The word collagen is derived from the Greek word "kola" meaning glue. Collagen is a structural component that makes your bones strong, your tendons elastic and your skin smooth. Collagen is the single most abundant protein in the human body. When we are young collagen is produced in abundance and as we age collagen production declines. There are over 16 types of collagen, but 90 percent of the collagen in the body consists of types I, II, and III.
Collagen is essential to every structure in the body. When collagen production decreases muscles and skin sags; bones lose density; joints and ligaments become weaker and less elastic. Cartilage becomes thinner and weaker at the joints it is supposed to cushion. Hair loses its thickness and wave and breaks easily. Organs may sag toward the floor (prolapsed uterus and bladder), and sphincters weaken. The heart enlarges. Arteries become less elastic, more prone to aneurysm and less resistant to plaque formation. Where we notice the loss of collagen the most is in the skin. Maintaining healthy collagen levels as we age will slow the structural decline of the body's tissues and organs.
The concept of collagen creams is that the skin is made up of collagen so applying collagen to skin that is deficient should increase collagen. Unfortunately collagen is such a large sized, complex molecule that it cannot penetrate the skin. Building collagen from the inside out is the most effective way of getting collagen enhanced in the skin.
Collagen and Skin
Babies have beautiful smooth skin that you just want to touch because their skin has abundant collagen. But, starting in our early 20s collagen production declines by about one percent a year. Women in menopause are especially susceptible to collagen decline. Women lose as much as 30 percent of their skin collagen in the five years following menopause, and some women lose 30 percent in the first year, which is the reason that we see dramatic changes in the skin with increased wrinkling, bone loss, muscle decline, prolapsed uterus and bladder and skeletal aging in general. And as if that is not bad enough, skin elasticity declines dramatically every year after menopause. The effects of slowed collagen production are visibly obvious when skin loses its structure, sags and wrinkles. Just look at those nasolabial folds at the sides of your nose to your mouth which are often the first area to see a loss of collagen. A second yet equally important component of skin is called elastin. Elastin fibers form a matrix with collagen; together they allow the skin to flex and move. When we are young, the skin naturally renews its collagen and elastin. But with age and as exposure to sun and environmental toxins damages the skin, this renewal rate slows down.
Activated collagen Reduces Depth of Deep Wrinkles
In a study of 43 women between the ages of 40 and 55 with deep crow's feet wrinkles, consumption of activated collagen containing Type I, III and VII hydrolyzed marine collagen and elastin polypeptides was found to decrease lines and wrinkles as well as to increase skin moisture. Activated collagen was found to have a powerful moisturizing effect on the skin whereas the placebo group had an increase in dryness. Women report that the skin in the vagina improved as well and crepey skin was softer and smoother.
Vegetarians Can Enhance Collagen Too
We can also enhance collagen manufacture by the body with the building blocks that it requires. These consist of silicic acid and biotin which are both used directly to make collagen. Your body uses them directly to make collagen from the inside out. These nutrients also help to build strong bones, thick and resilient hair and strong nails while halting wrinkles. It has also been shown to halt stretch marks in the skin and halt receding gums. Collagen in bones is formed as chains which then twist into triple helices. These then line up and are bonded together into ropes (fibrils). The fibrils then are arranged in layers and minerals such as magnesium, calcium and strontium will deposit between the layers. Collagen not calcium alone is the key to nice strong bones. Silicic acid has been found to build collagen in bones making nice strong bones.
Collagen can also be made from sulfur. Garlic contains sulfur, which helps your body produce collagen. Garlic also contains taurine and alpha lipoic acid, which support damaged collagen fibers. Tomatoes are rich in the antioxidant lycopene which inhibits the enzymes called collagenases that breakdown and destroy collagen. A diet rich in vegetables and good sources of protein will aid collagen production from the inside out as well. We have the ability to change the look of our skin quickly - in as little as 28 days using diet and nutritional supplements.
This column is sponsored by Good 'n' Natural in Steinbach.