Eating lots of foods high in collagen isn’t enough. You should eat foods that increase natural collagen production. Most noteworthy, you should consume lots of foods that contain all the parts that collagen is made of.
What is collagen?
Collagen is a protein. Actually, it’s the most abundant protein in the human body. Collagen is approximately 30% of the human body protein content.
It is mostly found in connective and soft tissues, such as tendons and ligaments. Also, collagen is found in skin, corneas, blood vessels, the gut, intervertebral discs, bones and teeth.
Therefore, adequate amounts of collagen provide great health benefits and help us function effortlessly.
Above all, collagen has anti-aging effects.
What is collagen made of?
Collagen is a protein. As a protein, collagen is made from amino acids.
The most common amino acids of collagen are glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline (1). Other amino acids, such as glutamine, glutamate, ornithine, and arginine are also important for the synthesis of collagen.
Besides its importance in collagen synthesis, arginine is vital for a young elastic skin, as it increases blood circulation to the skin!
What is needed for collagen formation?
Moreover, synthesis of collagen depends on many factors.
Firstly, it depends on the presence of the necessary amino acids. Secondly, various trace minerals, vitamins, and oxygen are important cofactors, for the synthesis of collagen (2).
Minerals, such as copper, iron, and zinc are vital for the synthesis of collagen (3).
Furthermore, vitamin C and vitamin A are also important cofactors for the synthesis of collagen (4).
What is collagen good for?
Collagen is the main component of ligaments, tendons, bone, fascia, cartilage, and of course skin.
In a sense, collagen holds the body together.
Moreover, collagen is responsible for skin strength and elasticity. Additionally, collagen can prevent the formation of wrinkles. Eating foods high in collagen or food that increases collagen production is vital for preserving a young skin.
Certainly, collagen has potent anti-aging properties.
Can the human body produce collagen?
The human body can synthesize collagen naturally. Analytically, the human body can produce collagen, combining amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. After all, collagen is a protein.
A healthy whole food plant-based diet can provide all the amino acids that the human body needs for collagen synthesis.
Furthermore, collagen synthesis requires certain trace minerals and vitamins. The most vital are vitamin C, vitamin A, zinc, copper, and iron. Therefore, eating foods rich in those vitamins and minerals are important for collagen synthesis.
What are collagen peptides?
Collagen peptides are present in collagen supplements. Another name for the same compound is hydrolyzed collagen.
Collagen peptides in supplements are slightly different from natural collagen the human body produces.
Collagen peptides are made of the same amino acids, as collagen. Most noteworthy, studies have shown that collagen from supplements is more easily absorbed by the human body. That’s because collagen peptides are shorter chains of amino acids, compared to naturally synthesized collagen.
How much collagen should I have a day?
Many studies have shown that daily collagen doses of 3 grams can improve skin elasticity and hydration (5).
Scientists didn’t observe any side effects even for higher doses of 10 grams per day. On the contrary, daily doses of 2.5 – 10 gr per day of collagen can be beneficial against skin aging and cellulite.
Are there vegan collagen supplements?
Certainly, collagen isn’t vegan. Collagen is a protein found mostly in hair, skin, nails, bones, and ligaments, both in humans and animals.
So, collagen supplements come from animal sources, such as beef, pork, or fish. All parts of animals that are high in collagen are used. For instance, cartilage, bones and skin are commonly used in commercial collagen supplements.
If you want to keep your skin young and take advantage of the health benefits of collagen you should consider consuming vegan supplements that help the body produce collagen naturally. Certainly, vegan collagen supplements don’t contain substances coming from animal sources.
A quality vegan collagen supplement should be high in vitamin C, vitamin A, antioxidants, zinc, and copper.
Most noteworthy, a collagen supplement won’t help you if you don’t provide your body with the building blocks of collagen. These are amino acids. Follow a plant-based diet in order, to provide your body with all the amino acids, vitamins, and trace minerals it needs to synthesize collagen naturally.
Do I need collagen supplements?
In fact, you don’t need to take collagen supplements to produce collagen. The human body can produce collagen naturally using amino acids from food.
Plants are rich in amino acids.
On the contrary, animal sources are rich in protein. Therefore, firstly, our bodies have to break down protein to its building blocks.
Another benefit of a plant-based diet is that it’s rich in vitamins and antioxidants. For instance, vitamin C is only present in plants. Vitamin C is important for the natural synthesis of collagen. Additionally, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, protecting the skin from free radicals, sun radiation aging, and pollution.
Do foods contain collagen?
Only specific foods contain collagen. Collagen is concentrated in connective tissues. So, only animal sources are good sources of collagen. The food with the highest amount of collagen is bone broth.
