How To Get Collagen Naturally From Food (Top 7)

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The start of a new year is a good time to re-evaluate our diets, from cutting down on stuff that’s bad for you, to introducing nutrient-rich foods with the power to improve our health and kick us into good habits.

Collagen is one of the new key ingredients we’re all searching for. It’s the protein which gives our skin its structure and appearance – from glow to suppleness and flexibility – and feeds and supports our bones and tendons.

To fight the signs of tiredness and ageing, we can look to collagen-rich foods or supplements to help boost its effects on our bodies. 

The key question is, how to get collagen naturally and what are the best foods to include in our diets? And why look to food first? Because it’s such a key part of how we influence our body make-up.

Most of us eat too much refined sugar and fried food, especially recently with the winter holidays. These affect the collagen production in our bodies, along with smoking, too much sun exposure (we’ll wait for the summer for that!) and environmental pollution.

Fish

sushi-fish

Salmon Sushi

Several studies have shown fish to be a great source of collagen and collagen-boosting ingredients. (1)

Especially oily fish like wild salmon is known to contain zinc and Omega-3 fatty acids.

Both relevant in your quest for collagen.

Zinc helps activate the protein needed for collagen synthesis (see this study about increased collagen production supported by zinc: (2)

Omega-3 acids support the reduction of inflammation and are great for skin health too. 

Other fatty fish you can consider are tuna, sardines, mackerel and seafood. Just bear in mind that there is most collagen in the eyes, fish scales, and head – so maybe not the ideal things to eat if you’re squeamish!

Dark Greens

green-vegatable

Spinach

Dark green vegetables contain more chlorophyll, which has also been shown to increase collagen in the skin.

Along with vitamins C and E, red ginseng, squalene, aloe vera, carotenoids, polyphenols and Omega-3 fatty acids.

Chlorophyll appears in studies showing that it can promote anti-ageing of the skin in particular.

Chlorophyll helps reduce wrinkles, epidermal DNA damage, and apoptosis (the death of cells as part of ageing).

Therefore, dark leafy greens like rocket, kale, Swiss chard or Bok choy are great to add into your diet. (3)

If you want more proof that vegetables can be a solution to increase collagen production then read our best vegan collagen guide.

Bone Broth

Despite being considered a great source of collagen historically, there are doubts on whether bone broth is any good to get your collagen fix. 

Recent research actually suggests that broth is unlikely to provide enough collagen, especially when compared to a collagen supplement. The other ingredients presented in this guide are a much more reliable source, and therefore we suggest using them first. (4)

Learn More: Is Bone Broth Better Than Collagen?

Chicken Neck & Cartilage

Even though bone broth has been discredited as a reliable source of collagen, chicken neck and cartilage have been validated as good sources in various studies.

In a study conducted with healthy women who displayed signs of natural ageing / wrinkles, using a daily supplement with chicken sternal cartilage extract for 12 weeks led to a reduction in skin dryness and scaling, as well as fewer visible wrinkles. (5)

The cartilage came from hydrolyzed chicken, which is basically an extract of chicken flesh. Interestingly, the neck and sternum area had the best effect.

Whilst this is effective, you’d have to cut up a lot of chickens to get enough neck and cartilage to give you a successful supplement! 

Eggs

egg

Egg

There isn’t any collagen in eggs, but they do contain the amino-acid proline, which is a chief element in collagen. 

Consuming egg whites specifically, and therefore the egg white protein, showed effects on collagen production in a group of 30 healthy young women. (6)

It’s worth noting that you need to balance your egg consumption to be healthy and not overly calorie-heavy.

Eggs do appear to be a great way to stimulate collagen production!

Oranges & Citrus Fruits

Vitamins C and E are great for stimulating collagen production, as previously mentioned. Normally, our skin has a high amount of vitamin C in it, supporting collagen production and also helping to shield us from the negative impact of UV rays.

Studies have shown that when it comes to skin health, consuming vitamin C is more effective than applying it topically (as many cosmetics products suggest). (7)

We suggest reaching for citrus fruits high in vitamin C to get your collagen support, such as lemons, oranges and grapefruit. 

Other fruits and vegetables

mango

Mango

Vitamin C can also be found in a range of other fruit, such as berries, pineapple, kiwi and mango. 

Moreover, tomatoes are full of vitamin C as well as antioxidants, including lycopene, which prevents collagen breakdown.

Avocadoes are full of vitamin E which is also key in collagen production and preventing its breakdown.

Cut down sugar and Carbohydrates

It’s not just important to stimulate collagen production, but also to prevent its breakdown. As mentioned above, our choice of diet influences this greatly. A large amount of sugar and carbs in your diet leads to inflammation, interfering with the protein’s own ability to repair itself.

Other damaging lifestyle factors are the excessive exposure to sunshine and smoking which both reduce your body’s production of collagen. (8)

Final Thoughts

If you’re serious about supplementing your collagen and preventing breakdown over time, there are numerous diet and lifestyle changes you can make, as you can see.

Various studies have been able to identify active ingredients in most healthy food to support collagen production, however, their method was to use the isolated ingredients themselves, rather than the foods they can be found in. 

As a result, it may seem easier and more effective to use a supplement if you find yourself truly concerned about your collagen production.

A healthy diet and lifestyle will definitely support your natural levels of collagen. In the long run, collagen does break down as we age, so supporting it with good-quality, trustworthy supplements is a strong alternative solution.  

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