Many people are now looking for natural sources of collagen so they can reap its benefits and the benefits are many! As the most abundant protein in our body, collagen is important for:
- Fighting signs of aging like wrinkles
- Improving joint health
- Healing Leaky Gut Syndrome
- Boosting metabolism
- Improving mental health
- Reducing the appearance of cellulite
- Strengthening hair and nails (see this gelatin hair mask recipe)
What Is Collagen?
In the body, collagen is mostly found in the skin, bones, and joints. It also is found in the lining of the gut. We now know that gut health is incredibly important for overall health!
Collagen in the body is made up of amino acids which wrap together to make a triple-helix structure. The helix structure is why collagen is so strong.
The amino acids which make up collagen are:
- Glycine: Makes up about 33% of collagen
- Proline: Makes up about 10% of collagen
- Hydroxyproline: Makes up about 10% of collagen
- Hydroxylysine: Makes up about 1% of collagen (1, 2)
Why You Need Collagen
Our bodies are able to make collagen out of amino acids we consume through food. However, as we age, our bodies aren’t able to produce collagen as well. Thus, around the age of 30, collagen production begins to diminish by about 1% to 2% yearly. By the age of 40, we have lost 10% to 20% of our collagen! (3)
Don’t forget that our bodies first need to have amino acids to produce collagen. If you are eating a diet which is lacking in those crucial amino acids, your body won’t be able to produce enough collagen!
To make things worse, naturally-occurring enzymes in our bodies also break down collagen. Environmental factors like pollution, free radicals, and the sun can also break down collagen.(4)
The #1 Source of Collagen: Gelatin
When it comes to sources of collagen, you won’t find anything better than gelatin. Why? Because gelatin IS collagen.
Gelatin is basically a cooked form of collagen. It is usually made by boiling down the connective tissues of cows or pigs. The collagen is released, extracted, and dried.
The great thing about gelatin is that it is easy for the body to digest and absorb. A lot of people report quick results by consuming gelatin. Don’t expect your wrinkles or joint pain to disappear overnight, but a scoop-per-day of gelatin could do miracles for your health!
Quality matters when buying gelatin! The stuff you find in the supermarket is so highly-processed that it isn’t likely to deliver any benefits. Instead, choose pasture-raised, grass-fed gelatin. You can read How to Choose a Gelatin Brand.
#2: Bone Broth
Bone broth is made by boiling down the bones and connective tissues of animals. When these tissues are boiled, the collagen is released into water. That is why bone broth will gel.
Making bone broth is very easy and cheap! I like to sip on a hot mug of bone broth each morning.
Just be warned that if you are following a Low FODMAPs diet for IBS or SIBO, some of the carbs in bone broth might bother you. In this case, it is better to opt for gelatin powder, which is FODMAPs-safe.
#3: Egg Whites
Egg whites are very rich in the amino acids glycine and proline, which are the main components of collagen. By eating egg whites, you’ll give your body the amino acids it needs to build collagen.
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae which is really popular as a health supplement. In addition to containing lots of iron, a single teaspoon of spirulina contains more glycine and proline than a large egg white.
Spirulina is also a good source of copper, and copper is one of the minerals important for forming collagen.(5)
The only downside is that spirulina supplements can be a bit pricey, and they don’t exactly taste very good. I personally stick to gelatin instead.
Cod, as well as other types of white fish, are loaded with glycine and proline. Even if you aren’t worried about getting more natural sources of collagen into your life, you should still be eating more cod. It has a great Omega 3:6 ratio – something important for reducing inflammation in the body.
I personally take fermented cod liver oil (FCLO) as a supplement every day. It’s the only supplement that I take and is a great source of vitamin D plus it’s a natural sleep aid.
#6: Citrus Fruits
While citrus fruits like grapefruits and lemons don’t contain glycine or proline, they do contain high amounts of vitamin C.
