Bone broth is a trendy health elixir you’ve likely heard all about, but did you know there are other foods that boost collagen (in case “beef” is not your favorite beverage flavor)?
Here’s why it matters: Collagen is a protein in the body that makes up joint-supporting connective tissues, is responsible for skin elasticity (AKA wrinkle defender), and helps maintain the lining of the digestive tract. In other words, it’s really important.
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The body makes collagen on its own, but production slows down as you get older (no, surprise there), so getting some in your diet is a good idea to make up for a potential deficit.
The problem is that it’s really only found in animal skin and bones, hence the popularity of bone broth. Bone broth, however, is not that easy to find, and making it at home requires…well…bones. Not to mention hours upon hours of simmering.
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You can also now buy collagen as powder to add to smoothies (although there are conflicting opinions on how much value you get from this method because of the way the body has to break down and rebuild the protein).
There’s one other tactic: eating foods (we’re already on board!) that boost collagen. These foods don’t contain the protein itself, but they deliver nutrients your body uses to make it. It’s like if your body were a bread factory that kept running out of ingredients, so you sent it a bunch of flour and sugar and yeast to help it out.
Keep reading for the nutrients and foods that contribute to collagen production.
Foods That Boost Collagen
Vitamin C plays a major role in collagen synthesis, and citrus fruits (plus broccoli, broccoli rabe, and red peppers!) are filled with it. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant, so you get the added benefit of protecting your skin from free radical damage.
Citrus may get most of the attention for being high in vitamin C (hi, orange juice), but leafy greens like kale are also loaded with the good-for-you antioxidant, an ideal way to make sure you’re getting enough over the course of the day.
Oysters are rich in minerals, specifically zinc and copper, both of which activate molecules that are required for collagen synthesis. Bonus: Oysters are one of the most sustainable seafood choices you can make.
Milk isn’t just a calcium superstar; it’s also an underrated source of zinc. One cup of milk meets seven percent of your daily zinc requirement, and—even better—the body has an especially easy time absorbing the zinc from dairy.
The protein in meat is made up of essential amino acids the body can’t make on its own. But meats like beef and chicken also contain non-essential amino acids, some of which make up collagen. Eating meat, then, provides your body with additional stores of the amino acids it needs to produce collagen.