Collagen is a type of protein which is vital for giving strength and structure to many parts of the body. It acts like glue to hold the body parts together. Collagen is predominantly found in all connective tissues ranging from skin, bone, blood vessels, ligaments and cartilage, cornea of eye and even the intestine. It is because of collagen the skin and blood vessels are able to maintain their elasticity. In fact collagen is responsible for the skin to appear and feel supple, smooth and young.
Degeneration of collagen fiber is responsible for formation of wrinkles and lines.
With growing age collagen fibers begin to degenerate and the production slows down. This results in loss of skin elasticity and wrinkle formation. The joints lose its flexibility and the bones begin to deteriorate. Environmental factors such as sunlight, pollution, free radicals also harm collagen. It is natural for the body to produce and repair the damaged collagen fibers. This ability gradually decreases after the age of 35. The production and repair tapers off. Its quality is also compromised.
Signs And Symptoms Of Collagen Deficiency
Since collagen is present in many tissues and organs, there are wide varieties of symptoms manifesting collagen deficiency.
Skin: Collagen is the main support for skin. The layers of skin contain collagen. Deficiency of collagen reflects into formation of wrinkles, sagging skin, easy bruising, and loss of elasticity. Wounds take time to heal with lack of collagen.
Muscles: Collagen is a cementing agent for muscle fibers. Patient with collagen deficiency may complain of frequent muscle ache.
Cartilage: Cartilage is thin tissue found in joints. It keeps the structures in joints bound together. Joint is made up of various structures such as tendons, bones, blood vessels. Deficiency of collagen in cartilage can affect joint stability besides producing stiffness and joint pains.
Blood vessels walls: Deficiency of collagen can affect the blood vessels. It can produce chest pain, dry eyes, headaches, skin rashes, breathing difficulty etc.
Teeth: Collagen substance aids in anchoring the teeth to gums. Lack of collagen loosens teeth which may result in toothache and early destruction of teeth.
Treatment Options For Deficiency Of Collagen
Vitamin C is essential nutrient required for production of collagen. Lack of vitamin C can affect collagen secretion. Therefore adequate amount of vitamin C is necessary in the body for reducing collagen deficiency. The rich source of vitamin C is fruits and vegetables. Eat fruits and vegetables liberally as you age. This will help collagen to sustain its life for more period of time.Skin fillers are available to improve skin contour. Collagen is available in jelly form and collagen blocks. The material is prepared from bovine and human collagen source. It can be injected under the skin to treat wrinkles and sagging skin. In chronic non healing ulcers collagen containing ointments are used to enhance the healing of wound. Collagen dressing is also used in first and second degree burns to prevent scarring. Collagen supplements are also used in osteoarthritis, where the cartilage is damaged. It is available in pills and liquid form. Since collagen supplements are produced from animal sources it may cause allergy in some people. Therefore if you are allergic to certain substances, always inform your doctor before taking any type of collagen therapy.
How To Increase Collagen Production Naturally?
People use topical creams and undergo treatments to stop it. But there are natural ways that a person can rely on to stimulate production of collagen by living healthy lifestyle, applying topical creams. Eating certain foods can accelerate production and repair damaged collagen fibers.
Eat fruits and green leafy vegetables: Fruits and green leafy vegetables contain enormous amount of vitamin C. This vitamin is vital for collagen formation and repair. It protects the cells from free radicals in the body. Excess of free radicals in the body speed up aging as well as is a leading cause for many diseases. Vitamin C is an antioxidant which protects the skin, cartilage, and other fibrous tissues from free radical. It helps to repair damaged skin and keeps its elasticity intact.
Avoid sunlight: Excess exposure to sunlight can lead to degeneration of skin collagen. You can protect your skin by applying sunscreen lotion before going out in sun.
Eat red vegetables: Tomatoes, bell pepper, beetroot, are red in color. Lycopene is the content present in them which gives red color. Lycopene is an antioxidant. It acts as a natural sun block. It prevents skin damage and also enhances production of collagen.
Eat carrots: Orange vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes contain vitamin A. This essential vitamin helps to regenerate damaged collagen fibers.
Avoid smoking: Cigarette smoking damages collagen and this way those who smoke for a long duration may look prematurely aged. They have early wrinkles and lines on their face.
Strawberry and blue berry: They are densely packed with antioxidants that are known to scavenge free radicals responsible for destruction of collagen. Eat them regularly to find their beneficial effects.
Sleep well: A healthy sleep allows the damaged collagen to regenerate and repair. Most of the repair of body tissues takes place when we are asleep. A sound 7 hours sleep is essential to maintain healthy tone and structure of skin as well as formation of collagen in other body organs.
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