ROLES OF COLLAGEN IN THE HUMAN BODY
Collagen is to the tissues in the human body, what steel rods are to reinforced concrete. If the steel rods of the frame are weak, all the structure weakens.
More than twenty kinds of collagen are found in the tissues of the body. Depending on the different types of collagen contained in our body, we will find a variation in the sequences of amino acids. Let us examine collagen types I to V, which represent 99% of all the collagen found in our body. They are present in our body as follows:
Type I Bones, tendons, ligaments and skin
Type II Cartilages and structure of the eyes
Type III Liver, lungs and arteries
Type IV Kidneys and several internal organs
Type V Surface of cells, hair and placenta
Collagen is produced by specialized cells called fibroblasts and is gathered in the conjunctive tissues. The biological role of collagen has a double function. On the one hand, together with elastin and glycoproteins, it is responsible for the cohesion of tissues and organs. On the other hand, collagen gives these tissues and organs hydration, resistance, elasticity and flexibility properties.
With respect to conjunctive tissues, they form a weft rich in collagen, which is found practically in every part of our body. They mainly serve as support, filler, joint, insulation, protection or transport in the case of the blood system. Without this conjunctive tissue matrix rich in collagen that acts as "a sort of glue that keeps our body together," we would be a puddle.
As previously mentioned, aging and lifestyle directly affect several metabolic processes such as our body's ability to synthesize new proteins, including collagen. According to the Nutrition and Food Science Centre of the University of McGill, our body has to completely compensate with food the essential amino acids when it is unable to synthesize new proteins. It is also mentioned that if our body is under stress, due to injuries or degenerative problems related to aging, it would need even more amino acids than it normally does.
The effects of aging, including a decrease in the synthesis of collagen proteins, appear when we are very young. If we analyze the available studies, this decrease starts at age 30 at an average of 1% per year. This phenomenon creates, in all our tissues and organs, a reduction of functions and a loss of resistance, elasticity and flexibility. This generates, in the short or medium term, a series of reactions that for most of us emerge as follows:
Fine wrinkles and wrinkles
Lack of tonus
Joint and muscular stiffness
Slower healing of wounds
More frequent fatigue
Even more ironically, in our early thirties, most of us accept to live with most of these discomforts as we do not experience any major health problems or we do not feel strong pain. However, as far as the reduction of collagen in our body is concerned, these problems are just the tip of the iceberg; as they announce, together with aging, direct effects on our health and quality of life.