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Collagen for Radiant Skin

Dr. Karol M.D Article by: Dr. Karol M.D
Date: Apr 10, 2015 · Posted in: Beauty, Skin Health
Collagen for Radiant Skin

Why do we need collagen supplements for healthier skin? It’s all about the connective tissue.


The skin is composed of three equally important components: The outer skin, which contains multiple cell layers, the connective tissue under this layer and the small blood vessels within the connective tissue that provide nutrients. Connective tissue is what holds skin together and makes it elastic and resistant to stretching. Connective tissue also stretches skin, making it look smooth. Without strong connective tissue, skin begins to wrinkle because it loses its elasticity. Unfortunately, this is one of the consequences of aging. Over time, the connective tissue cells slowly lose the capacity to form enough connective tissue to keep skin stretched. And those components that are formed are not as strong as those that were formed when we were younger. 


Sounds pretty grim. But it doesn’t have to be. You can postpone this process, or at least slow it significantly, by supplementing with the main connective tissue components. This will not only benefit your skin, but also other body parts that are dependent on healthy connective tissue, like joints, ligaments, tendons and also bone. Bones are not all calcium! The other very significant part of bone, which gives it elasticity, is connective tissue. Without this component, you would break your bones with every jump. Connective tissue is located just under the outer skin layers. Its main components are collagen and glycosaminoglycans, which are usually attached to protein, making them proteoglycans. Collagen is what gives connective tissue its strength. It closely resembles an intertwined rope in its structure. It’s composed of amino acids, namely glycine and proline. The formation of collagen is very dependent on vitamin C, the deficiency of which leads to a condition called scurvy, which is in essence insufficient connective tissue formation. The first consequence of this condition is bleeding gums. The other major components of connective tissue are glucosaminoglycans. These are two carbohydrate (sugar) molecules connected and then repeated many times in a linear fashion. These long molecules are attached to protein, which allows them to branch out like a web. Picture it as a spherical web radiating from a central protein molecule. Their purpose is to attract and hold water. This makes connective tissue plump and smooth, and in turn, your skin as well. Collagen gives skin strength and stretches skin, whereas glucosaminoglycans make it look smooth and plump. The main glucosaminoglycans of skin are hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate.


The scientists out there may argue that if you take these components in capsule form, you will digest them into their individual units before absorption. This is the first thing that you learn in basic physiology: proteins and carbohydrates are digested into individual amino acids and glucose molecules before being absorbed. If this were the case, taking collagen or glucosaminoglycans would not make any sense. You would digest them like any other food and the individual components would get distributed all over the body as nutrition. But that’s not how it works. The truth is, not all protein and not all carbohydrates are broken down to individual units prior to absorption. The absorptive cells of our intestines also absorb ingested contents via endocytosis. Essentially, these cells change their shape on the absorptive surface and extend their edges toward the intestinal lumen. It’s like two arms outstretched. They enclose a small space and then join again, forming an enclosed balloon or vacuole of food particles. They envelop the food particles. In doing so, they prevent the complete digestion of these food particles by digestive enzymes in the intestinal lumen. The particles are then transported to the other side of the cell and released into the bloodstream. The particles travel all over the body and are picked up by cells that have a preference for such particles. And guess what skin connective tissue cells like? Undigested collagen, hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate molecules! Sometime these components of connective tissue are partially digested. But even then, they end up in the connective tissue of the skin. They are simply elongated or fixed up and then incorporated into connective tissue. So there you go - a nice way to postpone skin aging. Be sure to take a good quality supplement containing connective tissue components. See you next time.

Dr. Karol M.D