What Are The Signs of Collagen Deficiency?
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You don't have to have a serious illness to have a collagen deficiency. You may be surprised to learn you will have collagen deficiency when you approached your late 20s.
However, if you have conditions such as mixed connective tissue disease, joint pain, rheumatoid arthritis or muscle weakness, then you'll want to discuss collagen deficiency
To add to that, you'll experience more of a deficit as you approach menopause and then after menopause.
Let's review why this happens, the signs of collagen deficiency and how you can help preserve the collagen you do have...
What is Collagen?
You'll want to know about collagen since it's is the most abundant protein in your body.
Although it's concentrated in the skin, collagen also appears in your gut, muscles, teeth, bones, skin, nails and joints.
You'll even find collagen in your pelvic floor and can suffer collagen vascular disease!
As a matter of fact, collagen makes up from 25% to 35% of all the protein in mammals (which includes humans).
Actually, there are over 28 types of collagen known to man. Although, there are 5 types of collagen that are most common in your body.
The most common collagen types are type i, ii, iii, v and x.
The collagen protein is generally made up of a unique mix of three amino acids, proline, glycine and hydroxyproline.
These amino acids are then synthesized by vitamin C, zinc and copper to make a long triple-helix strand that is strong and flexible.
Both men and women start life with a lot of collagen in their body such as tight skin, a well-functioning digestive system, full head of hair and strong nails.
As it would happen, as you approach your 30s, your body slows down collagen production and collagen levels drop to the tune of approximately 1% each year.
Once you approach menopause, and then after menopause, the production slows down at an even faster pace.
In addition, you may not live the healthiest life 100% of the time, so you often destroy the collagen you do have without realizing it.
When you lose more of your collagen reserves than what you're creating--that means you're collagen deficient and will start to see the signs of collagen deficiency.
Let's explore some of the most common signs of collagen deficiency:
Signs of Collagen Deficiency
You can experience collagen deficiency through age, lifestyle choices even vitamin C deficiency.
Let's take a look at what happens when you have less collagen in your body:
Wrinkles and sagging skin
Collagen is responsible for the skin structures that create volume, firmness and elasticity in the skin.
When the skin begins to look loose, saggy, and wrinkly, it's a symptom of collagen deficiency.
When the body's cartilage does not have enough collagen, joint pain (arthritis) and discomfort develop.
Although more research is needed, early studies show arthritis pain can be reduced through adding collagen supplements to your daily routine.
Actually, we put together an in depth article to research the best collagen supplement for arthritis along with a complete buyer's guide.
Lack of Sleep
Collagen is high in the amino acid glycine.
Glycine is known to contribute to restful and quality sleep.
It's easy to see the lack of collagen and the amino acid glycine can lead to insomnia or light sleep that leaves you not feeling rested in the morning.
When the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged, it results in a condition called intestinal permeability or “leaky gut.”
Improper digestion can lead to the inability to process nutrients properly, can cause gas, bloating, fatigue, food cravings, and other digestive symptoms.
In addition, researchers also believe a leaky gut can weaken your immune system.
Since the intestine lining is skin, the lack of collagen may cause dangerous and uncomfortable leaking out of the gut.
Wound healing, scarring
Because collagen is essential for healthy skin, collagen deficiency can cause slow wound healing or skin that is easily scarred.
When there is a wound to the skin, collagen is what rushes to the site of injury to start the healing process.
Therefore, the less collagen that's available, the slower the healing and greater chance of scarring.
Muscle pain and soreness
Collagen deficiency can also cause muscle pain and soreness and prolonged exercise recovery.
Collagen is a protein and your muscles rely on proteins for repair and recovery.
With this in mind, the less collagen available, the longer it will take for muscles to recover.
Connective tissue disease
There is a wide range of diseases caused by problems with the body's connective tissues.
These diseases used to be called “collagen diseases”.
Today, these diseases are categorized more broadly as connective tissue diseases.
Many connective tissue diseases are heritable but some of the classic collagen diseases include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Loss of teeth
Did you realize collagen is also in your teeth and gums?
For example, you need enough collagen in your gums and jaw that helps the teeth to stay in place, be stable and strong.
