The word collagen comes from the Greek word for glue. It is an appropriate root as collagen along with along with hyaluronic acid (a sticky mucopolysaccharide) from the ground substance or “intracellular cement” that literally holds us together. As the most abundant protein in the human body, collagen is also the main component of connective tissue such as tendons, ligaments, cartilage, bone, and blood vessels.
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Collagen, Aging, and Skin Health
A lot happens in the collagen-rich support structure of the skin (i.e., the dermis) as we age. First and foremost, as we age the activity of the fibroblasts, the cells responsible for making collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid, slows down. As we age the dermis is also less able to protect itself from damage and is more prone to dehydration. All of these factors ultimately lead to a thinner dermis and structural changes that lead to skin looking old and weathered.
Collagen, Joint, and Bone Health
As we grow older, natural collagen production also slows in our joints and may lead to osteoarthritis and the ligaments and tendons may also weaken. Bone is also rich in collagen. In fact, about 30 to 40% of bone is composed of collagen. It provides the structural matrix upon which mineralization of bone occurs. Collagen is to bone what 2X4s are to the frame of a house. Decreased collagen content of the bone is a key underlying factor in osteoporosis and low bone density. The amount of collagen determines the number of “bone mineral binding sites.” If the collagen content is low, the bone becomes more brittle and fracture risk increases dramatically,
Increasing Collagen Content
One of the most interesting and well-documented approaches to increasing the manufacture of collagen is the use of BioSil® – a highly bioavailable from of silica (choline stabilized orthosilicic acid or ChOSA). Initially research focused on the ability of BioSil® to increase the levels of hydroxyproline, the key amino acid required for the production of collagen and elastin. Clinical studies with BioSil® showed impressive results in women (ages 40 to 65 years) with signs of sun-damage and premature aging of the skin. Those receiving 10 mg of ChOSA daily experienced 30% improvements in shallow, fine lines and 55% increased skin elasticity, and a significant reduction in brittle nail and hair.
The Link Between Wrinkles and Bone Health
Changes in skin collagen with age correspond with changes in collagen in bone. In other words, if you have a lot of wrinkles you probably have low collagen content in your bones. Decreased skin collagen (e.g., lots of wrinkles) is a clear factor for osteoporosis. BioSil® has also shown benefits in promoting bone health through increasing the manufacture of collagen. In a very detailed double-blind study in postmenopausal women with low bone density, BioSil® was able to increase the collagen content of the bone by 22% and increase bone density by 2% within the first year of use. The recommended dosage is 6-10 mg per day.