What Is Collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein rendering a framework to most parts of your body such as skin, bones, ligaments and tendons. Collagen derives its name from the Greek word “kolla” meaning glue. Consequently, it serves as a glue, connecting all structures. Collagen accounts for close to 1/3rd of its composition of proteins. Some other areas where collagen is found include teeth, cornea and blood vessels. Its role is not limited to providing a framework or a structure but it also participates in the clotting of blood. As you age, your body produces low quality and lesser collagen.

Collagen – Types

There are 4 main types I, II, III and IV and at least 28 types of collagen.

Type I – 90% of the collagen of the body is composed of densely packed fibers. Renders structure to bones, skin, fibrous cartilage, teeth, connective tissue and tendons.

Type II – More loosely packed fibres are observed and are found in elastic cartilage cushioning joints.

Type III – the structure of organs, muscles and the arteries are supported by this type.

Type IV – found in the basement membranes, present in the layers of the skin and helps with filtration.

Collagen – Structure and Function

They are the members of a family of naturally occurring proteins. Collagen participates in many important biological processes apart from the structural role that it is well known for. It is found in larger quantities in the connective tissue, rendering the ligaments and tendons with its much-required elasticity and tensile strength.

It works along with other critical proteins such as elastin and keratin. Collagen is an important structural protein that forms molecular cables strengthening the tendons and tough sheets supporting the delicate internal structures and the skin.

Addition of mineral crystals to collagen makes up the teeth and bones. Collagen renders the body with its structure, support and protection to the delicate tissues which link them with the skeleton. Although collagen is critical given its functionality, the structure of this protein is rather simple.

Thousands of collagen molecules constitute the fibre of collagen. Each of these molecules is bound together by cross-linking and staggered covalent bonds. If there is any strong bond existing between protein molecules, they are the covalent bonds. Collagen molecules in itself comprise 3 distinct polypeptides of amino acids. These strands are intertwined in an alpha-helix pattern. The formation of this helix is as a result of the regular amino acid pattern of strands. The series is a recurring pattern of glycine-proline-X. Here “X” can be any amino acid. The 3rd amino acid in each of it is a glycine where the other amino acids are either hydroxyproline or proline.

The different types of collagen are due to distinct properties of each type as a result of the segments found in the collagen molecules disrupting the helical structure.

Benefits of Collagen To The Body

Collagen enriches the body tissues with toughness, structure, texture and rigidity. It is akin to the bed of leather in the skin. When it blends with elastic fibres, the skin is supplied with resilience and strength. According to studies, as the collagen starts to degrade in the skin and its concentration in the body drops, wrinkles appear, tendons and ligaments tend to stiffen, muscles feel weak, and pain develops in joints. Consequently, the role of collagen is critical to maintaining the health of the body.

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