Collagen supplements have grown popular thanks to their wide range of potential health benefits.
However, you can also boost your collagen intake and support your body’s natural collagen production with food.
How Does Food Increase Collagen Production
When collagen first became popular for its potential anti-aging benefits, the most common way you’d find it was in topical beauty products like creams and serums. However, dermatologists doubted that collagen could be absorbed deeply enough into the skin to be effective.
Collagen obtained through food and supplements is thought to be absorbed more efficiently.
Supplements usually consist of collagen broken down into a smaller form called peptides or hydrolyzed collagen.
Foods that increase collagen may not contain collagen themselves, but instead, they contain specific amino acids and other nutrients that support your body’s natural collagen production.
What are the Benefits of More Collagen
Collagen is the most abundant type of protein in the body, which means there are many potential benefits for increasing collagen intake, either through food or a supplement.
Currently, most research targets how collagen benefits the skin and joints.
Collagen is a structural protein which is heavily involved with your skin’s strength and elasticity.
One review of 11 studies and over 800 participants found that collagen supplementation decreased signs of aging by increasing skin elasticity and hydration.
In the joints, collagen supports the cartilage.
Aging and certain conditions like osteoarthritis cause the cartilage in the joints to wear down, leading to pain and decreased mobility. Increasing collagen intake may reduce inflammation in the joints and improve symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Other potential benefits of more collagen include: strengthening hair and nails, improving gut health, preventing bone loss, increasing muscle mass, and supporting heart health.
Top 5 Foods That Increase Collagen Production
Here are some of the best foods to include in your diet to increase collagen production.
Keep in mind that many of these foods simply contain nutrients that boost the body’s natural ability to create collagen.
To get the most benefit, focus on eating a variety of these foods to support collagen production with all of the necessary nutrients.
Bone broth is made with animal connective tissue, a natural source of collagen.
When it’s cooked down in the process of making a broth, collagen turns into gelatin, which is a great source of collagen-producing amino acids.
Bone broth is also rich in other compounds that support joint health, like glucosamine and chondroitin.
Simmering bones and connective tissue to make bone broth releases these compounds and other nutrients, making them easier to absorb.
Many collagen supplements are actually made with chicken cartilage. You can boost collagen by eating chicken too, even if you aren’t eating the richest parts like the chicken neck.
Just leave the skin on to get the most benefit.
Collagen is most abundant in the bones of fish. Sardines are a good source of collagen from seafood because you’ll likely eat most (or maybe all) of the fish.
You can also leave the skin on your salmon to get more of a collagen boost.
Berries are an excellent source of vitamin C, which stimulates the body to produce collagen.
Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin from free radical damage and further reduces signs of aging.
Eggs don’t contain collagen, but egg whites are rich in proline, an amino acid vital for collagen production.
Without sufficient proline, the body doesn’t have the necessary substrates to actually form a collagen molecule.
Some experts believe the proline availability actually determines the rate at that the body can produce collagen.
Why We Need to Increase Natural Collagen as We Age
Collagen production naturally slows down as we age, even more so with exposure to environmental factors that damage collagen, like UV light, smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating excess sugar.
Increasing natural collagen as we age helps maintain skin elasticity and plumpness to prevent wrinkles and help with wound healing.
Collagen also supports joint health to prevent pain and loss of mobility that often come with aging.
Collagen maintains the structure of your skin and protects your joints, but our bodies make less as we age. Supplements are convenient and may help restore collagen to slow some signs of aging, but increasing collagen with food is easier than many people might think.