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Collagen-Rich Foods vs. Supplements

Sporty & Rich Wellness - Collagen-Rich Foods vs. Supplements

By: @coreflexpilates founder Chris Bardawil

What is the best way to boost your body's collagen production? Supplements or diet, here is a run down of the basics to help you navigate your way around understanding collagen and how you can boost your body's supplies.

Collagen is a key protein found in many parts of your body, from your eyes to your skin, hair, nails, joints, bones and tendons. It plays a role in providing structure, support and strength to the body. As we age, natural collagen in the body starts to decrease and a decline can lead to early signs of ageing such as wrinkles and a less plump facial structure. It can also lead to joint pain and reduced mobility.

There are plenty of collagen-rich foods you can eat but how do they compare to collagen supplementation?

Collagen supplements are a quick and easy way to increase your body's collagen levels. They supply your body with the amino acids (glycine, proline and hydroxyproline) that help your body's natural collagen production.

With food on the other hand, you can actually eat the gelatin and proteins directly from certain foods. Unfortunately our bodies cannot directly absorb this so again, they are broken down into amino acids where they then potentially stimulate the body's own collagen production.

See below for some of the best foods for stimulating collagen production.

Bone Broth: Animal bones are the number one source of collagen. As they are slowly simmered the bones and connective tissue breakdown into gelatin which is easily absorbed through the gut lining. You can just drink bone broth or it can be worked into your cooking. For example, using it to cook rice.

Fish: Sardines are especially good for collagen as they contain all the skin, bones and scales (known as marine collagen) which has great bioavailability, making it easily absorbed by the body.

Egg Whites: Whole eggs don't contain any collagen specifically but they are a source of proline which is the key amino acid required for collagen production.

Citrus Fruit: While citrus fruits don't contain collagen themselves, fruits like oranges and grapefruits are high in vitamin C, which helps your body produce collagen. Vitamin C plays an integral role in the synthesis of pro-collagen, the body's precursor to collagen.

Ideally you want a mix of collagen rich foods that your body can take the amino acids from and mix them with other nutrients like vitamin C to help your body produce its own collagen. 

If you can eat a regular supply of collagen rich foods like bone broth, fish and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, your body should have the building blocks for a good supply of collagen without the need for supplements.

With that said, depending on your body's unique needs, collagen supplementation may still be a good idea for your bone, skin and joint health. Taking pro collagen supplements is also another option. It's a matter of trial and error and worth trying to see how they work for you.

References:

Li, P. and Wu, G. (2017). Roles of dietary glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline in collagen synthesis and animal growth. Amino Acids, 50(1), 29-38. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00726-017-2490-6

Cole, J., Warthan, M., Hirano, S., Gowen, C., & Williams, J. (2011). Scurvy in a 10‐year‐old boy. Pediatric Dermatology, 28(4), 444-446. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1525-1470.2010.01095.x

Hua, R., Lin, F., Limbu, S., Lin, Z., Bi, B., Dou, T., 
 & Wen, X. (2020). Effects of dietary proline on swim bladder collagen synthesis and its possible regulation by the tgf‐ÎČ/smad pathway in spotted drum, nibea diacanthus. Aquaculture Nutrition, 26(5), 1792-1805. https://doi.org/10.1111/anu.13130

Nomoto, T. and Iizaka, S. (2020). Effect of an oral nutrition supplement containing collagen peptides on stratum corneum hydration and skin elasticity in hospitalized older adults: a multicenter open-label randomized controlled study. Advances in Skin & Wound Care, 33(4), 186-191. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.asw.0000655492.40898.55

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