What is collagen?
Collagen is a protein. More precisely, it is the protein that is most abundant in the human body. So far, a total of 28 different variants have been identified, so-called types.
What collagens have in common is that they consist of individual long protein chains wound around each other, which in turn are mainly composed of amino acids, i.e. protein building blocks such as hydroxyproline, proline and glycine.
Collagen is a structural protein that makes up a large part of the supporting and connective tissue that runs through the entire body: from the joints to the tendons, to the bones, muscles, teeth and skin. In youth, the latter consists of up to a whopping 80 percent collagen.
However, this proportion becomes smaller and smaller over the years. Scientists estimate that the body produces around one percent less collagen per year as we age.
As early as the age of 20, the balance between collagen consumption and production is tipped and a deficit arises. This means that the bones and joints become more unstable and therefore more sensitive to stress and more susceptible to injury. For the skin, less collagen means it becomes slacker and more wrinkled.
How does collagen work?
Collagen has a water-binding effect and is therefore primarily supportive. The collagen proteins, together with the stretchable elastin fibers, form a solid network in the middle layer of the skin.
Since collagen stores a lot of water and accumulates in the skin, this network cushions the outer layer of skin from below so that it stretches plump and smooth over it.
In addition, collagen often prevents injuries to tendons, bones and ligaments, for example during sports. If something does happen, it supports the repair processes in the body. The latter also applies to the skin: Collagen can heal the smallest inflammations that make the skin impure and/or wrinkled.
If you want to support your bones and skin with collagen as you get older, you can do this with creams, capsules and powders. The structural protein is also found in various foods such as sweet potatoes or berries.
But: In order to have any chance of achieving an effect, you must use the collagen regularly and permanently. The enzyme collagenase continually breaks down collagen in the body. For a lasting effect, you must not stop consuming the protein.