Collagen is the fibrous structural protein that makes up the white fibers (collagenous fibers) of skin, tendon, bone, cartilage, and all other connective tissues. It is also found dispersed in gels of the body to provide stiffening, such as in the vitreous humour of the eye. (1) In other words, collagen is the natural protein that composes most of the body's structural support and is the primary substance of connective tissue. It is the fibrous connective tissue that holds our body together. Collagen is present in all multi-cellular organisms.
Collagen gives the different organs and tissues their strength and elastic properties. Twenty-five percent of the dry protein weight of the human body is collagen. Seventy-five percent of our skin is made of it, and in total - some thirty percent of our entire body is collagen. Collagen is part of the natural make-up of tendons, ligaments, joints, muscles, hair, skin, and vital organs. When the body's essential supply of collagen is reduced, the body is affected. Weakness, fatigue, aches, pains, and an overall lack of performance are frequent symptoms of the problem - symptoms that only increase as we get older.
Besides its many structural properties, collagen serves as the major catalyst for growth and repair of nearly all the body's tissues. Many different aging diseases are related to the body's supply of this vital protein and to disorders in the collagen itself. When our body's collagen production is out of whack, so are we!
The body's production of collagen slows dramatically with ageing. This slowing process is stealth-like and rather insidious. It starts slowing in our mid-twenties, picks up speed in our thirties and forties, then roars like a freight train through our fifties and sixties. Lack of collagen, or the body's improper use of collagen, is the stuff that old age is made of.
Research scientists have been aware of the problem, but until very recently there was little that could be done because most non-medical collagen supplementation was useless. The body was simply unable to assimilate it. Oh sure, you could find collagen supplements in some health food stores, in the backs of magazines, and, occasionally, in a pharmacy. But they did little or nothing other than cost you money.
Fortunately, a significant scientific breakthrough occurred as the result of a partnership between a French formulator, a talented group of bio-chemists, and a well known Canadian medical grade laboratory. After considerable research and expense, the partnership developed a highly bioactive collagen matrix that the body assimilates early in the digestive process. The product is called Pure-Col, and its development is so important in slowing the ageing process, easing age-related pains, and improving appearance, that I will be discussing it in a section of its own in this chapter. However, never take any supplement without completely understanding why it is necessary. I feel that this product is necessary and here is why.
Why Collagen is Necessary for Youth and Health. Collagen is naturally produced by the body and can be taken in from select food sources. It is vital to the body's functioning because it is the tie that binds! The body's use of collagen cannot be overstated. It makes up the body's joints, muscles, hair, skin, tendons, and ligaments. It provides the structure to our body and forms the molecular cables that strengthen the tendons. Collagen makes up the vast resilient sheets that support our skins and internal organs. Bones and teeth are made when the body adds mineral crystal to the body's collagen. (2)
Collagen fibers are woven together like pieces of fabric to form a network in which new cells grow and reproduce. Any time the body needs to build new cells, such as in the healing or growing process, collagen plays the central role. Collagen is the substance that protects and supports the softer tissues of the body, and it is what connects them with our skeleton. (3) In other words, collagen is both the material and the glue that holds our body together.
(1) Miller-Keane Medical Dictionary, 2002.
(2) A. Berton, V. Rigot, E. Huet, M. Decarme, Y. Eeckhout, L. Patthy, G. Godeau, W. Hornebeck, G. Bellon, and H. Emonard. Involvement of Fibronectin Type II Repeats in the Efficient Inhibition of Gelatinases A and B by Long-chain Unsaturated Fatty Acids, Journal Of Biological Chemistry, June 2001.
(3) Alex Suh, DC, during a personal interview conducted during April, 2003.