Collagen is a filamentous protein that forms the basis of connective tissue. Collagen accounts for about a third of all proteins in our body.
It is one of the key components of joints, bones, tendons, hair, skin, nails, teeth. In addition, collagen forms the walls of veins, arteries and capillaries.
Its 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. Collagen molecules form long thin protein fibers - fibrils. They serve to hold cells together, bind our body together and allow tissues to withstand stretching. With age, collagen stores are depleted. Fibrils begin to break down faster, while collagen synthesis naturally slows down. This leads to the manifestation of the first signs of aging - the skin becomes thinner and loses its elasticity, wrinkles form, the bones become more fragile, and the joints become less mobile.
In nature, there are at least 16 varieties of collagen, each of which contains a different set of amino acids and performs a specific role in the body. Experts distinguish four main types of collagen. The most studied and widespread form - it accounts for about 90% of all collagen contained in the human body. These are strong and elastic fibers woven from bundles of fibrils. They are involved in the formation of skin, bones, tendons, teeth, blood vessels and connective tissue. Such collagen consists of looser fibers. It forms cartilage tissue and makes joints flexible, strong and healthy. The second most common type of collagen in the body. Consists of even thinner and more extensible fibrils. It maintains the structure of muscles, internal organs and large arteries, and is also involved in the assembly of type I collagen fibers. The main part of such collagen is concentrated in the walls of the intestine. Its deficiency increases the risk of rupture of blood vessels.
Collagen has many beneficial properties. Perhaps the most famous of them is its ability to slow down the appearance of wrinkles, make the skin smooth and increase its protective properties. In addition, this protein is believed to reduce anxiety, improve mood, help control weight, and normalize bowel function. However, studies that would confirm all these properties are not yet available. Here is a list of the scientifically proven benefits of collagen for the body. At the end of the study, doctors 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%. The authors of the work are convinced that collagen can help in the prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis. Collagen strengthens nails and prevents them from breaking. In addition, it is able to stimulate their growth. These conclusions were reached by a group of German and Brazilian scientists. Each day, study participants received 2.5 g of natural bioactive collagen peptides. A month later, experts checked what had changed. Collagen supplements are considered safe for most people and have little to no contraindications. However, some of them are produced using common food allergens - eggs, cow's milk, fish, seafood, nuts, wheat, and soy. Therefore, before taking such drugs, you should always carefully study their composition. If you have an individual intolerance to any of the components of the dietary supplement, you will have to refuse to take it and find a safer analogue. In addition, in some cases, collagen supplements can leave an unpleasant aftertaste in the mouth, cause heartburn and a feeling of heaviness. Natural collagen produced by the body is called endogenous. In youth, we synthesize a sufficient number of new molecules that have time to fill in the destroyed areas of fibrils in time. These fibers are very sensitive. Collagen, which enters the body through external intake, is called exogenous. The need for supplements depends on the condition of the body and lifestyle. For example, preparations with collagen are advised to be taken during periods of stress and after serious illnesses. In addition, they are necessary for vegans, since collagen is found only in animal products. In this case, you can make a choice in favor of a plant analogue obtained from wheat. But it is important to understand that such collagen is not obtained in its pure form - it is always mixed with an animal. In addition, it cannot activate the production of natural endogenous protein. You can maintain the required level of collagen in the body with the help of proper nutrition. To do this, you should include food rich in “youth protein” in your daily diet. It is also recommended to increase the intake of fruits and vegetables. They do not contain collagen, but they do contain amino acids and vitamins that are necessary for the production of this protein. Particularly useful are citrus fruits, black currants, strawberries, carrots, broccoli, red peppers, lettuce, nuts and legumes.