Connective tissue is found throughout the body and plays many vital roles. Understanding what connective tissue is, how it functions, and what you can do to maintain healthy connective tissue is vital for promoting overall health and well-being. Read on to learn more about these topics and how supplements for connective tissue health may benefit you.
What Is Connective Tissue?
Connective tissue is the term for a group of tissues that help the body maintain its shape. It's what allows various parts of the body and the organs to hold together and what supports critical structures within the body. The importance of connective tissue in the body can't be overstated. Without it, you wouldn't be able to walk, and nearly all the key systems in your body wouldn't be able to work effectively.
What Are the Types of Connective Tissue?
There are three primary types of connective tissue: proper, supportive or supporting connective tissue, and fluid connective tissue. Several sub-types fall under these main connective tissue categories. Let's dig into each category type further and review some connective tissue examples and their function.
Connective Tissue Proper
Connective tissue proper is found throughout the body and comprises fibroblasts, cells that contain fibrous material and secrete collagen to maintain their framework. There are two main subtypes of proper connective tissue: loose and dense.
Dense Connective Tissue
The first type of connective proper tissue, dense fibrous connective tissue, contains fewer cells and is densely packed with collagen fibers. This category can be broken down into two sub-categories as follows:
Dense regular connective tissue: Where collagen fibers are arranged in a parallel manner to make the stretchy, strong tissue found in the ligaments that connect bones, the tendons that connect muscles to bones, and the aponeuroses that connect muscles
Dense irregular connective tissue: Where collagen fibers are irregularly positioned in a web-like structure to produce fibers that support hollow organs and the skin
Loose Connective Tissue
The most widely distributed type of connective tissue, loose connective tissue, contains more sparsely distributed collagen, elastic fibers, and ground substance, a viscous gel. Its unique composition gives loose connective tissue more stretch than the dense variety. This elastic connective tissue is found in the dermis layer of the skin. The lining of the digestive and respiratory tracts and the mucous membranes of the reproductive and urinary tracts are additional loose connective tissue examples.
Supportive Connective Tissue
Also called specialized connective tissue, supportive connective tissue contains unique cells that give it special properties. The following are the two primary types of supportive connective tissue.
Bone connective tissue comprises cells, fibers, and ground substances, and has a mineralized exterior that makes it hard and rigid. There are 206 bones in the human body. The largest is the femur or thigh bone, and the smallest is the stapes in the inner ear.
Cartilage is a flexible, yet strong, connective tissue that surrounds joints and bones. There are three primary varieties:
Hyaline cartilage: The most abundant type of cartilage that lines the joins and serves as caps for the ends of bones
Fibrocartilage: Tough, thick cartilage found in the disks between vertebrae, in the knee, and in muscles, tendons, and ligaments
Elastic cartilage: The most flexible type of cartilage that is present in the ears and voice box
Fluid Connective Tissue
As its name suggests, fluid connective tissue is a type of connective tissue that is a liquid rather than a solid. There are two primary subtypes:
Blood: Fluid connective tissue that carries oxygen, immune system cells, nutrients, salts, and waste through the body
Lymph: Fluid connective tissue that contains crucial immune system cells
What Are the Functions of Connective Tissue?
Now that you are familiar with a few examples of connective tissue, you're ready to explore the importance of connective tissue in the body. The overall function of connective tissue can be broken into two primary categories. Continue reading to explore them.
Supports and Connects
The function of connective tissue, of which most people are aware, is to provide support and connecting structures within the body. Connective tissues:
Surround muscle cells
Form bone-to-bone, muscle-to-muscle, and bone-to-muscle connections
Give organs their shape
Provide support for the body in the form of the skeleton
Allow you to maintain proper posture and to move parts of your body
Protects and Transports
Protection and transportation are the lesser-known function of connective tissue. Various connective tissues:
Defend delicate organs from damage
Reduce wear and tear on bones and joints
Carry cells that fight off harmful microorganisms
Allow oxygen and nutrients to travel through the body
Aid in the elimination of waste
Transport chemical messengers that allow the brain and body systems to function properly
How to Keep Connective Tissue Healthy
As you can see, connective tissue is crucial for your body, making the maintenance of connective tissue health an important goal. Consider following the tips below to support healthy connective tissue.
Exercise helps to strengthen bones and other connective tissues while it also promotes flexibility. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults should strive for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise each week and engage in whole-body strength training at least twice weekly. Doing so may help to reduce your risk of developing a connective tissue disorder or ease symptoms of existing disorders, such as arthritis.
Drink Plenty of Water
Water is a crucial component of connective tissue. Unfortunately, our bodies lose water throughout the day as we sweat. When water intake isn't enough to balance out what's lost, dehydration occurs, and the body may draw vital moisture out of the connective tissues. Drinking water daily can help maintain proper hydration levels within crucial connective tissues.
Modify Your Diet
Changing your diet can help ensure that your body has the raw materials needed to produce and maintain healthy connective tissue. Generally, you should cut back on empty calories such as added sugars and refined carbohydrates such as white flour, while increasing your intake of vegetables, lean proteins, and foods that contain dietary fiber
Some key nutrients for maintaining connective tissue health include:
Calcium: Found in dairy products and leafy greens
Vitamin D: Found in sardines, eggs, and mushrooms
Vitamin K: Found in leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus, and other vegetables
Magnesium: Found in seeds, nuts, avocado, bananas, and leafy greens
Potassium: Found in squash, spinach, salmon, beets, and sweet potatoes
Manganese: Found in whole grains, leafy greens, legumes, nuts, and seeds
Omega-3 fatty acids: Found in Salmon, mackerel, tuna, and other fish
Vitamin A: Found in carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, and apricots
Vitamin C: Found in citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, red and green peppers, and kale
Sulfur: Found in allium vegetables such as garlic and onion as well as in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and bok choy
Connective Tissue Supplements
Taking supplements for connective tissue can help bridge the diet gap and support the production and maintenance of various types of connective tissue. Body Kitchen offers three supplements supporting connective tissue: ProMobility, Pro-Elastin, and Youthful Beauty Advanced Powder.
Body Kitchen ProMobility
Packed with pure, potent natural extracts, Body Kitchen ProMobility provides advanced joint care and support. Its ingredients include:
Biolane green-lipped mussels: Reduces the effects of aging on joint tissue
Apresflex: A proprietary Boswellia serrata extract that may reduce joint inflammation
Fruitex-B: A proprietary mineral complex that promotes flexibility
ProMobility may help improve flexibility and range of motion while encouraging a healthy inflammatory response. As a result, the supplement can benefit those suffering from joint discomfort.
Body Kitchen Pro-Elastin
Delivering 1000 milligrams of Prolastin marine elastin per serving, Body Kitchen Pro-Elastin supplies 22 amino acids that can be used to produce new dense connective tissue fibers. In clinical studies, Prolastin has been shown to increase elastin fiber synthesis by more than 250% and collagen synthesis by more than 100%. As a result, the supplement helps to support healthy, youthful-looking skin.
Body Kitchen Youthful Beauty Advanced Powder
With its unique ingredient blend, Body Kitchen Youthful Beauty Advanced Powder supports hair, skin, nails, and joints. Its key ingredients include:
Grass-fed bovine and fish collagen peptides: Supplies amino acids for collagen production
Hyaluronic acid: A natural substance that lubricates and protects joints and binds moisture to skin tissue
Resveratrol: A powerful antioxidant that fights free radical damage
Youthful Beauty Advanced Powder promotes better absorption for enhanced benefits by providing 30 times the amount of dipeptides per serving compared to conventional protein powders.