Importance of Collagen in Health
Collagen is sometimes referred to as the body's cement that holds everything in place. Collagen is important to your health because it dictates the structure of skin, connective tissues, tendons, bones and cartilage. Sun damage, smoking and aging all contribute to the breakdown of collagen.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines collagen as a durable, glue-like substance that makes up one-third of body protein. Collagen is a network of fibrous proteins that contains high levels of the amino acids proline and hydroxyproline.
Collagen plays a vital role in skin health. It maintains its firmness and elasticity. Collagen, in the form of collagen hydrolysate, may also help keep skin hydrated.
Collagen hydrolysates are often used in health and beauty products because of their moisturizing properties. A lack of collagen becomes evident during the aging process as skin begins to sag and lines and wrinkles begin to form.
Cartilage, Joints & Bones
Cartilage is the hard but slick tissue that coats the ends of bones where they come together to form a joint. The combination of collagen mesh and water forms a strong and slippery pad in the joint that cushions the ends of the bones in the joint during muscle movement. Healthy cartilage allows bones to effortlessly slide over one another.
Osteoarthritis can develop slowly as a joint loses cartilage. This degenerative joint disease often occurs in the joints of the hip, spine, knees, fingers and feet. According to the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center, stimulating the production of collagen may help cartilage to repair itself.
A number of foods may help to naturally improve collagen production in the body. These include dark, leafy vegetables, flax seed, prunes and vitamin C-rich fruits such as oranges.
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