Collagen is a remarkable protein that can help everything from athletic performance, wrinkles and heart disease. A growing number of Hollywood stars are turning to this exciting substance. Collagen is a structural protein that supports the tendons and the resilient sheets that keep the skin and internal organs together. The word collagen comes from Greek and it literally means, “glue producer”.
It comprises 25 to 35 percent of all protein content in the body. As we get older, our body tends to produce less collagen or lower quality collagen, causing loss of skin elasticity, wrinkles, and reduced joint mobility. The level of collagen is reduced by approximately 1.5 percent a year starting from the ages of 25 to 30. By the age of 45, the total level of collagen has decreased by about 30 percent. This continuous decrease affects the tissues, the skin condition, and the nails. All these signs are specific to the aging process and this is why people spurred interest in collagen supplements, which come in cream, pill or injection form. Some studies have shown that collagen supplements could not only help replace the missing collagen but could stimulate new collagen production.
Collagen fibers are made from protein, and they are somewhat unusual in having large amounts of two amino acids, called hydroxylysine and hydroxyproline. At the moment, there isn’t sufficient research to show that high lysine or high proline foods promote collagen production. However, it seems logical to assume that this is the case. Proline and lysine can be found in animal sources. However, there is one good source of plant proline – wheat germ. Vegetarians can also consume collagen from egg whites. Collagen supplements come in different forms: gels, creams, serum or injections, liquid, and pills.
- Healthy Skin: Collagen acts like a cushion for the skin, helping it look strong, healthy, and silky. It improves the skin’s elasticity, which provides finesse, beauty, and freshness.
- Weight Loss: Collagen has the advantage that it is a pure protein without carbohydrates or fats and, as a plus, it has a high calcium concentration. As a nutritional supplement, collagen is a popular tool for weight loss.
- Blood Supply: Collagen strengthens the blood vessels, the intestines, and the uterus; this activity helps protect against various blood pressure problems.
- Metabolism: Because the collagen helps the body to metabolize fats, it plays an important role in weight loss and muscle development.
- Arthritis: Rheumatologists prescribe collagen supplements to repair cartilage damage resulting from arthritis or slow its deterioration. Studies have shown that small doses of undenatured type II collagen can deactivate killer T-cell attacks of joint cartilage in humans. Rheumatologists prescribe glucosamine/chondroitin which helps rebuild cartilage but not collagen itself.
- Wrinkles: Injection of the protein collagen temporarily corrects the effects of collagen loss, resulting, for instance, in smoothing of wrinkles and redefinition of the lips. The main advantage of collagen injections is the effortless and immediate effect; they are painless and do not require particular extra care. While it varies by patient, typically you can expect the effects of collagen injections to last anywhere from 3 to 6 months. Some lucky individuals will notice improvements for over 1 year, but this is more the exception than the rule.
- Varicose Veins: Collagen injections can also cure acne and relieve varicose veins. Once injected, the collagen supplement supports and strengthens the skin’s support structure.
- Cellulite: By rebuilding the skin tissue and contributing to a healthy epidermis, collagen improves the appearance of cellulite. It also plays a beneficial role in nutrition and hydration of cells.
- Heart Disease: When cracks form in your artery walls, they expose the amino acid lysine (one of the primary components of collagen) to the blood stream. An especially “sticky” form of cholesterol is attracted to lysine causing the build-up of plaque. To keep arteries open, naturopathic doctors recommend a combination of vitamin C and collagen to help remove existing plaque while strengthening weak and damaged arteries.
- Improved Athletic Performance: Athletes sometimes take collagen in the form of supplements. Hydrolyzed collagen is a source of protein that boosts lean muscle mass and improves cardiovascular performance.
- Allergic Reaction: One of the main risks of wrinkle correction and lip filling with this supplement is an allergic reaction to collagen. To avoid it, the surgeon will test a small area for one month before the treatment and look for any sign of redness, itching and swelling.
- Skin Necrosis: If the collagen is injected and it blocks a blood vessel, the skin can die, called skin necrosis and may not re-heal.
- Vegetarians: The collagen supplements on the market today come from cattle, swine, poultry and marine animals. The collagen is usually extracted from animal skin. These supplements are therefore unsuitable for vegetarians.
- Pregnancy: Collagen supplements are not suitable for pregnant or nursing women.
Collagen is the latest natural cure for the Hollywood set. Madonna and Terri Hatchet both take collagen injections, and anyone looking to smooth a few wrinkles. However, its benefits are much broader, encompassing everything from athletic performance to hair loss. While collagen is good for the skin, hair, heart and joints, it can be costly in the long term. Collagen injections for wrinkles are estimated to only last between 3-6 months.
PS: For solutions to suit your specific skin type, head to our Skincare Section.
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