Collagen - What Is It and What Is It Good For
Posted by jackthomas6259 on October 9th, 2019
Collagen is the most plentiful protein in the body.
It has important roles, including providing structure to your skin and helping your blood clot.
In recent years, it has gained popularity as a nutritional supplement and ingredient in shampoos and body lotions.
But what is collagen? And what is it good for? This article gives you a thorough overview of this important protein.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body, accounting for about a 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.
You can think of it as the "glue" that holds all these things together. In fact, the word comes from the Greek word "kólla," which means glue.
Below is an illustration of collagen's molecular structure:
There are at least 16 types of collagen. The four main types are type I, II, III and IV (1Trusted Source).
Here's a closer look at the four main types of collagen and their role in your body:
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.
BOTTOM LINE: There are at least 16 types of collagen. It's found throughout your body, providing structure and support.
All collagen starts off as procollagen.
Your body makes procollagen by combining two amino acids: glycine and proline. This process uses vitamin C.
You may be able to help your body produce this important protein by making sure you get plenty of the following nutrients:
In addition, your body needs high-quality protein that contains the amino acids needed to make new proteins. Meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, legumes and tofu are all excellent sources of amino acids.
BOTTOM LINE: Four of the nutrients that help produce collagen are vitamin C, proline, glycine and copper. Also, eating high-quality protein gives your body the amino acids it needs.
Perhaps it's even more important to avoid the following collagen-destroying behaviors:
Some autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, can also damage collagen.
BOTTOM LINE: You can help your body preserve and protect collagen by avoiding behaviors that damage it. These include eating excessive amounts of sugar, smoking and getting sunburned.
Collagen is found in the connective tissues of animal foods. For example, it's found in large amounts in chicken and pork skin.
One particularly rich source is bone broth, which is made by boiling down the bones of chicken and other animals.
Gelatin is basically cooked collagen, so it is very high in the amino acids needed to produce it.
But there's debate over whether consuming collagen-rich foods actually increases the levels in your body.
When you eat protein, it's broken down into amino acids and then reassembled, so the collagen you eat wouldn't translate directly into higher levels in your body.
BOTTOM LINE: Animal products such as bone broth, gelatin, chicken skin and pork skin are very high in collagen.
Two types supplements are gaining popularity: hydrolyzed collagen (collagen hydrolysate) and gelatin. Gelatin is created when collagen is cooked.
These have already broken the large protein down into smaller peptides, which are more easily absorbed in the body.
There aren't many studies on collagen supplements, but those that exist show promise for benefits in the following areas:
Some alternative medicine practitioners also advocate using collagen supplements to treat leaky gut syndrome.
BOTTOM LINE: According to studies, supplemental collagen may help improve skin texture and muscle mass and reduce osteoarthritis pain.
So far, there's not very reliable information on the safety or efficacy of collagen supplements.
The potential side effects of gelatin supplements include a lingering unpleasant taste and sensations of heaviness and heartburn.
Also, if you're allergic to the source of the supplement, then you could have an allergic reaction.
BOTTOM LINE: There are no substantial reports of side effects. However, you could have an allergic reaction if you're allergic to the supplement source.
Collagen peptide comes in a powder that can be easily incorporated into foods.
The peptide form does not gel, so you can mix it into smoothies, soups or baked goods without affecting the texture.
You can use gelatin to make homemade jello or gummies. Check out some recipes here.
When considering supplements, you should look for a high-quality source. Marine collagen, which is made from fish skin, is also available.
BOTTOM LINE: You can find supplements in pill or powder form. The powder can be easily added to food.
Collagen has many uses, from food to medicine to manufacturing.
For thousands of years, it was used to create glue. Today, it's still used to create strings for musical instruments.
In food, it's heated to create gelatin and used to make casings for sausages. In the medical field, it's used as a filler in plastic surgery and as a dressing for severe burns.
BOTTOM LINE: Collagen has many uses, including as a dressing on burns and in making strings for musical instruments.
Collagen is an important protein that provides structure for many parts of the body.
Interestingly, the foods and nutrients you eat can help your body make this protein.
Alternatively, collagen supplements may be beneficial as well. Some preliminary studies show that they may improve skin quality, muscle function and reduce the pain associated with osteoarthritis.
WRITTEN BY: KERRI-ANN GENNINGAlso See: Bottom Line, Amino Acids, Large Amounts, Collagen Supplements, Supplements, Skin, Protein
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