Collagen is the most copious protein in our body and is one of the main building blocks of skin. This protein plays an important role in the youthfulness of the skin.
Our body produces its own collagen by breaking down dietary protein into amino acids. These amino acids then make different types of proteins in the body including collagen.
Collagen provides structural support to the different connective tissues in the body. It is also the part of muscles, tendons, organs, bones, ligaments, blood vessels, and skin intestinal lining. But unfortunately, as we grow older, the quality and levels of collagen start degrading.
However, you cannot measure the collagen levels, but some of the symptoms of lack of collagen include:
- Wrinkles and papery skin
- Stiff joints and pain
- Weakening muscles
But don’t worry! You can include some natural collagen supplements in your diet and can also help your body produce this important protein by making sure you get plenty of the following nutrients:
Essential nutrients for collagen production:
1. Vitamin C:
Vitamin C is very important to produce hyaluronic acid, which can help in boosting collagen production in the human body. With insufficient amounts of Vitamin C, the body will not gain the benefits of a food containing hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is naturally found in the body, but as we age, it decreases. Including foods in the diet rich in vitamin C and amino acids can increase collagen and hyaluronic acid levels in the body as both are important for the skin. Citrus fruits, Bell peppers, Broccoli, Strawberries, Brussel sprouts are rich in Vitamin C.
Almost ten percent of total amino acids in collagen are proline, which accounts for one-third of proteins. Large amounts of this essential amino acid are found in wheat germ, cabbage, dairy products, asparagus, and mushrooms.
The high levels of glycine are important with respect to the stabilization of collagen. Beans, Nuts, seeds, and legumes are good sources of this essential amino acid.
Copper is crucial to stimulate collagen by activating an enzyme called lysyl oxidase. Active lysyl oxidase cross-links the collagen fibers with other supportive fibers. Some good copper sources are Seeds, nuts, beans, spinach, kale, spirulina, parsley, dark chocolates.
Zinc is an important mineral your body needs to repair cells and protect collagen from degradation. Lack of Zinc can affect collagen production in the body, therefore adequate amounts of zinc are required. Some of the good sources of zinc are wheat germ, tofu, lentils, yogurt, oatmeal, pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, Asparagus, flax seeds, avocados, beans, peas.
Manganese is another mineral required for the healthy production of collagen. It activates the enzymes that our body needs to make proline. Nuts, beans, pineapple, spinach, and sweet potato are good sources of manganese.
All these nutrients are required to produce natural collagen in the body. To make sure you supply adequate amounts of these nutrients some people also prefer to include natural herbs as a supplement in their daily routine.
How to naturally boost collagen?
Our body produces its own collagen by breaking dietary protein into amino acids. But with age, collagen production and quality decrease, which results in symptoms like skin aging, wrinkles, joint pain, and weak muscles.
To avoid these symptoms, one can include natural collagen boosters supplement or herbs or make sure to include foods that help rebuild collagen naturally. Some of the effective natural collagen supplements are
1. Gotu Kola, Brahmi (Centella Asiatica):
Gotu kola “the herb of longevity” is widely used in traditional Ayurvedic medicines. It is one of the best-known herbs to rejuvenate and protect skin because of its anti-aging, skin healing, skin tightening, and anti-cellulite properties. Gotu Kola contains triterpenoid and asiaticoside compounds that help the body synthesize collagen protein and support collagen’s healthy production.
Stimulating collagen production is important for restoring skin elasticity and firmness. Gotu kola is rich in antioxidants that help the skin to protect and recover from free radical and UV ray damage. Gotu Kola is widely used by the cosmetic industry in different forms of products for improving skin health.
In this way, it helps skin to take benefits from outside. But, with a holistic approach in mind, many people are finally acknowledging the inner beauty connection and adding nutritional strategies and products to support their full spectrum of wellness and radiance. The Gotu kola leaves can be consumed in a variety of ways for example: eat the leaves as a salad accouterment, in the form of juice, or made into powder supplementation.
This anti-aging herb is not only an adaptogen but has also shown an increase in type 1 collagen (dominant form of collagen in the skin) levels. Most of us know this magical herb as an immunity booster, but only a few know that it can also enhance your skin’s resilience when applied topically through your skincare.
