Collagen is the most plentiful protein in your body. It’s in your muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, organs, blood vessels, skin, intestinal lining, and other connective tissues (1). Think of collagen as the glue that holds your body together!
Making collagen naturally
Incorporating certain foods into your diet supports the body’s natural production of collagen. Focus on protein-rich foods like beef, chicken, fish, beans, eggs, and dairy. These foods contain the amino acids that make up collagen, namely glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline (2).
Collagen production requires certain nutrients!
In addition to these amino acids, the body also requires certain nutrients, like vitamin C, zinc, and copper, to ensure adequate collagen production is taking place. Incorporating these vitamin and mineral rich foods is incredibly important. You can find vitamin C in citrus fruits, berries, leafy greens, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Minerals zinc and copper can be found in animal proteins, shellfish, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and beans.
In food, collagen is naturally found in animal flesh like meat and fish that contain connective tissue.
With that being said, the richest forms of collagen are found in the connective tissue of animals and skin and bones of fish. Today, most people only eat muscle meat proteins, which do not give us adequate collagen or the amino acids that we need to help repair and restore our bodies (3).
Bone broth is an excellent source of collagen.
A great addition to your diet to increase collagen consumption and production is bone broth! Bone broth is made from a variety of meaty joints and bones, simmered for an extensive period of time, and typically sipped on its own as a restorative tonic (4).
Bone broth is rich in amino acids (the building blocks of protein) that boast anti-inflammatory properties, support the immune system, joint health, and collagen production.
Supplementing with collagen peptides
Supplementing with collagen peptides helps to replenish the body’s collagen supply. Collagen peptides are short-chain amino acids that are absorbed by the bloodstream to repair, rebuild, and restore our hair, skin, nails gut, bones, and joints (5).
Collagen peptides are tasteless and texture-less and will blend into all foods and beverages. When purchasing collagen peptides, ensure the bovine source is grass-fed and marine source is wild-caught.
Simply incorporate the peptides by adding it to your coffee, tea, oatmeal, soup, or smoothie! You can find lots of easy, healthy ways to use collagen here. While collagen naturally degrades as we age, additional lifestyle and environmental factors can negatively affect our overall collagen production6. Incorporating nutrient-dense whole foods, with a focus on high-quality protein, is a sure-fire way to support and protect your body’s natural collagen production.
I have been adding a collagen powder to my morning coffee for over five years now. It is a simple routine, but it makes a huge difference in the way my hair, nails, and skin look.
1.“The Best Way You Can Get More Collagen.” Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, 19 Aug. 2020, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-best-way-you-can-get-more-collagen/.
2. Lodish H, Berk A, Zipursky SL, et al. Molecular Cell Biology. New York: W. H. Freeman; 2000.
3.“What Is Collagen? Everything You Need to Know About Collagen.” Further Food, 20 Feb. 2021, https://www.furtherfood.com/collagen/.
4. McGruther, Jenny. “How to Make Amazing Bone Broth (the Ultimate Guide).” Nourished Kitchen, 8 May 2020, https://nourishedkitchen.com/bone-broth/.
5. Id, Further Foods.
6. “Collagen.” The Nutrition Source, 27 May 2021, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/collagen/.