Our bodies need vitamin C to produce collagen. According to dermatologist Dr. Dimitry Palceski, the antioxidant properties of vitamin C also prevent enzymes and free-radicals from breaking down collagen.(6)
#7: Sulfur Foods
Sulfur is a trace mineral which is important for collagen synthesis. Studies have shown that animals fed a sulfur-deficient diet produced less collagen. The scary thing is that many people are likely deficient in sulfur, yet the mineral gets hardly any attention.(7)
Animal foods like beef, eggs, poultry, and dairy are all good sources of sulfur for collagen production. However, it is also important to eat vegetable sources of sulfur too. As Mark Sisson notes, vegetable sources of sulfur contain potent organosulfur which animal foods do not.(8)
Good vegetable sources of sulfur include:
- Garlic (which is also contains allicin – a potent natural antibacterial)
- Brussels sprouts
Want to learn how to improve your skin, fight weight gain, boost mood, and rejuvenate your health with gelatin? Read The Gelatin Secret.
You’ll not only learn about the health benefits of gelatin, but also get great recipes for incorporating gelatin into your everyday life.
(Click Here to Buy The Gelatin Secret)
Geoffrey Levens, L.Ac. says
I have not been able to find ANY evidence that consuming collagen does any more for your body’s collagen than consuming an adequate amount of protein. The digestive system breaks all protein down into its constituent amino acids BEFORE you absorb it; when it doesn’t that is called leaky gut and is very dangerous. Any special properties of ingested collagen are undoubtedly caused by the placebo effect.
Sam Simmons says
Thank you for the article about collagen.
Onions are excellent for Men seeking to Naturally raise Testosterone levels because Onion juice juiced in a vegetable juicing machine and added to Sweet Potato juice will further enhance a Man’s Test levels and give him the necessary energy and libido to perform successfully with his wife. Over time, as a Man consumes more Onions either chopped in his food consumed raw or juiced in a machine, he’ll also experience improved health and vitality.
Marine Donnell says
Great article about collagen. I have been taking collagen for sometime since it’s difficult to get the desired amount of collagen from other sources. The results are incredible and didn’t come across any side effects.
Jeffrey Weinstein says
A very informative and vitally useful article in nutrition.
What brand of fermented cod liver oil do you recommend?
Tamara Donnell says
Great article about collagen. However, Collagen found in your everyday diet is usually too big to penetrate through the skin. Therefore in order to achieve youthful skin, it is important to consume a higher amount of collagen and the only way to get a higher dosage of collagen is through collagen supplements that come in any form (collagen pills or collagen drink). To all those looking for high quality collagen supplements would highly recommend LAC Taut Collagen products.
i always eat eggwhite it has done me wonders
Madeleine Smith says
Love all your . information what about Flaxseed?
What does it help for. I got crons deseas what is the best.
Collagen Pure Type I and II says
Have you ever considered publishing an ebook or guest authoring on other
websites? I have a blog based upon on the same subjects you discuss and would
love to have you share some stories/information.
I know my readers would enjoy your work. If you’re even remotely interested,
feel free to shoot me an email.
Charles Longfield says
Very interesting stuff.So,what’s a safe , easily purchased college source?You have to go to specialty stores?How about foods for peptides, or does a generic Amino acid supplement do the trick?
bobbi mileham says
PLEASE tell me if you have any studies or info on the relationship between low collagen levels and VEGANISM. My friend is very sick and exhibits the signs of AUTONOMIC DYSFUNCTION. Collogan comes up in that article!! I can’t find sufficient information in defense of a NON-vegan diet, to be an informed friend. There is much defense against someone not a VEGAN. I am NOT anti-vegan, but she is a mother of four and under 40 and suddenly she is very ill. I read up on VEGAN diets related to nerve problems. If you have anything to share, please do
Read Sally Fallon’s work from Weston A. Price Foundation and Nourishing Traditions. Lots of information there.
Anna Billings says
I am interested in rebuilding the collagen in my body.