Collagen: It shows up in moisturizers, anti-aging creams, supplements, and injectables. All this, with the aim of promoting the appearance of more youthful skin. And for good reason! Collagen is the protein in our body that keeps your skin looking firm, smooth, and elastic. But as you age, collagen production begins to slow down. It happens. That is inevitable.
Outside factors also have an effect on collagen production. Smoking, sun exposure, and a diet high in sugar and fried foods may all contribute to collagen breakdown. When this happens, fine lines, loose skin, and other signs of aging result.
Can you boost collagen production naturally?
You can, and it all starts with what you put in your body, including collagen supplements. Consumption of collagen may help increase skin’s elasticity and moisture.1 A diet abundant in foods containing collagen, or the nutrients which aid collagen production, can do a lot. It may help prevent signs of premature aging, and improve your skin’s texture.
If you’re looking to boost collagen production, start by taking a look at what’s on your plate.
What Is Collagen?
Collagen is a protein that exists in all the body’s organs and connective tissue. In fact, collagen makes up about 30 percent of all the proteins in the human body. It makes up 75 percent of the body’s skin composition.2 So, a lot of the discussion about skin is actually about collagen.
There are over 16 types of collagen in the body, but types 1 and 3 are especially important to the skin:
Type 1: This is the most abundant type of collagen in the body. It’s essential in the wound-healing process. It’s also responsible for skin elasticity and ensuring that tissues don’t tear.
Type 3: Type 3 is usually found in conjunction with type 1 collagen. This important collagen forms heart blood vessels and tissue. And, like type 1, it’s responsible for skin elasticity and firmness.
These collagen protein fibers are, for the most part, made up of two amino acids:
For the body to form these amino acids and produce collagen, it’s necessary to have dietary sources of lysine and proline. Vitamin C is also necessary. It helps the body convert lysine and proline into usable components for the body … hydroxylysine and hydroxyproline.
Foods That Encourage Collagen Production
Some of these foods you may eat already. But a few, like bone broth, may be newcomers that you can work on incorporating into your diet.
Bovine bone broth does wonders for the skin’s ability to build itself back up. Much of type 1 and 3 collagen is concentrated in bones, ligaments, and tendons. Cooking down these parts releases collagen and all its nutrients into the broth. And bone broth is immediately bioavailable. This means that when consumed, the body is able to use it right away.
Fish also offers plenty of bioavailable collagen. The collagen peptides found in fish have smaller particle sizes. This makes them easier for the body to absorb. Fish are also a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Both do a lot to help maintain skin’s health, strength, and hydration.
Fish also tend to be high in zinc, a mineral which may help stimulate collagen synthesis.3
Egg whites and yolk membranes provide ample sources of type 1 and type 3 collagen. Eggs also provide hyaluronic acid, a hydrating substance found naturally in the body. This hydrating acid exists in high concentrations on the skin. There, it helps maintain collagen. Hyaluronic acid is essential to help repair and replace damaged or destroyed collagen.
Kelp is another great source of hyaluronic acid. HA also helps improve the appearance of skin damaged by UV exposure. How? It reduces water loss in the epidermis – the outer layer of your skin.4 A vast majority of skin aging is due to the damaging effects of UV rays. It’s essential to get enough hyaluronic acid. Doing so will help keep skin looking hydrated and youthful.
Foods High in Vitamin C
Vitamin C plays an integral role in collagen production. Without it, the body can’t convert lysine and proline into the amino acids that form collagen.
Vitamin C is a heavyweight antioxidant. It also protects the skin from pollutants and UV rays that work to break down collagen.5
Several foods are high in vitamin C. Among them:
- Brussels sprouts
- Red and green peppers
Blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and cranberries all contain ellagic acid. This helps prevent collagen breakdown from UV damage.6
Peanuts are a good source of lysine. Lysine and vitamin C convert into the amino acid hydroxylysine. It’s one of the key amino acids needed for collagen production.
Looking to encourage skin that’s firm and elastic? Get a collagen boost with these foods rich in collagen and collagen-boosting nutrients. With a mug of bone broth in hand and the right topical formulas, you more than likely have a more plump, youthful-looking complexion in no time!
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