[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]What is collagen? It’s the most abundant protein that is found inside the human body and is abundant in the tendons, skin, muscles, and bones. What are the collagen benefits? Well, it’s the substance which holds the body together. It forms a scaffold to offer structure and strength.

You have heard it mentioned by beauty gurus, health experts, and potentially even your best friend. It’s the new buzzword on everybody’s lips, and it now can be found within pretty much everything — from cosmetics and creams, to pills and powders. And the fact is, this might be one case in which the hype is really warranted.

Types of Collagen

what is collagenEndogenous collagen: it’s natural collagen that is synthesized by the body.

Exogenous collagen: it’s synthetic. It’ll come from an exterior source, like supplements.

Endogenous collagen has numerous critical functions. Depletion and breakdown is linked to a variety of health issues.

Exogenous collagen is utilized for cosmetic and medical purposes, which includes body tissue repair.

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Collagen: Fast Facts

Below we list some important points regarding collagen. More information can be found within the main article.

  • Cosmetic lotions claiming to boost collagen levels aren’t likely to do so, because collagen molecules are too big to be absorbed through your skin.
  • Collagen may be utilized in collagen dressings in order to attract new skin cells to the wound sites.
  • The production of collagen reduces with age, as well as exposure to factors like UV light and smoking.
  • Some kinds of collagen fibrils, gram-for-gram, are stronger than steel.
  • Collagen occurs all throughout your body, particularly in the connective tissues, bones, and skin.

What is collagen?

what is collagenCollagen is a fibrous, insoluble, and hard protein which comprises 1/3 of the protein in the body.

In the majority of collagens, molecules are packed together in order to form thin, long fibrils.

They act as supporting structures, as well as anchor cells to one another. These give the skin elasticity and strength.

There is a minimum of 16 different collagen kinds, yet 80 – 90% of them belong to types one, two, and three. These various types have different functions and structures.

The collagens found inside the human body are flexible and strong.

Type 1 collagen fibrils are especially flexible. Gram-for-gram, they’re stronger than steel.

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Let’s recap the different types of collagen:

Collagen types I through V

  • Type I is found all throughout the human body except within cartilaginous tissues. It’s found in tendon, skin, ligature, vascular, organs and is the primary bone component. Also, it is synthesized in response to injury, as well as inside the fibrous nodules within fibrous diseases. More than 90 per cent of collagen that is found inside the human body is this type.
  • Type II is the primary cartilage component. It also is discovered in vitreous humour and developing cornea. It is formed from two or more co-polymers or collagens instead of one collagen type.
  • Type III is discovered inside the walls of arteries and additional hollow organs and typically occurs within the same fibril with type I.
  • Type IV collagen forms the foundation of all cell basement membranes.
  • Type V and XI are minor tissue components and occur as fibrils with type I collagen and type II respectively. Type V collagen forms placenta, hair, and cell surfaces.

Molecular Structure of Collagen

The collagen molecule, additionally called the “tropocollagen”, is a part of bigger collagen aggregates like fibrils. The entire molecule is around 1.5 nm in diameter and 300 nm in length.

Collagen’s triple helix structure

Individually there are 3 polypeptide strands. They’re referred to as alpha chains and each has a conformation of a left-handed helix. The alpha helix is a different structure that has a right-handed conformation.

Furthermore, the 3 left-handed helices are twisted together in a right-handed coiled coil, which forms a super helix or triple helix. The end cooperative quaternary structure is stabilized by a number of hydrogen bonds.


In type I, and potentially all fibrillar collagens, each of the triple helices will form a right-handed super-super-coil that’s called a collagen microfibril.

Thereafter, each microfibril is intercalated or interdigitated with its neighboring microfibrils. It’ll strengthen the structure of all individual molecules.

Amino acid arrangement

Collagen has certain amino acids – Arginine, Hydroxyproline, Proline, and Glycine. Those amino acids have a normal arrangement in each of the 3 chains of the collagen subunits. Oftentimes, the sequence follows this pattern: Gly-Pro-X or Gly-X-Hyp, in which X might be any of a variety of additional amino acid residues. Hydroxyproline or proline constitute around 1/6 of the overall sequence.

