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The Role of Proteins and Amino Acids in Skin Health

Posted June 2020 by Biodermis
Proteins are the basic building blocks of life and can be found at the microscopic level in our cells and at the macroscopic level in our skin and other organs. Proteins play an important role in the health and functioning of our bodies and must be consumed on a daily basis so that we can perform well. Amino acids can be considered an even more fundamental building block because they are the organic units the makeup proteins themselves. About 500 mino acids have been discovered in nature with only 20 found to play a significant role in the human body. Because proteins and amino acids play a critical role in skin health, many aesthetic and cosmetic products claim to boost the body’s production of them.

In this article we will be looking at the different proteins and amino acids in the skin and why they are important to the overall integrity and appearance of our skin.

Amino acids in skin health

Collagen

Collagen is the most abundant structural protein in the connective tissues of the human body and makes up more than 75 percent of our skin. Collagen is produced by fibroblasts which are specialized cells that help create the structural framework of human and animal tissues and aid in wound healing. Collagen has a sturdy structure and, in some types, the molecules are packed so tightly together that the protein becomes harder than steel. When we are young, our skin is smooth and vibrant. This is because the collagen in our skin is at healthy levels. As we age, collagen synthesis begins to decrease and the structure of our skin breaks down. When collagen production slows down, wrinkles and fine lines set in and sagging takes place. Many skin care companies capitalize on the aging process by promoting topical and nutritional products meant to promote collagen production. Collagen also plays an important role in the wound healing process by sealing off the wound and forming a scar.

Elastin

Elastin is protein component of the dermis that can be found in connective tissues of the skin and other organs including the lungs and aorta. Elastin fibers are what give the skin its ability to regain its shape and bounce back after being stretched. The flexibility of elastin, about 1000 times more flexible than collagen, can be seen most easily in the face when talking, smiling, chewing, or laughing. Elastin fibers break down over time with exposure to UV radiation from the sun and through the normal wear and tear of aging. Certain life events may cause skin to stretch to the point of not being able to bounce back, leading to stretch marks or loose skin. This usually happens in the case of pregnancy, excessive weight gain, and extreme body building.

Amino acids

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and can be found the collagen and elastin fibers. Some research seems to indicate that amino acids can be applied topically to help with collagen synthesis and promote cell renewal. Glutamine, a critical amino acid, helps balance out the pH of the skin and giving it healthy barrier called the acid mantle to protect itself. Cysteine is another amino acid that can be found in the makeup of hair, nails, and skin. In skincare applications, cysteine can be used to accelerate the production of new skin cells, thereby promoting healthy and vibrant skin texture. Glycine and Lysine are two more amino acids that lend strength, firmness, elasticity, and flexibility to the skin.


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