Though we know that collagen has effect on the skin and body, we do not know any basic knowledge, such as what kind of substance is collagen originally and what kind of mechanism it uses to have an effect on the body. Surprisingly, a lot of people take it without knowing the basics. Here we will introduce the basic knowledge about collagen in an easy-to-understand manner. Let's learn more about the features and effects of collagen and take it smartly.
Collagen is a type of protein. But what kind of substance is a protein? Proteins, together with carbohydrates and lipids, are called the three main nutrients and are one of the most important components that make up the human body.
About 30% of the proteins that make up the human body are collagen. When we talk about collagen, we immediately associate it with the facial skin, which is 70% collagen. The collagen molecules in the dermis have a “triple helix structure” in which three amino acid chains are combined to give firmness and elasticity for a moist and healthy skin.
Needless to say, collagen is present in all part of the body, not just the skin, and abundant in bones and blood vessels. For example, the amount of collagen in the body of an average Japanese female weighing 53kg is about 3kg, which is equivalent to 6 bottles of 500ml PET bottled water.
Osteoporosis, which is common in the elderly, is caused not only by calcium deficiency but also the decrease of collagen in the body due to aging. It maintains the flexibility inside the bones to prevent them from becoming brittle and fragile. Collagen, which functions to maintain the framework of body and organs in the way described above, plays an important role in various body parts.
There are 29 types of collagen in the human body that we know up to now and they are classified into type I, type II…etc. There are nine types in the skin, and each has an important role. The roles of all 29 types of collagen have yet been elucidated.
The generally known type is type I collagen, which is abundant in the skin and responsible for elasticity and strength.
The different types of collagen include fibrillar collagen, membrane-type collagen, collagen that connects dermis and epidermis, collagen that regulates fiber thickness and collagen that forms bead-like fibrils.
Among the 9 types of collagen that can be found in the skin, the three types of collagen, types I, IV and VII, are essential to maintain skin firmness and elasticity. Types IV and IIV can be found near the boundary of the membrane, called the basement membrane (see image above), between the epidermis and dermis. Their presence in the correct structure is crucial for beautiful skin with firmness and elasticity.
Collagen in the body gradually decreases with age and so does the ability to create new collagen in the body. Although research on supplementing collagen, which is lost daily, with supplements and food has been advancing, the power to generate new collagen is now also attracting attention.
As a matter of fact, collagen is very low in nutritional value and there is no need to consume it as a nutrient. However, as we have already introduced, since it is a protein that forms the framework of the body and organs, its reduction in the body will not only cause the likeliness of wrinkles and sagging forming, but various tissues in the body will also become fragile.
Collagen can be produced in the body. For that reason, it is important to always maintain a balanced diet, as it is associated with various nutrients. Vitamin C in particular is an essential ingredient in producing collagen.
Collagen-rich foods that are often mentioned include shark fin, chicken wings and eel. For example, if you want to consume 5g of collagen daily, it will be difficult from your daily diet as you will need to consume 100g of beef tendon, 335g of chicken wings and 500g of horse mackerel. Hence, it is necessary to supplement well with supplements.
There are in general two types of collagen used in the collagen supplements and drinks you can buy nowadays, collagen originated from fish and ones from mammals like cows and chickens. There is no major difference between either type of collagen.