Collagen is a naturally occurring part of our bodies. It makes up about one third of our bodies protein composition, making it the most plentiful and important protein in the human body. Collagen protein is a compound made up of amino acids glycine, proline and hydroxyproline.
The most common types of collagen are I, II, III, IV, and V, however there are 28 different types of collagen. Over 90% of the collagen found in the human body is Type 1 collagen.
Collagen is one of the major building blocks that is responsible for the health and structure of our skin, nails, hair, joints, bones, muscles, tendons, cartilage, and ligaments. Collagen is also found in our internal organs, connective tissues, blood vessels, intervertebral discs, corneas, and the dentin in teeth. It is considered to be the “glue” that holds our bodies together. In fact, the name collagen derives from the Greek word “kólla”, meaning glue.
The skin itself, consists of 70% collagen protein – mainly type I. It is the main structural component that is needed to maintain our skin youthful, firm, plump, supple, and hydrated. It is as well vital for repairing the skin to accelerate wound healing and scar reduction. Healthy collagen levels also promote strong nails, lustrous hair – and it is essential for strengthening bone mineral density, tendons, muscles, joints, and arterial walls.
Unfortunately, as we age, our bodies natural collagen production decreases and as a result, we begin to physically see and feel the signs of aging. As young as the age of 18, we start to lose our collagen at an average rate of 1%-2% per year, and this statistic increases significantly for those with unhealthy or high stress lifestyles. Poor diet, stress, lack of exercise and sleep, excess exposure to UV rays and environmental pollution, consumption of drugs and alcohol, and smoking, are all factors that take an additional toll on our collagen levels. Also, women when approaching or going through menopause, may see an even more drastic acceleration of collagen loss. Studies show that women’s skin loses as much as 30% of its collagen throughout the first 5 years of menopause.
When collagen breaks down in the body, the skin begins to thin by losing its density and elasticity causing wrinkles and sagginess; hair begins to grey, thin and fall out; nails are slow to grow and break easily. Aches and pains begin to surface, and we become less agile and more prone to a host of degenerative diseases overtime.
As you can see, it is vital to maintain optimal collagen levels in our bodies in order to not only look but, feel our best.