Smooth, firm and youthful complexion is all contributed by a protein fiber called collagen, one of the main components that make up our skin. Collagen is also found in our hair, skin, and teeth. It helps keep them healthy and strong. Unfortunately, collagen and another key protein elastin begin decreasing in your 20s. This can result in a loss of skin elasticity and firmness. Here are some nutrients you need to help slow collagen loss and keep skin looking beautiful.
Taking vitamin C is essential to the production of collagen and elastin proteins, which help keep your skin firm and supple. The recommended daily intake of vitamin C is between 75 to 90 milligrams to support overall health. Try incorporating a variety of vitamin C packed fruits and vegetables into your diet. Citrus fruits, red peppers, strawberries and sweet potatoes will give your vitamin C intake a boost.
Get enough of this essential amino acid as lysine is one of the main building blocks of collagen. Your body can’t produce it by itself, instead it comes exclusively from your diet. The typically recommended amount of lysine is in a range of two to three grams a day. You can easily get that amount by eating red meat, cheese or nuts all of which are high in lysine. For vegans and those watching their weight, try taking lentils, peas or soy products which are also high in lysine but lower in fat.
You need ample amounts of the mineral manganese to increase production of collagen and elastin especially for wound healing. If you’ve had surgery that left scarring, manganese may help. Men should aim for 2.3 milligrams daily from their diet while women should take 1.8 milligrams daily. Foods such as pineapple, pecans, whole grains, leafy greens and sea vegetables such as seaweed are all high in manganese. Another skin firming mineral is copper. Studies have found that your body needs a small amount of about 0.9 milligrams of this essential mineral in order to knit together collagen and elastin to form strong skin. Although it’s found in a wide variety of foods, you’ll find the highest concentrations of copper and meat from animal organs, shellfish, nuts and seeds, whole grain foods such as breads and pastas are also high in copper. It is less frequently found in fruits and vegetables, but you can reach the RDA by adding nuts and seeds, cashews, almonds and sunflower seeds as well as lentils and mushrooms to your diet.
A boost of collagen is a boost of youth. Collagen is commonly recognized throughout the supplement industry for its anti-aging and beauty benefits. It’s important to note that collagen is far more than a beauty supplement.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body. It acts as the primary component of connective tissue in our skin, bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons, blood vessels and gut. Due to its prevalence throughout the body, our quality of life largely depends on our ability to produce collagen. In fact, the reason collagen is commonly glorified as an anti-aging supplement is because our body’s natural production decreases with age. In turn, the hallmark signs of aging are wrinkles, hair loss, joint pain etc. These are linked to a lack of collagen production.
But age isn’t the only variable that dictates our ability to produce collagen. Most lifestyle choices have a great impact. Unhealthy lifestyle choices such as poor diet, high sun exposure, excessive alcohol consumption and smoking decreased collagen production. Subsequently, visible signs of aging show up earlier in life. Based on these, we can increase the collagen production by consuming the vitamins and minerals needed for our body to complete the steps of collagen synthesis. Some vitamins, minerals and amino acids help us to preserve the collagen already present in our body.
Kiwis are exceptionally high in vitamin C, a nutrient our body needs to execute the pre-collagen production phase. Vitamin C coordinates with amino acids glycine and proline to produce hydroxyproline, an amino acid that secures triple helical structure of collagen. While vitamin C is crucial for pre-collagen production, it also serves as a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants protect against the breakdown of collagen cells caused by free radical’s toxins present in our air, food and water supply.
Like kiwi, berries are another great source of vitamin C. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries are potent sources of antioxidants that prevent free radical damage.
Almonds contain a healthy dose of vitamin E, the most abundant antioxidant in our skin. It serves to neutralize free radicals that are damaging collagen cells. Vitamin E also coordinates with vitamin C to stimulate collagen formation. Additionally, almonds are a great source of copper, an essential trace mineral required in the formation of collagen fibrils. In short, our body needs copper to complete the final step of collagen synthesis.
Avocados might not be quite as rich in vitamin E as almonds and they contain an adequate amount of the antioxidant. Go ahead and order that side of guacamole, your skin and hair will reap the benefits.
Carrots are a plentiful source of vitamin A which helps repair and restore collagen in damaged skin. If you don’t like carrots, no worries, sweet potatoes, squash, apricots, cantaloupe and mangoes are great alternatives. Pretty much anything orange in colour except oranges ironically can help us meet our vitamin A needs.
Dark green vegetables are some of the most nutrient-dense superfoods our planet has to offer. For starters, their potent sources of vitamin A, C and E all of which are vital nutrients for collagen synthesis as mentioned prior. Furthermore, dark green vegetables like spinach, kale, green beans and broccoli among others contain chlorophyll pigment that gives plants their beautiful green color. Studies have shown that chlorophyll increases procollagen (precursor to collagen formation) in our skin so we reap its beauty benefits as well.
Garlic is rich in sulfur, a trace mineral that has been shown to enhance collagen synthesis. Sulfur also helps prevent the breakdown of collagen fibers so it’s particularly beneficial towards preserving healthy skin and joints.
Oysters are a rich source of zinc, an essential trace mineral that stimulates collagen synthesis and is required for bone formation. Additionally, zinc has been shown to slow down the breakdown rate of collagen cells in granulation tissue which enables wounds to heal more quickly.
Most seeds and nuts are high in zinc especially pumpkin seeds and cashews. Both of these quick and easy snacks can provide a boost of collagen while on the go.
Tomatoes contain a healthy dose of lycopene, an amino acid that protects our skin from sunlight. As noted earlier, high sun exposure damages collagen fibers in our skin which speeds the process of aging such as wrinkles and can even lead to skin cancer. Adding tomatoes to our diet can help preserve youthful skin.
As mentioned, collagen is present in all animals and it’s the most abundant protein in mammals. However, cuts of beef or chicken aren’t necessarily going to contain high concentrations of collagen. The highest concentrations of collagen are in connective tissue which refers to tendons, ligaments, cartilage, skin and bones of the animal. Slow cooking these animal parts into a bone broth is a great way to get a rich source of bioavailable collagen in our diet.
Supplements are another viable option to increase collagen in our body, but there are some important factors to consider when selecting a collagen supplement. It’s always best to use hydrolysed collagen. In its native form, collagen molecules are too large for our body to absorb efficiently but when hydrolysed, the molecules are reduced to smaller peptides which can enable efficient absorption.
A quality collagen supplement should contain vitamin C as this enables our body to use amino acids, glycine and proline from the collagen supplement to produce more of our own collagen. In order to get the maximum benefit from a given collagen supplement, avoid any that contain added sugars, artificial flavors or preservatives since these toxins are damaging to the collagen in our body. It defeats the purpose when a supplement contains them.
A nutrient-rich diet can help build collagen in your body. Collagen is a tough protein that forms the structure and strength of your skin, bone, tendons, cartilages and other connective tissues. Many foods contain nutrients that can boost collagen production in your body.
Foods rich in vitamin C can ensure proper growth and repair of your body’s tissues. This vitamin also aids in the production of collagen and therefore helps build and maintain your skin, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels and cartilage.
Osteoarthritis destroys collagen and the breakdown of collagen that leads to painful, swelling and inflammation of your joints. Vitamin C comes from fruits such as oranges, papayas, lemons, Kiwis, grapefruits and strawberries. Vegetables are also a good source including broccoli, spinach, bell peppers winter squash and turnip.