As we get older, our bodies make less collagen, which causes sagging skin, wrinkles, weak joints, thinner hair and also fragile bones.
What is collagen?
Collagen is basically the structural protein that provides framework to our cells, holding everything together and in place, especially your skin and the connective tissues in your joints. If you don’t eat enough vitamins and minerals, the body makes less collagen, which makes you appear older and your body can age at a faster rate.
Eating junk foods, alcoholic drinks, sugar, smoking, and stress can also damage your collagen and weaken your body. Fortunately, there are certain vitamins that help boost collagen production to keep your skin elastic and youthful and your joints strong and healthy.
And that’s exactly what we will talk about in this article. I use the words vitamins broadly to include amino acids, antioxidants, and minerals that you can use to boost your collagen naturally.
Disclaimer; This article is for educational purposes only, so do speak to a doctor if you have any medical concerns.
1. Collagen peptides
You can take one to two scoops of collagen powder every day to boost collagen production in your body. This tasteless, odorless powder provides all of the 19 amino acids which your body uses as raw materials for the collagen in your skin, your joints, tissues, hair, etc.
You can drink this in a glass of water, blend it into a smoothie, or add it to soups as it’s not damaged by heat. You can also get collagen into your diet by eating the skin and the small bones on fish like sardines, anchovies, and salmon, or by consuming bone, broth or real gelatin.
2. Vitamins C
The most important vitamin to help boost collagen production is vitamin C. Vitamin C is a complex antioxidant which you need to consume on a daily basis if you want to have a youthful and healthy body.
Some of the richest sources of vitamin C comes from raw fruits and vegetables, including Bell peppers, kale, leafy Greens, berries, cabbage and sauerkraut. This helps to turn the raw amino acids that you eat into collagen for your skin and connective tissues.
It also protects your skin and your body from oxidation and the damaging effects of aging. Please note that I recommend avoiding the over the counter asorbic acid supplements, as these are not a true form of vitamin C.
If you wish to take a supplement, acerola cherry powder is the best option along with other whole fruit powders.
3. Retinol (Vitamin A)
It is the active form of vitamin A. When it comes to nourishing the skin and building collagen, retinol is one of the most important nutrients you see. Retinol is the active form of vitamin A found in egg yolks, butter, cheese, cod liver oil, and organ meats. It’s known as the anti-aging nutrient because it activates genes that trigger collagen synthesis. It also clears up acne, skin irritation, dandruff and sinus problems because it helps to regulate oil production on the outer and the inner skin of the body.
Taking one teaspoon of raw Virgin cod liver oil on a daily basis is the best way to nourish your body with active vitamin A. As a side note, you can also get the precursor to vitamin A from leafy Greens and vegetables. This is called beta carotene.
Did you know that every single cell in your body contains coenzyme Q10? It’s an extremely powerful antioxidant that protects your trillions of cell membranes from oxidative damage having an anti-aging effect. You can boost Coq10 by taking a daily supplement of Ubiquinol, or you can consume organ meats regularly like liver, kidney, heart, etc.
Boosting your Coq10 helps to protect against collagen loss. It helps to prevent sagging muscles and cellulite, renews anti-aging hormones like growth hormone, and helps your cells produce more ATP and energy to keep you feeling energized, fit, and healthy.
5. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient found in avocados, sunflower seeds, extra Virgin olive oil and almonds. This is one of the most important anti-aging nutrients because it helps to prevent hormone imbalances that tend to come with age. Vitamin E protects against collagen loss after the menopause in women and also aging men by boosting the output of pituitary hormones.
It’s also one of the most important antioxidant vitamins for the skin, helping to prevent wrinkles and retain youthful and moisturize skin. Although it’s important to get it from healthy foods, if you do wish to take a supplement tocotrienols from Annatto are the highest quality.
Copper is an overlooked yet extremely important mineral which your body needs to make collagen. It actually works along with vitamin C to boost collagen and elastin in your skin. This protects the structure of your skin cells, protecting against sun damage and damage from pollutants. Copper is needed to protect the connective tissues in your joints like your tendons, cartilage, and also the discs in your lower back.
“Studies show that getting lots of copper in your diet can also reduce the graying of the hair. As you get older.”
You can get copper by eating organ meats, oysters, shellfish and shiitake mushrooms. It’s also found as an enzyme called tyrosinase in foods that naturally contain vitamin C.
Astaxanthin is a carotenoid which gives the vibrant red color to salmon, krill, and shrimp. With 6000 times more antioxidant power than vitamin C, astaxanthin is one of the best anti-aging nutrients in the world. The best natural supplement containing this is Arctic krill oil capsules. Other fish oils tend to go rancid very easily. However, the red astaxanthin in krill oil protects the integrity of the oil, giving it a longer shelf life.
Taking this improves blood flow, enhances collagen production and prevents the skin from drying out due to the Omea 3-s.
Whenever you sustain an injury, or sick with an illness or have inflammation, your body uses up its zinc stores to try and heal you. However, zinc is also needed as a co-enzyme to make and remodel collagen. You can check zinc benefits for skin!
So as we age, we tend to suffer with lots of ailments which depletes our zinc and therefore makes our collagen weaker. You can load up on zinc by eating oysters, crab meat, mussels, shrimp, and pumpkin seeds to help improve collagen production.
If you want to take a supplement, the best is zinc chelate or zinc Glycinate at around 30 milligrams per day.
As you can see, there are a range of powerful nutrients and vitamins that you can use to boost collagen and protect your body against sagging, skin aging and collagen loss.
Many of these nutrients are already in foods that you regularly consume, so you can start by eating more of these.
How to Absorb Nutrients Properly As Your Body Gets Older?
Although you may be eating lots of nutritious foods and perhaps even supplements, often these nutrients aren’t available to your body and your cells because of digestive problems that occur as we get older. So if you have indigestion, gas, bloating, acid reflux, or other digestive problems, you will be less likely to absorb these nutrients that are needed to support your collagen and protect the framework of your body with age.
If this is the case, consider taking a digestive enzyme supplement before each meal. These supplements contain enzymes and bile that help your stomach to break down and absorb nutrients from your diet.
For a cheaper option, drink one tablespoon of raw Apple cider vinegar mixed in a glass of water before each meal. This will stimulate digestive juices from your gallbladder and pancreas to help you absorb more collagen boosting nutrients.
Lifestyle tips for vitamins that help boost collagen production
- Cut back on refined sugar and grain based foods like soda, flour, bread, cereal, pasta, pancakes, biscuits, etc. These deplete your vitamin C and speed up the aging process as they cause oxidative damage.
- Consider intermittent fasting where you eat all of your calories in a four hour window and fast for the remaining 20 hours per day. This stimulates autophagy, a process where your body cleans up and recycles old dead proteins and makes new collagen out of it.
- Follow a lowcarb diet like keto, eating lots of nutritious leafy Greens and healthy fats that support collagen Synthesis.
- Get regular exercise of at least 20 minutes twice per week. This improves blood flow, allowing oxygen to reach all of your connective tissues and collagen and also keeping the fluid balance of the body correct.
- keep your stress levels low by getting at least 8 hours of sleep, taking long walks in nature and practicing breathing exercises.