Even other animal sources aren’t good sources of collagen.
Should we eat foods rich in collagen?
Eating foods high in collagen doesn’t necessary mean that this collagen will be used to keep your skin elastic. The human body will break down collagen. Collagen is a protein. So, the human body will break it to amino acids. These amino acids will be used wherever they are needed the most.
Collagen supplements are more bioavailable than collagen coming from food. The amazing health benefits of collagen intake are due to collagen peptides. Collagen peptides are compounds found in collagen supplements only. They are absorbed from the human body much faster, as they have shorter chains of amino acids.
Some health benefits of collagen peptides are (6):
- skin elasticity,
- recovery of lost cartilage tissue,
- reduced joint pain,
- strengthened tendons and ligaments,
- increased lean body mass in elderly men and premenopausal women,
- increased bone mineral density in postmenopausal women.
The main reason of these health benefits is that collagen peptides provide the necessary amino acids to the human body, in order, to synthesize collagen. Moreover, collagen peptides are highly bioactive.
Are there vegan or vegetarian foods rich in collagen?
As you can see, we don’t have to eat foods rich in collagen, in order, to take advantage of its amazing health benefits.
Certainly, there aren’t vegan foods rich in collagen. On the other hand, vegan foods can naturally boost the synthesis of collagen.
Our bodies produce new collagen every day. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough.
After age 20-25 years, we start losing more collagen than we produce. That’s the main reason of wrinkles, sagging skin, and weakened joints. Furthermore, lifestyle factors, such as smoking, stress, air pollution, and exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays of sun contribute to collagen depletion.
A whole food plant-based diet is the best solution, in order, to increase collagen production and protect your skin from aging.
What foods can naturally increase collagen production?
The food you eat has a huge impact on your skin health. More than you may think.
Remember… collagen is a protein that is approximately 30% of the human body protein content. As a protein, it needs amino acids to be built. Moreover, many other nutrients play an important role in collagen production. The most important nutrients for the synthesis of collagen are (3,4):
- vitamin C,
- vitamin A,
Eat lots of foods rich in these vitamins and minerals to boost the natural collagen synthesis.
Do foods rich in vitamin C naturally increase collagen production?
Many studies have shown that vitamin C is essential for synthesis of collagen.
Vitamin C can naturally protect your skin from the aging process. Firstly, vitamin C increases synthesis of collagen. Moreover, it has potent photoprotection properties.
Is vitamin C important for collagen formation?
Vitamin C is an essential cofactor during collagen biosynthesis. For instance, vitamin C regulates and maintains the intercellular amount of collagen (4). Therefore, vitamin C has anti-aging effects.
Certainly, vitamin C has so many health benefits. Studies have shown that vitamin C can accelerate bone healing after a fracture. It can help heal soft tissue, as well. Also, vitamin C can reduce oxidative stress (6). Many of these health benefits are due, to the fact that vitamin C increases collagen synthesis.
Studies have shown that even topical application of vitamin C may enhance collagen production in the human skin. So, it’s good for you to prefer cosmetic products high in vitamin C. Certainly, eating foods high in vitamin C is the best option. Remember… only plants contain vitamin C.
How much vitamin C do you need?
According to the Office of Dietary Supplements we need about 90 mg of vitamin C per day (7).
That’s easy eating plant-based food. There are so many foods high in vitamin C. For instance, all citrus fruits, broccoli, cauliflower, and peppers are excellent sources of vitamin C. See the whole list here.
Food high in vitamin A increases collagen synthesis
Vitamin A has so many health benefits. For instance, it is critical for vision. Vitamin A plays a key role in functioning of cornea of the eye. Moreover, vitamin A is vital for collagen synthesis and bone tissue development.
Have you heard about moringa powder? It’s a food supplement high in vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, chlorophyll, and carotenoids (8). Moringa powder is particularly rich in vitamin A. Moringa powder has 3 times more vitamin A than carrots… Certainly, prefer to buy organic moringa powder.
Can foods rich in zinc or zinc supplements increase the production of collagen?
Zinc is important for a healthy skin. It’s important for wound healing and for acne problems.
There is no wonder why it is believed that zinc has powerful anti-aging properties.
Seeds and nuts are good sources of zinc. Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and hemp seeds are the best sources of zinc. See the whole list here.
How copper affects collagen production?
Another nutrient that it’s important for collagen metabolism is copper (11).
Copper is vital for the synthesis of not only collagen, but also elastin (12). Copper deficiency may have negative effect on collagen and elastin synthesis. Elastin is another important protein with anti-aging properties. Most noteworthy, it makes the skin elastic.
