Do You Know the Signs of Collagen Deficiency?

collagen protein chain

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Are you wondering if you're collagen deficient and what the signs of collagen deficiency are?

Well, we've got some bad news and good news. 

If you're over the age of 30, you're deficient.

If you're over 50, you're really deficient because of pre- and post-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, it literally is everywhere from teeth, bones, skin, nails and joints. 

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 which are most common in your body. 

You start off in life with a lot of collagen in your body--think of a baby's skin. 

As you approach your 30s, you'll naturally start to produce less and less new collagen as each year passes.

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

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. 

Joint pain

When the body's cartilage does not have enough collagen, joint pain (arthritis) and discomfort develops. 

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.

Digestive problems

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.

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 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 are a wide range of diseases caused by problems with the body's connective tissues

These diseases used to be called “collagen diseases,” but are today categorized more broadly as connective tissue diseases.

Many connective tissue diseases are heritable but some of the classic collagen diseases include:

  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis
  • Scleroderma

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 help 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.

A study at Temple University pointed out not every woman who has risk factors develops pelvic organ prolapse

However, in the same study, researchers found women who were experiencing 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.

Here are the most common ways collagen can be damaged or destroyed:

Stress

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, cortisol creates premature aging.

Excessive sugar consumption

A diet that's high in 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 made up of 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.

Cigarette smoking

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.

UV rays

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.

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.

What Can You Do About 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.

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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 helps to make your own, 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.

You can even get collagen in convenient and good-tasting protein bars!

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 loosing collagen too quickly in your body.

FINAL THOUGHTS

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 in a healthy way, 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 arms length.

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