Collagen has become wildly popular recently, often referred to as the 'fountain of youth'. What exactly is collagen made of? Why do we want to create collagen and protect what we have?

If you want to hold onto your youthful beauty and vitality, learn more here about the importance of amino acids and vitamin C to add new collagen to our bodies.

What is Collagen?

Collagen is a type of protein. Not just any protein, it's the most abundant protein in women and men's bodies and actually, in the animal kingdom.

We can't live without protein as it provides our body with energy (4 cal/gram of protein), helps repair and build new cells and tissue, is in body fluid and is crucial for many body processes like production of hormones.

In addition, proteins make up our skin, hair, nails, muscle, bones, cartilage, connective tissue and internal organs.

Collagen is described as a triple helix protein. It's long, thin and made from three 'coiled subunits'(1). Collagen protein chains are called fibrils. Fibrils are like thread in our shirt--they holds things together and provide support. Fibrils are extremely strong and flexible.

Once we approach our 30s and beyond, we naturally stop making as much new collagen. During and after menopause, there is a dramatic decrease in production.
Less collagen in our bodies is obvious--we see fine lines and wrinkles on our face, sagging skin, thinning hair, weak nails and achy joints.

In addition, some may experience gut challenges, artery deterioration, weak bones, pelvic floor weakness and shrinking muscles.

Along with a natural reduction in this vital protein, lifestyle choices can damage existing collagen. These lifestyle activities a diet with too much sugar, not eating enough collagen-rich foods, smoking and excessive UV light.

Different Types of Collagen

There are at least 16 types of collagen in the human body, which is made from amino acids.

However, 80-90% of collagen falls into three types: Type I, Type II and Type III.

There is Type IV, which is similar to Type I. It appears in cell cultures and fetal tissue.
Type V also to bone strength, supportive tissue in the cornea, and muscles, liver, lungs, and placenta.

Unlike the other types of collagen, Type II is primarily in cartilage and has smaller fibrils in diameter than Type I. Type II is strong and resists major changes in shape and allows joints to absorb shocks.(1)

Although collagen is found throughout the body, it's mainly concentrated in skin, bones, muscles and connective tissue.

Today, we can get supplements with all Types in one--making it even easier to boost our production and preservation of collagen.

As you can see, collagen is an important part of our body and determines our quality of life and youthful appearance as we grow older.

Every cell in our body contains protein. Proteins are the 'workhorses' within the cell and drive the function and structure of our bodies.

Muscles, skin, bones and other parts of the body contain a large number of proteins.

What Amino Acids are in Collagen?

Every living thing is made up of protein.

As a result, proteins are often called the 'building blocks of life'.

Protein is made up of a large, long chain of amino acids.

There are 20 different amino acids: Alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, proline, serine, threonine, tryptophan, tyrosine, and valine.

Essential amino acids: 9 of the 20, the body cannot make these. We can only get these from food.

Non-Essential amino acids: 11 of the 20 total amino acids, can be made by the body or when proteins break down naturally in our body.

Collagen contains high levels of glycine, proline, alanine and hydroxyproline (an amino acid made when vitamin c synthesized proline and lysine).
Therefore, if we add more amino acids to our daily routine through foods and supplements, that can help create new collagen.

Supplements are designed to duplicate the same levels of amino acids in collagen. When someone takes a serving of collagen peptides, the amino acids in the supplement are broken down by our body, then re-organized into collagen protein.

Bone broth is also an excellent way to get more amino acids to make collagen. Made from the bones, joints, muscles and hide of animals, a concentrated amino acid 'drink' is created.

Is Collagen a Complete Protein?

When people say collagen is an incomplete protein, they are correct. Even so, it doesn't make it an unimportant component in our bodies.

So we're clear, let's define what complete and incomplete proteins are:

A 'complete protein' has all 9 of the essential amino acids.

An 'incomplete protein' does not have all of the 9. Collagen is an incomplete protein as it's missing one of the essential amino acids--tryptophan is the missing amino acid.

For the most part, if we eat a healthy diet, we will receive complete and incomplete proteins each day. Thus, it's not necessary to track each type specifically.

Final Thoughts

We are born with oodles of collagen in our bodies. Collagen, a vital protein, appears in just about every area of our bodies. It is especially present in our skin, hair, bones, muscles, connective tissue and joints.

As the years pass by, starting in our 30s, our bodies don't make as much new collagen. We start to see the effects of that in wrinkly and saggy skin, achy joints, thinning hair, digestive issues...just to name a few.

In addition, lifestyle changes can damage the collagen we do have. Too much sun, sugar, smoking and less than optimal diet all can make us look and feel older than we are.

Key amino acids and vitamin C come together to make collagen in the body. If we eat amino and vitamin-rich healthy foods, consume bone broth and/or take a daily collagen supplement, we can help our bodies make more collagen.

More collagen helps to keep our youthful beauty and vitality, which allow us to enjoy and get the most out of life.

Author's Bio: 

This article first appeared on: https://womanandwellness.com/what-is-collagen-made-of/

Hi, I'm Denise a mid-50's woman who is passionate about staying physically and emotionally healthy.

Always on the cutting edge of health and wellness for women over 50, my goal is to bring the best collagen supplement reviews and advice directly to my visitor’s screen.

Please visit https://www.womanandwellness.com to learn how collagen can be your ‘fountain of youth’.