Located within the dermis (below the outermost layer of skin), collagen is the foundation of connective tissue that supports the skin’s structure—making it essential for younger-looking skin. But, as we age, the body produces less of it, since naturally occurring enzymes break collagen down, in turn, causing the skin to thin, lose fullness and form wrinkles. The sun, pollution, free radicals and smoke are also responsible for disintegrating collagen.
While the body is constantly creating new collagen to repair what’s been damaged, around age 35, collagen production naturally begins to taper off, and the quality of collagen is not as good as in years past. The good news? In addition to topical products, and treatments, food is a great way to naturally boost collagen in the skin. “Stimulating collagen with at-home topical products, in-office treatments and proper lifestyle choices helps the skin maintain its strength, resiliency and volume,” says Madison, WI, facial plastic surgeon Richard C. Parfitt, MD.
Flip through this gallery to see the best foods to restore, regenerate and repair damaged collagen. Get out your pen. It's time to make an anti-aging shopping list.
Fish collagen is a complex structural protein that helps maintain the strength and flexibility of skin, ligaments, joints, bones, muscles, tendons, blood vessels, gums, eyes, nails and hair. It’s a type I collagen, which is the most abundant collagen in the human body. Type I is best known for providing the foundation for beautiful skin, strong connective tissues and sturdy bones.
Red Fruits and Vegetables
Red fruits and vegetables also are excellent sources to up the collagen content of foods in the diet. The presence of lycopenesl in these types of foods helps to act as antioxidants, which in turn increases collagen production. Try adding red peppers, beets, and fresh or stewed tomatoes to the diet. Also include sweet potatoes, carrots and more. Research from Dr Ronald Watson at the University of Arizona has found that the antioxidants in red, yellow and orange foods build up under the skin creating extra UV protection. "The effect is so strong that eating six portions a day for about two months will build a natural barrier equivalent to a factor four sunscreen," says Dr Watson.
Dark Green Vegetables
Dark green vegetables are also excellent examples of food containing collagen producing agents. Add drak green leafy veggies such as spinach, cabbage and kale to your diet every day. They are packed with an antioxidant called lutein. You need 10 mg to get results - which equates to about 4oz. of spinach or 2oz. of kale. Recent French research suggests this will boost skin hydration and elasticity, fighting wrinkles. Rich in Vitamin C, regular consumption of kale, spinach,collards, and asparagus help to strengthen the body's ability to manufacture collagen and to utilize the protein effectively.
Orange Vegetables Restore and regenerate: Vegetables that are orange in color, like carrots and sweet potatoes, are rich in vitamin A, which restores and regenerates damaged collagen.
Soy products such as soymik and cheese contain an element known as genistein. The presence of genistein gives soy products their collagen production qualities, as well as helping to block enzymes that tend to break down and age the skin. Just about any soy product contains enough genistein to be helpful, including soy products that have been developed as substitutes for meat products.
In addition to giving your body a dose of healthy protein that it needs, egg whites are high in both lysine and proline, as well as collagen itself, so adding more egg whites into your diet could help support your body's natural production of collagen. And for those who choose the vegetarian or vegan route and don’t want to incorporate animal products like eggs or lean meats into their diet, try nuts (particularly peanuts), which also supply lysine.