Proline, also known as L-proline, is an amino acid. It is non-essential because it can be synthesized by the body through the breakdown of L-glutamate, another amino acid. Protein is broken down into amino acids, or building blocks. If you consume an adequate amount of protein in your diet, your body will have the right amount of amino acids it needs to produce proline, an important compound responsible for tissue repair, collagen formation, arteriosclerosis prevention and blood pressure maintenance.
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Collagen is a smooth and flexible tissue that covers and holds bones together, like glue. It is the main structural protein found throughout the body. It acts as a shock absorber and reduces friction. It helps heal cartilage and cushion joints. Proline aids the body in breaking down proteins for use in healthy cells. In conjunction with lysine, another amino acid, proline is a precursor for hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine. The body uses hydroxyproline to make collagen, tendons, ligaments and heart muscle. Collagen contains approximately 15 percent proline. For this reason, adequate proline is beneficial for the treatment of conditions such as osteoarthritis, soft tissue sprains and chronic back pain.
Prevention of Arteriosclerosis
Proline plays an important role in combating arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. A leading cause of heart disease, arteriosclerosis occurs when the blood vessels, or arteries, that carry oxygen and nutrients from the heart to the rest of your body become thick and stiff from the buildup of fat on artery walls. This prevents the artery from expanding and contracting when your heart beats and can restrict blood flow to your organs and tissues. Proline enables the walls to release fat buildup into the bloodstream, decreasing the size of the blockages to the heart and surrounding vessels. Proline, therefore, decreases the pressure built up by these blockages, decreasing the risk of heart disease.
Skin is the largest organ of the body and is also the first immune defense against infection. Hydroxyproline produces collagen, an important component of skin tissue. Young skin tends to be more elastic and thicker, whereas aged skin is thin and less fibrous as the amount of collagen decreases and changes the elastic elements. The aging process, in addition to sun exposure and free radical damage, results in older-looking, wrinkled and less-smooth skin. Proline increases the production of collagen and prevents its loss. It also improves the texture of skin and spurs new-cell formation.
Proline production increases during times of soft-tissue trauma, injury and wound healing, such as muscle or tendon recovery, severe burns and after surgery. Proline is an important compound in medical dressings that use collagen fragments to stimulate wound healing. A lack of proline in the body might be responsible for strains or tears in soft tissue and slower-than-normal healing. Therefore, after a soft tissue injury, you might want to supplement proline to promote adequate collagen production and sufficient wound healing.