What is Collagen?
Collagen is a protein.
We have various proteins in our bodies made up of amino acids.
There are 20 different types of amino acids. These can be combined to make any one of the estimated 80,000 – 400,000 proteins that exist in our bodies.
These proteins are broken down into 8 groups or classifications:
- Hormonal protein – Usually referred to as just “hormones”, these protein-based chemicals travel around our bodies in our circulatory and lymphatic systems. Each has a different purpose and affects certain cells. We call those the target cells. The target cell has a receptor that only accepts the hormone it was meant for (like a USB port only takes a USB plug). Some examples of hormonal proteins are insulin, estrogen and dopamine.
- Enzymatic protein – Used to accelerate metabolic processes. Most enzymes exist in the digestive system to break down what we eat into smaller and smaller chunks that our body can use. An example of an enzyme is lipase, which hydrolyzed triglycerides (breaks fats down into fatty acids).
- Defensive protein – The main component of our immune system. Antibodies are created by white blood cells to attack viruses, bacteria and other pathogens in our systems. They are designed to fit one pathogen, “plugging” the “port” and making them unable to cause harm (blocking the receptor). Each antibody only attaches to one very specific pathogen, which is why when the flu changes, you can catch it again. Your antibodies no longer “fit”.
- Storage protein – Store mineral ions and amino acids that our body needs. Found in abundance in plant seeds, egg whites and milk, to provide what is needed when it cannot be consumed. An example of a common storage protein is ferritin, which stores and regulates the amount of iron in our body. We need a constant supply of iron to create hemoglobin, which is the main component of red blood cells.
- Transport protein – Used to move vital materials within the body. These “protein taxis” are responsible for moving oxygen from the lungs to the muscle cells (hemoglobin and myoglobin), glucose throughout the body for energy (SGLT1 and SGLT2, Sodium-glucose transport proteins), and various proteins to transport fatty acids since they can be many lengths.
- Receptor protein – Found on the outer layer of cells, these are the “USB ports” that allow the cell to “talk” to the body. They also determine what is allowed to enter and exit the cell, like water, oxygen and nutrients the cell needs. Pathogens will use receptors to start or stop processes and cause problems. A recent pathogen that does this is the SARS-CoV-2 (Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) virus that causes the Covid-19 disease.
- Contractile protein – Specialized proteins that regulate the speed and strength of heart and muscle contractions. When these are out of balance or mutated, it can cause problems like arrhythmia and cardiac arrest. These proteins are called myosin and actin.
- And finally, Structural protein – Known as fibrous proteins. These include keratin (main structural component of skin, hair, nails and teeth), elastin (what allows the skin and organs to stretch and return to normal) and collagen.
The Glue That Holds Us Together
Collagen was named from the Greek prefix, “kόlla”, which literally means glue (or flour paste) and “gen” which means “producer of”.
The producer of glue was named this because it is the main structural protein in connective tissue. It literally holds us together.
Collagen happens to be the most abundant protein in mammals, making up 25-35% of protein content.
It provides the rigid structure of our skin and acts as the main building block of our muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones. It can be found in our blood vessels (and helps blood to clot), teeth and corneas.
What is Collagen Made Of?
First, we need to establish that there isn’t just one collagen. There are 28 types of collagen (that we know of).
All of the collagen types are made up of (some or all of) the same four amino acids:
When we eat proteins (or free amino acids) that contain these, along with a few catalysts (like Vitamin C, copper and zinc), our body makes the collagen that we need.
You can boost the natural production of collagen by eating certain foods, like:
- Citrus fruits, wild cabbage derivatives (broccoli, kale, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, asparagus, etc) and red peppers for Vitamin C.
- Chicken or pork skin for glycine.
- Dairy, cabbage or mushrooms for proline.
- Chickpeas and lentils or shellfish, dairy and eggs for zinc.
- Cocoa, cashews, lentils or sesame for copper.
Which Types of Collagen Are Most Important?
