Young people have pituitary glands that produce and abundance of GH (Growth Hormone). With aging, this hormone steadily decreases and the emphasis shifts to collagen. Collagen's function in the body is to convert its natural protein molecules into the essential amino acids that are required by the body. Thus, collagen performs the important maintenance function of the body.
Whether the body can efficiently rebuild and repair itself is dependent upon its ability to convert one body resource into another. This process of protein synthesis is a metabolic process requiring collagen as a catalyst. As collagen diminishes in the body, both the resource and the catalyst are reduced.
Research has shown that much of the body's vital metabolic repair work takes place when we sleep. (1) It has long been known that the body switches gears shortly after we fall asleep. It moves from its normal, active-involvement state to a rebuilding-and-maintenance state. It is during this sleep that the body searches about for available collagen and other important nutrients to convert them into the important materials needed by the body.
Collagen synthesis is something that those of us who wish to look and feel younger must be interested in. Therefore, any food supplement that can enhance the rebuilding or the healing process is something that we should strongly consider.
Producers of health food supplements have consistently recognized the need for collagen supplementation. But, non-medical collagens are not bio-available ( a fancy term meaning that the body cannot use it). To get around this, some less than ethical manufacturers have engaged in hoodwinking schemes to encourage supplementation of collagens that are unabsorbable or certain hormone precursors that do nothing for the collagens.
The body manufacturers its own collagen every single day, but since production diminishes with age, the available supply of collagen quickly becomes less than enough. Deterioration of various body parts gradually follows suit. One of the first visible signs is wrinkling of the skin and the beginning of unexplained joint pain. Note that I said, visible signs of aging. The wrinkling and joint pains only represent what is happening to the outside of the body. One can only imagine what is going on inside.
Once begun, the degenerative conditions of arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other associative joint pain syndromes are relentless. Little can be done to alleviate the pain, much less stop the degenerative process. Don't get me wrong. The body does have the ability to heal itself, but it must be given the correct materials to work with. Healing starts from the inside out. So does youth! Therefore, the only thing that works is to eliminate the origin of degeneration before it occurs.
Bursitis, Tendonitis, and Tendinosis
Bursitis, tendonitis, and tendinosis are three of the more common collagen diseases affecting us as we age, causing us to look and feel older. Bursitis is caused by arthritis inflammation or by infection. (2) The joint areas most commonly affected are the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, back, and ankle. Individuals with bursitis will have pain, tenderness, and stiffness near the affected area. (3) As a result, local muscle weakness frequently develops as a result of avoiding painful joint movements, such as those caused by climbing stairs.
Tendonitis, an inflammation of the tendons, has mostly been considered the cause of tendon pain and an associated loss of strength and movement. More recently, researchers discovered that most people diagnosed with this disease have no signs of tendon inflammation. Consequently, medical sciences have come to see tendonitis more properly classified as tendinosis. Today, the terms are used interchangeably.
Tendinosis/tendonitis is caused by a breakdown of the collagen-composed tendon tissue. Collagen contributes to the robe-like structure of a tendon and to its strength. When collagen breaks down, small tears appear in the tendon, weakening it and causing pain. This collagen disease can affect children and young adults just as those who are aging. It is especially wearing on those who perform repetitious task in their jobs, sports, or daily activities. Carpet layers suffer this affliction in their knees, writers in their wrists, and tennis players in their elbows.
Bursitis and Tendonitis/tendinosis can be successfully treated by resting the painful areas, applying ice, or taking pain relievers. This gives the body time to repair and reproduce the cartilage damage. provided the body is still producing the necessary amounts of collagen.
Arthritis is a general term describing inflammation in joints. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which is also called degenerative joint disease. Osteoarthritis is associated with a breakdown of cartilage in joints and most commonly occurs in the hips, knees, and spine. It can dramatically affect the finger joints and the joints of the toes. (4) With sixty million Americans suffering from arthritis, there is an arthritis epidemic. John Klippel, Medical Director of the arthritis foundation, flatly stated, This should be a wakeup call. We've always suspected the problem was greater than we had known about.
Unfortunately, the common methods of treatment won't change the progression of osteoarthritis. However, two nutritional supplements, glucosamine and chondroitin have been observed to relieve pain and to slow the breakdown of cartilage, which in itself is a significant part of osteoarthritis. What is particularly interesting is that glucosamine and chondroitins (both sulfates) are components of normal cartilage. Some researchers have successfully demonstrated that the two substances appear to stimulate new collagen production. The only thing better would be to take a bio-available collagen supplement directly.
Cartilage is a rather firm rubber material that covers the ends of bones in normal joints. The primary function of cartilage is to reduce joint friction and, since cartilage can change shape when compressed, serve as a shock absorber for the bones.
Cartilage can change shape because it is composed of more than seventy percent water, which can be redistributed with compression or movement. Since cartilage does not contain nerves, you never feel pain when these changes occur. When collagen disease strikes as we age, this shock absorbing quality is reduced. That is why activities like running and jumping feel less comfortable as we age than when we were younger.
Collagen is a key component of cartilage, providing it with its strength. When the body's collagen production is reduced, cartilage production is affected and so are all the body systems that contain cartilage.
Collagen, Wrinkles, and Stretch Marks
The body's production of collagen in the skin begins dropping around the age of twenty-five. (5) But, it really picks up speed in the forties and fifties. Many studies have demonstrated that our skin's natural production of collagen decreases at a rate of 1% per year after the age of forty. So, by the time a person reaches fifty-five, they have lost and additional fifteen percent of their collagen production capacity. By age seventy, the loss is over thirty percent and climbing. (6)
Dr. Sal Martinganon, a internationally recognized collagen authority.
With a lowering of collagen production, skin retains less water, thins, and begins to wrinkle much like a plum becoming a prune or a grape becoming a raisin. As a result, the elastin in the skin becomes even more damaged, holds less water, and becomes much less elastic and resilient.