Boost Your Collagen Through Diet

A diagram of collagen as it relates to the rest of the skin.

A diagram of collagen as it relates to the rest of the skin.

Collagen is the foundation of your skin’s structure. It is the tissue that supports your skin and gives your skin the flexibility it needs.

As a natural part of the aging process, your skin produces less collagen and naturally-occurring skin enzymes continue to break down pre-existing collagen. This process results in loss of skin fullness.  When the skin becomes less full, it thins and eventually forms wrinkles.

Several components outside of the skin speed up collagen loss, therefore compounding the natural aging process.  These include ultraviolet light, smoking, and free radicals caused by environmental factors such as pollution and poor nutrition.

Other than smoking, it would seem like these components are unavoidable, which is true.  However, the good news is that there are topical and noninvasive treatments that can boost collagen in the skin and undo some of the effects of collagen loss.

fish_plateIn addition to these treatments, certain food items and good nutrition can naturally boost skin collagen.  The following is a list of foods that are best for restoring damaged collagen and stimulating its increased production:

  1. Oysters are naturally full of vitamins and minerals including zinc, which is an essential elements in your body’s production of collagen.
  2. Love it or hate it on the breath, garlic contains large amounts of sulfur which is important for collagen production, and amino acids which help to repair damage collagen fibers.
  3. Egg whites are high in amino acids and proteins which also support your body’s natural production of collagen.
  4. Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C which helps amino acids in their conversion to collagen. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, which is helpful in neutralizing free radicals which damage collagen.
  5. White tea has been shown in studies to prevent enzyme activity that breaks down collagen, therefore protecting existing collagen.
  6. Soy-based products such as soy milk or tofu contain a plant hormone, Genistein, that promotes collagen production and blocks enzymes that breakdown collagen.
  7. Berries are also very high in antioxidants, and simultaneously act to stimulate collagen production.
  8. Orange veggies such as carrots and sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A, which is also fundamental in stimulating collagen production.
  9. Dark green veggies are also high in vitamin C.
  10. Fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as tuna and salmon, support collagen structure, resulting in stronger skin cells.
  11. Red veggies such as tomatoes peppers and beets contain an antioxidant called lycopene that acts as a natural sunblock and limits collagen depletion.

Integrating more of these foods into your diet will help you achieve overall good skin appearance and health, in combination with protecting your skin with sunblock. Obviously, and on the flip side, “junk” foods do not repair collagen, and in fact may stimulate its further damage.

About Dr. John Burke

John Burke M.D. has practiced medicine for over 25 years, and is the founding partner of MidMaine Internal Medicine. He established Maine Laser Skin Care in 2004 after devoting years to learning the latest in laser and dermatologic technology. Dr. Burke has treated patients from all over the United States. He is one of Maine's busiest practitioners in laser treatments, and in the use of Botox for upper facial lines and excessive sweating.
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