5 Foods High in Collagen for Supple Skin and Healthy Joints

Foods that contain collagen.

Who would have thought that a simple protein called collagen could be part of the key to an enduring youthful appearance? (Image: Fascinadora via Dreamstime)

Skincare regimes we all buy into promise younger, dewier, plumper, more youthful skin. Anti-aging, anti-wrinkle serums, creams, and elixirs flood the market and our consciousness. But who would have thought that a simple protein called collagen could be part of the key to an enduring youthful appearance?

What is collagen and why is it important?

Collagen is a protein abundant in the body. One of its primary functions is to aid the largest organ in your body: your skin. However, it’s also found in joints and ligaments, where it contributes to their elasticity. This elasticity is essential to be able to move comfortably and have flexibility.

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As you age, collagen production naturally decreases, leading to wrinkles, dull skin, and less flexibility because, over time, your body increasingly struggles to absorb adequate amounts of the nutrients needed to make collagen. This decline in collagen production is particularly true for women who have already gone through menopause.

A 2015 study states that getting enough collagen in your diet can delay skin aging and promote joint health. This applies long-term as well, so it seems prevention is vital when it comes to maintaining these facets of health and beauty.

Other studies cite similar data: One states that getting enough collagen enhances facial skin moisture and elasticity. It also notes improvements in wrinkles and skin texture. Another study specifically examining collagen supplements presents similar results. After just 12 weeks, participants had improvements in skin elasticity, hydration, and wrinkles.

Older woman checking her face in a mirror for wrinkles.
As we age, collagen production naturally decreases, leading to wrinkles, dull skin, and less flexibility because, over time, our bodies increasingly struggle to absorb adequate amounts of the nutrients needed to make collagen. (Image: Victorrustle via Dreamstime)

How do you get more collagen?

Collagen supplements have long been growing in popularity. You may have seen them popping up at your local grocery store or favorite beauty retailer — but did you know that you can also eat foods that are high in collagen?

Eating collagen-rich foods can help to offset its natural decline as you age. As a result, your body can stay stronger and healthier even as you get older.

In terms of nutrition, there are two primary factors involved in increasing collagen in your body; consistently eating foods high in collagen and consuming foods that promote collagen synthesis. So if you want firm, supple skin and healthy joints, read on to see which foods contain collagen or prompt its synthesis so you can integrate them into your diet.

5 foods that are high in collagen

1. Bone broth

One of the richest sources of collagen protein is bone broth. Typically, bone broth is made by taking bones and cooking them in water for several hours. In doing so, nutrients including glycine and collagen are extracted from the bones. You can use bone broth in place of standard broth in soups and stews to boost the nutrient content. You can also enjoy it solo, sipped as a hot beverage.

2. Meat

Meats, especially red meats including beef, pork, and lamb, are among the best high-collagen foods. This is because these animals have lots of connective tissue that requires collagen. In fact, tougher cuts of meat have more collagen than lean cuts! Red meats also contain the amino acids necessary for your body to synthesize collagen.

Fresh raw fish on a board.
Marine collagen peptides (MCPs) come from fish skin and scales. (Image: Tanya Polovik via Dreamstime)

3. Fish

Like other animal products, fish have connective tissues and bones that contain collagen. Marine collagen peptides (MCPs) come from fish skin and scales. Research shows that fish collagen has similar benefits to beef collagen in terms of its pro-aging benefits. But while your lunchtime tuna sandwich or dinnertime salmon can certainly add to your collagen intake, be aware that the “meat” of fish contains less collagen than other, less desirable parts such as skin.

4. Eggs

You probably know that eggs are high in protein. However, what you may not know is that egg whites are particularly high in the amino acids glycine and proline, both of which are necessary to create collagen in the body. Therefore, consuming eggs regularly can provide your body with the building blocks of collagen. 

5. Spirulina

This type of algae is a great plant-based source of amino acids like glycine, which is a key component of collagen. Spirulina can be found in dried form at most health food stores and makes a great addition to green smoothies, desserts, or juices.

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