fibers. It provides structure to skin, bones, tendons, fibrous cartilage, connective tissue, and teeth.

Collagen Type II - This type is made of more loosely packed fibers and found in elastic cartilage, which cushions your joints.

Collagen Type III - This type supports the structure of muscles, organs, and arteries.

Collagen Type IV - This type helps with filtration and is found in the layers of your skin.

Collagen Rich foods

Four of the nutrients that help produce collagen are vitamin C, proline, glycine, and copper. Therefore consuming these nutrient rich foods will help with procollagen production and collagen production. Our body needs high quality protein that contains the amino acids needed to make new proteins. Collagen is found in the connective tissues of animal products. Rich sources of collagen are bone broth, gelatin, chicken skin, and pork skin.

What can damage collagen in your body?

These are the worst culprits that can damage collagen, eating excessive amounts of sugar, smoking, and getting sunburned. Refined carbs such as sugar interferes with collagen’s ability to repair itself. (2) UV radiation can reduce collagen production and reducing structural collagen and elastin. (3) Smoking reduces collagen production, it affects collagen synthesis and extracellular matrix turnover in human skin. (4)

Benefits of collagen supplements

Two types of collagen supplements, hydrolysed collagen (collagen hydrolysate) and gelatin are popular. Hydrolysed collagen is more easily absorbed because the large protein has already been broken down into smaller peptides, which are more easily absorbed in the body. Studies on collagen supplements show benefits in increasing muscle mass, osteoarthritis and pain, skin health and leaky gut. A 2019 study in recreationally active men showed that a combination of collagen peptide supplements and strength training increased muscle mass and strength more than a placebo (5) Protection from arthritis, a 2017 animal study indicated that supplementation may play a protective role in the development and progression of arthritis. (6) Skin elasticity. Women who took a supplement showed improvements in skin appearance and elasticity in a 2019 study. Collagen is also used in topical treatments to improve the appearance of skin by minimizing lines and wrinkles (7).

Collagen peptide comes in a powder that can be easily incorporated into foods. The peptide form doesn’t gel, so it can mix it into smoothies, soups, or baked goods without affecting their texture.