Diving Into The Structure and Function of Collagen
“Collagen is the glue that helps to hold everything together.”
Collagen is responsible for forming a major part of the skin. Besides the elastic tissue, collagen is found in the dermis or middle layer of the skin that gives it its fullness and plumpness. It is also found in bones, tendons, organs, muscles, blood vessels, and hair, and is also the main component of our connecting tissue.
Collagen is the protein that shapes and strengthens tissue. It is known to exist in over twenty different types. Consuming collagen is nothing new as humans have been consuming it for centuries. Gelatin is the cooked form of collagen and is obtained by boiling bones of animals in the water. Needless to say, you must have had collagen in many unexpected ways all your life.
Collagen is distinguished from other proteins by its unique composition of amino acids that can come in four types: glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and hydroxylysine. The structural unit of collagen is tropocollagen which comprises of 3 polypeptide chains, each consisting of 1,000 amino acids. Tropocollagen connects in transversal bands, making up long fibers called fibrils.
Formation of Collagen Molecule
The most striking feature of collagen is its unique tertiary structure which arises from its characteristic triplet repeat sequence and the presence of a large amount of the imino acid proline which half of the times is hydroxylated at its C position.
The structure of collagen was first suggested by Astbury in 1938 who said that collagen consisted of a mixture of trans and cis peptide units and the same was incorporated by Pauling and Corey in the year 1951. The model proposed by them had three co-axial helices. However, neither of these structures were in agreement with the pattern of collagen fibers observed by X-rays. It was Ramachandran’s group of Madras who first proposed a triple helical structure of this protein consisting of only trans peptide bonds as in other natural proteins, in combination with the requirement that the collagen structure must necessarily have one third the total number of residues as glycine.
It also had an additional requirement that the structure should be able to accommodate a large portion of imino acid residues which have their side chains folded back to form rigid five-membered rings. The unique triple-helical structure consisted of an assembly of three parallel helices in which the special type of molecular packing is contributed by the occurrence of glycine as every third residue.
Function of Collagen
Collagen injections can help to improve the contours of your skin and fill out depressions. Lines and wrinkles can be removed from the face by using fillers containing collagen. It can also help to improve scars unless they do not have a sharp edge.
Collagen can also help to heal wounds by attracting new cells to the wound site. It promotes the healing of wounds and provides a platform for new tissue growth. Collagen dressings can help heal chronic wounds that have stopped responding to other treatments, wounds that expel bodily fluids, granulating wounds, necrotic or rotting wounds, second-degree burns, and partial and full thickness wounds.
Collagen can also help promote the growth of certain types of cells by using collagen-based membranes that are used in periodontal and implant therapy. Collagen barriers can also help to prevent fast-growing cells around the gum from migrating to a wound in a tooth during oral surgery.
Assisting in Osteoarthritis Treatment
Collagen supplements may help treat osteoarthritis. According to a review, supplements containing collagen helped patients to decrease pain and improve joint function.
Various products containing collagen including creams and powders claim to revitalize the skin by increasing collagen levels in the body. This is unlikely as collagen molecules are too large to be absorbed by the skin. However, collagen can be consumed in the form of liquid collagen.
Collagen is the most plentiful protein in the body. While you can’t measure the collagen level in your body, you can surely tell when it's falling. As you age, collagen reduces owing to:
- Wrinkles on the face
- Stiff and less flexible tendons and ligaments
- Weakened muscles
- Pain in joint or osteoarthritis due to worn cartilage
- Gastrointestinal problems
Besides aging, the major reason that people lack collagen is their poor diet. To help your body make collagen, you need to have amino acids that are derived from foods such as beef, chicken, eggs, fish, and dairy products.
The formation of collagen also requires vitamin C, zinc, and copper. You can get vitamin C by eating citrus fruits, red and green peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, and green leafy vegetables. However, as you age, your body may not be able to absorb nutrients or synthesize them efficiently. To make sure your body has high collagen, you might need to take some dietary supplements. Hydrolyzed collagen can be used which is easily absorbed by the body.
You must consume collagen for hair growth as well. Collagen is indeed a magical protein which promises to reduce hair fall and give stronger nails and healthier skin. You can try FenoQ TriCollagen to avail of the benefits of this magical protein.