Why is collagen important ?
Collagen is a major structural protein composed of three protein chains bound together in a tight triple helix form. (Beriso et al, 2002). It is present in the tendons, fat and ligaments of the body and is important for the strengthening of the bones. It accounts for up to 75% of the weight of the dermis (skin layer) , which provides smoothness and elasticity to the skin. The collagen bundles are held together by elastic fibres running through the dermis. Approximately 33% of the protein in the body consists of collagen. It supports the tissues and organs of the body and connects these structures to the bones. Therefore, they are responsible for the structural scaffolding of the cells, tissues and organs.
How vitamin C works with collagen ?
The importance of ascorbate(Vitamin C) in healing of wound has been recognised for years. Vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant by neutralising the effect of reactive oxygen species (ROS) responsible for cell apoptosis during the inflammatory phase. It is a water soluble vitamin, so it is important to have a good dietary intake of foods rich in vitamin C.
It plays a vital role in the maintenance of normal collagen network, as it aids in the biosynthesis of two key enzymes needed for collagen biosynthesis.
This leads to the synthesis of hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine components in collagen. The former, serves to stabilise the collagen triple helix structure and its absence results in structurally unstable collagen. On the other hand, hydroxylysine is needed for the formation of the intermolecular crosslinks in collagen. So, without adequate amount of vitamin C , the body cannot form or store collagen as it is responsible for holding the cells together.
A study was carried out to check the effect of vitamin C on collagen biosynthesis and cross linking at a cellular level. It was observed that vitamin C induced a dose dependent on increasing collagen type I in humans. It acts as a pro-vitamin for skin.
Additionally, it helps in the synthesis of hyaluronic acid which aids in fastening the recovery time and relieving painful joints. Both hyaluronic acid and collagen are important for skin.
The natural breakdown of collagen happens with age and exposure to harmful UV rays , smoking , which leads to the development of wrinkles, fine lines , and the reduction in the elasticity of the skin.
A collagen supplement with vitamin C would work wonders in maintaining the elasticity of the skin, strengthening your bone joints as it will help enhance collagen synthesis. The presence of vitamin C in supplements induces lipid per oxidation and reactive aldehydes, an important step required for the production of collagen m-RNA levels, and therefore collagen production.
The healing of musculoskeletal tissues , such as bone, tendons and ligaments , is dependent on the collagen synthesis and cross linking.
Thus, collagen helps maintain the integrity of bones, tendons, muscles and skin. Its synthesis is dependant upon vitamin C , responsible for the hydroxylation , well characterised for its extracellular stability and support to the epidermis.
Collagen supplements with added vitamin C and food sources rich in Vitamin C should be consumed to maintain collagen.
- Int J Cosmet Sci. 1998 Jun;20(3):151-8. doi: 10.1046/j.1467-2494.1998.171747
- Murad , et al 1981.Regulation of collagen synthesis by ascorbic acid.
- African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 7 (12), pp. 2049-2054, 17 June, 2008 Available online at http://www.academicjournals.org/AJB
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