The first association that the word collagen evokes is the skin, wrinkles and aging process. However, it turns out that this form of protein is one of the most important substances in the body, which affects the functioning of virtually all tissues and most internal organs. What is collagen and what are the effects of its deficiency?
The name collagen comes from Greek and is a combination of the words cola (glue) and genno (parent). The nomenclature itself indicates the function that this substance performs in the body. We're talking about the main protein in connective tissue, which is responsible for its bonding. Collagen occurs in almost the entire body, but it should be noted that its content in the skin reaches as much as 75 percent, and in the eyeball - 90 percent. In adults, collagen accounts for as much as 10 percent of body weight.
What is collagen?
As a substance naturally occurring in the body of all vertebrates, collagen is the main building block of connective tissue. Its content in the human body reaches as much as 30 percent of the total weight of protein. Flexible fibers affect the functioning of all key internal organs, including kidneys, liver, heart and lungs. Correct collagen content is also crucial for eye and skeletal health.
Science distinguishes between eight types of this substance, each with a different structure, which is directly related to the area of its occurrence and the function it performs. The remaining eight types are still not classified, and their role in the body is still a mystery.
The organism needs collagen all the time, which is directly related to the characteristics of connective tissue, which in response to external and internal (metabolic) factors is subject to regeneration, remodeling and renewal processes. This requires collagen fibres that are extremely resistant to crushing.
Unfortunately, as the ageing process progresses, collagen production stops. This is because with age, the substance loses its ability to assimilate water, making it impossible to reproduce it. The production of collagen is completely stopped between the ages of 60 and 70.
Influence of collagen deficiency on the organism
Too little collagen produced has very serious consequences for the body. A deficiency of this substance is commonly associated with wrinkles and flabby skin, but this is only one of the effects. The others are not so clearly visible, but we can be sure that they will be clearly felt. The production of collagen in the body decreases with the beginning of the aging process, i.e. in practice - after the age of 25. The process accelerates significantly as a result of hormonal changes after the age of 50, i.e. during the menopause.
As a result of collagen deficiency our appearance changes - the skin loses elasticity, and on its surface appear furrows and folds (wrinkles), which deepen with age. Such a condition also has a significant impact on our mood - too little of the key protein can cause bone and joint pain, decreased efficiency of muscles and tendons, decreased vision, weakened kidneys, liver and heart function. It can therefore be firmly stated that collagen, or rather too low a level of this substance, is one of the causes responsible for all the problems of old age.
What is extremely important is that the significant reduction in collagen production is not only characteristic of mature age. Young people also suffer from a shortage of this substance. The internal cause in this case is individual genetic conditions and hormonal disorders. External factors also influence the inhibition of collagen production. The basic ones are improper diet and stimulants. Another is excessive exposure to sunlight, which significantly contributes to a significant acceleration of collagen fibers decomposition. The use of a solarium also has a similar effect. Extreme temperatures - high and low - also have a negative impact. Frequent baths in hot water are relaxing for the mind, but they certainly do not contribute to maintaining a young appearance.
Supplementation of collagen
Loss of collagen is inevitable, but this process can be significantly slowed down and at the same time mitigated. This substance is contained in many foodstuffs, but in a relatively low dosage, so an additional supplementation is necessary. Drinking collagen shows very good assimilability - when administered orally it is immediately absorbed by the digestive system. However, it is worth noting the form of the substance - liquid collagen is best absorbed in the form of collagen hydrolysate.
Liquid collagen is also used in aesthetic medicine. When administered by subcutaneous injection, it is very effective in filling in fractures, but in this case the substance's effect is purely local.