What is collagen
Collagen is a filamentous protein that forms the basis of connective tissue. It is one of the key components of joints, bones, tendons, hair, skin, nails and teeth. Collagen protein also forms the walls of veins, arteries and capillaries. The collagen content in the skin reaches 70% – it provides it with a healthy appearance. Collagen is present in the tissues of not only humans, but also practically all other representatives of the terrestrial fauna, including insects.
The name comes from the Greek word kolla, which translates as “glue”. This is no coincidence: many experts compare the main function of collagen with glue and call it the most important building material. Collagen protein directly affects the strength of the skeleton, youthfulness of the skin, elasticity of blood vessels. Its molecules form long thin fibers – fibrils. They hold cells together, bind the body together, and allow tissues to withstand stretching.
At a young age, the body of a healthy person copes well with the production of collagen, but over time this building material is produced less and less. After 40 years, the volume of collagen in the body drops by about one and a half to two times compared to the age of twenty. A particularly pronounced decrease in filamentous protein is observed in women during menopause.
What types of collagen are there
There are 28 types of collagen, of which experts distinguish four main types. They differ in amino acid sequence and have different roles in the body. Type I is found in skin, bones, tendons, teeth, blood vessels, and connective tissue. Type II is more common in cartilage and makes joints flexible, strong, and healthy. The bulk of type III is concentrated in the intestinal wall, and a deficiency increases the risk of ruptured blood vessels. Type IV connects the dermis and epidermis and participates in the “construction” of the lens of the eye.
How “youth protein” affects the body
Collagen has many beneficial properties. But not all of them are scientifically proven. We are talking about those that have passed a number of studies and confirmed their effectiveness.
1. Improves skin condition
Collagen fibers are the “skeleton” of the skin. It is on them that her condition depends. Collagen also affects how quickly scratches, burns and wounds heal.
A group of German scientists conducted a study in which women from 35 to 55 years old took part. For two months, some of them took collagen hydrolyzate, the second part – a placebo. As a result, the skin of women who drank collagen became more hydrated and elastic. At the same time, the researchers did not record a single side effect.
2. Strengthens bones and joints
Collagen protects cartilage tissue from destruction, heals inflammation and helps with joint pain. It also strengthens bones, protects them from breakdown, and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
American nutritionists conducted an experiment in which 147 athletes were invited to participate. They divided them into two groups and suggested supplementing their daily diet with special supplements. Some took 10 grams of collagen on a regular basis, while others took a placebo. After 24 weeks, those athletes who took collagen felt an improvement in the condition of their bones and joints in the resting position, while sitting, while walking, as well as when carrying and lifting various objects.
3. Accelerates the growth of muscle mass
Collagen is about 10% of all muscle tissue. It also promotes muscle protein production and improves exercise performance, scientists say. Taking collagen not only keeps joints and tendons in good condition, but also reduces the risk of injury of varying severity.
This theory was proved by a group of German specialists. 50 elderly men with reduced muscle mass were recruited to participate in the 12-week study. Half of them received 15 g of collagen every day and did strength exercises three times a week, while the rest only exercised. As a result, those who took collagen gained more muscle mass.
4. Improves heart function
Collagen forms the walls of the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the organs. With a deficiency of this protein, they become brittle and destroyed. This process contributes to the development of atherosclerosis and increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
For six months, Japanese scientists monitored the condition of 31 healthy people. The volunteers received an additional 16 g of collagen protein daily with meals. At the end of the study, experts recorded a significant decrease in the stiffness of the arterial wall. In addition, the concentration of “good” cholesterol in the blood of all study participants increased by an average of 6%. Scientists have concluded that collagen may help prevent and treat atherosclerosis.
What foods are rich in collagen
The required level of “youth protein” can be maintained in the body, including with the help of food. To do this, you should include foods rich in collagen in your daily diet. This component is found, for example, in bone broth, egg whites, gelatin, chicken, beef, fish, seafood. The choice is in favor of marine collagen. Its structure is closest to natural human protein, so it penetrates the body faster and is better absorbed, unlike animal collagen. Fruits and vegetables have a positive effect on the production of this component – they contain useful vitamins and amino acids. Attention should be paid to citrus fruits, black currants, broccoli, carrots, red peppers, lettuce, as well as nuts and legumes.
Many experts believe that collagen contained in dietary supplements is absorbed more efficiently than collagen from food. The thing is that when you eat food, collagen enters the body and is broken down into individual amino acids and peptides. Moreover, in dietary supplements, this protein is already broken down or hydrolyzed. Collagen can be obtained naturally through a balanced diet. To do this, it is worth introducing foods high in protein, copper, and vitamins C and E into your diet.