Eating foods high in copper can be beneficial for connective tissues, such as ligament and tendons, bones, and skin.
Furthermore, copper is essential for the absorption of iron. Iron is also vital for the collagen production process.
So, consuming foods rich in copper promotes collagen production. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements we need about 900 mcg of copper per day (13).
Foods rich in copper are potatoes, chickpeas, avocado, figs, spinach, asparagus, tomatoes, and apples, to name a few. Moreover, seeds and nuts are also good sources. For instance, cashews, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds are particularly high in copper.
Remember… Eat seeds and nuts daily. These foods help on collagen production. They are rich in zinc and copper, important cofactors for collagen synthesis.
Foods rich in iron can affect synthesis of collagen in the skin
Iron is a cofactor involved in elastin and collagen synthesis.
As copper, iron plays an important role in collagen synthesis. Most significantly, it’s vital for its structural integrity (12).
Therefore, eat lots of foods high in iron, in order, to protect your bones, connective tissues, and of course the skin. Plant-based iron sources are beans, such as chickpeas, soybeans, and lentils. Moreover, many seeds and nuts are good sources of iron. Hemp seeds, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds are all high in iron. Even many fruits are high in iron. For instance, goji berries and raisins are particularly rich in iron.
Furthermore, greens such as Swiss chard, beet greens, collard greens, kale, and dandelion greens are also good sources of iron. As vegetables are sensitive to heat, prefer eating them raw. Just wash veggies with a vinegar solution to kill harmful bacteria.
Other foods good for your skin
Foods high in antioxidants, or foods high in vitamin E are good for keeping a young skin.
Foods rich in antioxidants are good for your skin
Skin produces free radicals continuously. Free radicals are harmful molecules. They can trigger or worsen skin disease (14). For instance, free radicals can cause collagen breakage, helping the formation of wrinkles.
Free radicals are natural by-products of the metabolism. Furthermore, sun radiation or pollution promotes their creation.
Free radicals can be really dangerous if they aren’t neutralized. Antioxidants are compounds that are found mainly in plants. Most noteworthy, antioxidants can fight free radicals effectively. Plant-based food may contain 33 times more antioxidants than animal sources (15). Antioxidants are the natural defense of the human body against free radicals and oxidative stress.
For instance, UV radiation from the sun induces free radicals in the skin, developing oxidative stress. We need to eat food rich in antioxidants, in order, to deal with free radicals. Otherwise, free radicals can damage the skin. They can even cause DNA damage.
Vegetables and fruits are high in antioxidants. But, herbs and spices are even richer.
Eat foods high in vitamin E for skin health
Vitamin E is one of the most powerful antioxidants. It’s good for your skin, as well. Vitamin E has anti-aging properties. It fights photoaging. Most noteworthy, vitamin E is beneficial against photocarcinogenesis (16). Also, vitamin E can naturally fight inflammation.
Moreover, many studies have shown that vitamin E is good for dealing with free radicals, created by UV radiation. The sun radiation that damages the skin. Last, but not least, vitamin E significantly suppresses collagen breakdown.
Therefore, eating foods high in vitamin E is good for you. Food high in vitamin E can reduce photodamage, wrinkles and improve skin texture.
Is vitamin E and C good for skin?
Another study found that vitamin E has more powerful protective effects, when combined with vitamin C. Topical application of vitamins C with vitamin E showed a synergistic protective effect against oxidative stress from UV irradiation, compared with either vitamin alone (16).
Common plant-based foods rich in vitamin E are almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, curry powder, thyme, and mustard seeds. Did you know that moringa powder is particularly rich in vitamin E?
Does aloe vera increase collagen production in the skin?
Aloe vera is one of the most powerful skin products. It contains over 70 potentially beneficial for the skin compounds. For instance, aloe vera is a good source of vitamins, enzymes, minerals, lignin, saponins, salicylic acids and amino acids that are good for the skin (17).
Aloe vera is good for the skin for many reasons:
- Enzymes of aloe vera can reduce excessive inflammation.
- it’s rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals.
- aloe vera is a good source of calcium, chromium, copper, selenium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium and zinc. These minerals are essential for the proper functioning of many enzymes.
- Aloe vera has analgesic, antiseptic, antibacterial and antiviral properties.
- Also, aloe vera is rich in amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of collagen. Analytically, aloe vera has 20 of the 22 required amino acids. Moreover, it has 7 of the 8 essential amino acids.
Therefore, aloe vera is good for the collagen synthesis. It increases collagen synthesis. Either consuming it, either after topical application.
