Collagen is the most abundant protein found in all mammals and although it is vitally important for the strength and integrity of our skin, this is not its only purpose. It also provides blood forming cells in our bones and helps to make all the connective tissue in the body.
Our connective tissue comes in many different types, including cartilage, bones, arteries, veins, blood, tendons, ligaments and of course skin. It is the cushioning and shock absorption component of our joints, involved with the discs between our vertebrae and found in between other tissues in our body.
The status of the collagen within our gums is also vital for good health. When the integrity of the collagen around our oral cavity is strong we are more likely to ward off different oral bacterium. The collagen in our gum area has a high turnover so constant nutritional and oral care is crucial.
Collagen is also involved with the makeup of our muscles, but muscles are a specific, intricate soft tissue in their own right and are not classified as a type of connective tissue. Our muscles are supported by connective tissue, a tendon attaches the muscle to the bone and a ligament attaches a bone to another bone.
We do have the ability to make collagen in our body. Sadly we make less of this important protein as we get older. Soft tissue injuries can become more common with age, as can wrinkles, as collagen production slows down.
Vitamin C is vitally important for our own body’s ability to make collagen. It can often be the limiting factor in collagen production because vitamin C is easily lost from food through heat and light. Cooked vegetables provide minimal, if any vitamin C. Poor storage of fruit and vegetables can also increase vitamin loss. Without ample vitamin C and collagen production, our skin will age more and bruise easier. Excessive bruising and the loss of teeth through poor gum health are also possible early signs of scurvy. If skin bruising is happening more easily, please discuss with your doctor as it could be caused by medications, but if not, then look at your vitamin C intake.
Flavonoids, are naturally present in food high in vitamin C and help to support the actual cross linking of collagen fibres. Flavonoids in our food may slow the breakdown of collagen caused by the enzymes that are produced during times of inflammation. Blueberries and other dark berries provide flavonoids and they are also found in kumara skin. It is that lovely purple/red colour found in food that may help prevent collagen destruction.
Flavonoids are found in nature in many highly coloured fruit and vegetables and are often added to multivitamins or vitamin C supplements. They may support the action and antioxidant properties of vitamin C present in our food, or improve the vitamin C in our supplements.
Collagen is not just about beauty, but strongly involved with muscles, joint and connective tissue function. It will help us age well and stay mobile.