Energetix | Emily Greene-Hartsfield, ND
Collagen naturally decreases with age. The skin produces about 1% less collagen per year, after the age of 20. This means 10% of the body’s collagen is lost for each additional decade of life! Collagen production may also decrease further with diets low in protein, low calorie intake, smoking, or poor absorption of nutrients.
Collagen comes from the Greek кόλλα (kolla) meaning glue and γέν (gen) meaning producing. Collagen is a strong protein – the most abundant form of protein in the body, accounting for about 30% of the body’s total protein mass. It is found in all connective tissues such as skin, bones, blood vessels, tendons, nerves, and epithelial tissues and is essential to keeping the tissues of the body strong, healthy and flexible. Collagen is produced from amino acids, building blocks that the body either makes or must obtain from food.
In Popular Culture
Consuming collagen-containing foods is not a novel idea. As far back as the first century BCE, Asian cultures have used exotic collagen-rich foods for health and beauty benefits. A popular food derived from collagen, gelatin, has also been enjoyed for centuries by many cultures. The earliest known use of gelatin dates to the Middle Ages where it was used in savory jelly dishes. Later, in the 1800’s the nutritional value of gelatin was being recognized for its high protein content and in the late 1800’s was being sold door to door as a gelatin powder by Charles and Rose Knox. Later, in the 1950’s, it became common for women to drink Knox gelatin for its touted benefits to nail health.
The current popularity of collagen for health and beauty benefits is shedding new light on the applications of collagen and its various uses. Supplying the body with collagen allows for extra protein building blocks to become available for use, supporting skin health, nail health, wound healing, joint health, bone loss, arterial integrity and connective tissue health.
Joint and Bone Health
Joint disorders are one of the top 10 reasons people visit their doctor. There are over 600,000 knee replacements performed annually in the US! With less collagen produced by the body as people age, it’s not surprising there are more complaints of joint pain.
Cartilage is a rubber-like tissue largely made up of collagen which protects the joints from wear and tear. When collagen is depleted, cartilage maintenance decreases, increasing the risk of joint disorders. Healthy cartilage production requires adequate collagen resulting in a reduction of synovial hyperplasia, an increase in chondrocytes, and a decrease in chondrocyte apoptosis. Adequate collagen can allow for more comfortable joint mobility.
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Skin, Hair, and Nails
Collagen makes up about 75% of skin tissue helping to maintain strength, elasticity, and hydration. The body produces wrinkles with aging in response to the decrease in collagen. Having healthy collagen production is integral to skin health, improving skin hydration, elasticity, and wrinkling. Supplementation can be helpful allowing for additional resources of collagen, helping to maintain a healthy level of protein production within the skin.
Collagen can be molded into strong biocompatible tissue scaffolds with low immunogenicity. This means it can be used in sponges, injections, hydrogels, films, membranes, and as skin replacement, acting as a potent delivery system for targeted tissue repair and wound healing. This not only makes collagen ideal for skin health but also wound care and gut repair.
Keratin is a strong fibrous structural protein that is related to collagen, comprising hair and nails. Both keratin and collagen are made up of the same building blocks, namely amino acids. By suppling the amino acid building blocks for keratin, collagen supplementation supports keratin production. This increase in keratin production can lead to an increase in volume, density, shine, strength and a decrease in hair loss. Healthy keratin production increases nail growth rates and improves brittle and fragile nails.
Many people know collagen to support skin and nail health. However, with the added benefit of supporting bone, joints and blood vessels supplementing with collagen is a good nutrient to add to daily routines.
Emily Greene-Hartsfield, ND is a Practitioner Support Specialist and Quality Product Manager at Energetix Corp in Dahlonega, GA. Dr. Hartsfield earned her Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA., received her BSc in Biology with a concentration in Medical Laboratory Science from Auburn University at Montgomery, and holds an associates degree in Bioscience Technology. During her time at Bastyr, she found her love for working with homeopathy and botanical medicine and the study of fertility, pediatrics, women’s health, and gastrointestinal disorders. She is a Certified Lactation Educator and has additional training in Naturopathic Fertility, Craniosacral Therapy, and Psychosomatic Energetic Therapy. In her spare time, Dr. Hartsfield enjoys spending time with her family, reading, traveling, baking, and hiking.