Furthermore, aloe vera is so powerful that can change collagen composition. Scientists found that aloe vera can accelerate wound healing. Moreover, aloe vera can strengthen and increase the flexibility of the skin tissue (18).
Additionally, aloe vera can increase the synthesis of hyaluronic acid, after oral or topical treatment.
So, applying an aloe vera gel to your skin is a good idea, as it increases collagen synthesis and preserves a healthy young skin. Prefer 100% pure aloe vera gels.
Also, you could try aloe vera juices.
Can green tea increase collagen production naturally?
Scientific data shows that green tea is good for several dermatological conditions (19).
Green tea is good for the skin. It contains many compounds that can prevent the natural decline of collagen (20). Green tea is a good source of tannins, catechins, and other polyphenols They are powerful antioxidants.
More about the antioxidant content of green tea here.
Catechins have so unique health benefits. They seem to be beneficial against cancer, inflammatory diseases, atherosclerosis, and cataracts.
Moreover, green tea is rich in vitamin C, and vitamin E. These vitamins are among the most powerful antioxidants.
Last, but not least, green tea protects against UV radiation. Chronic UV exposure causes skin aging. Therefore, green tea protects against photoaging or even skin cancer (21).
Garlic can protect your skin health, as it has anti-aging properties
Did you know that garlic is food with potent anti-aging properties?
Stress, UV radiation, pollution, and smoke can cause skin aging. Do you want to delay wrinkle formation? You can fight photoaging by consuming foods that have anti-inflammatory properties. Garlic has unique active compounds that can prevent the formation on wrinkles.
The most important of them are caffeic acid, S-allyl cysteine, and uracil. These compounds can help your skin against the formation of wrinkles, caused from UV radiation. Moreover, these compounds in garlic can significantly inhibit the degradation of collagen (22).
Furthermore, garlic has antibacterial, antifungal and antivirus properties. Mainly, due to its high content of sulfur compounds (23).
Finally, sulfur compounds in garlic are good for keeping your skin young. Diets high in sulfur seem beneficial for preventing collagen breakdown (24).
Consuming foods rich in chlorophyll are good for your skin
Foods high in chlorophyll are beneficial for the skin. Scientific data has shown that chlorophyll can increase collagen synthesis. Moreover, chlorophyll can reduce wrinkle. Also, chlorophyll can reduce skin DNA damage (24).
These amazing health benefits of chlorophyll are due its powerful antioxidant properties.
Chlorophyll is present in green vegetables and fruits. For instance, Brussels sprouts, celery, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and broccoli are rich in chlorophyll. You can see the whole list of chlorophyll-rich foods here.
Coenzyme Q10 has anti-aging properties
Did you know that Coenzyme Q10 is among the most powerful antioxidants? Moreover, it fights chronic inflammation and provides energy to the cells of the human body.
Eating foods high in Coenzyme Q10 is good for your skin, as Coenzyme Q10 has potent anti-aging effects.
You may benefit from Q10 supplementation as well. Too much CoQ10 is rather unlikely to cause adverse effects.
Drink water. Keep your body hydrated
If you want healthy skin, the first step is to drink enough water…
According to the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010” men should drink 3.7 liters per day. Women should drink 2.7 liters of water per day (25).
Not drinking enough water is really harmful for your skin. It’s a common reason for dry skin conditions. Luckily, foods that boost collagen production tend to be high in water. Many vegetables and fruits are over 90% water. In a sense, vegetables and fruits provide the best water. These foods don’t only purify water, but also, they enrich water with vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that are good for collagen synthesis.
What destroys collagen?
Better, avoid certain foods and bad habits to protect your skin from aging.
Don’t eat foods that cause inflammation
It’s good for you to avoid foods high in refined sugars and refined flours. These products tend to cause chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is bad for collagen (26).
So, avoid sweets, white bread, and highly processed products to protect your skin from aging.
Use sun protection to protect your skin from photo-aging
The sun isn’t good for your skin. The sun accelerates the breakdown of collagen, aging the skin.
Use a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to protect the skin from photodamage.
On the other hand, we should expose our skin to the sun, in order, to naturally synthesize vitamin D. Food doesn’t contain adequate amounts of vitamin D. Just a few minutes in the morning, or in the afternoon are enough.
Smoking & alcohol are bad for your skin
Quit smoking today. Smoking can be horrible for your skin. For instance, smoking decreases the synthesis rates of collagen in skin (27).
Smoking is so bad for the skin health, that can inhibit wound healing. Scientists suggest that smokers should stop smoking before an operation, in order, to help the wound to heal faster (28).
Seems like alcohol is bad for the skin and wound healing, as well (29).