Collagen is a filamentous protein that is found in all tissues of the human body. Its role is not only to make us look younger and more beautiful. This substance is involved in the "building" of joints, bones, tendons, hair, nails and skin. It is thanks to him that in our youth our fabrics are so strong and resilient. In addition, collagen forms the walls of the veins, arteries and capillaries. According to various estimates, it accounts for about a third of all proteins in our body.
The name of the protein comes from the Greek word kolla - "glue". This is no coincidence: many experts compare the main function of collagen with glue. Its molecules form long, thin protein fibers, or fibrils. They serve to hold tissue cells together and bind our body into a single whole. With age, collagen stores are gradually depleted, leading to the first signs of aging. There are a number of ways you can keep your collagen levels on track.
How collagen affects the skin
Perhaps the most famous property of collagen is its ability to make skin smooth, enhance its protective properties and slow down the appearance of wrinkles. Collagen fibers can be considered the "skeleton" of our skin: its elasticity, firmness and strength depend on them. Thanks to this protein, the skin looks younger, healthier and more radiant. In addition, collagen evens out its tone and stabilizes the oval of the face. It also contributes to the natural self-healing of tissues for various types of damage. For example, if you have scratches, abrasions, burns or wounds, collagen will speed up their healing at times.
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Conversely, with a lack of collagen, the skin becomes more flabby, thin and dry. It loses its elasticity, “sags” unevenly and fades. Because of this, we have the first signs of aging, which are especially noticeable on the face. This is why it is so important to maintain high levels of collagen in the body. A group of German scientists conducted a study with 69 women aged 35 to 55 years. Collagen hydrolyzate was administered to 46 participants daily for two months. The rest received a placebo. The skin of women who drank collagen became more elastic and hydrated. At the same time, scientists have not recorded a single side effect.
How collagen helps fight cellulite
Collagen has been shown to reduce stretch marks and cellulite, according to another study. This problem occurs in 80–90% of women worldwide. To find out how collagen affects the subcutaneous fat layer, 105 women aged 24-50 began to take the proposed drugs. Each of them had a moderate level of cellulite. Type I collagen peptides were administered to 53 participants; the rest received placebo. Six months later, scientists found that in the main group of women, cellulite decreased by 9%, and its appearance in the form of "bumpy" skin - by 11.1%. In addition, compared with the placebo group, the subjects had increased skin density.
There are several types of collagen in nature, each of which contains a different set of amino acids and is aimed at solving a specific problem. For example, some support the health of bones, the second - the cornea of the eye, and others - the skin. Today, scientists know more than 20 types of this protein. Collagen types I and III are considered the most common in the human body. These are very strong and elastic fibers woven from bundles of fibrils. It is this collagen that is responsible for the elasticity of the skin, minimizes fine fine wrinkles and prevents their early appearance. In addition, it stimulates the restoration of the skin, blood vessels, ligaments and joints.
Where to get collagen
The natural collagen produced by the body is called endogenous. In youth, we synthesize a sufficient number of new molecules, which have time to fill in the destroyed areas of fibrils in time. These fibers are very sensitive. With age, they begin to deform and break down faster, while collagen production naturally slows down. The reduction of this protein begins at the age of 20, and after 25–30 years, the processes of its destruction prevail over the processes of synthesis. In addition, smoking, ultraviolet light, poor ecology, stress, and the abuse of refined sugar and carbohydrates affect the production of collagen.
The good news is that you can help your body produce more collagen. The need for additional supplements depends on the condition of the body and lifestyle. For example, vegan supplements are essential because collagen is only found in animal products. They may opt for a plant-based counterpart derived from wheat. But it is important to understand that such collagen is not obtained in its pure form: it is always mixed with the animal. In addition, it cannot activate the production of natural endogenous protein. Collagen supplements are also recommended during times of stress and after severe illness. Collagen that enters the body from external inputs is called exogenous.
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We are best served by marine collagen obtained from wild fish. It penetrates the bloodstream faster, as its structure is closest to natural human protein. Another option is animal collagen. It costs less, but is less digestible. Collagen powder is diluted in water or juices, added to smoothies and soups. It usually has an unpleasant odor. If you want to avoid it, buy collagen in liquid form or in pills. And to get more collagen naturally, eat a balanced diet high in protein, vitamins C and E. Collagen is found in beef, chicken, fish, and egg whites.
How cosmetics work
Collagen can be taken not only with food and supplements. Many people get it through injections, cosmetic procedures and special products that are applied to the affected skin. Unfortunately, collagen creams, emulsions and lipsticks do not provide much benefit. The molecules of this protein cannot penetrate into the inner layers of the skin due to their size - they are too large. Such cosmetics provide only local hydration. It creates a protective air-permeable "film" on the skin surface, which prevents moisture evaporation. The effect of cosmetics will be better if its composition contains hyaluronic acid in addition to collagen.
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A more advanced way is collagen injections. They deliver protein directly to the dermis. Its molecules activate the production of natural collagen, restore damaged fibers, even out the relief, reduce the depth of wrinkles and additionally moisturize the skin. If you plan to inject collagen, be sure to consult with a dermatologist beforehand. An experienced professional will assess your body condition and give recommendations that will reduce the risk of side effects. In addition, there are more gentle cosmetic procedures that stimulate collagen synthesis in the skin. For example, micropunching or collagen light therapy.>