Collagen – the name is not accidental – it comes from the Greek word “kolla” and means glue! This is what determines its basic function, i.e. “gluing” cells together. Collagen is a protein of connective tissue made up of amino acids – glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. Collagen has a unique property – it is resistant to stretching. It is found not only in the skin, but also in tendons, bones, joints, blood vessels and even the cornea of the eye. The amino acids that make up collagen – glycine and proline – are called endogenous, which means that our body produces them on its own. However, the omnipresent stress, overworking and haste contribute to the weakening of our body and thus reduce its efficiency. In such a situation, it is worth considering enriching your diet and boosting it with an additional collagen supplement.
Collagen – short history
In global circles, collagen has been known and used for a long time. It was extracted from cattle skins, but unfortunately in an inactive form. Despite this, it was used, among others, in cosmetic implants, soluble seams, prostheses and as an ingredient of ointments supporting the treatment of burns, scars and stretch marks. The history of production and use of collagen has also an important Polish accent. In the 1980’s, engineers from Gdansk universities obtained, from fish skin extracts, collagen with a structure perfectly reflecting the human type. Work on this unique invention took over 20 years. The most important discoveries include the development of a method of hydration of collagen from fish skins, in which it is transferred to an aqueous solution without losing its unique triple helix structure. This invention caused a sensation in the circles of world specialists. But Polish companies needed a lot of time to understand its phenomenon and only in 2003 did they decide to apply this discovery in cosmetology. Sea collagen is a compound whose molecules are smaller than those of animal origin, so it works more effectively. In addition, the structure of such collagen is practically identical to that of the human body (minimal differences are observed).
Collagen – how it works – about the properties of collagen
The correct level of collagen in the body guarantees the effectiveness of many physiological processes. Collagen is responsible for:
– Skin firmness
– Regeneration of skin
– Improvement of facial contours
– Softening and smoothing scars
– Reduction of and decrease in the visibility of stretch marks
– Maintaining the flexibility of blood vessels, so indirectly blood circulation
– Correct healing of wounds and fractures
– Hair and nail growth
– Strengthening and proper “hydration” of joints
Collagen – defficiency symptoms
Symptoms of collagen deficiency can be easily felt and observed. The stiffness of the joints and the feeling of abnormal hydration is a symptom that quickly becomes symptomatic. Loss of collagen leads to an increased feeling of friction within the joint capsule, which in the long run destroys the joints. Research on this issue shows that in people with osteoarthritis, collagen supplementation has helped in everyday activities and, above all, has contributed to the reduction of pain. Collagen deficiency also means visible changes in the firmness of our skin. However, it was found that adequate supply of collagen in the diet and possible collagen supplementation contributed to the improvement of skin elasticity and hydration. Their positive influence on the reduction of cellulite and stretch marks visibility was also observed. Collagen protein is also a building block of nails or hair – such supplementation will also be beneficial for them.
Collagen – how to help and not to harm – what factors affect the production of collagen
In young people, collagen is elastic and provides a scaffold for the skin. Unfortunately, with age (already around 25 years of age!) it starts to decrease – the average decrease is 2% per year, and in the period of menopause even 30%. The body is unable to keep up with the production of collagen fibers and and does not have the ability to replace the new ones, which are subject to natural decomposition. In addition, these already produced fibers are of poorer quality – shorter and faster degradation, Therefore, with age, the skin loses its properties – which is manifested by its poorer condition, loss of elasticity and visible wrinkles. Additional factors that negatively affect collagen production are a diet rich in sugar, impurities and stimulants such as smoking, UV radiation and stress. Stress, and especially chronic stress, has an adverse effect. Cortisol, a stress hormone that contributes to the breakdown of collagen fibers, is then released. Interestingly, problems with the proper production of collagen are also observed in professional athletes. The tendons, cartilage and joints of athletes are exposed to continuous micro- and macro-injuries, which does not remain indifferent to the quantity and quality of produced collagen.
Also in people who struggle with autoimmune diseases, i.e. those in which the immune system works incorrectly and “attacks” the body, irregularities related to the produced collagen are found. These examples show that there are many exceptions to the rule. Therefore, we cannot unequivocally state that the problem of disturbed collagen production concerns mainly elderly people. This in turn gives us a “sign” that it is worthwhile to get interested in this subject as early as possible.
Collagen and vitamin C
In addition to the ingredients that negatively affect the production of collagen, there are also ingredients that have a positive effect. One of the basic factors with this effect is vitamin C, which is necessary in the process of collagen biosynthesis. To ensure that our body does not run out of it, it is necessary to balance the diet properly. Vitamin C can be found mainly in green leafy vegetables such as kale, berry and citrus fruits, paprika, parsley or sauerkraut. The “skin-enhancing” diet should also be rich in vitamin E, which regulates skin hydration and protects it from UV radiation. To ensure its proper supply, germ, oil, avocado and nuts should be consumed. Do not forget about vitamin A, which improves skin elasticity and slows down the aging process. You can find it in vegetables – pumpkins, carrots, peppers, fruits such as melon, peach or eggs. However, the real must have in such a diet are omega 3 acids with anti-inflammatory properties, whose sources are: olive oil, linseed oil, fatty fish such as salmon or nuts.
