Collagen, the main structural protein in the body’s connective tissues, makes up to 25%-35% of the whole-body protein. Basically, its primary function is to provide the skin with structure. This is why it’s essential for skin, hair, bones, tendons, and cartilages. We like it or not, collagen levels are not always optimal in the body, but the good news is that we can help replenish it! But first,
When does the collagen level drop?
We can not measure the collagen level, but a few signs reflect how well or not our body produces collagen. More or less, your body may need a boost of collagen if you face any of the following:
- Less flexible tendons and ligaments
- Weaken muscles
- Joint pain
- Gastrointestinal affections
With age, the collagen level decreases, but besides that, a deficient alimentation could also be the reason for the collagen level drop. You can preserve your collagen level by kicking some habits out of your life, such as eating excessive amounts of sugars, refined carbohydrates, smoking, and getting sunburned. What else can you do?
How the body produces collagen?
When we get nutrients from eating protein-rich foods, our body breaks down these dietary proteins into amino acids, producing collagen. Next, the process requires vitamin C, copper, and zinc to occur. For this reason, besides the protein-rich foods, we need to intake also vitamins and minerals to help our body complete the collagen production process.
10 Foods That Help Body Producing Collagen
For the many reasons we need to maintain sufficient collagen in our bodies, here’s a list of the best foods required to produce collagen, and also the ones that contain collagen themselves.
One of the most popular sources of collagen is bone broth, which draws collagen out of bones and leaves. It’s high in minerals, vitamins, and amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Also, it contains a high amount of collagen, supporting skin health. Bone broth is a flavored liquid that you can DIY or buy ( even on Amazon) and can be drunk straight up or used to cook various dishes.
Fish & Shellfish
Marine collagen is known as the easiest absorbed by the body. While fish bones and ligaments are made of collagen, take note that fish contain less collagen in the parts we usually consume. The richest in collagen are the head, eyeballs, or scales — hmm… Anyway, fish is also rich in specific amino acids needed to produce collagen.
You already know that sun exposure damages the skin’s collagen fibers, speeding up the aging process. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an amino acid that protects the skin from sun rays, acting as an antioxidant. Also, one medium tomato can provide up to 30% of the vitamin C needed to complete the collagen-producing process. Thus, adding tomatoes to your diet will indeed help preserve youthful skin.
P.S.: Sun-dried tomatoes also contain vitamin C and lycopene antioxidants — it’s handy tossing them in a salad, into your pasta, or just as a healthy grab-and-go snack.
Egg whites contain a large amount of proline, one of the essential amino acids for collagen production. Plus, while further research is needed, collagen-like proteins (similar to types I and V) have been found in the hen’s eggshell membranes and yolk.
Excellent source of vitamin C, berries serve as a powerful antioxidant, protecting against the breakdown of collagen cells caused by the free radicals. Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries are potent sources of antioxidants too, but berries contain more vitamin C needed for the collagen process production. According to this study, berries also contain ellagic acid, known to fight against UV rays damage.
Kales, spinach, green beans, broccoli contain chlorophyll — an antioxidant that increases procollagen in our skin. Dark green vegetables are one of the most nutrient-dense superfoods we can find on the planet. Being potent sources of vitamin A, C, and E, they become vital nutrients for collagen synthesis.
Cashews and almonds
Cashews are rich in zinc and copper, both crucial for boosting the body’s ability to produce collagen. On the other hand, almonds represent a potent source of vitamin E, helping neutralize free radicals that are damaging the collagen cells. Plus, vitamin E is merging with vitamin C, stimulating collagen formation. They’re also a potent source of copper, an essential trace mineral required to form collagen fibrils.
I love garlic! Besides adding a fantastic flavor to some dishes, it can boost collagen production. Garlic is high in sulfur — a trace mineral that synthesizes and prevents collagen breakdown. You might want to consider the garlic part of your diet if you’re going to reap the collagen benefits.
Beans are super rich in proteins that contain the amino acids required for boosting collagen. Also, many types of beans are rich in copper, another essential nutrient needed for collagen production.
Because oysters are a rich source of zinc, they help stimulate the collagen required for bones’ health. In plus, zinc has been shown to slow down the breakdown rate of collagen cells in granulation tissue, allowing wounds to heal faster. BTW, oysters are delicious too!