The various effects and benefits of collagen intake on skin, hair and nails, are well established, and we have previously described the scientific evidence suggesting that collagen, including marine collagen can also provide positive effect on gut health. However, according to numerous studies there is also one common health problem where collagen plays a significant role, and that is varicose veins.
Varicose veins are distinctive due to their protrusion, and usually occur in legs. Essentially, it is important to keep the three main components of the venous system of the leg – deep veins, superficial veins and perforating-communicating veins – intact, as dysfunction in any of those results in disfunction of the rest. In case of superficial veins, when those are put under high pressure, they dilate and elongate to accommodate increased blood volume, and their appearance is then described as ‘varicose' - a term derived from the Greek term for ‘grapelike'. The term ‘varicose veins' applies to large protruding veins, as well as so-called ‘spider veins', that occur beneath the epidermis and look similar to a spider’s web. Varicose veins are a common health problem to occur in both women and men with age.
So, what exactly is the link between this common health problem and collagen? Well, collagen is not only directly involved in the maintaining of structural integrity of blood vessel walls, and therefore, is directly involved in the formation and operation of varicose veins, but can also assist and have positive effect on the treatment of varicose veins.
The scientific link between collagen and varicose veins
Throughout the years a large number of studies have been conducted in order to establish the role, functions and actions that collagen performs in the blood vessels. Studies have focused on the examination of the roles elastin and collagen play in maintaining structural integrity of blood vessel walls. In normally functioning veins elastin generates a shortening force that opposes the traction exerted by the side branches and the lengthening force caused by the pressure in the lumen. Here, different types of collagen also play a vital role: type I collagen is believed to confer tensile strength to the vessel wall, whereas type III collagen is believed to be involved in extensibility. Typically, the normally functioning veins contain more collagen than elastin, and the type I and type III collagen make up 80-90% of the total blood vessel wall collagens (type I collagen about 60% and type III about 30% of the total collagen). However, studies have shown that in varicose veins, specifically, their dilated segments, the elastin level is reduced compared to the collagen levels, and the type I collagen ratio is significantly larger than type III collagen, compared to the normal veins. The functioning of the vein walls can be affected by the imbalance in the synthesis of type I collagen and type III collagen.
With age and other influencing factors, the risk of damages and weakness in arteries can lead to the occurrence of varicose veins. And collagen is among the main building blocks of our bodies, and also provides the elasticity and strength to our veins, which is necessary to keep our blood flow function normal and prevent stretching and twisting of our veins.
Lifestyle changes that can have positive effects on varicose veins
In some cases, occurrence of varicose veins is hereditary, and it is also commonly influenced by age (with age wear and tear of the veins increases, influencing the blood flow) and sex, namely, varicose veins are more common in women than men (in part due to hormonal changes during life, as well as in cases of pregnancy). However, there are also some common lifestyle-related risk factors that can influence occurrence of varicose veins, such as:
· Obesity – increased body weight can lead to increased pressure on the veins;
· Inactivity – standing and sitting for long periods of time, as well as sedentary lifestyle influences negatively the blood flow;
· Leg injuries.
While common treatments of the varicose veins include wearing compression stockings, regular elevation of legs, as well as surgical intervention in more severe cases, preventative measures and lifestyle changes can help minimising the risks of varicose veins occurring at all. It is important to create a regular exercise routine, which will help to improve blood circulation in legs. Additionally, it may be beneficial to avoid standing for long periods of time, as well as lose or maintain healthy weight, which could also in part be achieved through dietary changes. It is, however, important to note that in case of varicose veins as in case of any health problem, it would be recommended to consult a health professional first to understand the causes and treatments of varicose veins in each individual case.
The dietary changes that can help with varicose veins
As collagen is among the most important elements for keeping our whole body strong, inclusion of collagen-rich products or collagen supplements in the diet can aid with keeping our veins strong, elastic and resilient through the aging process, as well as simultaneously providing other health benefits.
Marine collagen peptides are the specific form of marine collagen in which the protein has been hydrolysed and which is therefore able to dissolve in liquids, and can be conveniently used to supplement our bodies with collagen, which can be helpful to prevent varicose veins. Learn more about the differences between marine and other types of collagen in our other post here.
Col Du Marine™ marine collagen peptides contain the essential type I and type III collagen, and it can be added to any of your favourite drinks or foods and can be incorporated easily into any daily diet. Check out our store and purchase your Col Du Marine™ marine collagen peptides today.
1. Pathophysiology of Varicose Veins. (2011). Sclerotherapy, 49-70. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-323-07367-7.00009-1
2. Chello, M., Mastroroberto, P., Zofrea, S., & Marchese, A. (1994). Analysis of collagen and elastin content in primary varicose veins. Journal Of Vascular Surgery, 20(3), 490. https://doi.org/10.1016/0741-5214(94)90152-x
3. Ghaderian, S. M., & Khodaii, Z. (2012). Tissue remodeling investigation in varicose veins. International journal of molecular and cellular medicine, 1(1), 50–61.
4. Public sources on varicose veins: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/varicose-veins/symptoms-causes/syc-20350643 and https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/varicose-veins