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Collagen; Functions in the Body and Nutritional Advices

Collagen is an important type of protein found in the body and can be produced by the body. It is the most common protein found in humans and other mammals, accounting for 25-35% of our body’s total protein content.

There are 28 known types of collagen and type I collagen accounts for 90% of the collagen in the human body. Fibroblasts are the most common collagen-producing cells. Collagen is mainly composed of the amino acids glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. These amino acids form three strands that form collagen’s characteristic triple helix structure.

  • It is an essential component of the extracellular matrix that supports cells,
  • Collagen and keratin give the skin its strength, waterproofness and elasticity,
  • It takes part in blood clotting,
  • Protects organs from physical effects by surrounding them,
  • Takes part in the regeneration of skin cells.

The molecular structure of collagen can be damaged by smoking, sunlight, consumption of high-sugar foods and other oxidative stress factors. And most importantly, as we age, collagen production in the body naturally decreases and the quality of the collagen produced also decreases.

Collagen deficiency primarily affects the skin; the skin starts to sag by losing its firmness and wrinkles become inevitable. In addition, damage can develop in many organs and tissues, from joint cartilage to tendons, from teeth to nails.

In clear terms, it can be said that “aging accelerates in collagen deficiency“.

Sufficient and quality collagen production in the body

First, it should be known that preventing all age-related collagen loss is impossible, but it is possible to slow down the process.

Consuming sufficient amounts of vitamin C, copper, and quality protein foods in the daily diet is extremely important for collagen production in the body. Additionally, foods such as green leafy vegetables and garlic containing chlorophyll stimulate collagen production in the body.

In addition to the production in the body, the consumption of collagen-rich foods may also be recommended. Of course, collagen obtained from high-collagen foods or collagen supplements is not used directly as collagen in the body. Collagen taken with food is digested in the digestive system, and thus, the building blocks required for collagen production in the body are easily provided.

In light of all this data, the following nutritional recommendations can be made;

1. Foods containing quality protein should be consumed. Since collagen is a protein, quality protein-source foods containing collagen’s building blocks are essential for collagen production. Foods containing quality protein are eggs, milk and dairy products, meat, offal and legumes. (For detailed information about protein quality and the amount of protein that should be consumed daily, see Proteins; Functions in the Body, Quality and Daily Needs)

2. Foods containing high amounts of vitamin C should be consumed; such as rosehip juice, green pepper, capia pepper, parsley and citrus fruits. A glass of rosehip juice contains about 60 mg of vitamin C. (For detailed information about foods rich in vitamin C and the amount of vitamin C that should be consumed daily, see All Vitamins; Functions, Daily Needs and Rich Foods)

3. Foods rich in copper can be consumed; offal, seafood, sesame, hazelnut, peanut, legumes and meat. (For detailed information about foods rich in copper minerals and the amount of copper minerals that should be consumed daily, see All Minerals; Functions, Daily Needs and Rich Foods)

4. Green leafy vegetables should be consumed.

5. Garlic consumption should not be neglected.

6. Collagen-rich foods can be consumed; bone broth with marrow, boiled meat with bones, fishes to eat with bones (such as smelt, sardines or anchovies) and chicken skin are collagen-rich foods.

7. Reducing or stopping eating foods high in sugar may be advisable. This will prevent damage to existing collagen in the body.

8. If alcohol and cigarettes are consumed, it would be beneficial to reduce or cut them out completely.

9. There are collagen products on the market as food supplements. Of course, it is helpful to take such food supplements on the advice of a doctor and dietitian. On the other hand, the benefit of such supplements is a controversial issue in the scientific community. (I recommend you to look at this article where the possible benefits of collagen supplements are discussed; Considering collagen drinks and supplements? Harward Health Publishing)

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