Collagen is a structural protein found in humans. It provides strength and structure to skin, muscles, bones, and connective tissue. It is naturally present as fibers that give the body its shape.
This article gives an overview of what collagen is made of and how it helps the body.
Definition of Collagen
Collagen is a structural protein found in the connective tissue of animals and humans. It makes up skin, bones, ligaments, tendons and cartilage. Its fibrous structure gives strength to these parts. It mainly consists of amino acids like glycine, proline and hydroxyproline.
It helps build hair follicles, blood vessels and organs. It also acts as a lubricant, providing flexibility and strength. As we age, our bodies produce less collagen. Consequently, elderly people are more prone to joint pain.
We can replenish our collagen by taking dietary supplements with type I and III collagen peptides. These scientifically proven ingredients help build up our natural stores of this important protein.
What is Collagen Made Of
Collagen is a structural protein that is found in humans. It is the connective tissue that is present in our skin, bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. It is composed of amino acids, most notably proline, glycine, hydroxyproline, and arginine.
Let’s take a look at what collagen is made of, and how it benefits our health:
Collagen is a protein found naturally in our ligaments, skin, bones, tendons and teeth. It is the main component of connective tissue, providing structure and support to parts of our body like skin and muscles. It is made up mostly of proline and hydroxyproline, and some glycine amino acids. These proteins form large fibrous bundles that give structure to organs like the heart and liver. They are also found in the digestive and respiratory systems.
The formation of collagen involves a complex chain of events. Initially, proline amino acids undergo hydroxylation. Oxygen molecules are attached to them, forming hydroxyproline molecules. This helps them interact better with other molecules in our cells, creating stronger joint structures through tissue cohesion. After this, intermolecular bonds interact between hydroxyprolines. Crosslinks are formed, which provide stability and increase tensile strength by up to ten times.
Collagen is a special protein made up of 19 amino acids. These acids are the same ones found in other proteins and are essential for production of collagen and our health. We understand why collagen is beneficial by knowing what acids make it up and in what ratios.
Five main acids make up collagen – glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, arginine and lysine. Eight are essential acids needed from our diet. They are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine phenylalanime threonine and tryptophan. The remaining 11 are non-essential but vital for collagen production.
To ensure we get enough of these components for collagen, we must eat foods with lots of protein.
Glycine, Proline, Hydroxyproline
Collagen is a protein made up of essential and nonessential amino acids. Glycine, proline and hydroxyproline make up around 30% of it.
- Glycine helps form other amino acids, and is key in healthy skin, joints and hair.
- Proline assists enzymes making proteins, and hydroxyproline hydrates tissue.
- Alanine gives energy to cells, arginine is formed from ornithine, and histidine acts as an antioxidant.
- Cyclic oligopeptides also exist in collagen, giving structure to the triple helix.
Collagen is an important part of many body functions, contributing to overall health and longevity.
Collagen is present in the body naturally, being the most plentiful protein in mammals. It can be found in bones, tendons, ligaments, skin and muscles. Different types of collagen can be seen in the body. Let’s look at them one by one in more detail:
Type I Collagen
Type I collagen is the most abundant type. It’s found in skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones. It helps protect organs by providing structural support and makes up 90% of skin collagen. It’s important for skin firmness and elasticity.
Type I collagen has two intertwined chains (alpha-1 and alpha-2) connected by a short third chain (Gly-X-Y repeat). Alpha-1 chains have Glu Pro Gly X Ala Y Gly Pro units, and alpha-2 chains have Gla in place of Pro. The exposed face is rich in hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine.
Type I collagen has various functions. It provides stability to connective tissues, mediates mechanical signalling, and modulates Wnt/beta catenin pathways. These pathways are involved in morphogenesis during embryonic development or wound healing.
Type II Collagen
Type II collagen is the main form of collagen found in articular cartilage. It lines our joints and makes up 65-80% of a healthy cartilage’s weight. Unlike Type I collagen, Type II is mainly only located in joint areas like the condyle, meniscus and articular surface.
Type II has a unique amino acid sequence, which gives it great tensile strength and suppleness. This makes it ideal for shock absorption. Additionally, it has low levels of inflammatory molecules (interleukins), helping reduce joint pain from arthritis or injury.
Type II collagen supplements are popular. They help reduce joint pain and inflammation from arthritis, aging, exercise, etc. Athletes use it for increased strength, performance and faster recovery after workouts. There are various type II supplements on the market – do your research before choosing one!
Type III Collagen
Collagen is a major protein found in many tissues. It makes up 30% of the proteins in our body. There are 16+ types of collagen; type III is one of them. It is mainly present in the cardiovascular and urinary systems, as well as skin and muscles. It contains more hydroxyproline than other types, giving it special structural support.
Type III collagen helps with tissue healing by providing a framework for cells to migrate and proliferate quickly. This is especially important for recovery after injury, as the affected area remains strong. Type III also provides protection for immune cells, shielding them from harm. The main sources of this collagen come from animals such as cows, horses and pigs.
Type IV Collagen
Type IV collagen is a type of collagen found in the basement membrane of cells. It forms a sheath-like layer that supports cells. It also forms part of the extracellular matrix, which is a major component of skin, blood vessels, and certain organs. This type of collagen is sometimes referred to as “basement membrane collagen“.
