We all know that collagen is an essential building block for the skin which makes up 70% of the protein in the skin while making up 30% of all the proteins in the body. It is what gives your skin the supple and soft feeling as well as what keeps it tight and firm to prevent wrinkles and sagging skin. Unfortunately, collagen levels in the skin decline as we grow older making it necessary to protect and retain as much collagen protein as we can. There are also other causes of skin aging and loss of collagen that can accelerate collagen decline with free radicals from the sun rays being the most well known. A fact most people don’t know about collagen is that it can be synthetically produced and is used in a variety of applications.
Before we get to the causes of damage to collagen, let’s take a look at the various uses of synthetic collagen:
What Are The Uses Of Collagen?
Synthetically produced collagen that is readily available has many uses from the medical to the cosmetic, with varying results depending on the application. This synthetically produced collagen is called exogenous collagen and is resorbable. Being resorbable means that the protein can be broken down, converted and reabsorbed into the body while being able to form into lattice-like gels and compacted solids.
The various functions of collagen allow for it to be able to be used for many purposes like:
- Vascular Prosthetics
- Skin Fillers
- Treatment Of Osteoarthritis
- Wound Dressing
- Preventing Collagen Loss
- Guided Tissue Regeneration
What Can Damages Collagen?
There are some ways in which collagen can be damaged, leading to a loss in hydration and firmness of the skin as well as other issues like cartilage problems.
Here are a few ways in which collagen can be damaged:
- Sugar-Rich Diet: If you have a sugar-rich diet, the amount of sugar you consume will probably be higher than normal. This sugar-rich diet can cause glycation rates to increase. Glycation is a process where blood sugars combine with collagen, resulting in a molecule called advanced glycation end products, also known as AGEs. These AGEs are known to damage proteins that are close by, causing collagen to weaken, dry and brittle.
- Smoking Cigarettes: Smoking cigarettes are known to be a health hazard, but most don’t know that the chemicals in the tobacco smoke can cause damage to the proteins collagen and elastin. There is also a reduction in oxygen and nutrients being delivered to the outer layer of the skin since Nicotine in cigarettes narrows the corresponding blood vessels.
- UV Rays: The ultraviolet rays from the sun rays have free radicals which damage collagen protein. They also cause an abnormal build-up of elastin which causes incorrectly rebuilt skin due to the damaged collagen.
- Autoimmune Disorders: Some autoimmune diseases can force antibodies to damage and destroy collagen proteins.
- Genetic Changes: Genetic changes to the extracellular matrix can cause collagen production to be reduced. These changes can also cause the produced collagen to be mutated or dysfunctional.
- Aging: The most common cause of collagen depletion is by getting older. As this is a natural phenomenon, there is little that can be done to prevent this. All you can do is use an anti-aging product as well as eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly to maintain good health.