Out of the 28 known types of collagen, only 7 are important for human health:
For those not fluent in Roman numerals, those are Types 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 10.
What Happens as We Age?
On average, the human body starts to slow down collagen production in the mid-to-late 20s. The production dramatically decreases after 30 and continues to drop 1-2% per year after that.
This is what leads to thinner, dryer skin with more sagging and wrinkles. It also leads to stiffer joints (Type II and Type X provide the cartilage between bones that gives you “cushion”). Reduced collagen production also leads to weaker bones, lower muscle development and tendons and ligaments that can be easier to damage.
When this happens, it basically doesn’t matter how much of the amino acids you have in your diet. They won’t be used for collagen production.
How to Stay Young
Humans (ladies in particular) have been searching for a way to stay youthful in appearance for as long as there have been humans.
According to Wikipedia, the legend of the Fountain of Youth started as long ago as the 5th century BC.
Eternal youth has been the enticing promise of many religions and part of many stories and myths. These include Hinduism, Abrahamic religions (most monotheistic religions, such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam) and Norse, Greek and Roman mythology.
The actual process of ageing is caused by the ends of chromosomes, the telomeres, deteriorating over time, limiting cell division. This means that, as time passes, we replace damaged or dead cells slower.
That means that our best (and cheapest) method of staying youthful is to:
- Reduce damage to cells so that they don’t need to be replaced as often
- Provide the materials needed so that structure of body parts remains strong
To reduce the damage to cells, we need to control and minimize oxidation (to learn more about oxidation and the damage it causes, read What Is an Oxidant?).
Providing your body with the materials needed to maintain structure without making your own collagen means supplementation.
Protect Against Oxidation
To protect against damage to the cells, you will need to control the balance between oxidants and antioxidants in your body, as well as detoxing any harmful substances (such as excessive heavy metals).
There are many antioxidants you can turn to, many included in a healthy diet. Some sources of antioxidants are different coloured fruits and vegetables, dark chocolate, green tea and red wine.
When it comes to collagen supplements, the following types are important:
- Type I makes up 90% of total collagen in the human body. That means it is approximately 27% of your whole-body protein. Made up of densely packed fibres, it provides the structure for the skin, tendons, fibrous cartilage, connective tissue and bones and teeth.
- Type II is made up of loosely packed fibres. It is found in elastic cartilage between joints and provides the “cushion”.
- Type III supports the structure of arteries, organs and muscles.
- Type V is considered fibrillar collagen. It is essential for Types I and III to fibrillate (form fibres) and give the structure that they do.
- Type X allows endochondral ossification or the development of bone and articular cartilage (the smooth white cartilage covering the ends of bones in joints that allows them to move with very little friction).
We have researched and developed naturally-sourced and pure ingredients to bring you the best options for supplements.
MetaFire Nutrition products are made in an FDA-registered facility and maintain GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) certification. All of our products are tested by a 3rd party lab to ensure consistency, quality and purity.
We also do our best to look after the planet by using as much recycled material as possible in our packaging.
MetaFire Nutrition has developed two products specifically for slowing down the ageing process and all the unwanted changes that come with it.
To balance antioxidants in your body while detoxifying, we have developed MetaDetox.
MetaDetox contains lots of antioxidants, as well as prebiotics (necessary for probiotics to thrive) and a natural colon cleanse. It also includes Slippery Elm Bark extract, which coats your entire digestive tract and protects you against ulcers, acidity and inflammation.
Get your digestive system on track while protecting your cells from damage with MetaDetox!
To combat the decline of natural collagen production, we have combined the most useful collagen types in our MetaCollagen.
MetaCollagen includes Types I, II, III, V and X to give the maximum results in the smallest dose. You will replace the building blocks of your skin, joints, bones, teeth, muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Stay youthful longer with MetaCollagen!
To fill in nutrients you may be missing from your diet, as well as many other health benefits (immune system in particular), take a look at Boost the Immune System.