How Does the Body Produce Collagen?

Pro Collagen

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A woman is slicing oranges. (Image: natthawon/iStock/Getty Images)

Special skin cells produce small molecules called pro collagen using vitamin C and protein obtained through a person's diet. As the pro collagen molecules are produced, they glue themselves to one another and form fibrils. Fibrils are small strands of minerals and vitamins that resemble fabric strings when looked at under a microscope. The fibrils grow and convert into fibers that attach themselves to skin cells that serve as an anchor. Proper dietary intake of protein and vitamin C are essential to this growth and development.

Fiber Formation

Once the fibers are formed and properly anchored, then they go to work supporting skin structure and providing elasticity to the skin. As people age, they produce fewer collagen fibers, which can lead to wrinkles and sagging of the skin. In order to stimulate increased collagen fiber production, it is important to increase intake of protein and vitamin C--in foods, in supplement form or both. Because proper blood flow is also important in collagen production, a person should engage in regular exercise.

Damage to Collagen Fibers

Overexposure to the sun and envirnmental pollutants can inhibit collagen production. Sun damage and air pollution cause toxicity in the skin's cells and deplete the building blocks needed to produce collagen fibers. Anti-aging creams and sunblock can help stave off these damaging effects and decrease premature aging symptoms. Smoking and alcohol also contribute to a decrease in collagen fiber production and should be avoided.

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