We hear about collagen everywhere. So what’s all the fuss about?What exactly is collagen and why is it so important?
Collagen is the single most abundant protein in the body, making up about 25% to 35% of the whole-body protein content. There are at least 16 types of collagen, but most of the collagen in the body consists of types I, II, and III. Collagen is what gives tissues their strength, and allows them to withstand stretching. It helps with firmness, suppleness and constant renewal of skin cells. Collagen is vital for skin elasticity. Ligaments are another type of connective tissue that attach two bones and consequently hold the joints together. Tendons are similar but different type of tissue that attach the muscles to the bones. All of these tissues, the bones, ligaments, tendons and the skeletal muscles themselves, are made up of proteins, including collagen. Collagen also helps give strength to blood vessels, visceral organs (including the gut), cartilage, cornea and even hair and nails. It is often referred to as the glue or cement that holds everything together. The word collagen is derived from the Greek for glue, ”kolla”.
We most often hear about collagen in reference to the ageing process. With age, collagen production slows and the cells structures weaken. The skin gets thinner and is easier to damage, it sags and wrinkles, tendons and ligaments become less elastic, joints get stiff, hair gets lifeless, and so on.
Collagen is used in dental, orthopaedic and surgical procedures, cosmetics and cosmetic surgery, and to aid in wound healing, especially in burns.
Why am I educating you on collagen, you may be wondering? Because my condition, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) is a group of connective tissue disorders caused by a defect in collagen synthesis (production/formation). The defect is caused by mutations in a number of genes, which alter the structure, production, or processing of collagen or proteins that interact with collagen. The mutation results in tissues that are weak, stretchy and easily deformed. It is easy to think of collagen as he “glue” in the body. However, in EDS it is like over-chewed chewing gum; it stretches, but doesn’t go back to its original form, and is very weak. There are several types of EDS and the condition can range in severity from mild to life threatening. There is no cure, treatment is supportive. Symptoms vary between types, and between individuals within each type. Some patients have “crossover symptoms” meaning they do not fit into one specific type; they have symptoms from two or more types.
I wanted to help you all understand more about collagen, as it affects each and every one of us. Research into conditions caused by problems with collagen, including EDS, Hypermobility Syndrome and Osteogenesis Imperfecta (Brittle Bone Disease) will impact on the general population as it will help us understand more about collagen, it’s role and importance within the body, the ageing process and could lead to a number of treatments to be discovered and formed, which could treat a number of conditions, help with wound healing and scarring, and more effective cosmetic procedures and surgery.
Please consider supporting charities such as Ehlers Danlos Support UK and the Hypermobility Syndrome Association, as they help fund vital research.
I have struggled with energy and pain this week hence a less personal post.
I hope you have enjoyed it and continue to enjoy and take interest in my blog.