Glycine accounts for one-third of the sequence, which means that around 50% of the collagen sequence isn’t glycine, hydroxyproline, or proline. Also, the regular repetition, as well as high content of glycine is found in just a few additional fibrous proteins, like silk fibroin.

In silk, 75 percent to 80 percent is -Gly-Ala-Gly-Ala- with 10 percent serine, and elastin is robust in proline, glycine, and Ala (alanine), whose side group is an inert, small methyl group. High contents of glycine aren’t discovered within globular proteins except in extremely short sequence sections. Due to glycine being the smallest amino acid without a side chain, it’ll play a special part within fibrous structural proteins.

Collagens don’t have chemically reactive side groups unlike within enzymes and transport proteins. It determines cell adhesion, cell phenotype, tissue infrastructure and regulation and its non-proline rich areas have matrix or cell regulation/association roles.

Left handed helices are formed due to the high content of hydroxyproline and proline rings, with their geometrically constrained carboxyl, as well as amino groups that have plenty of glycine. Left-handed helices are formed without intrachain hydrogen bonding.

Collagen’s cross linkages

Collagen’s tensile strength depends upon the covalent intermolecular cross-link formation between individual protein subunits. Fibril-containing collagens within higher vertebrates are cross-linked via a mechanism based upon the reactions of aldehydes enzymically generated from lysine side-chains by lysyl oxidase.

Specific other types of collagen (that is, collagen type IX of cartilage) are also cross-linked by lysyl oxidase mechanism.

What roles does collagen play?

what is collagenIn addition to answering the question, “What is collagen?” we need to also go over its roles. It’s secreted by numerous cells, but primarily by connective tissue cells.

It is found inside the extracellular matrix. It’s an intricate macromolecule network which determines the physical properties of body tissues. Macromolecules include molecules containing large quantities of atoms.

Inside the dermis, or the middle skin layer, collagen assists in forming a fibrous cell network referred to as fibroblasts, upon which new cells are able to grow. Also, it plays a part in restoring and replacing skin cells that are dead.

Some types of collagen act as a protective covering for fragile body organs, like the kidneys.

As we age, the body generates less collagen. Our skin’s structural integrity declines. Joint cartilage weakens and wrinkles form

After menopause women suffer a dramatic decrease in collagen synthesis.

By age 60, a significant collagen production decline is normal.

Cosmetic and medical uses

what is collagenCollagen: it’s resorbable. That means it’s able to be broken down, converted then absorbed back inside the body. It also can be formed into lattice-like gels or compacted solids.

Its diverse array of functions and the realization that it’s naturally occurring make it medically versatile and appropriate for a variety of clinical purposes.

Collagen for clinical use may originate from sheep, pigs, cows, or humans.

Skin fillers

Injections may improve skin contours and fill depressions out.

Fillers containing collagen may be cosmetically used to remove wrinkles and lines from the face. In addition, it can be used to improve scars, so long as these don’t have sharp edges.

Most fillers are sourced from cows and humans. Skin tests ought to be performed before you use collagen from cows in order to avoid aggravating allergies.

Collagen may fill fairly superficial volumes. Usually, more extensive gaps are filled with substances like implants, silicone, or fat.

Wound dressing

what is collagenCollagen may aid in healing wounds by attracting new skin cells to a wound site. It’ll promote healing and provide a platform for the new growth of tissue.

Collagen dressings may aid in healing:

  • Skin graft and skin donation sites
  • Second-degree burns
  • Full and partial-thickness wounds
  • Rotting or necrotic wounds
  • Granulating wounds, on which various tissue grows
  • Wounds which expel bodily fluids like sweat or urine
  • Chronic wounds which don’t respond to additional treatment

Collagen dressings aren’t suggested for 3rd-degree burns, wounds that are covered in dry eschar, or for those who might be sensitive to products that are sourced from cows.

Guided tissue regeneration

A collagen-based membrane has been used in implant and periodontal therapy that promotes the growth of certain cell types.

