Column: Healthy Routes

Bones, hair, skin and teeth

by Gladys Kublik

Whenever we have the opportunity to attend a training function, we jump at the chance. It is always a great learning experience, and we usually come back with additional reference material. One of these books is very timely in this season as we all want to look good for summer and enjoy those outdoor activities that we occasionally overdo. So what makes us look good and fixes our strains and sprains? It is collagen, Dr. Marita Shauch BSc ND tells us in her new book Collagen Myths and Misconceptions. I’d like to share some of her knowledge with you.

Collagen is a word used liberally in the cosmetics industry to give the impression that if we apply said cream our wrinkles will magically disappear, and we will return to the glowing skin of our youth. And it is true collagen is the stuff that keeps us looking young. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It makes up about 20 to 35 per cent of the body’s protein content. It is often considered the “glue” that holds the whole body together. Unfortunately, applying it to our skin isn’t the answer; we need our body to be producing collagen for the effects to benefit us.

Collagen fibers are the major building blocks of bone, joints, (tendons, ligaments) and blood vessels ( arteries and veins). The quality and quantity of collagen in the skin helps to determine the health and beauty of hair and nails. Collagen is also found in the eyes, digestive tract, lungs, liver, kidneys, heart and the intervertebral discs of the backbone.

To give you a better idea how important a role collagen plays in our bodies consider that the skin is composed of 75 per cent of collagen. Bone is 30 per cent, ligaments 90 per cent , tendons 80 per cent, cartilage 70 per cent and blood vessels 40 per cent. So if our body’s production of collagen decreases, the results are significant and easily seen. Without collagen to plump it up our skin sags and wrinkles occur, our bones lose their resiliency and are more susceptible to breakage. Without collagen, our joints lose the cushioning of cartilage and the easy movement provided by the ligaments and tendons. Without collagen, our circulatory system also suffers as vessels become more fragile.

Adequate collagen in the scalp, which is also skin, ensures that there are adequate capillaries to provide nourishment to the hair follicle encouraging full healthy hair. In a similar fashion, adequate collagen in the blood vessels supporting the teeth and gums also provides nourishment for a healthy mouth.

The formation of collagen is a complex and intricate chain of reactions that is dependent of specific vitamins and enzymes. Aging, stress, inflammation, poor diet, lack of exercise, environmental toxins have a profound effect on the preservation of healthy collagen in the body. The collagen protein generally contains 19 or 20 amino acids, the most critical for its construction being L-Glycine, L-Proline, and L-Lysine.

Dr. Shauch provides a prescription for ensuring the body continues producing collagen. She recommends Silica in the form of BioSil which activates specific enzymes to perform the initial critical step in collagen formation called hydroxylation of proline and lysine amino acids. Vitamin C is required for this first step to occur, the amino acid L-Lysine is essential.

Collagen is necessary for optimum health in almost every part of our body. Its requirements differ slightly for different functions. Vitamin D is essential for its use in bone structure. Omega 3 Fatty Acids support collagen by decreasing inflammation and overall stress on the body. Zinc is necessary for cell renewal, strengthens hair and nails. Vitamins B12 and B6 protect collagen from the damaging effects of high levels of homocysteine in the body.
Bones, hair, skin, and teeth; these are the parts of our anatomy that people see and whereby we are judged. Beauty is only skin deep – well maybe not. The skin is a reflection of our general health and well-being. A straight posture and a spring in our step is a sign of youthfulness and vigor. Lustrous hair and a great smile indicate vitality and are things that people remember about us. Give your body the building blocks for the formation of collagen and hold on to that youthful vigor and radiance.

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