Collagen, the most abundant protein in the human body, serves as an important component in structural tissues such as the structure underneath the skin. However, free radicals can attack collagen and weaken this structure, causing wrinkles and sagging.
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29 types of collagen exist inside the body. However, over 90% of the collagen is comprised of types I, II, III, IV, or V.
- Collagen I occurs in the skin, veins, ligaments, organs, and bones.
- Collagen II makes up most of cartilage.
- Collagen III comprises reticular fibers and is commonly found with type I.
- Collagen IV forms the base of cell membranes.
- Collagen V is located in cell surfaces and the hair.
To maintain skin’s strength, flexibility, and resilience, collagen works together with keratin. Keratin, a strong protein, serves as a major component in skin, hair, nails, and teeth. Depending on the levels of amino acids that form keratin, its texture can vary from soft (like with skin) to hard (like in teeth).
Keratin is formed by kerainocytes, living cells, which make up a large part of skin (as well as the hair and nails). These cells push upwards, eventually dying as newer cells form below. If these dead cells are in good condition, they serve as an insulating layer to protect new keratin below them.
However, free radicals can damage both keratin and collagen.
Free radicals are small particles that have at least one missing electron, which makes the particle unstable. In an attempt to stabilize itself, the particle takes electrons from nearby substances. Now, the free radical is stable, but the other substance becomes a free radical.
Since collagen and keratin are abundant in the the skin, they tend to be the nearby substance that free radicals attack.
If a free radical takes an electron from a protein in a strand of collagen, it changes the chemical structure of the collagen at that specific point. This causes a break in the collagen strand resulting in damage. Once a strand of collagen has multiple points of damage that have occurred over years, that strand loses its elasticity and creates skin sagging. This damage is progressive because as each free radical stabilizes itself, it creates at least one new free radical.
Aging is the progression of years of free radical damage.
Keratin cells are exposed 5,000 times a day to free radicals. While free radicals result from normal biological processes, such as energy production, they also result from environmental stresses.
These stresses include:
- Unprotected sun exposure
- Bad cosmetics
To slow the process of aging, reduce your exposure to these unnecessary causes of free radical activity. Even if you address just one source of free radical activity, the progression of damage to collagen, and therefore skin aging, will slow.
Additionally, you can incorporate antioxidants into your diet and skin care and supplement routine. Antioxidants are substances with extra electrons, and therefore are able to stabilize free radicals without incurring damage. Because of this, antioxidants are important in slowing the aging process.
Supplements are a quick way to consume antioxidants for beautiful skin. They require very little effort in comparison to the powerful antioxidant benefit they deliver to your cells to keep collagen from breaking down.
Perricone MD’s Skin & Total Body supplement fights free radical damage with its potent active ingredients to protect collagen and therefore diminish the appearance of wrinkles.