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The Secret to Optimizing Collagen Synthesis in Your Body

Posted by: Trevor

October 3, 2020

Many of our friends have discovered the benefits of bone broth, especially as a source of healthy gelatin/collagen. When we consume the gelatin/collagen found in bone broth, it helps our bodies to produce more collagen, and repair our cells. This process is known as collagen synthesis, and it is critically important to good health. But aside from consuming more bone broth, how can we enhance this process?

When we make bone broth, we are converting collagen into gelatin, which is high in certain amino acids such as lysine, glycine, and proline. Our bodies can then use these amino acids to re-generate our cells (collagen synthesis). To optimize this process, we need to consume adequate amounts of lysine, glycine, and proline (such as found in gelatin), and also vitamin C. This is because collagen production and vitamin C go hand-in-hand.

Our Bone Broth Contains Plenty of Vitamin C from Carrots and Onions

Vitamin C plays an essential role in collagen synthesis (for more on enhancing collagen synthesis through diet, see here, here, and here). Vitamin C is a cofactor in a process called hydroxylation, along with oxygen and iron. Vitamin C enables prolyl-hydroxylase and lysyl-hydroxylase, two enzymes necessary to combine the amino acids lysine and proline with a hydroxyl group to form hydroxylysine and hydroxyproline. This process occurs in specialized collagen-producing cells called fibroblasts and is necessary for the creation of the collagen precursor procollagen. Procollagen is transported out of the cell and transformed into the collagen fibers that your body is made of (for more on the biochemical process of collagen synthesis, see here).

Without vitamin C, these enzymes deactivate and the hydroxylation process malfunctions. This is why people who are deficient in vitamin C develop scurvy --- they can't adequately synthesize collagen, resulting in poorly formed connective tissue, bleeding gums, poor wound healing, changes in the skin, and loss of teeth. Vitamin C also helps counteract the oxidative stress due to aging, chronic disease, UV damage, stress, and exercise, as vitamin C helps prevent collagen degradation. Scurvy is by no means a disease of the distant past. It is still clinically evident in developed countries.

The role of vitamin C in collagen synthesis has been confirmed in several studies. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the impact of a combination of gelatin, vitamin C, and exercise on tissue repair and found that participants had twice as much procollagen in their blood compared to the control group. A meta-analysis looked at the role of vitamin C supplementation on the rate of collagen cross-linking and synthesis in musculoskeletal injuries, and found that vitamin C increased the formation of type I collagen fibers and accelerated healing of tendon injuries and bone fractures. A further study found that collagen synthesis increased by 8 times when human skin fibroblasts were exposed to vitamin C for a prolonged period. Another study found that participants who supplemented with collagen peptides along with other nutrients including vitamin C, experienced improved skin hydration, elasticity, and density.

When we make our bone broth, we add large quantities of onions and carrots. This is not simply to enhance the flavor. It also provides vitamin C. So whether you are making your own bone broth, or buying it from us, remember the critical role that vitamin C plays in the synthesis of collagen. If you would like to purchase bone broth directly from Sumas Mountain Farms, you can click here to see if we have any in stock, as it often sells-out quickly.

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