The beauty and wellness worlds are abuzz with praise for collagen and beauty-boosting, collagen-rich foods. And for good reason! Collagen is responsible for everything from a healthy gut, to glowing skin, to smooth-moving joints. In other words, it’s really important. Plus, it could make you look and feel more beautiful over time!
If you’ve heard you should be on the beauty-supporting collagen train, but you’re not sure why—or how to begin—let this be your definitive guide.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body, accounting for about one-third of your protein makeup. While that’s impressive, what’s really impressive is how big of a role collagen plays in your health and well-being. (And in your appearance.)
Made from amino acids—it’s particularly rich in proline and glycine—collagen acts as the glue that holds your body together. It helps you maintain and repair healthy bones, skin, muscles, tendons, cartilage, joints, ligaments, blood vessels, eyes, hair, and even your digestive tract. Collagen also helps build muscle mass, which can lead to a super-charged metabolism and healthy weight management.
Ready for yet another bonus? Collagen helps plump the skin, lending its powers to those of us who’d love to look and feel more youthful. (So, pretty much all of us.)
How Is Collagen Made?
Our magnificently smart bodies make collagen on their own by breaking down dietary protein into amino acids. The body then takes those amino acids and makes collagen. So if you’re looking for another reason to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, here it is. Your body needs this fuel to keep your collagen-production engines running.
But here’s the rub: the older we get, the less collagen our body naturally produces (to the tune of 1% less per year, starting as early as our 20s!). Factors like oxidative stress, sun exposure, smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating refined carbs and white sugar can all inhibit collagen production. Autoimmune disorders can also be destructive. So it’s important to focus on boosting collagen production naturally through delicious and nutritious foods and consider taking collagen supplements.
Collagen Supplements vs. Collagen Foods
With collagen superfans coming forward by the legions, there is no shortage of collagen supplements on the market. From capsules to powders, there’s something for everyone.
For our vegan friends, since collagen is made primarily from animal sources, you may consider collagen “boosters.” These have no animal products, but do contain key ingredients—like vitamin C—that support your body’s collagen production.
If you do choose to supplement, stay away from products that have artificial flavors or sweeteners. Look for powders that have been certified by a third-party quality-testing company and sourced from grass-fed, pasture-raised animals. Also look for hydrolyzed collagen “peptide” powder, which is collagen that’s been broken down so it’s easy to digest and easily dissolves into warm or cold liquids. Since many high-quality collagen powders are flavorless, you can mix them into everything from coffee and smoothies, to soups, and even baked goods.
Collagen dosing will depend on the type of collagen you’re taking and your reasons for taking it. Be sure to refer to the manufacturer’s packaging and follow their instructions as stated.
Beauty-Boosting, Collagen-Rich Foods
If you choose to get your collagen through Mother Nature’s bounty (we’re always on board with this!), you have loads of options to choose from. Here are 5 collagen-rich foods to add to your diet, starting today!
One of the hottest collagen-boosting picks out there, bone broth is made by simmering animal bones in water. Since the broth is made from, well, bones, and other connective tissue, it contains many nutrients—including amino acids—that may help support collagen production.
Not only are the whites of eggs rich in glycine and proline—amino acids necessary for collagen production—the yolks are packed with vitamin D and healthy fats, contributing even more to the health of our skin, bones, and muscles.
Did you know that ounce for ounce, strawberries actually have more vitamin C than oranges? And since vitamin C is essential for collagen production, adding more of it to your diet through citrus fruits and, yes, berries, supports your body’s ability to produce collagen.
In addition to the vitamin C element, berries are also high in antioxidants, which help protect the skin from oxidative stress and free radicals.
Surprise! Garlic not only makes some of your favorite dishes even yummier, it could boost your collagen production, too! Since it’s high in sulfur, a trace mineral that helps synthesize and prevent the breakdown of collagen, it’s worth working into your meal-prep rotation. The only caveat? It could take a lot of garlic to realize any collagen benefits, so be sure to keep your toothbrush handy.
Beans are high in protein and feature the amino acids necessary for collagen synthesis. This is great news for our vegan friends who lean on beans as a protein source. Beans are also rich in copper, another nutrient that assists in collagen production. Plus their uses are limitless. (Here’s a great recipe to get you started.) Three cheers for beans!
Bonus: Beauty-Boosting Berry Collagen Smoothie Recipe
Turn up the dial on your gorgeous glow with this Beauty-Boosting Collagen Smoothie Recipe.
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 cup frozen spinach
- 1 cup mixed berries
- 1 scoop collagen peptide powder
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender and blend until smooth.
If your goal is a healthy body and age-defying hair, skin, and nails, increasing your collagen intake through collagen supplements or collagen-rich foods could make a huge difference.
Start making simple changes today and reap the rewards for a lifetime to come.