Collagen is the most abundant protein that is found within the body1 , and it gives strength and structure to the skin, bones, joints and muscles.
Collagen is vital for our health as well as influencing the way we look. But, perhaps surprisingly, from as early as the middle of our twenties, it starts to diminish.
Not only this, but the quality of the collagen your body is producing will be lower.
It can therefore be helpful to try and replenish the levels of collagen in your skin.
The good news is that for those looking for an alternative to a collagen supplement, there are some terrific natural sources of collagen that can be worked into your everyday diet..
Collagen food: natural collagen boosting foods
You can read more on ‘Collagen: benefits, dosage, side-effects’ via our Health Hub.
1. Bone broth
It might sound like something you would make for Halloween, but bone broth is actually a great source of collagen!
A bone broth contains calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, collagen, glucosamine, chondroitin, and amino acids.
Making the broth involves simmering animal bones in water in order to extract the collagen from them.
You can then season this broth with herbs and spices to give it whichever flavour you prefer.
The quality of the bones will make a difference to the success of your broth, so make sure you speak to your local butcher to get the very best.
Fish and shellfish provide a lot of collagen, and it is believed that marine collagen can be more easily absorbed by the human body.
To get the main benefit of fish collagen, you will need to eat parts such as the head, scales or even the eyeballs, as these contain higher levels of collagen than the meat.
For more information, check out our article ‘What is marine collagen?’
When you buy collagen supplements, you might find that many of them are derived from chicken, due to the amount of connective tissue contained within it.
4. Egg white
Collagen is largely found in connective tissues, so it is only natural to question why an egg features in this list.
The reason is because one of the amino acids that is needed for collagen production is called proline and it is found in large quantities in egg whites.
We should all be aiming to get as much fruit as possible into our diets, but different fruits can help with our quest for collagen too, thanks to the quantities of vitamin C contained within them.
This helps to produce pro-collagen, so citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruits are great.
Berries also contain substantial amounts of vitamin C, with strawberries actually providing the most. You can also turn to raspberries, blueberries and blackberries for added collagen as well as the skin protecting antioxidants you need.
Tropical fruit like mango, kiwi and pineapple should also be added to your shopping list.
Garlic is well-known for having a large number of health benefits,
and because it is high in sulphur, this helps to slow the breakdown of collagen. You may however need to consume quite a lot to actually see a tangible benefit.
7. Leafy greens
Mum always told you to eat your greens, and now we know why!
The dark green leaves of spinach, kale and Swiss chard contain chlorophyll, which increases the precursor to collagen in the skin.
When it comes to any kind of diet, it is important to remember to keep everything in moderation.
You should discuss any major changes to your diet with your doctor and be aware of any potential allergy concerns.
Last Updated: 18th December 2020
Author: Bhupesh Panchal, Regulatory Affairs
Bhupesh started his career as a clinical toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products. After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.
In his spare time, Bhupesh likes to cycle and has been learning to speak Korean for several years.