Collagen is in every part of our body, providing both strength and flexibility. It is the most common kind of protein in humans.
After the age of 25, collagen production begins to decrease at about 1.5 percent a year. This does not sound like a huge number, but the decrease is cumulative. By the time you are 40, over 20 percent of the body’s collagen is gone. With other lifestyle and health factors, this annual decrease can be even higher.
Because collagen is in every part of the body, the effects of the deficiency can show up anywhere. The most obvious sign of collagen deficiency is changes to the skin. As we age, wrinkles begin to show up and the skin can appear to sag or even look thinner. This is because of not only the reduction in collagen production, but because the collagen that supports the skin begins to degrade. To make matters worse, collagen deficiency can make the skin more susceptible to scarring after an injury.
In our muscles and joints, the decrease in collagen can lead to muscle and joint pain. Recovery time from physical exertion is also longer because there is less collagen to repair the muscles. Ailments like arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other connective tissue disorders can begin to show up and get worse as we age because of the lower levels of collagen.
As we age, injuries become more prominent because of the reduction of collagen. When we were kids, we could run around for hours and not feel a thing, but now, a jog around the block or a set of squats could have us in pain for days, making us feel “old”.
Causes for Collagen Deficiency
Besides aging, collagen deficiency can come from an imbalance of nutrients, mainly Vitamin C and amino acids. Regardless of age, a deficiency in vitamin C can lead to scurvy, and left untreated, ultimately death.
Vitamin C and the amino acids proline and lysine are necessary for collagen production. Without the new collagen being made, the body will begin to fail and fall apart. On top of the normal problems of the reduction of collagen, the teeth can begin to loosen and fall out, gums can bleed. On top of that, organs both held in place and supported by collagen, will begin to fail. Even blood vessels re affected as they crumble throughout the body. Ultimately, the immune system will begin to fail and the heart will give out. Not a pretty picture to say the least.
Getting older is inevitable and processes of the body decline in production and efficiency. But, with the proper nutrition and care, we can do our best to slow the effects down, making us feel and look younger than we really are. It’s not all about the outward appearance, because collagen is everywhere in the body, the care we take can lead to a longer and better quality of life.