What is collagen and why should I care?
Table of Contents
Very Short Answer
Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the human body. It is referred to as the glue that keeps your body together.
Collagen is a protein found in the bodies of humans and other animals. It is the most abundant protein in our bodies, making up nearly 30% of the protein composition in our bodies. It plays a role in the critical functions of our body including our bones (skeleton), skin, tendons, and ligaments. As we age, the manufacturing of collagen by the body starts to decrease around the age of 25-30 but the actual signs of this phenomenon are only becoming apparent years later. Visible signs like ageing skin, fine lines, dry skin, loss of skin elasticity are all evidence of depleting collagen levels. Most signs of depleting collagen levels are not visible like loss of bone density, osteoporosis but some might manifest as discomfort, pain or loss of mobility and slower recovery.
Bit Longer Answer.
Collagen is found almost everywhere in your body, different types of collagen have different amino-acid profiles which might function similar but specific to the specialized function.
The most important function of all collagen is to maintain structure in the body. All the different types of collagen make up nearly 30% of the protein in the body of which the most abundant and important is Type I as described below.
When calculated on dry mass;
Typically Type I
- 75% of the skin – Skin Health
- 90% of organic bone – Bone Health
- 85% of Tendons – Connective Tissue Health Skin Health
- 70% of Cartilage, (Type I Fibro-cartilage and Type II elastic and hyaline cartilage) – Joint Health
- 70% of Ligaments – Connective Tissue Health Skin Health
Also in our eyes, blood vessels, many vital organs including the heart, lungs and our digestive system, most notably the small intestine.
Mainly consists of collagen Type I and in the case of cartilage also Type II elastic and hyaline cartilage.
The body produces collagen through fibroblasts which are cells that live in all of our connective tissues. It’s their job to make collagen for our skin, bone, ligaments, and tendons.
Important functions of collagen in the body
- Collagen plays an important role in the biggest organ in the body, your skin. On dry mass, 75% of the skin consists of collagen and more so collagen Type I. It is the structure of your skin, the health of your skin depends on collagen. Also, see The role of collagen in the skin
- 90% of organic bone in your body consists of collagen type I. It is the structure of your bones, calcium and phosphorous build on the collagen frame to increase strength and flexibility. Also, see The role of collagen in the bone
- Connective tissue also contains an abundance of collagen, 85% of tendons and 70% of ligaments consists of collagen to give connective tissue its tensile strength. Also, see The role of collagen in the connective tissue
- Your joints and cartilage also contain collagen, 70% of Cartilage consist of mostly collagen Type II elastic and hyaline cartilage and Type I Fibro-cartilage. Also, see The role of collagen in the joint tissue
Collagen is referred to “as the glue that holds the body together”, collagen comes from the Greek word “kólla”, which means glue.
Why should I take *collagen? (*dietary collagen peptides)
As we age, the manufacturing of collagen by the body starts to decrease around the age of 25-30 but the actual signs of this process will only become apparent years later. A rapid and dramatic decrease will occur during ages 40 – 55y, especially evident in women during menopause. This coincides with the loss of bone density and the possible onset of bone-related diseases.
Supplementing with dietary collagen peptides supply the important nutrient fractures called peptides to the body. This will help in maintaining healthy skin, bones, joints and connective tissue and it will assist the rest of the body in maintaining adequate collagen levels.
Studies have also shown that supplementation with collagen peptides will stimulate the endogenous production of collagen by fibroblast cells. A fibroblast is the most common type of cell found in connective tissue. Fibroblasts secrete collagen proteins that are used to maintain a structural framework for many tissues, secreted by various cells, but mainly by connective tissue cells.