Collagen and Your Pelvic Floor
Connective tissue challenges may also be more likely in women who experience pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and/or urinary incontinence.
Although many factors affect if a woman experiences prolapse, such as pregnancy, extra weight, menopause, aging, constipation and chronic coughing, lack of collagen in the pelvic area is one angle researchers are interested to learn more about.
However, in the same study, researchers found women who experience POP had less collagen in their cervix/uterus.
What Causes The Signs of Collagen Deficiency?
Here's the deal...
Many signs of collagen deficiency are the result of the natural aging processes, genetic predisposition or other medical conditions, like overuse of a joint.
However, there are a number of behavior and lifestyle factors that can cause collagen deficiency to happen quicker.
Stress produces a hormone called cortisol. Some stress is good as it's the body's way to protect you from outside threats.
However, too much cortisol damages collagen, creates sugar and causes inflammation in your body.
Therefore, excess cortisol creates premature aging.
Excessive sugar consumption
If you have a diet high in sugar, the sugar promotes a process called glycation. (Sugar shows up in many forms, especially in processed foods.)
Glycation is where sugars in the blood attach to proteins and form new molecules instead of collagen. These new molecules also damage nearby proteins.
Since collagen is a protein, glycation can make existing collagen weak and brittle.
Most importantly, according to a research study published in 2017, glycation also contributes to premature, biological aging.
Smoking cigarettes exposes the skin to nicotine, which constricts the blood vessels in the outer layers of the skin.
The constriction reduces the presence of oxygen and nutrients that keep skin healthy and supporting collagen production.
In addition, cigarettes also contain many other chemical compounds that damage collagen and elastin in the skin, leading to wrinkles, fine lines and sagging.
The sun's ultraviolet rays penetrate the outer layer of the skin and damage collagen and elastin.
The damaged collagen fibers break down and the skin loses its elasticity.
Lack of vitamin C
Vitamin C plays a critical role in the body's synthesis of collagen.
In other words, new collagen cannot be created without vitamin C.
Therefore, a vitamin C deficiency can lead to less collagen protein in your body.
You may have a protein-rich diet, but without the necessary fruits and vegetables, your body will not be able to effectively make new collagen.
Can You Avoid Collagen Deficiency?
If you want to help your body produce new collagen, and preserve what you already have, the best thing to do is eat a healthy diet.
For example, eliminating sugar from your diet will contribute to your health in many ways, including preserving the current collagen in your body.
Actually, collagen protein is unusual in that when you eat it through meat or bone broth, your body breaks down the components/amino acids and can help make your new collagen.
Therefore, eating a diet rich in high-quality proteins like beef, turkey, and tuna can help add collagen protein and crucial amino acids to your body.
Furthermore, a diet full of antioxidant-rich vegetables like broccoli, red peppers, and leafy greens will give your body the vitamin C needed to help build new collagen.
Another popular and easy way to treat collagen deficiency is to use a high-quality collagen supplement.
Hydrolyzed collagen (also called collagen hydrolysate or collagen peptides) has been processed to break the collagen down into smaller peptides that are rapidly absorbed and used by the body.
Today, collagen supplements are easy to find and easy to buy. You can get them online or in health food stores, in powder, capsules or liquid form.
In addition, you can add the same peptides to your coffee in the morning with collagen creamer.
Over time, collagen deficiency can not only damage your skin and cause premature aging but can also lead to a host of other, more serious and painful conditions like arthritis.
Fortunately, you can take action to do your best to avoid losing collagen too quickly in your body.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body--it's literally the 'scaffolding' that holds you together and gives structure to arteries, bones and skin.
Over time, the natural aging process results in your body producing less and less new collagen. That is when you will start to see the signs of collagen deficiency.
In addition, you may have collagen-killing habits like eating too much sugar, not eating enough vitamin C, smoking or too much sun to name a few.
Fortunately, you have the ability to add the nutrients necessary to build new collagen to your body and help preserve what you already have.
If you eat healthily, avoid collagen-killing activities and take collagen supplements through capsules, powder or drink nourishing bone broth, those actions will go a long way to keep the aging process at arm's length.