The 5 Different Types of Collagen and How They Work

Types of Collagen

Our bodies are not single entities created all at once but produced using multiple components and building blocks. While much of our bodies are made from different biological building blocks, every part of our anatomy can work together to produce a functioning human body. Each part of our body works to keep us alive and functional and must be maintained to prevent physical issues from manifesting. 

Unfortunately, physical ailments are extremely common and can affect you when you least expect them. When they do arise, it is important to understand what part of your body, and the building blocks that made it, are affected. One of the most important parts of human biology is collagen.

Despite what some believe, collagen is an essential part of the human body that is necessary for producing important body parts. Without collagen, some surprising parts of our anatomy would either be malformed or missing. Despite the importance of collagen, general knowledge about the substance is surprisingly lacking, with most people being unaware of the particulars of collagen. While you do not need to know everything about collagen to recognize its importance, there are some important details you need to consider should you need to bolster your collagen levels. The most underestimated detail about collagen is that there is not just one kind of collagen.

What is Collagen?

Collagen is an extremely important protein in the human body responsible for a significant amount of our body's manufacturing of parts. In addition to being important, collagen is the most prevalent protein in humans and accounts for 30% of our total protein levels. Collagen's abundance in our bodies is no surprise since it is the primary building block of our skin, muscles, bones, and most of our connective tissues. Without collagen, we would be unable to perform many of the actions that are so seamless to us. While collagen is responsible for manufacturing these anatomical resources, it also plays a key role in:

  • Producing fibroblasts in our middle skin layer that help new cells grow.
  • Replacing dead skin cells with new, living skin cells.
  • Producing a protective layer for internal organs.
  • Providing structure, elasticity, and strength for our skin.
  • Clotting blood.

As impressive as this repertoire might seem, it is only a general outline of collagen's universal functions. The issue is that collagen is not a single protein but a family of proteins that play different roles in protecting and constructing our bodies. Modern science has identified 28 distinct types of collagens, though more might exist that we do not know about yet.

What is Collagen

Even more impressive is that these 28 types of collagens can be divided into 2 subgroups: fibrillar and non-fibrillar. 

  • Fibrillar Collagen: Fibrillar collagen is what our bodies use to create new materials. The fibers plot out the design of the body part before the body uses collagen to create what was designed.
  • Non-Fibrillar Collagen: Non-fibrillar collagen does not produce new pieces of the human body but modifies what is already there.

With so many different collagens, it might seem like keeping track of them all is too much to handle. Fortunately, while there are 28 types, only 5 are important enough to warrant consistent observation. These 5 major collagen types affect different body parts and manufacture different parts. Understanding how these 5 collagens work is critical to maintaining a healthy body.

Type I Collagen

The first major collagen type is Type I, which should be no surprise. Type I collagen is a fibrillar collagen that accounts for 90% of our overall collagen content. Type I collagen is found in our skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments, giving it the greatest range of the main 5 collagens. The reach of Type I collagen allows it to offer a wider range of effects than other collagen types. Type I collagen is known for forming large fibers in the body that maintain the connection between the disparate body parts. Type I collagen fibers are also part of what allows collagen to design important parts of the human anatomy.

Type 1 Collagen

Additionally, Type I collagen plays a role in our body's healing process. Type I collagen is found in scar tissue, which forms following an injury. The presence of Type I collagen means the collagen is reconstructing the damaged tissue to fit with the undamaged tissue. Type I collagen is likely the most important of the 5 main collagen types, but that does not mean the others are any less critical.

Type II Collagen

Keeping in line with the pattern, the 2nd most important type of collagen is Type II. Type II collagen is not a surface collagen like Type I but forms internally. Type II collagen forms in our bodies' cartilage and focuses on supporting our joints. Cartilage is a flexible type of connective tissue used to cushion important parts of our skeletons. Type II collagen is the base material for articular and hyaline cartilage. It also accounts for 50% of the protein in generic cartilage and 90% in articular cartilage. While cartilage production might seem less important, it is critical to our health.

Type 2 Collagen

Without cartilage to pad our joints, our bones would connect and grind against each other, leading to serious injury. Conditions like arthritis or osteoporosis can occur when the cartilage is compromised, and the bone is exposed to damage.

Type III Collagen

The next major type of collagen is Type III, which is also located within the body rather than on the surface. Unlike Type II collagen, Type III collagen is focused on the muscles, arteries, and organs in our bodies. While a fibrillar collagen like Types I and II, Type III collagen has a more advanced structure than the others. Type III collagen is composed of 3 identical peptide chains that form a triple-helical domain strand. These strands serve as a pre-procollagen, meaning Type III collagen changes before it can yield benefits for our internal systems.

Type 3 Collagen

Type III collagen provides the proteins necessary for the formation and function of our organs and arteries. While Type III is one of the more advanced types of collagens, the next type is an interesting departure from the others.

