Last week we wrote about how crucial collagen is for a youthful, supple skin and keeping wrinkles at bay. We also discussed whether a collagen supplement is beneficial to us. (Read more here). This week we look at ways to boost natural collagen production.
I’m largely convinced that taking a hydrolysed (powder) collagen supplement can only do my body good, especially when running a lot. However, there are those that aren’t fans of taking supplements. Regardless, I do agree that the best way to boost your collagen production naturally is by consuming whole foods and keeping your body healthy.
What we have learnt from all our desktop research into collagen is that it really is a case of “beauty begins on the inside”. There is a natural “fountain of youth” and it comes in the form of certain foods that you should eat regularly as part of a colourful, balanced diet.
SALMON – ZINC, OMEGA-3
Salmon contains zinc which serves as a cofactor for collagen production. This means that it activates the proteins needed for collagen synthesis. It is also an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation and build healthy skin cells. Healthy fats such as omega-3’s surround skin cells with a fat layer, which naturally promotes a more youthful appearance. If you don’t like salmon, you can get your omega-3’s from other fatty fish such as mackerel, sardines, anchovies and tuna.
Note however, that it’s preferable to choose wild over farmed where possible. Farmed salmon may contain toxins such as PCB’s, which can damage cellular health. (If you’re curious about the nutritional differences between wild vs farmed salmon, this article sums it up well.)
CHICKEN EGGS – AMIINO ACIDS, SULFUR
Chicken eggs are one of the rare foods that actually contain collagen (in the yolk and eggshell membranes). In addition, egg whites are an especially good source of proline, an amino acid essential to collagen synthesis.
Eggs are also rich in sulfur, which supports phase II liver detox. This is the phase where your body is getting ready to eliminate environmental toxins such as pollutants, which break down and interfere with the production of collagen.
AVOCADO – VITAMIN E, OMEGA-3
Avocado is rich in the antioxidant Vitamin E which helps fight free radicals and prevent collagen breakdown. They also provide skin-loving healthy omega-3 fats, so pile on the guacamole!
TOMATOES – LYCOPENE
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant which helps to protect the skin from pollutants and sun damage and thus prevent collagen breakdown. Lycopene is also found in other red and orange fruits and vegetables such as guava, watermelon (on average, watermelon has about 40 percent more lycopene than raw tomatoes), mango, papaya, red cabbage and carrots.
A note on lycopene in tomatoes. Because of their high water content, fresh tomatoes contain significantly less lycopene (1.2-6.4 mg/100g) than cooked tomatoes or a tomato concentrate (38.9mg/100g). On a gram-for-gram basis, cherry tomatoes contain more lycopene than large tomatoes. Furthermore, lycopene is fat soluble so reducing (cooking) your tomatoes with a good quality (and healthy) avocado oil can help the body absorb it more easily.
CITRUS FRUITS- VITAMIN C
Vitamin C is an essential cofactor in the pre-collagen production phase. Without it, collagen cannot be produced. A refreshing way to up your Vitamin C intake is with citrus fruits like lemons, limes, grapefruits and orange.
As an antioxidant, vitamin C also protects our bodies against environmental toxins found in pollutants that contribute to breaking down collagen and damaging the skin’s inner layer.
DARK LEAFY GREENS – CHLOROPHYLL, BETA-CAROTENE, LUTEIN, VITAMIN A & C
Dark leafy greens are some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. They are an incredibly rich source of vitamins, minerals and age-fighting phytochemicals. This translates to a host of beauty benefits.
They are rich in:
– one of the strongest detoxifiers, chlorophyll which provides protection against free radicals that can cause your skin to age. The darker the green the more chlorophyll it contains.
– skin-loving vitamin A, that helps flush out toxins and strengthens the skin’s protective tissue.
– beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant known for its ability to renew and repair the skin. It may also protect skin against sun damage.
