How can you increase collagen synthesis?

BY DR. KELLYANN

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Bone broth, collagen protein powders, and gelatin are all amazing collagen-boosting superfoods. But, they can’t do all the work. They need help from a variety of other nutrients.

Thus, it’s important to eat a nutrient-rich diet based on vegetables, fruits, grass-fed meats, and wild fish. These foods are anti-inflammatory and contain powerful antioxidants.

Here are some specific nutrients and foods that play a role in the synthesis of collagen as well as its protection:

  • Vitamin C: This vitamin is vital for the synthesis of collagen. It’s a limiting factor, meaning that if you don’t have enough, your collagen production line shuts down. Since humans are unable to produce vitamin C, you must obtain an adequate supply from your food. Thus, it’s important to consume many foods rich in vitamin C, including tomatoes, citrus fruits, kiwis, papayas, bell peppers, strawberries, and broccoli.
  • Dark leafy green veggies: Spinach and kale have antioxidants that protect you against free radicals, which are out to destroy your precious collagen.
  • Red veggies: Beets, tomatoes, and red peppers are full of lycopene, which boosts collagen and protects your skin from sun damage.
  • Orange veggies: Carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins are loaded with vitamin A, which restores collagen that’s been damaged.
  • Sulfur: This mineral is a major player in collagen production. Eggs, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, onions, shallots, leeks, and cabbage are all rich in sulfur.
  • Copper: This mineral activates an enzyme that plays a critical role in collagen production. It’s also an antioxidant that helps protect your collagen once it forms. Foods high in copper include nuts, shellfish, and grass-fed red meat.
  • White tea: This tea packs a big punch when it comes to fighting lines and wrinkles. Research shows it helps thwart the activities of enzymes that break down collagen and another skin protein known as elastin.
  • Berries: Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries…they’re all loaded with antioxidants that fight free radicals while boosting collagen.
  • Garlic: This powerful herb offers lipoic acid and taurine, which both help rebuild damaged collagen. Plus, it contains sulfur!

Plant-Based Sources of Collagen Proteins

The most concentrated sources of glycine and proline are derived from animals, especially bone broth, collagen protein powder, and gelatin. However, there are some plant-based sources to consider if you eat a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Glycine

  • Spinach
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Pumpkin
  • Cucumber
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Banana
  • Beans

Proline

  • White mustard seeds
  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Beans
  • Cucumber
  • Cabbage
  • Asparagus
  • Buckwheat
  • Chives
  • Tempeh
  • Watercress

If you’re a vegan or a meat eater, it’s essential to consume an adequate amount of protein for a variety of reasons. And collagen synthesis is one of them. While glycine and proline are the key amino acids necessary for collagen production, others are also important.

Lysine is one in particular that vegans must pay close attention to. It is used during collagen synthesis, but it’s also the least abundant amino acid found in plants. Therefore, I recommend these specific plant foods that are relatively high in lysine:

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Tempeh
  • Lima beans
  • Pistachios
  • Potatoes
  • Quinoa
  • Lentils
  • Black beans
  • Kidney beans

And don’t forget about the other nutrients and foods I’ve already discussed that help to protect collagen and further promote synthesis (i.e., vitamin C, colorful veggies, sulfur, etc.). Eating these foods will ensure your body has all the nutrients necessary to increase collagen synthesis.

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