Collagen barriers, in oral surgery, can prevent fast-growing cells that surround the gum from spreading to a wound inside a tooth. It preserves a space in which tooth cells have the opportunity to regenerate.

In these cases, such membranes can help to heal and they’re resorbable; therefore, this barrier doesn’t have to be surgically extracted after the primary surgery.

Vascular prosthetics

Collagen donor tissue grafts have been utilized in arterial reconstruction, vascular prostheses, and peripheral nerve regeneration.

As collagen prostheses are compatible with the body, some have been discovered to be thrombogenic, or most likely to cause blood coagulation.

Osteoarthritis treatment

Collagen formulations or supplements might assist in treating osteoarthritis.

One 2006 review found that supplements that contain collagen helped reduce uncomfortable symptoms and improve joint function in those who have osteoarthritis.

As this supplement was absorbed, collagen was accumulated inside the cartilage, and that helped in rebuilding the extracellular matrix.

However, not all studies support these same findings.

Skin revitalization

what is collagenA lot of products that contain collagen, which includes powders and creams, make claims to revitalize the skin by boosting the body’s collagen levels.

However, this is unlikely, as collagen molecules are too big to be absorbed through your skin.

Any advantage is likely because of the moisturizing effects of those products. They don’t directly boost collagen.

In addition, these types of treatments aren’t categorized as drugs. Therefore, any claims concerning their efficacy don’t have to be proven scientifically. Caution is recommended while using those products.

Let’s Recap:

Benefits of collagen as biomaterial

The benefits of using collagen involve:

  • what is collagenEasily modifiable to generate materials as wanted by using its functional groups
  • Promotes coagulation of blood
  • Formulated in numerous forms
  • Synergic with additional used bioactive components, as well as compatible with synthetic polymers
  • Biological plastic due to minimal expressibility and high tensile strength
  • Bioreabsorbable and biodegradable – biodegradability may be regulated by cross-linking
  • Biocompatible and non-toxic
  • Non-antigenic – as the fibers are abundant in nature, they don’t cause an immune system reaction
  • Positive effect upon wound healing rates
  • Semi-permeability of membranes
  • Fiber orientation
  • It’s easily purified from living organisms and available in abundance. Over 30 percent of vertebrate tissues contain collagen.

It wouldn’t be fair to completely cover an overview of collagen without mentioning a few of its disadvantages.

Downsides of collagen as biomaterial

The downside of using collagen involve:

  • Carries risk of transmitting ailments like BSF (bovine spongeform encephalopathy) and mineralization
  • Complex handling properties
  • Variability in enzymatic degradation rate, compared with hydrolytic degradation
  • Hydrophilic, that is absorbs water that leads to release and swelling.
  • Isolated collagen is variable in fiber size, crosslink density, trace impurities, et cetera.
  • High cost of pure type I

Collagen’s industrial uses

Collagen, for industrial purposes, is denatured by heating. It’ll cause the 3 tropocollagen strands to separate completely or partially into globular domains, which contain a different secondary structure to the regular collagen PPII (polyproline II), that is, random coils. It’s referred to as gelatin formation.

Gelatin is utilized in many foods, which includes flavored gelatin desserts. In addition to food, gelatin has been utilized in photography, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries.

Gelatin is a poor nutrition source and protein since it does not contain all of the essential amino acids within the proportions the body requires. But, some collagen-based supplement manufacturers claim that their products may improve fingernail and skin quality and joint health. There isn’t any proof that supports those claims.

Originally, collagen was used to generate glue. The term collagen comes from the Greek word for glue, ”kolla”. Earlier, the sinews and the skin of horses, as well as other animals, were boiled to acquire glue. Collagen adhesive was utilized by Egyptians around 4,000 years ago, and Native Americans utilized it in bows around 1,500 years ago.

The earliest glue is dated about 8,000 years old and was designed of collagen. It was utilized as a protective lining on embroidered fabrics and rope baskets, as well as to hold utensils together.

Animal glues that come from collagen are thermoplastic, which means they dry up and harden then soften upon reheating. They’re still utilized in creating musical instruments like fine guitars and violins. Animal skins and sinews, which includes leather, have been utilized to create helpful articles since ages.

