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    From Skin to Bones: Understanding the Different Types of Collagen

    Discover the differences in the various types of collagen that support and make up your body.

    May 10, 2024 6 Minute Read

    Different types of collagen make up important body processes and functions. Learn about the various types of collagen in the body and what they do.

    There are a variety of basic building blocks that play a part in making our bodies healthy and vibrant. One of those elements that you may not be aware of is collagen. A protein produced by the body, collagen is a bit of a jack of all trades and serves many purposes, particularly those related to bone, skin and tendon function. This fibrous protein counts for 30% of the body's protein makeup. It's a connective protein that helps with "structural scaffolding," directing cell migration and bonding, as well as maintaining cell metabolism and growth, according to a study published in Polymers.

    Understanding your body's makeup, including its unsung heroes, can help you make great health and lifestyle choices. The same can be said for learning about collagen types and the roles they play in your body's health, processes and functioning.

    Types of Collagen

    In the following section, we'll review the powerhouse capabilities of collagen. You'll discover how collagen plays a role in joint health, the collagen type that helps with skin hydration and elasticity as well as the type of collagen that helps keep your teeth and bone tissues strong and resilient. You'll also learn about how collagen deficiencies impact various systems and processes within your body, including bone health, wound healing and more.

    Here are the most common collagen types and what they do for your body.

    Type I Collagen: Tendons and Bones

    Overall, scientists have identified 28 different collagen types in our bodies, but the most prominent one they've discovered is collagen type I. This variety makes up 90% of the collagen in our bodies, and it can be found in nearly all connective tissues.

    Two types of molecules take up the spaces between collagen I cells: proteoglycan proteins and fibrous proteins like collagen and fibronectin, according to Cell Reports Physical Science. Proteoglycans are part of the extracellular matrix that helps hydrate skin. These strong collagen fibers strengthen and support many tissues in the body, including cartilage, bone, skin, tendons and the white parts of the eye.

    Looking for an easy way to get type I collagen, type III collagen and important vitamins that can help promote healthy skin, hair and nails? Consider taking a daily collagen caplet.

    Type II Collagen: Cartilage

    This specific collagen plays a crucial role in supporting healthy cartilage and bones. It's linked to conditions like rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis (OA) and joint issues such as hip dysplasia, where the hip socket isn't as deep as it should be. Collagen II is a critical element in providing joint support.

    A disease that is caused by the breakdown of cartilage, like OA, may be improved with the addition of collagen type II as part of treatment, according to some studies. RA is another debilitating disorder that invades fibrovascular tissue and causes breakdowns of the cartilage and bone. Studies have also shown that chicken type II collagen can help treat RA and OA in patients who can tolerate it.

    Taking a collagen supplement might help preserve cartilage, joint health and bone health. It might also inhibit inflammation that contributes to arthritis-related conditions, according to a narrative review article in Nutrients.*

    Type III Collagen: Blood Vessels and Organs

    Type III collagen is prevalent in your muscles, blood vessels, arteries, organs, uterus, bowels and intestines. Collagen type III helps with the strengthening and stretching properties of these organs. It provides elasticity properties as well so that these organs can expand and contract during their natural function, according to a review article in the journal Gene. The protein is an important player in the early stages of wound healing and the expansion and contraction of blood vessels in particular. Collagen III appears to decrease as we age: It only makes up 30% of adult skin, while it makes up 50% of fetal skin.

    This type of collagen consists of only one "α" chain, as opposed to other collagen types, and it plays a role in cell adhesion and migration.

    Type IV Collagen: Skin Basement Membrane

    Type IV collagen, specifically found in the basement membrane, plays a vital role in supporting and protecting tissues. Its unique honeycomb structure sets it apart from other types of collagen and serves as a barrier against cancer and other harmful agents. Additionally, the basement membrane is responsible for the blood-air barriers in our lungs and contributes to overall skin tissue health.

    You'll likely notice collagen in a lot of topical skin care products, particularly ones that promote anti-aging benefits. That's because collagen peptide creams can improve elasticity in the skin, so it looks less saggy and appears refreshed. Collagen face creams may also help to reduce puffiness, firm skin and slow signs of aging when used daily.

    Type V Collagen: Cell Surfaces and Hair

    You can find collagen type V in your hair, muscle tissue, liver, corneas and placenta tissues. Because hair follicles grow out of skin tissue, having healthy layers of skin that are getting optimal collagen amounts should keep your hair follicles healthy and strong.

    As you age, your body produces less collagen, which contributes to a decrease in skin elasticity. Your lifestyle can also impact that decrease in skin elasticity. The normal aging process that leads to less collagen synthesis can be hastened, particularly if premature aging is due to photoaged skin from sun exposure.

    Otherstudies have shown that a lack of collagen has been associated with hair thinning and hair loss. Researchers have explored collagen supplementation and, in general, show that it can have positive effects on hair, nails and skin.

    What are some easy ways to try collagen supplementation?

    Super Protein: The Many Ways Collagen Can Help Your Body

    Collagen, with its various types, is fundamental to the structural integrity and function of different tissues and structures in your body. Understanding the unique properties and distribution of different collagen types sheds light on their specialized functions and underscores their significance in maintaining overall health.

    In addition to supplementation, consider eating a well-balanced meal plan that includes citrus fruits, berries, fish, bone broth, leafy greens and beans. These foods — and others — can help your body produce collagen. This way, you can prioritize a happy and healthy lifestyle for you and your family.

    *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

    These articles are intended for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in these articles. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise or medication regimen.