Collagen is the fibrous protein that creates connective tissue. There are at least 16 verities of collagen, but types I, ii, iii, and iv are the most prominent. When collagen molecules are packed together they form long linking structures. Collagens main purpose is to help tissues withstand stretching.
Collagen is important for looking and feeling younger. In terms of looks, it improves skin elasticity and minimizes lines and wrinkles. As for feeling younger, it helps increase muscle mass and can greatly decrease pain caused by osteoarthritis.
There are some foods that contain large amounts of collagen, and several supplements as well. However, collagen boosting foods actually contain the nutrients needed to increase the production of this connecting agent. Here are some of the collagen boosting foods you’ll want to have in your diet to look and feel younger.
*All values are based on a 100g serving
Collagen Boosting Foods
Procollagen is the first stage of collagen production. It is made from amino acids, proline and glycine. By getting these two amino acids in your diet, you’re ensuring that you have a solid source of the building blocks needed for collagen production.
Foods High in Proline
Cottage Cheese – Cottage cheese is one of the highest sources of this amino acid. A single serving contains 1435mg of proline. It also contains good levels of protein in general, as well as riboflavin, vitamin B12, and selenium.
Cream Cheese – Cream cheese is another dairy product full of proline. Each serving contains 1760mg. Like cottage cheese, it is also a good source of protein, riboflavin, and vitamin B12. It also contains of folate and pantothenic acid. It’s important to note that it is higher in sugars, so watch how much you’re eating.
Glycine Rich Foods
Pork Skin – Pork skin may not be the most appetizing food for some, but this snack food is loaded with protein, and is also a good source of riboflavin and selenium. A single serving contains 11919mg of glycine (and 7263mg of proline, making it a great non-dairy source of this amino acid too). Watch out because this snack is often riddled with salt, and is also high in omega-6 fatty acids.
– Chicken is a good source of protein, and niacin. It contains 1234mg of glycine, making it one of the best sources of this amino acid.
Vitamin C is one of the key nutrients needed to combine proline and glycine, making foods rich in this vitamin an important part to boosting collagen production.
Foods Rich in Vitamin C
Bell Peppers (especially yellow) – A 100g serving of yellow bell peppers has an astonishing 306% of your daily vitamin C requirement. They’re also very low in sugar, another reason to love this tasty pepper.
Kale – Kale has topped health foods charts for a reason. This leafy green is packed with nutrients. It is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C (200% your daily value DV), and vitamin K.
Brussels Sprouts – These green dense balls are a rich source of vitamin C (142% DV), vitamin, K, dietary fibre, and potassium, as well as many other nutrients. They are also a great source of flavonoid antioxidants.
Broccoli – Broccoli is another healthy source of many vitamins. It’s a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, protein, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin, vitamin A, and vitamin E. It is also a fantastic source of vitamin K and vitamin C (149% DV).
Guava – If you’re going to get your vitamin C from a fruit, choose the guava. A single serving contains an amazing 228mg of vitamin C (381% of your daily value). Be mindful of the sugar, it contains 9g of sugar (the same as an orange).
Copper is a cofactor for the enzyme lysyl oxidase, which plays a supportive role in maintaining connective tissues. The levels of available copper affect the synthesis of mature elastin and collagen, so it is important to have adequate copper in your system.
Foods Rich in Copper
Beef Liver – Beef liver has extremely high levels of copper. A single serving has 14.3mg of copper. That is more than Health Canada’s 10mg a day upper limit. This means liver can be a great way to boost your copper levels every once in a while, but it may be too much for your system if you have too it too often. It’s also packed with many trace minerals and B vitamins.
Sunflower Seeds – Sunflower seeds contain 1.8mg of copper (90% DV). This is a good and healthy level to have in your diet. They also provide you with your DV of selenium, manganese, phosphorus, and vitamin E. They’re also a good source of magnesium, folate, potassium, iron, and zinc.
Almonds – Almonds are packed with many important nutrients. A 100g serving contains 1.2mg of copper (58% DV). This is a good contribution to getting adequate copper in your diet.
Bone broth has many healing, and reparative qualities. There are a lot of great reasons to drink bone broth, and its ability to boost collagen levels is often considered one of them. However, just because bone broth is high in gelatin (essentially cooked collagen) it doesn’t necessarily translate into the collagen boosting beverage many believe it to be.
Gelatin is very high in amino acids (proline and glycine) needed to produce collagen. However, the body naturally breaks down protein into amino acids and uses them for a wide range of purposes. So, adding these amino acids doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to be used for collagen production. If other health factors demand a higher level of amino acids, or if there is something affecting the production of collagen, getting these amino acids into your diet won’t be enough.
Here are some of the main ways to keep collagen production working as it should…
Glucose and fructose effect tissues ability to repair as it ages. This means that it will become increasingly difficult for your body to rejuvenate and maintain a youthful, healthy functionality. Sugar makes you age harder and faster, so cut back on sugary foods and refined carbohydrates.
Avoid Too Much Time In The Sun
Spending too much time in the sun, specifically too much exposure to UV rays, reduces structural collagen. It can also cause DNA damage so direct sun time should be limited.
Smoking can cause early wrinkling as it decreases the synthesis of collagens in skin. Like sugar, smoking will cause you to age at a faster rate, and can lead to many deadly diseases and health problems. While sugar and time in the sun should be limited, smoking should be completely stopped to support healthy living and proper collagen production.