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Preventing the loss of collagen

Laser therapy can assist in treating stretch marks, as it may stimulate the growth of melanin, elastin, and collagen.

A healthy diet may assist the body in producing collagen.

Nutrients which might support collagen formation include:

  • Proline: In cabbage, soy, chees, meat, and egg whites.
  • Anthocyanidins: In raspberries, cherries, blueberries, and blackberries.
  • Vitamin C: In broccoli, peppers, strawberries, and oranges.
  • Copper: In some drinking water, red meat, nuts, and shellfish.
  • Vitamin A: Occurring in plant foods as beta-carotene and animal-derived foods.

Collagen: What damages it?

Some factors may deplete the collagen inside the body. Avoiding them might keep your skin healthy for a longer period of time.

High consumption of sugar: A diet that is high in sugar boosts the rate of glycation, a process in which blood sugars connect to proteins in order to form new molecules referred to as AGEs (advanced glycation end products).

AGEs damage proteins nearby and may make collagen weak, brittle, and dry.

Smoking: Most chemicals in tobacco smoke damage elastin and collagen in the skin.

Also, nicotine narrows the blood vessels within the skin’s outer layers. It compromises skin health by decreasing the generation of skin oxygen and nutrients.

Sunlight: Sunlight’s UV rays cause collagen to break down more rapidly, which damages collagen fibers and causes irregular elastin to build up.

Sunlight’s ultraviolet rays damage the collagen within the dermis, and the skin incorrectly rebuilds and forms wrinkles.

Autoimmune disorders: A few autoimmune disorders will cause antibodies to target collagen.

Changes in genetics can affect the extracellular matrix. Collagen produced may be lower, or it might be mutated, dysfunctional collagen.

The process of aging causes levels of collagen to naturally deplete over time. There isn’t any way to prevent this.

Avoiding excessive sun exposure and tobacco and following a healthy dietary and exercise routine may assist in reducing visible aging and protect collagen, and keep the joints, muscles, bones, and skin healthy for longer.

13 Life-Changing Benefits of Collagen

what is collagenAs aforementioned, collagen is the most abundant body protein. It’s found in several body areas, which includes the skin, hair, nails, teeth bones, joints, organs, tendons, cartilage, blood vessels, and digestive system. There are sixteen types of collagen within the body. Type 1 accounts for around 90% of the body’s collagen and is what gives the skin with its firmness.

Type 2 collagen is discovered in movable joints. Again, the term collagen derives from kolla, the Greek term for glue. Collagen, in many ways, is like glue in that it’s a fibrous protein which holds the human body together. As you might imagine, collagen is a very important part of the human body. As a matter of fact, the protein has many incredible benefits. Here, we list 13 collagen benefits you might not have known.

Collagen Benefits: Digestive Aid

Do you oftentimes feel bloated after eating? Maybe you experience frequent bouts of heartburn. You might just feel as if the food you eat doesn’t ever actually settle. Those are all indications that you’re lacking stomach acid. Consuming a collagen supplement might assist in improving your digestion because of the glycine it contains. Glycine is an amino acid which normalizes stomach acid production.

It has been discovered that glycine CNA supplementation can help people suffering with GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. Additionally, glycine supports the production of bile. Bile is needed for fat soluble vitamin digestion. An additional way that collagen helps with digestion is that it stays hydrophilic as it’s heated. Hydrophilic foods and digestive juices combine well together, meaning that collagen may aid in better digestion of cooked food. If you experience frequent bouts of heartburn or bloating, a collagen supplement might help.

Collagen Benefits: Gut Healing

what is collagenLeaky gut happens if the intestinal junctions become damaged. Intestinal junctions are openings inside the intestinal cells which permit nutrients to enter your body. Also, the junctions prevent harmful bacteria, undigested food particles, and additional toxins from entering your body. If the gut isn’t healthy, the junctions might stay open when they ought to be closed. That means those unwanted toxins might leak into various body areas and produce different kinds of health problems. Collagen may aid in preventing this because it has glutamine.

