Pilar, a member of eldiario.es, writes: “Good morning, I am a faithful follower of this section, I find your articles and the research you do on the topics very interesting. I have severe osteoporosis and I would like to know if collagen, which is so fashionable, is really useful for regenerate bones “.
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In order to answer Pilar, we must first explain is what exactly is collagen And why are the supplements that are sold in pharmacies and even online – both in powder and tablets – having so much popularity at prices ranging between 36 euros per kilo and 50 euros per kilo.
What is hydrolyzed collagen and what is it for?
It is the most common protein in our body, as it is present in both skin like in bones, tendons and other structures. It is made by cells called fibroblasts, and forms what is known as connective tissue, which is what holds together various structures of the body.
To put it in a graphic way, collagen pays the skin, forms the tendons that connect the muscles to the bones and is present in the bones themselves. It is a fibrillar protein whose molecules intertwine with very stable hydrogen bonds to form more consistent and progressively denser fibers.
The more molecules that make up a fiber, the higher its density and the stronger it will be. In this way, tendons can withstand tensions of hundreds of kilos per square centimeter before breaking. So collagen ensures the firmness of both the skin and the tendons and bones.
However, with age our body tends to produce less collagen; it is calculated that 1.5% less is produced with each passing year after approximately 25 years – it varies according to the genetics of the person – reaching a net loss of 35% at 60 years of age.
This is what we call aging, in which our skin acquires wrinkles, we begin to have recurrent muscle pain due to loss of resistance of the tendons and osteoporosis occurs.
What are the symptoms of a lack of collagen?
The progressive loss of the ability to manufacture collagen by fibroblasts is primarily a matter of age, although there are some factors that can accelerate it, such as:
- Alcohol consumption
- an unbalanced diet
- sedentary life, lack of exercise
- genetics: there are people who are more prone than others for a simple hereditary reason
In this sense, osteoporysis, which is a disease in which the bones lose more consistency than normal and become brittle, can be favored by the factors mentioned above.
The consequence of osteoporosis is the greatest risk of breakage, but it does not depend only on the loss of collagen, but also calcium. To prevent osteoporosis, some doctors, as well as different therapists, recommend the intake of collagen supplements.
What are collagen supplements?
Collagen supplements are basically made from the skin, bone, tendon or hooves of euthanized animals. These parts are crushed and turned into powder to be sold in this way in cans or in tablet form.
As collagen is in essence a universal protein in animals, it is assumed that ingesting a glass a day of this supplement, dissolved in water, will give us a supply of collagen that will replace the one that our fibroblasts stop manufacturing.
Thus, in case of suffering from osteoporosis, as happens to Pilar, supplementation would help reduce it as there is more collagen at the plasma level. Is this true? No. It is not true for a simple reason: collagen, like all proteins that enter our body, are degraded in the stomach at the amino acid level so that the intestine can absorb them.
From then on, our system can synthesize the desired proteins through amino acids. But if fibroblasts have stopped manufacturing collagen, as happens in mature ages, they will not begin to synthesize more simply because there are more amino acids at the plasma level.
In any case, collagen supplements can come in handy people whose diet is very deficient in protein for not being able to access meat or vegetables rich in them. In this sense, some people who feel good about these supplements actually have the problem that they eat little protein. But this deficiency can also be solved with yogurts, steaks, chicken, fish, cheeses or legumes in abundance, for example.
It may even be that if we opt for a varied diet that includes all these foods -mixed with good doses of vegetables- instead of supplements, and if we also start to do moderate but constant exercise, we can stop our tendency to osteoporosis. Yes it is shown that good cardiovascular health helps keep fibroblasts active.
Anyway, if you exercise and / or want to complete your protein diet with collagen supplements, in this link you can buy them.
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