Supporting Collagen Production with Foods
The Importance of Collagen
Collagen is the main component of connective tissue and plays a critical role in maintaining the structure and elasticity of these tissues. Consuming collagen-rich foods can help to support the body's natural collagen production and promote healthy skin, bones, and joints.
Top Collagen-Rich Foods
Foods that are high in collagen include bone broth and chicken feet. These foods are rich in collagen because they contain a lot of connective tissue, which is the source of collagen. Bone broth is made by simmering bones and connective tissue for several hours, which releases the collagen and other nutrients into the broth. Chicken feet are also high in collagen because they contain a lot of connective tissue and cartilage. (1)
Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes are rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential for collagen production because it is needed for the hydroxylation of proline and lysine during collagen synthesis. Getting enough vitamin C from foods like citrus fruits can help support the body's natural collagen production.
Eggs are a great source of proline and glycine, which are amino acids that make up collagen fibers. The yolk contains vitamin A, which helps the body produce collagen. Just one egg contains around 6 grams of protein including collagen-boosting amino acids. Try to consume eggs regularly as part of a balanced diet to promote natural collagen synthesis.
Onions contain quercetin which helps inhibit collagen breakdown. Quercetin is a flavonoid antioxidant that protects collagen fibers from damage caused by free radicals and inflammation. Eating plenty of onions can help preserve existing collagen in the body.
Gelatin is pure collagen that can be added to foods and drinks. It is made by boiling animal bones, skins, and connective tissue. Gelatin powder can be stirred into hot liquids like coffee, tea, or broth to increase the collagen content. It's also used to make jello desserts. Consuming gelatin is an easy way to increase your collagen intake. Look for grass-fed gelatin to avoid added hormones or chemicals.
Leafy greens like spinach and kale are excellent sources of vitamin C. Just one cup of raw spinach provides over 20 mg of vitamin C. Kale is also high in vitamin C, with one cup of raw kale containing about 80 mg. Getting plenty of leafy greens in your diet helps provide the vitamin C needed for collagen formation. Try adding spinach, kale, or other greens to smoothies, salads, and side dishes.
Beans such as kidney beans and chickpeas are great plant-based sources of zinc. Zinc is essential for collagen production because it is required by enzymes that help build collagen fibers. A half-cup serving of cooked kidney beans provides 1.2 mg of zinc. Chickpeas also supply zinc with one cup containing about 2 mg. Incorporating beans into your diet a few times a week can help provide zinc to support natural collagen synthesis.
Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin A needed for collagen synthesis. Vitamin A is essential for the cross-linking of collagen fibers, which provides strength and structure. Just one medium baked sweet potato contains over 100% of the daily recommended intake for vitamin A. The orange flesh of sweet potatoes indicates their high beta-carotene content, which the body converts into vitamin A. Adding sweet potatoes to your diet supports collagen production and maintenance. Try baking, roasting, or mashing sweet potatoes as a nutritious side dish.