Glutamine involves an amino acid which helps to rebuild damaged intestinal junctions. It’ll assist in restoring gut health, which then will tone down inflammation. Additionally, collagen aids in absorbing water and keeping liquids inside the gut. It’ll improve intestinal transit or amount of time it takes food to move out of the body.

Collagen Benefits: Heart Health

what is collagenKeeping the blood vessels strong is crucial for your general health. Collagen is vital in this process as it’s what’s used to repair all damage the blood vessels go through. If there isn’t sufficient collagen inside the body, it’s forced to utilize plaque patches to fix the blood vessels. Those plaque patches are fat build ups inside the arteries. It’ll cause the arteries to become hardened and thereby boosts the risk of the development of heart disease.

That means it’s important to ensure that you receive sufficient vitamin C because it helps the body to produce collagen. As there’s sufficient collagen inside the body it’ll keep the blood vessels in good repair. In return, it’ll improve the general health of the heart because the blood vessels will have the ability to perform their duty and the heart is going to be better protected.

Collagen Benefits: Alleviates Joint Pain

According to one clinical study, individuals who suffer with joint pain and fibromyalgia might discover some relief by utilizing hydrolyzed collagen. Joints are lined with cartilage. It’s a connective tissue which absorbs physical shocks. Additionally, cartilage assists with motion. Cartilage is mainly comprised of collagen. It helps to decrease friction between your joints. Also, it helps keep them supple.

Chronic inflammation, one of the markers of diseases like fibromyalgia and arthritis, may cause cartilage damage. It may cause pain within the joints and makes them become stiff. If you experience joint pain, boosting the quantity of collagen you use helps to relieve this discomfort because of the amino acids, glycine and proline. The autoimmune paleo diet may assist in boosting the effectiveness of collagen as it’s efficient at helping to lower inflammation.

Collagen Benefits: Connective Tissue Repair

what is collagenAs collagen is ingested it may raise the quantity of collagen peptides inside the blood. Collagen peptides involve the amino acids which collagen is comprised of. As there are more of those peptides inside the blood levels, it may improve the size and composition of fibers that comprise the connective tissues. That means taking in sufficient collagen will assist in strengthening the connective tissues as it may enhance the mechanical properties.

The body’s connective tissues are essential for general body health because the connective tissue has the job of structuring the body’s framework. Also, it transports the dissolved fluids and materials inside the body and protects all the delicate organs. Also, it’s responsible for defending the body from invasions and stores energy reserves, meaning that keeping those tissues in repair assists in keeping the body energized and healthy.

Collagen Benefits: Improves Liver Function

Glycine involves an amino acid that’s discovered in collagen. The amino acid was found to be paramount when it comes to fixing damage to the liver by toxins or alcohol. Glycine is part of the phase II detoxification pathway. Within this phase it’ll bind to the various toxins then aid in excreting them from your body. Ensuring that you’re getting sufficient collagen is vital as it comes to the health of your liver, particularly if you consume alcohol.

Alcohol has toxins which may be very damaging. The liver is essential in assisting in ridding the body of toxins and ensuring that it’s working at its optimum level is very important for your general health. Glycine helps eliminate toxins that might build up inside the liver and it’s one of the best methods of ensuring that there’s sufficient glycine inside the body.

Collagen Benefits: Collagen Assists in Keeping you Satiated

Let us face it, the majority of folks are searching for methods to lose weight. If you’re at your ideal weight, you might simply be wanting a way to maintain it. Most people don’t know that collagen actually can be utilized as a way to assist you in maintaining or even losing weight as it aids you in feeling fuller for longer. If you’re in a hurry in the morning and discover yourself not eating healthy food or simply grabbing the easiest and first thing you see, try to add a smoothie to your breakfast diet.

It’s possible to add a bit of collagen to any smoothie and it’ll offer you some additional health benefits. Studies have proven that the proteins inside collagen are 40% more satiating than additional protein supplements. That means by merely adding a bit of collagen to your breakfast smoothie, it’ll make it more likely that you’ll consume about 20% less within your next meal.