Type IV Collagen

Type IV collagen might be the next in the sequence, but it differs from the last 3 collagen types we have discussed. Unlike Types I through III, Type IV collagen is a non-fibrillar collagen, meaning it modifies existing tissue rather than creating more. Type IV collagen also goes by an alternate name, like all non-fibrillar collagens. Type IV collagen is called basement membrane collagen because Type IV collagen helps improve the health of the basement membrane in the body. The basement membrane is a thin, sheet-like extracellular matrix that provides cell and tissue support.

Type 4 Collagen

Type IV collagen offers secondary support for the skin at the lower levels. It helps the basement membrane offer its tissue support. Type IV collagen is the only non-fibrillar collagen among the 5 major collagens, and its place is well-earned. While Type IV collagen is important, it is low on the list compared to the previous collagens. Despite that, Type IV collagen remains extremely important to our physical health.

Type V Collagen

The final collagen type from the list of major types of collagens is Type V collagen. Type V collagen returns to the pattern of fibrillar collagens, meaning it can produce new tissue rather than adapt existing tissue. Type V is also one of the more interesting forms of collagen due to where it is and what it affects. Type V collagen is primarily located in the eyes' corneas but also in the hair and skin. Even more interesting is that Type V collagen also occurs in placental tissue, making it one of the more important types of collagens. It is also one of the first we are exposed to since it is present in the placenta that accompanies our birth.

Type 5 Collagen

Type V collagen promotes the development of hair, bones, muscles, and corneas. Type V collagen also has an issue that might affect some people. Namely, those with an autoimmune deficiency against Type V collagen cannot receive lung transplants. While a niche issue, those dealing with a potential transplant should look into their autoimmune deficiencies as soon as possible to ensure a transplant will be successful.

Do Collagen Levels Deteriorate?

With the significance of collagen in human health and development, being deficient in collagen can be a serious issue, which begs the question of whether our collagen levels deteriorate over time. The answer is an unfortunate "yes," as collagen production lowers as we age. When the decline begins can vary, but almost everyone experiences a decrease in collagen production after turning 60. Once we pass the threshold, our collagen production levels become too low to remain sustainable. It is also worth noting that women might experience this decline after menopause.

While collagen production deteriorates, the collagen that is already present in our bodies breaks down at a more rapid pace. This means our collagen levels can plummet to a point where we cannot produce any new tissue or heal it when it gets damaged. Decreased collagen levels can be difficult to detect unless you know the signs.

An Aging Woman

The most common symptoms of decreased collagen levels are:

  • Wrinkled or saggy skin.
  • Hallowing around the eyes and face.
  • Shrinking or weakening muscles.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Diminished flexibility in the tendons and ligaments.
  • Joint pain or osteoarthritis.
  • Loss of mobility due to joint damage.
  • Gastrointestinal issues.
  • Blood flow issues.

You might be dealing with diminished collagen levels if you have one or more of these symptoms. Additionally, your collagen levels are at risk if you are a smoker, consume excess amounts of sugar and carbs, or are regularly exposed to ultraviolet light. These behaviors are known to lower collagen levels and put you at risk of losing critical resources. While diminished collagen levels can be detrimental, there might be a way to reinvigorate your collagen levels. While there are foods you can use to reinforce your collagen levels, your best chance is to use a collagen supplement.

Collagen supplements can introduce large amounts of collagen to your system so your body can potentially overcome the shortage. While collagen supplements are effective, finding one might face a challenge. The biggest obstacle to supplementing your collagen levels is finding a supplement that is reliable and trustworthy.

Keep it All Natural!

Collagen is one of the most important proteins in human biology as it helps our bodies produce essential parts of our anatomy. We are exposed to collagen from birth, allowing us to develop properly, but there is much more to understand about collagen than its base effects. The multiple subtypes of collagen are important to learn since each one plays a different role in the development of the body. 

The 5 major types of collagens only account for so much, with the remaining 23 types playing a significant, albeit less advanced, role in maintaining the health and development of our bodies. More information surrounding collagen was not covered in this article and can be equally important to those dealing with diminished collagen levels. Regardless of the cause of your collagen issues or which type of collagen you are having difficulty with, the issue of finding a reliable supplement remains.

Collagen Supplements

We at Bella All Natural might be able to address this problem for you, so you are not left searching for a quality supplement. We believe that the best way to address a health issue is to use natural ingredients so our bodies can recover as nature intended. This sentiment is true of all our products, including our collagen capsules, which can give you the necessary dose of collagen to bolster your current levels.

Rather than opting for a potentially harmful synthetic alternative, a natural supplement can yield results without the risks associated with chemicals. We urge you to visit our website and assess our products for yourself, but the decision remains yours. Regardless of your decision, remember always to keep it all natural!

When first hearing about all the different types of collagen, it can be a little confusing. So, if you ever have any questions about the types of collagen, what collagen does, or anything else collagen-related, please be sure to leave a comment down below! We'd be more than happy to clear up any confusion you may potentially have!

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