Does your body have enough protein collagens? Fun Fact: Collagen makes up 80% of human skin and is also found in other body parts like hair and nails. It can help to make skin soft, smooth, and glowing. Meanwhile, it’s especially important among older adults since the body produces less collagen and other proteins as we age. Before looking for high-collagen foods and dietary supplements it’s also important to know about collagen and amino acids. That’s because aminos are the building blocks of proteins. It’s critical to know which amino acids you’re getting from the skin-friendly protein. That, in turn, can help to boost your overall health.
There are various ways you can boost your collagen levels. They include foods like fish, eggs, and beans. You can also use creams, capsules, and powders to add more collagen to your body. There’s no question that protein is an important macro-nutrient along with carbs and fat. That’s because people need an average of 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight. Besides collagen, other important types include elastin that makes skin stretchy, and keratin that makes fingernails/toenails hard. Like other nutrients, you can experience health issues if your body isn’t getting enough protein.
What Exactly Is Collagen?
Collagen has been trending in recent years. You can find lots of products on the market like collagen creams/lotions in drugstores, and collagen capsules in health stores. There’s also bone broth, which is high-collagen since it contains animal bones and connective tissues.
Collagen and Amino Acids
Amino acids are often referred to as the “building blocks” of proteins. They make up peptides, while peptide chains make up protein. While you don’t have to know everything about the aminos in collagen it’s helpful to know the basics.
There are 20 main kinds of amino acids. Sometimes there are 22 kinds listed but a few are quite rare. So basically there are 20 main kinds of amino acids in the human body.
Then there are two main categories. There are essential amino acids (EAAs) that humans must get from food and supplements. They’re not “essential” because we need them more. They’re simply aminos that the body does make so must get them from outside sources.
There are 9 total EAAs. That includes three known as branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). These supplements have been trending in recent years. People like athletes and weightlifters often take BCAA supplements for functions like building muscle mass and post-workout recovery for sore muscles.
Then there are non-essential amino acids (NEAAs). Again, they’re not “non-essential” because they’re less important. It simply means people don’t have to get them from foods/supplements usually since the body makes them naturally.
There are exceptions when factors like bad diet, health conditions, medications, etc. prevent the body from making enough amino acids. In that case, it’s important to get more NEAAs from food/supplements like you would get EAAs.
Two key protein classifications are “complete” and “incomplete.” Complete proteins have enough of all 9 EAAs that people need daily. Collagen is actually an incomplete protein, which means it doesn’t have all 9 EAAs humans need every day.
That said, it doesn’t mean collagen is less important than complete proteins. In fact, one of the interesting things about collagen is it’s tougher to get from foods so you’ll have to eat the “right” kinds of food.
Top High-Collagen Foods
It’s well-known that citrus fruits are high in Vitamin C. It turns out they’re also high in other nutrients like collagen. Make sure to consume different options like oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, lemons, and limes. Each kind has different vitamins/minerals besides Vitamin C and collagen-boosting nutrients.
Most of the nutrients in eggs is found in the yolk. However, if you’re looking for collagen you should consider more egg whites. In general, a 2:1 ratio of whites/yolks is a good option if you want to get the nutrients of yolks yet reduce your intake of fat/cholesterol.
The lowest-carb options include strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. Besides being low-carb these foods are also high in Vitamin C, antioxidants, and help make collagen.
Spinach, kale, collards, and others are excellent sources of nutrients like vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, and fiber. Besides that studies show that leafy greens can also help to boost the body’s collagen levels. It seems that plant-based nutrients help to produce skin collagen.
These are all excellent sources of collagen. In general, you should go with meat like chicken and turkey over pork and beef. Fish and shellfish are also good sources of protein, healthy fat, and vitamins/minerals. In fact, National Geographic’s Blue Zones program found that the world’s longest-living regions tend to eat more fish and chicken, and very little red meat.
You’ve probably seen all sorts of online claims about the benefits of bone broth. Many of them have few scientific studies to support them. However, one key benefit of bone broth is the high amount of collagen due to the animal bones and connective tissue.
This isn’t standard chicken stock found on supermarket shelves. It’s instead made by slow-cooking animal bones to release lots of collagen and amino acids.
There’s no question that collagen is one of the important proteins that people need for good health. It’s also important to get other kinds of protein to maintain good health.
All proteins are made up of amino acids, which are known as the building blocks of protein. So when you’re consuming bone broth for adding collagen wrinkle creams to your skin you’re also adding amino acids.
In a sense, collagen works like “glue.” It helps to keep everything together including skin, muscles, tendons, and bones. In terms of your body’s overall structure collagen is an important ingredient that helps to keep everything together. It works like a glue/scaffold that the body requires.
The body even produces collagen naturally. This is known as “endogenous” collagen, which is a fancy term for natural collagen. Meanwhile, there’s also “exogenous” collagen that’s contained in products like dietary supplements.
While the body needs collagen it’s found in relatively few foods compared to other nutrients. Some good sources include:
In recent years bone broth in forms like liquid/powder/capsules has been trending. This is an excellent source of collagen. It’s often made by simmering bones and connective tissue for 24 to 48 hours. This allows the collagen and other nutrients to be released, which makes the food even healthier.
Besides natural collagen, there’s also external collagen that’s used for cosmetic/medical purposes. They include repairing body tissues and others. Today there’s a wide range of skin care products with collagen including creams, lotions, and ointments. All of these products are designed to improve health.