While we think of bone as hard, inflexible, static, and even dry tissue, bone is really flexible, living, ever-changing, moist tissue. It is these qualities that give bone its strength and these qualities derive from the collagen in bone. Bone collagen is the ever-changing living protein matrix, the living protein web upon which mineral crystals are deposited. The seashell with abundant calcium crystals, but very little collagen is fragile and inflexible. Human bone is also formed from calcium crystals, but our bone is flexible and resilient due to its high content of living protein collagen matrix.
- Approximately 17% of our body is living protein tissue.
- The fibrous protein known as “collagen” is the most abundant protein in the body.
- More than ⅓ of all the protein in the human body is collagen.
- Collagen can be thought of as the “glue” that holds the cells and organs of the body together.
- Our skin is 70 to 80% collagen by dry weight; cartilage is 60%.
- The protein collagen matrix of bone is broken down and lost during the process of bone resorption. When we lose bone, we lose both minerals and the collagen protein matrix.
- The loss of minerals from bone can be seen on bone density testing, but the loss of collagen goes undetected.
- Loss and/or malformation of collagen is evident when bones fracture without a high level of trauma.
- To maintain lifelong bone strength, we must produce and maintain healthy bone collagen.
How Does Collagen Give Strength to Bone?
- Bone collagen is the living protein matrix laid down by bone-building osteoblast cells. Collagen forms a living web-like protein matrix. This living collagen provides the scaffolding for bone formation.
- This living protein collagen web becomes mineralized to make bones strong and appear to be hard.
- The flexibility of bone derives from its infrastructure being formed by living collagen matrix.
- When we lose bone mass we lose not only the mineral component of bone, but also the living protein collagen component.
- Weak and structurally unsound collagen causes bone fragility and is not detected by bone density tests, which look only at the mineral content of bone.
- Weak or malformed collagen leads to low-trauma fractures even in the face of adequate bone mineral density.
How Is Collagen Formed?
- These amino acid strings are intertwined, or woven together, to form fibrous “ropes.”
- These collagen “ropes” provide flexible, living, structural support for many tissues in the body.
- In bone the collagen becomes highly mineralized and very tough, yet it retains a basic flexibility, giving strength to bone.
- Just as with our skin structure, resilience and flexibility of bone is dependent on healthy collagen.
How Can We Maintain Healthy Collagen?
- To maintain its fully functional structure, bone collagen must undergo continual repair and renewal.
- Thus, the nourishment and protection of bone collagen is essential for maintaining life-long bone strength.
- Glycine, proline, and other essential amino acids are required in abundant amounts as are minerals like zinc and copper.
- Like other tissue, collagen is subject to oxidative damage, thus a high level of antioxidants is required to protect collagen.
Learn more about Our Collagen Promoting Vitamin C
Oral Collagen Supplementation Strengthens Bone
- Hydrolyzed collagen supplements provide the body with glycine, proline, and other amino acids to be used as substrate for building and repairing existing collagen.
- If taken in a highly absorbable form, these collagen peptides (short chains of amino acids) can be absorbed intact providing the organic substrate for new bone collagen formation.
- Oral collagen hydrolysates or mixtures have been found to both stimulate osteoblastic new bone formation and reduce osteoclastic bone breakdown in selected studies.
Key Point: By favorably tilting bone metabolism towards bone formation over bone breakdown, collagen supplementation helps to reduce bone loss.
- Several studies suggest collagen supplementation also enhances calcium absorption while displaying anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capacities.
Why We Recommend Marine (Fish) Collagen
Our Marine Collagen is an abundant source of the Type I collagen found in bone. It is rich in Types I and III collagen, which promote:
- elasticity and hydration of the skin;
- strong bones, hair, and nails; and
- flexibility and comfort to the joints.
- Marine collagen has been documented to stimulate the bone-building osteoblasts cells while inhibiting the bone-breakdown osteoclast cells.
- Marine collagen provides 8 of the 9 essential amino acids.
- Each serving of marine collagen provides nearly 10 grams of protein with no sugar and contains only 38 calories.
- Marine collagen is environmentally friendly, with low-inflammatory or allergy-inducing potential and is the safest form of collagen presently available.
- It easily dissolves in any hot or cold liquid or soft food.
- It is non-gelling with no odor and has a pleasant neutral taste, suitable for addition to any soft food or smoothie, or liquid.
- Some researchers consider marine collagen a safer form of collagen as it is free from the diseases associated with land animals.
Learn More: Take a Deep Dive into Collagen Basics & Benefits for Hair, Skin, Nails & Joints
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