Collagen is a protein found throughout your body. You can think of it as the glue that helps hold your body together. It’s responsible for keeping your joints moving smoothly, making your skin look beautiful and supple, and slowing down some signs of aging.
As you age, collagen production begins to slow, resulting in a higher chance of joint discomfort, decreased cartilage, fine lines, and wrinkles. The good news – you can boost collagen levels through diet or supplementation.
The Three Types of Collagen
If you’re more inclined to go the supplement route, you’ll encounter three different types of collagen, all of which, are found throughout the body.
Type I Collagen – the most abundant type in the body, found in soft tissues, hair, skin, and nails
Type II Collagen – mostly found in bones, cartilage, the cartilage-based discs between your vertebrae, and parts of your eyes
Type III Collagen – found in many bodily systems, including the uterus, blood vessels, and your intestines
Getting more collagen via your diet or a supplement offers many science-backed benefits, including:
• Reducing joint discomfort
• Improving the elasticity of the skin
• Boosting your muscle mass
• Minimizing hair loss
• Preventing bone loss
• Promoting gut health
The Top 6 Collagen-Rich Foods
While adding a collagen supplement is a practical and easy way to boost collagen levels in your body, eating foods that contain collagen or work to increase the production of collagen can be just as simple, too.
One of the benefits of adding these foods to your diet is that some of them have a bioavailable form of collagen your body can use right away, which makes it superior to some supplements.
The best collagen-rich foods you’ll want to add to your diet…
- Bone Broth – Made by simmering bones, skin, ligaments, and tendons over several days, it’s an excellent source of collagen and certain amino acids. If you don’t want to spend the time making the broth, you can find it in capsule, powder, and bar forms to add more collagen to your diet.
- Cod Fish – Like other types of white fish, cod fish is packed with essential amino acids, including proline and glycine (essential building blocks of collagen).
- Spirulina – A type of algae, spirulina offers a great plant-based source of glycine, a component of collagen. You can find it dried at health food stores, and it’s perfect for adding to juices, smoothies, or even your favorite dessert.
- Chicken – Many collagen supplements are derived from chicken because it contains a lot of the stuff. Simply notice how much connective tissue is in raw chicken when you cut it up. Some studies even use chicken cartilage and neck as a source of collagen for specific collagen treatments and products.
- Gelatin – Gelatin is a protein that’s derived from collagen, which is why it’s one of the best collagen-rich foods to try. Mix it in soups, stews, and broths to improve nutritional value, or try a gelatin supplement.
- Eggs – Eggs contain glycine and proline, two amino acids that makeup collagen.
Foods that Boost Collagen Production
While it’s a great idea to add collagen-rich foods to your diet, eating foods that boost collagen production naturally can also help you increase collagen within your body. A few of these foods to try include:
- Citrus Fruits – Citrus fruits, as well as berries, bell peppers, and tropical fruits are all packed with vitamin C, and studies show that this vitamin plays a critical role in pro-collagen production (the precursor to collagen in your body). Boosting vitamin C with healthy fruits and veggies is a great way to support collagen production.
- Leafy Green Veggies – Leafy green veggies like arugula, kale, and spinach also contain a lot of vitamin C, which is essential for the production of type I collagen.
- Pumpkin Seeds – Pumpkin seeds contain zinc, a necessary mineral for collagen synthesis, and it’s easy to toss them in salads, or they make a great, standalone snack.
- Garlic – It’s not just great for adding big flavor to pasta dishes and stir-fries – it may also help boost collagen production. It’s high in sulfur, a trace mineral that helps prevent collagen breakdown and promotes collagen synthesis within the body.
For the best results, add several of the collagen-rich and collagen boosting foods to your diet daily. While supplements have their place, if you prefer turning to natural food sources, these foods are your best bet.