6 Foods That Help Your Body Produce Collagen

6 Foods That Help Your Body Produce Collagen

To supplement or to eat?
“Diet plays a surprisingly large role in the appearance and youthfulness of your skin,” says certified holistic nutritionist Krista Goncalves, CHN. “And that all comes down to collagen.”

Collagen is the protein that gives skin its structure, suppleness, and stretch. There are many types of collagen, but our body mainly consists of type 1, 2, and 3. As we age, we produce less collagen in our skin every yearTrusted Source — hence the tendency toward wrinkles and thinning skin we see the older we get.

This explains the boom of collagen supplements touted in our social feeds and store shelves these days. But are collagen pills and powders the best route? The key difference between the two may be down to the bioavailability — the body’s ability to use a nutrient.

Why you should consider food first
“Foods like bone broth contain a bioavailable form of collagen your body can use right away, making it arguably superior to supplements,” says registered dietitian Carrie Gabriel. A 2012 review on nutrition and agingTrusted Source also concluded that fruit and vegetables are the safest and healthiest approach to boosting skin health.

Plus, since over-the-counter supplements are largely unregulated, it’s probably safer to stick with a dietary approach to boosting collagen.

Eating collagen-rich foods or foods that boost collagen production may also help create the building blocks (amino acids) you need for your skin goals. “There are three amino acids important for collagen synthesis: proline, lysine, and glycine,” says registered dietitian and beauty expert Katey Davidson, MScFN, RD.

1. Bone broth
While recent research finds bone broth may not be a reliable source of collagen, this option is by far the most popular by word of mouth. Made by simmering animal bones in water, this process is believed to extract collagen. When making this at home, season the broth with spices for flavor.

“Since bone broth is made of bones and connective tissue, it contains calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, collagen, glucosamine, chondroitin, amino acids, and many other nutrients,” Davidson says.

“However, each bone broth is different because of the quality of the bones used along with other ingredients,” she adds.

To guarantee the quality of your broth, try making your own with bones obtained from a reputable local butcher.

2. Chicken
There’s a reason why many collagen supplements are derived from chicken. Everyone’s favorite white meat contains ample amounts of the stuff. (If you’ve ever cut up a whole chicken, you’ve probably noticed how much connective tissue poultry contains.) These tissues make chicken a rich source of dietary collagen.

Several studies have used chicken neck and cartilageTrusted Source as a source of collagen for arthritis treatment.

3. Fish and shellfish
Like other animals, fish and shellfish have bones and ligaments made of collagen. Some people have claimed marine collagen is one of the most easily absorbed.

But while your lunchtime tuna sandwich or dinnertime salmon can certainly add to your collagen intake, be aware that the “meat” of fish contains less collagen than other, less desirable parts.

“We don’t tend to consume the parts of fish that are highest in collagen, like the head, scales, or eyeballs,” Gabriel says. In fact, researchersTrusted Source have used fish skin as a source for collagen peptides.

4. Egg whites
Although eggs don’t contain connective tissues like many other animal products, egg whites do have large amounts of prolineTrusted Source, one of the amino acids necessary for collagen production.

5. Citrus fruits
Vitamin C plays a major role in the production of pro-collagenTrusted Source, the body’s precursor to collagen. Therefore, getting enough vitamin C is critical.

As you probably know, citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes are full of this nutrient. Try a broiled grapefruit for breakfast, or add orange segments to a salad.

6. Berries
Though citrus tends to get all the glory for its vitamin C content, berries are another excellent source. Ounce for ounce, strawberries actually provide more vitamin C than oranges. Raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries offer a hefty dose, too.

“Furthermore,” Davidson says, “berries are high in antioxidants, which protect the skin from damage.”

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