Collagen is a protein found in the bodys connective tissues, such as the skin, bones and ligaments. It supplies the body with structural support for more optimal function. Certain nutrients are essential for collagen synthesis, and while there are many methods available, including certain foods in the diet may help to improve collagen synthesis naturally.
Collagen fibers provide the bodys tissues with strength, texture, structure, and resilience and there are many reasons to improve collagen synthesis. One is to promote healthy skin and prevent wrinkles. Improving collagen synthesis may also benefit the healing of wounds, sprains, strains and bone tissue. While drugs and supplements are effective options to promote collagen synthesis, there are risks; while sometimes necessary, they can interfere with other medications and produce adverse side effects.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, can help to stimulate the production and maintenance of collagen by converting proline and lysine to their active forms, hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine. Vitamin C assists in wound healing, iron absorption, and treating scurvy, a vitamin C deficiency disease. Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables provides and abundance of vitamin C. Fruit sources include citruses such as grapefruit, lemons, limes, and oranges, as well as papaya, strawberries, raspberries, pineapples, kiwi, cantaloupes, and watermelon. Vegetable sources include green and red bell peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, mustard and turnip greens, Swiss chard, cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, snow peas and celery. Vitamin C is found in fennel, peppermint, and parsley. Vitamin C is sensitive to air, water, and extreme temperatures. Cooking, freezing, and unthawing of foods can cause Vitamin C to lose its potency.
Lysine and Proline
Collagen is rich in the amino acids lysine and proline. Proline, a nonessential amino acid, is made by the body. Lysine, an essential amino acid, must be obtained in the diet. Lysine is found in animal sources such as eggs, dairy, beef, chicken, turkey, pork, and fish, including anchovies, catfish and shellfish. Vegetable sources include soybeans and tofu, almonds, Brazil nuts, chestnuts, cashews, pistachio nuts and garbanzo beans. Lysine is also found in seeds, such as fenugreek, pumpkin and sesame seeds. Proline can be consumed in eggs and wheat germ.
Copper is an essential mineral for collagen synthesis. Obtaining copper from food is safer than supplementation because it is a potentially toxic metal. Copper is in liver, but it should not be relied upon for a dietary source because of its toxicity Fortunately, many vegetables are high in copper, including crimini mushrooms, turnip and mustard greens, Swiss chard, spinach, kale, asparagus, green beans, potatoes, summer squash, eggplant and tomatoes. Copper can also be found in tempeh, cashews, sesame and sunflower seeds, molasses, peppermint and ginger.
Collagen synthesis may be assisted by collagen peptides, which improve low bone mineral density and degeneration of joint disease. Food sources include beef, pork and fish. Pro-hyp, the major constituent of the food-derived collagen peptides, enhances both cell mitosis and hyaluronic acid synthesis in human dermal fibroblast cells. Gelatin is a denatured form of collagen, and consuming a lot may protect bone tissue. Sources include fish and pork.