Ashwagandha is also known for its high levels of antioxidants that make it the best ingredient to protect skin from pollution and free radicals in the atmosphere. When applied on the skin, it also helps clear dark spots, blemishes, sun spots, acne scarring, and reduces the occurrence of fine lines as it increases collagen production in the skin.
To know whole the list of benefits associated with ashwagandha check out: What Is Ashwagandha And Its Magical Benefits?
The plant is a rich natural source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and many other valuable nutrients. All these nutrients including silica crystals are packed in the hollow stems and shoots of the horsetail plant. Credit for most of the medicinal properties of plants can be given to their high silica content which is easily absorbed by the human body.
Silica is essential for healthy bones and teeth as it plays an important part in its strengthening and maintenance. It also repairs weak connective tissues in blood vessels, cartilage, tendons, and collagen — the body glue that helps hold our skin and muscle tissues together. In case of fractures, Silica speeds up the healing and is said to help rheumatism and arthritis by improving the elasticity of the joints.
Get to know more about herb Horsetail
4. Aloe vera:
From ancient times, Aloe vera gel has been used for healing and soothing wounds. It works to treat cuts and burns because the aloe vera plant increases collagen production when applied topically or even taken orally.
Aloe vera can boost collagen production in the skin because of its cell-growth stimulating property. It can be applied directly to the skin in natural form, or there are so many products containing aloe vera, available in the market now. One can also have it in supplement form.
Bilberry is a small-branched perennial shrub native to Europe and is different from North American blueberries. The color of bilberries is closer to black and from inside they are reddish-purple while blueberries are light green from inside. Bilberry fruit and leaves both have their medicinal values. Most of the time, the fruit is used in the forms of decoctions, liquid extracts, and tablets while the leaf is used to prepare tea.
Bilberry contains anthocyanin and vitamin C which are potent antioxidants that strengthen blood vessels and capillary walls, improve red blood cells, stabilize collagen tissues such as tendons, ligaments, and cartilage.
Cilantro is a very common herb mostly used in cooking, is high in vitamin C and linoleic acid. It boosts collagen production on a molecular level and has an antiaging effect. Linoleic acids in cilantro prevent skin from sun damage and depletion of existing collagen. It is also rich in antioxidants that capture the free radicals in the bloodstream and promote healthy skin cells.
What foods are high in collagen?
1. Citrus fruits:
We all know citrus fruits are a great source of vitamin C but most of us do not realize that Vitamin C plays an important role in collagen production too. Without Vitamin C body cannot form collagen, which makes it an essential cofactor for collagen synthesis.
Fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits are citrus fruits that are good sources of vitamin C. Vitamin C also has antioxidant properties, fights against free radicals, and aid in the skin rejuvenation process.
Another excellent source to ensure enough Vitamin C is consuming berries. In fact, strawberries provide more vitamin C than oranges. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries are high in Vitamin C and fight unwanted signs of aging. These berries also contain ellagic acid which prevents collagen breakdown.
Beans are a good source of natural protein, rich in many nutrients like zinc, copper, and often contain amino acids. All these are necessary for collagen synthesis.
4. Nuts and Seeds:
Nuts and seeds are rich sources of proteins, healthy fats, Vitamins (A, B, C, E), and many nutrients like Copper, magnesium, zinc, etc. All these are essential for healthy skin and for collagen production. You should include all types of nuts and seeds in rotation throughout the week to get benefits from all.
Almonds are full of healthy fats, vitamins B1, B5, B6, E, Calcium, and magnesium.
Walnuts provide omega-3 fats, vitamin E, B vitamins, and zinc. They can also help in balancing blood sugar levels, which supports insulin function.
Some other nuts you can have are Cashews, Pistachios, Coconut, and chestnuts which are also rich in Vitamin C.
Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and flax seeds are great sources of healthy fats and many nutrients.
Seeds like hemp and chia are not only considered “complete proteins” because they contain all 9 essential amino acids, but they are also high in Omega-3s.
5. Leafy Greens:
We all know leafy greens are a key player in a healthy diet. As it turns out, they may offer aesthetic benefits, too. Spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and other salad greens get their color from chlorophyll, known for its antioxidant properties.