Collagen is made from three chained polypeptides that are wrapped around one another to make a rope-like helix structure. This collagen is what gives our bodies structure and helps us heal after an injury. Type 3 collagen is essential to the body and has important roles to play as well, not meaning to be outdone by collagen types 1 and 2.
Where Can Type III Collagen Be Found?
Type III collagen exists in different parts of the body, including many of the same locations as the type 1 group. These areas include:
Bones and Joints
Although not their primary area of concentration, it is nevertheless an integral part of the bone and joint matrix. Type III collagen serves as a structural component of cartilage in the extracellular matrix.
The Skin's Dermis
The dermis is the innermost layer of skin, and the layer where type III collagen is most abundant- found in what is called the “dermal interstitial collagen matrix”. Type III collagen is the main component of the collagen-glycosaminoglycan interstitium found here and helps reinforce your skin’s barrier.
Hair and Nails
Type III collagen is abundant in hair and nails, both of which also contain keratin. Additionally, collagen type 1 is present as well.
Organs That Need To Withstand Stretching
When you think of organs that are required to stretch, what comes to mind? Primarily, these include the uterus, colon, and blood vessels[i]. All these organs are required to deal with stretching and not rupture in the process. Collagen helps give it some resiliency to tearing, while also remaining structurally sound.
Functions Of Type 3 Collagen
Not surprisingly, owing to the many locations this collagen subtype is found, its roles are numerous. Its functions include:
Helps With Wound Healing
Type III collagen is one of the primary subtypes that initiate wound healing, critical to securing the skin barrier. Individuals with an overactive immune response may experience excessive scar tissue formation, leading to the development of keloids.
Helps With Skin Elasticity
There’s a reason why collagen-based skin products and cosmetics are a multi-billion-dollar industry; there is logic behind using them. Indeed, collagen applied to the skin may only be poorly absorbed, but when consumed it can be said to have better results.
Products with collagen type 3 can help support skin elasticity and support the supple look of youthful skin. Reduced wrinkles are another bonus thanks to their ability to help smooth fine lines.
The way it achieves this is via binding moisture and retaining it under the skin. Loss of moisture accelerates premature skin aging and contributes to the appearance of dryness.
Mediates Inflammatory Processes
Type 3 collagen is produced by cells known as fibroblasts, which are critical inflammation mediators. This also explains why certain conditions that affect the lung, vascular system, and even the liver result in scarring- evidence of collagen recruitment and deposition.
How To Increase Levels Of Type 3 Collagen
Low levels of collagen have been linked to various health problems, including bone loss, osteoporosis, muscle pain, and skin aging. Collagen also has a huge impact on your body's ability to fight off disease, heal wounds, and maintain your sense of wellbeing.
However, collagen type III is an interesting protein that you need to tread lightly with. This is because higher levels of this protein could contribute to the development of scar tissue, which in some instances has more than a cosmetic implication.
Cirrhosis of the liver, for instance, occurs when scar tissue[ii] affects the normal functioning of the organ. In like manner, atherosclerotic plaque in the blood vessels is composed of fatty deposits, platelets, and collagen which form a fibrous, resistant plaque.
There are a number of foods that are high in the amino acid glycine, which is one of the primary amino acid components of type 3 collagen. These foods include gelatin, bone broth, fish, and other animal products.
Collagen powders may be a more convenient option, especially in lieu of having to consume some sort of bone broth daily.
Importance of Type 3 Collagen For Athletes
Marathons are brutal. It isn’t uncommon for one to experience several muscle tears, and even rupture of blood vessels. The result might be blood in stool or vomit. This is one application demonstrating the importance of collagen type 3.
As previously mentioned, it can help maintain the integrity of organs, and also reduce your risk of injury- essential if you wish to continue working out at a high intensity.
Where To Buy Type 3 Collagen
Type 3 collagen can be bough as a standalone supplements but it is much more effective when combined with Type II, III, and IV collagen. That's why Brickhouse Nutrition created Radiance. A collagen powerhouse clinically proven to promote active joints and healthy connective tissues to battle against the wear-and-tear of everyday life.
If there’s one takeaway point that you need to appreciate, it’s the fact that collagens do not function best as isolated subunits. They are all essential and are complementary in many aspects.
Most commercial collagen supplements found on the market include all the important subtypes to ensure you get what is needed.
- Bank AJ, Wang H, Holte JE, Mullen K, Shammas R, Kubo SH. Contribution of collagen, elastin, and smooth muscle to in vivo human brachial artery wall stress and elastic modulus. Circulation. 1996;94(12):3263-3270. doi:10.1161/01.cir.94.12.3263
- Gauglitz GG, Korting HC, Pavicic T, Ruzicka T, Jeschke MG. Hypertrophic scarring and keloids: pathomechanisms and current and emerging treatment strategies. Mol Med. 2011;17(1-2):113-125. doi:10.2119/molmed.2009.00153