Type IV collagen influences cell shape. It prevents cells from merging together and protects underlying tissue from external damage. It also transports molecules like proteins during development. Furthermore, type IV collagen aids intercellular communication during embryonic development.
Recently, Type IV collagen has been studied for its potential therapeutic benefits, such as promoting wound healing and anti-aging properties. Although research is limited, some evidence suggests it could be useful for treating conditions like
- connective tissue disorders
- wound healing after surgery or injury
More studies are needed to determine how this collagen can be used for therapeutic purposes.
Type V Collagen
Type V collagen is one of a kind. Found mainly in placenta-derived tissues, it consists of alpha1 and alpha2 chains. These chains form a structured fibril in type V collagen. This structure is vital for cell movement, maintaining cell shape, and communication.
Type V collagen also appears in basement membranes, which provide a supportive structure for cells. Alongside its role as a structural protein, type V collagen has been linked to dental enamel formation, skin integrity, wound healing, metabolism, immunity, development and growth.
Type VI Collagen
Type VI Collagen is a protein found in the body. It has three chains (α1, α2, and α3) twisted together. It forms a sheet-like network and interacts with other collagen molecules. It forms microfibrils which aggregate into larger microfibrils. These microfibrils bridge between ECM proteins and have adhesive properties.
Type VI Collagen provides structural support throughout the body. It prevents wrinkles and maintains skin integrity. Deficiencies in type VI collagen are linked to decreased skin integrity. It also helps stabilize ECM structures and prevents tissue from being torn apart.
Type VI Collagen has many roles in the body. It helps with angiogenesis, cell migration, cell shape regulation, blood clot stability, wound healing, tissue stiffness regulation and cellular recognition events. It provides strength and flexibility throughout the body’s tissues by forming strong bonds and stabilizing ECM structures.
Benefits of Collagen
The body makes collagen which is the most common protein in mammals. It has many advantages for our skin and body, like better skin flexibility, hydration, and diminishing wrinkles. It also makes bones, teeth and hair stronger, plus supports joints and cartilage.
Here are some of the particular benefits of collagen:
Collagen levels in the skin can cause wrinkles and sagging. Scientists are studying how this happens. The current idea is that collagen helps cells stay strong and fix themselves. We can take collagen to slow down or stop this process, making it useful for skin care.
Collagen also contains amino acids that help with inflammation, which can make skin look better. Plus, collagen forms a barrier against UV radiation, preventing sunburns and other damage.
Collagen is a must for our bone health. It gives bones structure and strength. Collagen is a major part of bones and is needed to create new bone and repair existing ones. As we age, our body’s collagen production drops. So, it’s essential to get enough of it through food.
Hydrolyzed collagen peptides can be a good supplement. These are broken-down collagen molecules called peptides. They are easy to digest and get absorbed by the body quickly, so they can reach our bones. This may help form new bones or increase existing bone density, reducing the risk of fractures or osteoporosis.
Collagen peptides are great for joint health. Collagen is a complex protein that makes up around 30% of the body’s proteins. It helps maintain skin, bones, tendons, ligaments, cartilage and organs. Collagen also helps muscle growth & repair.
By taking collagen peptides, people can rebuild their body’s collagen stores & support healthier joints. Studies have shown that regular ingestion of collagen peptides can improve joint movement, reduce pain by 50%, decrease inflammation biomarkers & improve overall health.
Collagen is famed for its skin and hair boosting powers. But it also supports gut health! It’s a type of protein that lines the digestive tract, aiding digestion and helping ease any issues like constipation, indigestion and heartburn. Plus, it has anti-inflammatory properties to reduce inflammation in the stomach lining.
Studies have revealed collagen also helps those with food intolerances or allergies, like to lactose or gluten. It helps break down foods, lessening reactions in people with sensitivities or allergies. Another benefit? Improved nutrient absorption due to better gastrointestinal functioning. That’s key for overall health and wellness – our bodies need those essential vitamins and minerals.
So, to sum up, collagen is important for good health. It’s in food like fish, eggs, dairy, beans, and nuts. We make it in our bodies from amino acids in the food we eat. Taking hydrolyzed collagen powders or tablets gives us preformed collagen that helps fix damaged cells and tissues.
If you want a simple way to get more collagen, there are products out there with added collagen protein. Eating the right foods or taking supplements will support your general wellness and keep your joints moving well.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is collagen made of?
Collagen is a protein made up of amino acids such as glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and arginine. It is the primary structural component of the body’s connective tissues such as tendons, ligaments, skin, and bones.
2. Can collagen be vegan?
Collagen is an animal-based protein; therefore, it cannot be vegan. However, there are plant-based alternatives that can help boost collagen production in the body, such as vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits and green vegetables.
3. How is collagen produced in the body?
The body produces collagen naturally by breaking down amino acids from foods we eat and combining them into long chains. The process requires vitamin C, which helps to form and stabilize the collagen molecules in the body.
4. What are the benefits of collagen intake?
Collagen intake has many benefits, including improved skin elasticity, joint health, and digestion. It can also help prevent bone loss and promote muscle mass gain.
5. How can collagen be consumed?
Collagen can be consumed in several forms, including supplements, powders, and bone broth. It is also present in some food sources, such as chicken skin, beef, and fish.
6. Are there any side effects of collagen intake?
Collagen is generally considered safe to consume, but some mild side effects may occur, such as an upset stomach or a bad taste in the mouth. It is always essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new dietary supplement.