What actually are collagens?
The most important things in brief
- Collagens (also: collagens) are so-called structural proteins that form fiber bundles.
- But what does that mean exactly?
- Cartilage, tendons, bones and ligaments contain white fibers that are inelastic. These are formed by collagens.
- Collagen makes up 25 to 30 percent of all proteins in the human body. This protein is also very important for the skin.
There are topics that you've heard of before and that you know are somehow important. Collagen is such an issue for many. It is known that collagens are important for the skin, but few people are aware that these proteins also have important functions in our organism.
What is collagen responsible for?
Let's first stay with the skin, the largest human organ. Collagens are urgently needed here, because as an important component of the connective tissue in the skin, they hold this tissue tight and at the same time make it elastic. Furthermore, collagen can store moisture and release it to the skin.
But that's not all, collagen also protects us from the formation of wrinkles in the skin. But why do we still get wrinkles at some point? Well, that's easy to explain, because with increasing age, the body can no longer produce enough of its own collagen. The firmness of the skin and its elasticity also noticeably decrease. Collagens are also present in bones, cartilage, tendons, joints and muscles, but more on that later.
Four types of collagen
Scientists speak of four types of collagen. While type 1 is found in the bones, skin, vessels, internal organs, tendons, fascia and dentin, type 2 is found in the vitreous body of the human eye and in the cartilage. Type 3 collagen is found in blood vessels, the uterus and the skin, type 4 in cell membranes, in the lens of the eye and in the filter bodies of the kidneys.
But when does our organism shut down the production of these proteins? Already at the age of 25 the production of collagen is reduced. Anyone who celebrates their 40th birthday only has 70 percent of the amount of collagen originally present in the body. Anyone who often reaches for a cigarette and eats an unbalanced diet must reckon with the fact that these factors also inhibit the body's collagen production.
Collagen also supports muscles, tendons, bones and joints
This is one of the reasons why sports injuries become more common as we age. The tissue is not as elastic as before because the structural protein collagen is missing in the muscles. This also applies to joints and cartilage, bones and tendons. Accordingly, the older we get, the more injuries we get in these areas.
Collagen is made up of long chains of amino acids. These chains form into a helical helix. Three such helical structures together form a superhelix, which forms the actual collagen and is held together by hydrogen bonds. Countless of these super helices in turn form a collagen fiber. This can hardly be stretched and is therefore extremely strong because the amino acid chains are wound very tightly.
Dietary supplements can supply the organism with missing collagens. If you want to get collagen through food, protein-rich foods such as meat and dairy products, eggs, fish, legumes, nuts and seeds are recommended.
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