Collagen I, II, III… as many types, as many functions
The human body is made up of different types of collagen. The most common collagen types are: I, III, IV, V, VI and VII. The dominant form of collagen in the skin (about 90%) is type I collagen, which is the fibrous support of the skin, and collagen III, which wraps the collagen fibers and is responsible for their proper alignment and elasticity of the skin. On the other hand, the types: II, IX, X, XI occur in the joint cartilage and are responsible for its proper functioning. Type V, called interstitial, occurs in the scar-forming tissue and Type VI is its variety. There are many more types of collagen and probably not all their properties are known yet, but the ones mentioned above have the most proven and described action. Natural collagen can also be divided into specific types. Among them we will distinguish: animal collagen, native collagen, hydrolyzed collagen, atelocollagen, micro-collagen, freeze-dried collagen and plant collagen. The most valuable is fish collagen.
Collagen – extensive use
The current cult of a young appearance, the desire for lack of wrinkles and the need to improve the appearance of the skin means that collagen has found a wide application in many fields – primarily cosmetology and medicine. One of the preparations that use collagen are fillers used in aesthetic medicine treatments. They are used to even out the surface of the skin in areas of wrinkles, scars, as well as lip modeling or facial oval. Collagen fillers are one of the oldest used groups of fillers – they have been used since the beginning of the 1980s. They are constantly being researched, changed and improved, but nowadays they are used only occasionally. Additionally, their use is still burdened with undesirable effects, which include allergic reactions, infections, discolorations, swellings and abscesses. Collagen hydrolysates are also used in cosmetics – they can be found in preparations for face, body and hair care. They are used as ingredients with a moisturizing effect, and their role is to bind water in the skin’s hydrolipid coat. It is very important that they are completely safe to use. It is now known that the collagen molecules used in such preparations are too large and do not have the ability to penetrate into the epidermis.
Therefore, collagen in cosmetics cannot work – it does not contribute to replenishing deficiencies in the body. It does not mean, however, that there are no advantages – it can create a layer on the skin surface that has the ability to absorb and retain moisture, which can give the effect of superficial hydration. Cosmetologists argue that the issue of natural collagen, which occurs in the form of triple helix, is slightly different. This product is a biologically active protein, which in contact with our skin should break down into smaller molecules – peptides and amino acids. Natural collagen used in aesthetic medicine or cosmetics will work on the principle of stimulating cells to create collagen. In order for the skin to assimilate it as best as possible, it must be properly prepared – cleansed and administered by peeling.
Oral preparations containing collagen or hydrolysates of collagen have so far been used mainly in the prevention of connective tissue diseases, mainly cartilaginous-articular. Currently, their purpose is much more extended and is based on improving the appearance of the skin and delaying the effects of aging. Collagen-containing dietary supplements have started to appear in Europe relatively recently, unlike in Japan, where they have been used for a long time. There are few studies to check the actual effect of such collagen supplements, but those that have emerged show that oral intake of collagen hydrolysates probably has a protective effect on connective tissue and moisturizes the skin. It is worth knowing that there are no hazards and irregularities associated with the intake of collagen. However, it cannot be used in people with allergies to fish and crustaceans, because most often it is produced from them.
Best collagen – which collagen to choose?
The type of collagen and the source of its extraction are two basic pieces of information that should be taken into account when choosing the ideal collagen supplement. Currently, the best collagen source on the market seems to be marine fish. As far as the type is concerned, let’s look for types in preparations: I and III, which will have the greatest impact on the appearance of our skin. The secondary issue is the form of administration – we can choose from tablets, liquids or powders. It is a more individual matter. It is worth avoiding collagen in tablets and capsules which often contain a lot of additional substances forming the shell, are more difficult to digest and may cause ailments from the digestive system.
Collagen in liquid or powder form is a more convenient option. They can be drunk “sauté” or added to your favourite beverages, fruit cocktails or smoothies. Powdered collagen is probably the most versatile form of preparation – it can be added to drinks or food. Remember to add vitamin C, so add lemon juice, berries or parsley.
Collagen – closing remarks…
Anyone who likes to experiment will be interested in an optional wonderful collagen mixture. To prepare it you need to cook it for a long time (2-4 h) on low heat…chicken feet. And then drink the broth! It is best to add lemon juice in order to eliminate the specific taste. This is an option for the brave.
Collagen – future
Coming back to Japan for a while, its inhabitants are particularly susceptible to dietary madness. You can easily buy jams with collagen, fruit jellies with melted collagen, chicken foot broths, powdered cartilage or shark fins. Maybe this is the secret to their impeccably beautiful skin and long life?
Collagen – shop
Natural marine collagen powder is available at zojoelixirs.com. ZOJO Beauty Elixirs also provides a range of natural food supplements for beauty & wellness – potent adaptogens, vital mushrooms, tonic herbs and known skin food.
Author: Dagmara Widawska