Sunday, January 22, 2012

What Is the Benefit of Collagen Vitamins?

Collagen is not a vitamin, but rather a type of protein that is used to manufacture your connective tissues, such as skin, ligaments and cartilage. Adequate production of collagen provides numerous benefits, such as firm, healthy skin. Your body makes collagen, but it needs vitamin C, lysine and proline to do so and hyaluronic acid to make it more functional. Collagen-enriched creams are popular within the cosmetic industry and can be absorbed and used by your skin.

Collagen is plentiful in your body, comprising about 75 percent of your skin and 30 percent of your body overall.There are four types of collagen, but type-1 is promoted much more by the cosmetic industry because it is present in your skin, ligaments and cartilage. All collagen fibers are made by your body from two amino acids, lysine and proline, which supply tensile strength and flexibility to the fibers. Vitamin C is needed to convert proline into hydroxyproline and lysine into hydroxylysine, which are the final building blocks for collagen. Vitamin C deficiency leads to connective tissue deterioration, which is particularly dangerous in blood vessels and ligaments, according to "Vitamins: Fundamental Aspects in Nutrition and Health." Hyaluronic acid is needed to bind collagen and elastin fibers together to form collagen bundles.

According to "Biochemical, Physiological and Molecular Aspects of Human Nutrition," collagen helps provide firmness and elasticity to our skin, as sagging and wrinkling occurs without enough of it. Unfortunately, as you age, you lose up to 30 percent of the collagen structure in your skin. Collagen-enriched skin creams are promoted by the cosmetic industry to combat this problem because many people want to maintain youthful-looking skin. Collagen creams are also useful for people who have acne scarring or have had laser tattoo removal.

Collagen is an integral part of cartilage, which is the shock-absorptive spongy material between your bones. Without enough collagen production, vitamin C or necessary amino acids, your cartilage becomes dry, less flexible and more prone to wear and tear, which is an early sign of osteoarthritis, according to "Human Biochemistry and Disease."

Collagen is also an important constituent of blood vessels, especially your arteries. Inadequate production of collagen or lack of vitamin C leads to blood vessel deterioration and hardening, which is an early sign of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.

Because vitamin C is required by your body to produce and repair collagen, consuming some on a daily basis is important. According to the "American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide," rich sources of vitamin C include rose hips, citrus fruits, strawberries, blackcurrants, kiwis, guavas, broccoli, kale, red and green peppers, Brussels spouts and wheatgrass juice.

"Textbook of Medical Physiology -- Tenth Edition"; Arthur C. Guyton, et al.; 2000"Vitamins: Fundamental Aspects in Nutrition and Health"; G. Combs; 2008"Biochemical, Physiological and Molecular Aspects of Human Nutrition"; Martha Stipanuk; 2006"Human Biochemistry and Disease"; Gerald Litwack; 2008"American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide"; American Dietetic Association; 2006 Article reviewed by Khalid Adad

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