Collagen Benefits: Builds Muscle Mass

what is collagenAs aforementioned, if you’re attempting to lose weight, collagen will help. Adding it to a breakfast smoothie will help you feel fuller for a longer period of time, meaning that you’re more likely to consume less food throughout the day. Also, collagen can help regulate the levels of blood sugar in your body. It’s important as it’ll come to avoiding diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Furthermore, collagen also can help the body build more lean tissue.

Plus, it’s robust in glycine. Glycine is paramount for the muscles because it helps build muscle mass. As the body is building more lean tissue it will naturally cause weight loss as fat is no longer being stored. Supplying the body with the right quantity of collagen will be a great start at losing weight and keeping it off.

Collagen Benefits: Helps you Sleep

Are you feeling stressed? Do you experience problems sleeping at night? Occasionally it’s very hard to get your body and mind to shut down in the evening so you can get the sleep needed. Everyone feels stress during some point and it’s vital to try and keep your levels of stress under control. Collagen can actually help with that, too. Again, collagen contains glycine, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter.

That means collagen may aid in reducing anxiety. As your anxiety is reduced it’ll help you feel calmer because it inhibits the act of norepinephrine– a stress hormone. Norepinephrine is well-known for causing a sense of anxiety, restlessness, and panic. All these things will interfere with your rest schedule. Adding it to your routine diet will be life changing because it will help induce a sense of calmness to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

Collagen Benefits: Improves the Balance of Hormones

Hormones play a vital part throughout your body. As the hormones inside the body are in balance, you’ll feel a lot better. Even a little too much of one hormone will have you feeling off. That’s why it’s important that you keep your hormones in check as much as you can. One way to help to keep your hormones in balance includes making sure that you’re getting sufficient collagen. Collagen assists in improving the amino acid balance of your body.

When the body’s amino acids are in balance, it will also help balance out the hormones. In that way, collagen assists in supporting natural hormone production all throughout the body. Hormone balance is essential for your general physical and mental health. Consuming a collagen supplement will go a long way at helping you feel better in general.

Collagen Benefits: Keeps Skin Appearing Young

what is collagenAs an individual ages, the production of collagen inside the body starts to decrease. One place it shows up first is within the skin. Wrinkles and fine lines start appearing and the skin is less elastic and looks looser. One way to help to keep your skin appearing healthier and younger includes making sure you’re getting sufficient collagen within your diet.

Research performed on women showed that consuming 2-1/2 to 5g of hydrolyzed collagen on a daily basis for 2 months showed improvement to the elasticity and moisture of the skin. As the skin is more elastic, wrinkles and sagging skin become less noticeable. When skin is dry, it’s more vulnerable to toxins, bacteria, and ultraviolet radiation. Making certain that the skin is kept moisturized will help keep it younger appearing and healthier. Plus, collagen helps your skin feel smoother.

Collagen Benefits: Strengthens Hair

what is collagenThe hair on your head and body is made mainly of keratin protein. Amino acids which are discovered in collagen assist in producing this protein for your hair to use. It will assist in keeping your hair appearing strong and shiny. As we grow older, the body generates less collagen. That means, with age, the hair follicles begin to shrink. It results in our hair becoming weaker and ultimately, it’ll start falling out.

To prevent hair thinning, try to consume more collagen. Raising your consumption of collagen is particularly vital as we grow older since that’s when the body is generating less of it. Boosting the quantity of collagen that you consume will help to raise keratin protein production. In turn, this will strengthen your hair follicles and aid in reducing the quantity of hair that’s lost.

Collagen Benefits: Nail Strength

Did you notice that your nails are easily breaking? Do your nails seem to split at the smallest touch? If yes, try to increase your collagen consumption. The protein includes the building block for nails. That means that merely raising the quantity of collagen in the body can help strengthen your nails. And again, as you start getting older the quantity of collagen that’s generated by the body decreases.

That’s the reason why it is so important to ensure that you’re receiving collagen through additional sources, such as a supplement. Helping to supplement the body with collagen will go a long way in keeping the nails healthy. If you desire nails which are firm and strong, collagen is your best bet because it helps give your nails the proteins needed to keep from splitting and chipping.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Dr. Barry

Dr. Barry

March 8, 2019