COLLAGEN – THE PROTEIN OF LIFE
The word collagen comes from Greek: cola – glue, gennao – to produce. “Glue-producing” – this term really conveys the function of collagen, which joins or “glues” together cellular components, leading to tissue and organ formation. It is found in nearly all organs, serving as an adhesive.
Collagen is a protein commonly found in humans and animals. Collagen is the most important protein in the body, as it constitutes 30% of total human protein, 70% of skin protein, 30-60% of bones, 99% of eye protein and is the main component of connective tissue.
Connective tissue – is made of cells which produce intercellular substance in larger or smaller quantities depending on their function. It is very varied and serves different functions. Its tasks include: connecting various types of tissue, supporting organs and protecting sensitive parts of the body.
Connective tissue includes: connective tissue proper (loose and dense), fatty tissue, cartilage (hyaline, fibrocartilageand elastic), bone tissue, blood and reticular tissue.
It is made of, among others: proteins, elastin (which gives the tissue elasticity and flexibility), collagen (which strengthens it) in the form of collagen fibres and complex sugars.
Connective tissue serves the following functions:
- supportive-protective – towards other tissues and sensitive body parts,
- nutritional – transporting nutrients and metabolites through blood and tissue fluid,
- defensive – defence against foreign structures, such as bacteria, viruses, foreign cells and chemical compounds.
Did you know that...
Your real biological age is not determined by your DOB, number of grey hairs or appearance of your eyes but by the condition of proteins, connecting virtually all cells in your body?
It is collagen that shows the truest representation of the body’s biological potential. That is why it is so important to maintain good structure and efficiency of biological collagen, thus of connective tissue, throughout your life.
Let’s stop looking at collagen only as a net of protein, protecting skin against wrinkles. It is actually a diverse protein (around a dozen different types), the basic protein in connective tissue, which connects, joins and shapes organs. It also serves supportive and protective functions, mediates in cellular nutrition and helps regenerate and rejuvenate components of the body.
COLLAGEN THE PROTEIN OF YOUTH
Interestingly, it is inside fibroblasts, the factory-cells responsible for producing and repairing the most important types of collagen, i.e. I, II, III, IV and V, that nature has installed the biological clock which measures the time of our life. That mechanism is so precise that researchers examining a sample of connective tissue are able to determine the age of the donor with accuracy margin of less than one year.
When repair processes cannot keep up with degradation processes affecting the most important protein, we get ill, feel and look worse, get tired faster and our vision becomes worse – in simple terms, we start ageing!
After the age of 25, human skin starts slowly losing elasticity and firmness just like muscles lose strength and bones lose calcium. All these signs of human ageing result from a growing deficit of soluble collagen, as its biosynthesis decreases with age. Collagen continues to circulate in the body, but the older we are, the more degradation processes start to overtake synthesis processes, especially synthesis of soluble collagen, which used to make skin firm and flexible thanks to its water-binding properties.
Did you know that...
Connective tissue plays an important role in the exchange of biological material, including protein. So when it deteriorates, we start to feel the negative consequences of exercise, tiredness and illnesses more and more. People whose level of biological collagen (connective tissue) is decreasing need more time to rest after an exhausting day, more time to recover after an illness, the chemicals in the brain change as well, which has an impact on mental well-being. What’s even worse, there is a growing risk that some of the symptoms will stay with them for the rest of their life. In case of women going into menopause, the level of collagen may drop by even 30% in less than a year.
Practically all people after the age of 30 start experiencingatrophy of sweat and sebaceous glands, their skin starts becoming drier and looser and wrinkles start to appear. The reason is weakening elastin and collagen fibres, which are the main components of stromal tissues. Free radicals, toxins and an enzyme known as collagenase damage protein fibres,and the level of microelements and vitamins, which stimulate natural collagen production by fibroblasts and chondrocytes, drops.
Collagen is responsible, among others, for maintaining the right level of moisture and good condition of skin, eyes, hair and nails, as well as continuous regeneration of cells in all organs. Most components of the human body regenerate in a specific way:
- in the liver collagen is completely replaced every 30 days;
- in the eye – every 77 days;
- in the skin – every 130-140 days;
- in blood cells – every 3 months;
- in bones and joints – every 12 months;
- in the nervous system – every 12 months;
- in all blood – every 3 years in women and every 4 years in men.
Did you know that...
Collagen is a biopolymer with many valuable properties, mainly used to produce medical materials, such as surgical sutures, soluble stitches, collagen film, transplant membranes, artery prostheses, collagen sponges, ointments for burns, stretch marks and scars, as well as medicine capsules.
Attempts to use synthetic and subsequently also bovine collagen in cosmetology and implantology have only been partially successful. Animal collagen has been withdrawn from the market due to, among others, the BSE (mad cow disease) epidemic. Such forms of collagen were usually not soluble in water and did not absorb into the skin. So far, people have not been able to produce biologically active collagen with the same amino acid chain structures that are found in humans.