Updated: May 3, 2021
Chicken Sternum cartilage, Cow and other animal bones and ligaments, anyone?
Collagen supplements—as well as the collagen being sprinkled into various food products—are usually derived from the skin, hide, tendons, bones, cartilage, or other connective tissues of cows, pigs, chicken, or fish. One I recently looked at has Chicken Sternum Cartilage as the main collagen ingredient.
So, being the plant eater I am, and wanting the benefits touted by these supplement makers, like better skin, joint health etc., I naturally decided to do some research…
But even if eating collagen directly does lead to more collagen in your body, you don’t need special collagen foods or supplements to get it. Collagen is found in meat, poultry, fish, egg whites, and gelatin, as well as in stock or bone broth.
But what if you are a plant based eater, like me?
I decided to look into it…Unfortunately, most current studies use animal-derived collagen sources as the main variable.
However, the research we do have pertaining to collagen-boosting plant-based sources suggests animal derivatives are not needed for collagen-building effects.
Collagen ingested (in regards to animal-based supplements) is not equal to collagen absorbed.
Collagen synthesis is complicated and requires many complimentary nutrients and compounds in the body to all pitch in and make it happen. Synergy is important!
Vitamin C, polysaccharides, silica, zinc, copper and amino acids (protein) are all necessary for your body to produce collagen. Knowing this, a mineral or vitamin deficiency could be holding back your body’s potential to absorb and produce collagen, even if you eat a collagen supplement. Lucky for you, there are plant-based sources for all of the necessary compounds needed for collagen synthesis.
Consuming the below foods and nutrients can help provide your body with the necessary nutrients to produce the collagen it needs to feel great and glow while doing so!
1. Amino Acids
Building healthy collagen isn’t about eating collagen protein, its about providing your body with the right building blocks.
Amino acids, known as the building blocks of protein, are a foundational element to collagen synthesis in the body.
Plant-based proteins, such as pea protein or quinoa, are considered complete proteins. A complete protein means it contains all 9 essential amino acids that the human body cannot produce on its own.
2. Aloe Vera
This skin-boosting succulent does more than simmer down a sunburn. Everyone knows aloe is good topically for skin, but did you know that it also promotes healthy skin, hair, nail, and collagen growth when ingested?
Aloe vera is rich in specific polysaccharides that play a role in assembling amino acids in collagen formation. These polysaccharides can potentially help create larger, stronger collagen assemblies.
Think of it as scaffolding to help quickly build longer, stronger collagen strands.
In addition, aloe vera has also been studied for its ability to deliver nutrients that can actually help speed up the healing time of wounds and cuts.
Another well-known collagen-boosting compound is silica. Most plant-based foods naturally contain silica. Silica is a highly beneficial mineral to boost the resilience and appearance of hair, skin, and nails. If your nails are soft and brittle, you may have a systemic deficiency of silica.
4. Vitamin C
Not just to keep sickness away! Aside from amino acids, vitamin C is one of the most important must-have components in natural collagen production.
Without adequate amounts of vitamin C, your body can’t even store or form collagen.
Vitamin C is needed to turn the amino acid proline into hydroxyproline. Hydroxyproline is key to stabilizing the collagen structure.
Without vitamin C, you get poor collagen structure formation leading to brittle hair, bad skin, and tender joints amongst many other symptoms.
In addition to helping to build up structures in the body, vitamin C can also aid in protecting the skin from UV and free radical damage.
5. Vitamin E
Vitamin E, also known as vitamin C’s synergistic best friend and an anti-aging proponent.
The intake of vitamin E helps against collagen cross-linking and lipid peroxidation. Both of these activities have been linked to the aging of the skin.
How to Get More Vegan Collagen in Your Diet
In modern fast-paced times, we can actually deplete nutrient levels by living stressful lives.Plus, fast farming practices are causing nutrient depletion in topsoil leading to less nutritious produce, and in turn more nutrient deficiencies.
The smart way to support collagen production by eating an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables that are plentiful in collagen-boosting nutrient. More and more people are spending money on collagen supplements in the hopes of minimizing wrinkles and achieving more supple skin. There is a better way to ensure you’re getting all of the added collagen you need, through the food choices you makes and lifestyle.
Proline and hydroxyproline are amino acids that make up 23% of collagen, and have been found to be precursors to sustaining collagen production.
Without a sufficient supply of vitamin C, your body can’t make new collagen.
more often than not, we must get these amino acids from the foods we eat.
Best sources of Glycine: • Banana • Beans • Cabbage • Cauliflower • Cucumber • Kale • Kiwi
• Pumpkin • Spinach
Best sources of proline: • Alfalfa sprouts • Asparagus • Beans
• Buckwheat • Cabbage • Cucumber • Chives • Tempeh • Watercress • White mustard seeds
• Brussels sprouts
• Red bell pepper
Lysine: This amino acid is also required for collagen synthesis.
And, it’s one you must pay close attention to because it isn’t as readily available in plant foods like the nutrients discussed above.
So be sure to stock up on the following items to ensure your lysine intake is on par:
• Black Beans • Kidney Beans • Lentils • Lima beans • Pistachios • Potatoes • Pumpkin seeds • Tempeh • Quinoa
Garlic: This powerful herb contains lipoic acid and taurine, both of which repair damaged collagen. Garlic is also a good source of sulphur, which is a major player in collagen synthesis.
Antioxidants: These powerhouses protect your collagen from free radical damage. And the best way to load up on antioxidants is by eating the rainbow. Red beets and peppers, orange carrots and sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, and purple berries.
YOUR BODY can MAKE the collagen you are looking for….remember, Collagen ingested is not equal to collagen ABSORBED…wouldn’t you like to know that your body is MAKING your collagen? (And not have to eat chicken sternum? ;-)
I’m so happy to know that I found that I am already getting so many of the foods in my body every day that help me to make my own collagen- both from my diet and from my amazing Magic Beans! (check my Juice Plus page)
ONE MORE THING….
It’s Not All About the Food Nutrient rich foods aren’t the only players when it comes to collagen protection and synthesis. Your daily habits are important too.
First and foremost is stress. Stress wreaks havoc on your body in countless ways. One of them is by generating free radicals and causing inflammation and oxidative stress. All of which have the potential to destroy your collagen. So find ways to create moments of peace throughout your day. Go for a walk. Breathe deep. Take a bath. Laugh with friends. Or read a book. Just find something that works. And do it! Another key factor is sleep. Because your body repairs and rebuilds collagen mainly when you’re sleeping. Thus, it’s important to shoot for 7 to 9 hours of shut eye each night.
Recommend lowering your exposure to toxins found in processed foods, pesticides, personal care products, and home cleaners. Because they’re concentrated sources of free radicals that can certainly harm the integrity of your collagen.
Look younger, have beautiful skin, less wrinkles at any age, eat more fruits and vegetable that boost your collagen.
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