Collagen helps keep our skin firm, plump and ageless, so there has been a proliferation of collagen supplements on the market. But, the truth is, your diet is much more effective. Here are the top foods that boost collagen.
What is collagen?
Collagen is a protein made by our body, naturally, every single day. It’s found in our skin, bones, tendons, muscles, teeth, and nails.
It keeps our skin looking smooth, plump, and ageless. It can also help thicken hair and strengthen nails.
How does the body make collagen?
In order to make collagen, our body utilizes various nutrients from the foods we eat including amino acids (which we get from protein-rich foods), Vitamin C, zinc, copper, sulfur, and omega-3.
Your body synthesizes collagen from the foods you eat, so when you consume collagen powder, your body will still break it down into its component amino acids (like it would with any other protein) and then create collagen when and where it wants to (If it wants to. Amino acids are used for other functions, too).
In other words, the collagen in your smoothie is not going directly to your face. AND your body needs more than just amino acids to create collagen.
If it’s ageless skin you’re after, it’s better to eat a well-balanced diet rich in the nutrients required to make collagen, versus just consuming a collagen powder.
Below are some of the top collagen-boosting foods:
Foods to Boost Collagen
Bone broth is rich in protein at about 7-10 grams a cup, depending on the brand. Our body breaks down all sources of protein into amino acids, and then uses those amino acids for various functions, including building collagen.
We love this frozen organic grass-fed bone broth.
Seafood is another rich source of protein, as well as omega-3’s and zinc which further support collagen production. Many types of seafood are also an excellent source of Vitamin D, which supports a healthy immune system, bones, and skin. Fish skin in particular is high in collagen and also has the highest concentration of omega-3s, so don’t leave it on your plate.
We recommend wild seafood, which is more nutritious and lower in mercury and PCBs compared to farm-raised.
Eggs are another fantastic source of protein and collagen. They also contain B vitamins, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, and omega-3 (assuming they are pasture-raised).
Choose organic, pasture-raised eggs for the most nutrition.
Citrus fruits contain a high amount of Vitamin C which plays a pivotal role in collagen production. It’s also a powerful antioxidant that scavenges free radicals, protecting our skin from damage, and keeping it healthy, clear, and ageless.
Berries are another great source of Vitamin C, which aids in collagen production. They’re also a rich source of a variety of powerful antioxidants that protect our skin and collagen from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are caused by a variety of environmental stressors, such as the sun, pollution, pesticides, junk food, and stress, but an antioxidant-rich diet neutralizes them.
Organic chicken is a rich and filling source of protein, which our body can use to create its own collagen.
Dark leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, and Swiss chard are an abundant source of Vitamin C. These veggies contain another important nutrient called chlorophyll (which gives them their green color) and further supports collagen production. One study found that chlorophyll increased collagen production and improved facial wrinkles and elasticity in female volunteers over the age of 45, in just 90 days. (1)
The sulfur-containing cruciferous dark leafy greens – such as kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, watercress, and arugula, are especially beneficial in collagen production, as sulfur plays a key role in collagen synthesis. (Other non-leafy green crucifers, like radishes and cauliflower, are a good choice, too).
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts are a source of plant-based protein, as well as copper, zinc, and Vitamin E. Chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts are also a good source of omega-3. All these nutrients support healthy skin and collagen production.
Bell peppers are chockfull of Vitamin C (three times more than oranges). They also contain lycopene, an antioxidant that when consumed regularly, offers some protection against free radical damage (and collagen breakdown) caused by the sun’s UV rays. (2)