What Foods Can I Eat for Collagen?
More than 30 percent of your bodys protein consists of multitasking collagen. Collagen helps maintain toned, elastic skin. It also operates behind the scenes by aiding wound healing and protecting the heart by walling off plaques, or packets, of arterial fat and cholesterol. The natural, age-accompanying loss of this vital protein could have negative effects far more serious than facial wrinkles. Eating the right foods may lift your collagen levels, tired skin and overall well-being.
A diet rich in vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is essential for collagen production. Vitamin C adds hydrogen and oxygen to the amino acids lysine and proline, creating the collagen precursor procollagen. The human body, however, doesn’t store this antioxidant. A single cup of fresh strawberries provides 97 mg of vitamin C. Topping a salad with 1/2 cup of chopped sweet red peppers boosts its ascorbic acid content by 95 mg. Citrus fruits make the list as well; an 8-oz. serving of freshly squeezed orange juice has 93 mg. For a summer treat loaded with 235 mg of the vitamin, try a yogurt smoothie with 1 cup of sliced frozen peaches. Adult men need 90 mg of vitamin C per day; adult women require 75 mg.
The amino acid lysine is another diet-supplied collagen builder. This essential nutrient also improves calcium absorption and stimulates production of cholesterol-lowering carnitine. Meat, poultry, eggs and cheese, as complete proteins, contain lysine, carnitine and every other essential amino acid the body doesn manufacture. Some of them, unfortunately, also contain lots of saturated fat. Choose low-fat varieties, like a 3.5-oz. serving of cooked sockeye salmon with 40 g of protein.
Vegetarian-based options supplying lysine include peas and other legumes, nuts, whole grains and soybeans. Only soybeans, however, qualify as complete proteins. One cup of cooked soybeans contains as much complete protein as 3 cups of milk or 4 oz. of ground beef. The right combinations of incomplete non-animal proteins, like peanut butter and whole-wheat bread or kidney bean chili and cornbread, also make complete proteins.
Wounds wouldn heal properly without manganese. This mineral activates an enzyme that stimulates proline production. Proline, in turn, combines with lysine to build collagen, including the kind that rebuilds wounded tissue. Many foods supply manganese in the recommended daily amounts of 2.3 mg per day for adult men and 1.8 mg for adult women. One cup of pineapple canned in juice has almost 2.8 mg, twice the amount in a cup of raw pineapple.