Collagen is a type of protein present abundantly in the body. It is found in skin, bones, muscles and tendons. At least 30 percent of protein in the body comprises of collagen. It is considered as a binding substance which has ability to support various structures in the body.
The skin consist ample amount of collagen. In fact it is because of collagen the skin is able to maintain elasticity and remains supple and smooth. It also plays an active role in restoring the dead skin cells. With growing age, collagen production begins to decline.The skin losses its elasticity and forms wrinkles. In the same way the cartilage of joints become weak.
What Causes Collagen Deficiency?
In human body collagen is manufactured by variety of cells, but majority of collagen is produced by connective tissue cells. There are more than 20 types of collagen in the body. Each type plays specific role in maintaining the organ function. For example, one type of collagen gives structural support to skin. It maintains skin elasticity and smoothness. Another type present in cartilage helps the joint to remain strong.
Collagen deficiency usually occurs after the age of 40.It is a physiological process. Above the age of sixty, collagen diminishes considerably. Besides, degeneration of collagen in body occurs due to certain environmental conditions. For example too much of sun exposure can have repercussions on collagen present in skin. Certain diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus can cause degeneration of collagen cells.
Signs And Symptoms Of Collagen Deficiency
Since collagen is present in many tissues and organs, there are wide varieties of symptoms manifesting collagen deficiency.
- Skin: Collagen is the main support for skin. The layers of skin contain collagen. Deficiency of collagen reflects into formation of wrinkles, sagging skin, easy bruising, and loss of elasticity. Wounds take time to heal with lack of collagen.
- Muscles: Collagen is a cementing agent for muscle fibers. Patient with collagen deficiency may complain of frequent muscle ache.
- Cartilage: Cartilage is thin tissue found in joints. It keeps the structures in joints bound together. Joint is made up of various structures such as tendons, bones, blood vessels. Deficiency of collagen in cartilage can affect joint stability besides producing stiffness and joint pains.
- Blood vessels walls: Deficiency of collagen can affect the blood vessels. It can produce chest pain, dry eyes, headaches, skin rashes, breathing difficulty etc.
- Teeth: Collagen substance aids in anchoring the teeth to gums. Lack of collagen loosens teeth which may result in toothache and early destruction of teeth.
Treatment Options For Deficiency Of Collagen
Vitamin C is essential nutrient required for production of collagen. Lack of vitamin C can affect collagen secretion. Therefore adequate amount of vitamin C is necessary in the body for reducing collagen deficiency. The rich source of vitamin C is fruits and vegetables. Eat fruits and vegetables liberally as you age. This will help collagen to sustain its life for more period of time.
Skin fillers are available to improve skin contour. Collagen is available in jelly form and collagen blocks. The material is prepared from bovine and human collagen source. It can be injected under the skin to treat wrinkles and sagging skin.
In chronic non healing ulcers collagen containing ointments are used to enhance the healing of wound. Collagen dressing is also used in first and second degree burns to prevent scarring. Collagen supplements are also used in osteoarthritis, where the cartilage is damaged. It is available in pills and liquid form.
Since collagen supplements are produced from animal sources it may cause allergy in some people. Therefore if you are allergic to certain substances, always inform your doctor before taking any type of collagen therapy.