Collagen for mental health is an important topic these days because of all of the studies that have been done on aging. Most people do not realize that collagen is actually one of the building blocks of your body. Without collagen, you would not be able to move, feel, or think very much. If you have any type of chronic illness or condition, you are probably still asking yourself, “what is collagen and why does it help my body”. Here is a basic explanation of what collagen is and why it is so important to your health.
Collagen is actually the most plentiful protein in your body. It consists of amino acids, glycosaminoglycans, collagen, elastin, hyaluronic acid, and other lipopeptide chains. Collagen supports healthy connective tissue, skin, muscles, bones, cartilage, ligaments, and vessels. It also plays a vital role in wound repair, blood vessel expansion, and inflammation.
One of the benefits of collagen is the ability to create new collagen and fibers, which are what causes wrinkles to form and helps to maintain our youthful appearance. Another one of collagen’s benefits is that it is able to absorb the harmful amino acids that cause us to age, such as lactic acid, citrate, phosphate, arginine, and hydroxyproline. By increasing the amount of amino acids that our bodies can absorb we can prevent and reverse many of the signs of aging. For example, our ability to build new muscle cells and nerves become stronger, our memory and mental function improve, we become less susceptible to infectious disease, we retain our youthful flexibility, and we retain our ability to metabolize nutrients.
The body can produce all of the amino acids it needs from the foods we eat. One benefit of collagen is that it can be converted into its active form, glycine, by our bodies, or we can break down the protein molecules that make up glycine into smaller compounds, such as arginine, hydroxyproline, or adenosine triphosphate (ATP). It is possible for the body to convert the amino acids that it needs for cellular function directly into the desired energy needed for cellular activity. This allows us to focus on what we need for optimal physical performance instead of wasting precious energy on trying to provide our bodies with energy from external sources.
In addition to facilitating a higher rate of collagen and elastin production, research has also shown that collagen supports and contributes to the healthy functioning of a number of important, essential biochemical pathways within the human body, including the regulation of mood, sleep, the maintenance of energy homeostasis (how our bodies to keep our energy levels constant), immunity, cellular regeneration, the regulation of inflammatory responses, the regulation of blood pressure, neurotransmission, and the storage and utilization of energy. These are just some of the functions that the structural tissue in our skin, the collagen fibres that give us our youthful appearance, plays in keeping us healthy. In addition to the above mentioned processes, collagen affects the following biological functions in the following ways: repair of tissue damage; promotion of new cell growth; and protection of cellular membranes. As one would expect, all of these processes are important in keeping us young and in maintaining our health.
One of the reasons why collagen and elastin appear to work better when they are ingested by the body in the form of supplements or made into a topical cream, is because they contain functional keratin, which has the ability to absorb into the skin to deliver the nutrients that the skin needs. Functional keratin is only produced naturally by our bodies when we are actively using it. However, because our body cannot produce the protein itself, we need to obtain it from an external source. One of the commonly used means of getting collagen and other bio-active proteins into the body is through the ingestion of certain products that contain hydroxyproline and other amino acids. The addition of hydroxyproline to the skin promotes the production of collagen and elastin and also enhances the skin’s moisture retention abilities.