– lutein, a powerful antioxidant which boosts hydration levels, helps to improve elasticity and protects against sun damage.
Suddenly those sickly green morning smoothies packed with nutrient dense dark leafy greens look a lot more appealing!
BERRIES – ELLAGIC ACID, VITAMIN C
Berries contain a nutrient called ellagic acid. Ellagic acid can help protect the skin from oxidative stress induced by UV radiation and the natural aging process. It can also help reduce inflammation in the skin and inhibit collagen breakdown. Like citrus fruits, berries are also rich in Vitamin C, which is necessary for collagen production.
PUMPKIN SEEDS – ZINC
Pumpkin seeds are one of the richest plant sources of zinc, which as mentioned above, acts as a cofactor for collagen synthesis. Other plant based sources of zinc include refried beans, baked beans, lentils, walnuts, cashews, and almonds.
GARLIC – LIPOIC ACID, TAURINE, ZINC
Garlic offers lipoic acid and taurine, both of which help rebuild damaged collagen. It’s also an excellent source of sulfur, an essential part of collagen production. It’s time you started adding garlic to all your recipes, I do!
CHLORELLA – CGF, CHLOROPHYLL, BETA-CAROTENE
Chlorella contains several nutrients required for collagen synthesis, but perhaps the most powerful nutrient found in chlorella is Chlorella Growth Factor, or CGF. This contains the nucleic acids RNA and DNA which speed up cellular repair and regeneration. This in turn, directly promotes healthier skin cells which prevent collagen degradation and may also stimulate collagen production. In addition, chlorella also contains other significant skin supportive nutrients such as chlorophyll and beta carotene, the benefits of which we’ve spoken to above. Added bonus: chlorella is said to diminish the appearance of dark circles and pigmentation.
You can take chlorella in powder form and add it to your favourite smoothies. (See suggested items to shop below.) Try it in our super quick berry protein smoothie or this fruity chlorella smoothie recipe courtesy of GOOP. The combination of berries and chlorella make these the perfect collagen synthesis boosting smoothies!
A NOTE ON SUPPLEMENTS & SHOPPING SUGGESTIONS
We don’t always eat as well as we should which means we’re not always getting the essential nutrients our bodies need. For this reason, I do think there is a place in a healthy diet for supplements.
In our related post, I suggested taking a hydrolysed (powdered) collagen supplement and include some suggestions below. However, if you intend to take a collagen supplement in tablet form, choose a product that at least contains other synergistic ingredients that work alongside collagen, such as coenzyme Q10, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and zinc. I also think that including enough chlorella and chlorophyll into your diet is most easily and consistently done in the form of a quality supplement.
So, here are a couple of youthful skin boosting supplement suggestions. Most are available at our favourite online health shop, Faithful to Nature. Some (Solal products) can be found at Dischem.
1. The Real Thing Pro-Protein Hydrolyzed Marine Collagen Protein, 180g. R289 BUY
2. Good Health Imaglow, 60 tabs. R588 BUY
3. Sally Ann Creed Pure Hydrolysed Collagen, 200g. R299 BUY
4. Drasanvi Organic Chlorella Powder, 90g. R133 BUY
5. Drasanvi Organic Wheatgrass Powder, 225g. R238 BUY
6. Sotru Alkalising Greens, 240g. R1090 BUY
7. The Real Thing Green Power Powder, 150g. R195 BUY
8. Solal Advanced Anti-ageing Antioxidant, 90caps. R420 BUY This tablet contains a full spectrum of the most potent antioxidants, including collagen boosting Vitamins and minerals, to neutralise free radicals and provide protection at a cellular and DNA level.
9. Solal Collagen Plus Skin Essentials, 30 caps. R235 BUY These are packed with collagen boosting Vitamins and minerals in both powdered and liquid form to nourish the skin from within. Important: Do not take these in addition to any other Vitamin A supplements or medicines. These deliver the maximum amount of Vitamin A you should be supplementing your diet with daily.