Collagen-Rich Foods: Health Benefits & Drawbacks

Slow down the signs of aging and turn back the clock on your skin with tasty foods.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Archna Agrawal, MSc (Dietetics), Naturopathy Dr. Archna Agrawal Dr. Archna AgrawalMSc (Dietetics), Naturopathy facebook_icon
Written by , MSc (Biotechnology), Certified Diet & Nutrition Coach Varsha Patnaik MSc (Biotechnology), Certified Diet & Nutrition Coach Experience: 2 years
Edited by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , MSc (Biotechnology), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Payal Karnik MSc (Biotechnology), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Experience: 2.5 years

Collagen is booming in the health and fitness industry right now! Foods rich in collagen can do wonders not only for your skin and hair but also your muscles and joints. But, before you start following a collagen diet, taking collagen supplements, or consuming innumerable cups of bone broth, you need to know what boosting collagen can do for your body, which foods to consume for increasing collagen intake, and much more. This article tells you everything you need to know about the benefits of collagen-rich foods. Let’s begin!

Collagen: What Is It?

Collagen is one of the most important proteins that your body makes. It is the strongest of all the tissue fibers that make up connective tissues. Your skin, hair, bones, nails, joints, muscles, blood vessels, cartilagesi  A resilient connective tissue that safeguards your bones and joints. , cells, placentai  A transitory embryonic organ that develops in the uterus during pregnancy and provides nutrients to the fetus. , and other organs have collagen in them. Collagen is made up of three alpha chains. Each alpha chain is made up of thousands of amino acids (the building blocks of protein), with glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline being the most abundant (1).

Collagen is a crucial part of connective tissues responsible for giving structure, elasticity, and firmness to your body. Foods rich in collagen reinforce your body’s natural collagen production by stimulating the fibroblasts (cells in the skin) that make collagen (2).

And this leads you to the next part— what is a collagen diet?

The Collagen Diet: Know The Facts

The collagen diet is a way of eating that limits sugar intake and incorporates foods rich in collagen, a collagen food supplement, or foods that boost your body’s ability to produce collagen (3). Let’s look at some quick facts about it:

  • Naturally, collagen as food is found in animal parts, like chicken, meat, fish, and dairy products (4).
  • The body makes collagen on its own in a complex series of processes that involve amino acids, copper, zinc, and vitamin C (5), (6), (7), (8).
  • With age, the body’s collagen production becomes low and collagen diets may help reverse some of the signs of aging (9).
  • Collagen injections or collagen supplements also form a part of certain collagen diets (10).
  • The research on collagen supplements is in its initial stages with promising results. However, there is not enough evidence to support its complete safety. ( 11), ( 12).

Note: According to the American Council on Science and Health, collagen supplements are not evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). So, do enough research before you buy any supplements (13).

protip_icon Quick Tip
Avoid intake of foods high in sugar and refined carbs because they can cause damage to collagen and lead to inflammation.

If you want to steer clear of supplements (more details on this coming up later) or injections, then how do you increase collagen naturally? The answer is, through eating right. So, let’s see if we can find some healthy foods and herbs rich in collagen.


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

    You can approach the collagen diet in several ways. You can eat collagen-rich foods for hair and skin or you can take a collagen food supplement with your doctor’s advice. Either way, you stand to gain from incorporating foods high in collagen, and foods that help you make more collagen in your body, in your diet.

    1. Foods Rich In Collagen

    Consume collagen-rich foods to boost hair health, skin health, and nail health. Unknown to most people, collagen may also improve gut health. The collagen you eat breaks down into amino acids, which are then distributed to the parts of your body where collagen can (or needs to) be made. Glycine, lysine, proline, leucinei  The amino acid that helps break down proteins and repairs muscles. , hydroxyproline, and hydroxylysine are some of the essential amino acids for collagen production. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, meat is a good source of collagen (14).

    • Beef
    Beef is rich in collagen
    Image: Shutterstock

    Beef is one of the best sources of amino acids, the building blocks of connective tissues. Beef is also a natural source of collagen and is widely used in the extraction process for making collagen peptides (supplements). So, when you are biting into a juicy steak, you are doing yourself a favor (15).

    • Fish With Skin

    The skin that you find on fish, especially sea-fish, is rich in collagen. Apart from that, fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which promote skin health (16).

    • Chicken
    Chicken is rich in collagen
    Image: Shutterstock

    If you are a fan of lean meat and enjoy eating chicken, you are supplying your body with a ton of ingredients that it needs to cook up some collagen for you. Chicken neck and cartilage are exceptionally good sources, so you may want to prepare chicken stock/broth/soup with these for a collagen boost (17).

    • Eggs
    Eggs are rich in collagen
    Image: Shutterstock

    Eggs are a very healthy way to incorporate healthy proteins into your diet as they contain amino acids that make collagen (18).

    • Bone Broth
    Bone broth is rich in collagen
    Image: Shutterstock

    Bone broth is made by simmering bones and connective tissues from beef, venison (deer), chicken, or turkey for a long time. The slow cooking process helps draw out the gelatin that breaks down into collagen in our body. If you don’t want to go through the long process (though it is worth it for the quality and taste), you can buy bone broth from stores. Commercially available bone broth may vary in quality, or availability of collagen as they are processed differently. Studies show that while bone broth contains some of the essential amino acids for collagen, it may not be a consistent enough source when compared to oral supplements (19).

    2. Collagen Boosting Foods

    There is a lack of collagen-rich foods vegetarian and vegan diets allow as most natural sources are animal-based. However, since your body is a robust collagen-making unit, you can always eat the ingredients your body uses as raw material for building collagen. Make sure you eat a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods, with emphasis on the nutrients crucial to the growth and upkeep of collagen.

    • Vitamin C

    Your body cannot naturally produce vitamin C, so it is important to incorporate foods containing vitamin C into your diet. What’s that got to do with collagen? you may ask. Well, from your body’s perspective, everything. That’s because your body uses vitamin C to make its own collagen. If you don’t have enough of it, you not only will show signs of aging faster but also open yourself up to serious health issues (20).

    Red and green peppers, citrus fruits, berries, blackcurrants, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and potatoes are some great sources of this key nutrient.

    • Zinc

    Zinc plays an important role in the development and maintenance of bones. This role of zinc is also linked to the part it plays in the making of collagen in the body. Studies have shown that zinc increases the performance of cells responsible for collagen production in bone tissues  (21).

    Meat, shellfish, oysters, chickpeas, nuts, fortified cereals, bread, and dairy products are good sources of zinc.

    • Copper

    You need to up your copper intake for boosting collagen production as it plays a vital role in the development and maintenance of your connective tissues. Elastin (a vital protein that lends elasticity to connective tissues in the skin) and collagen can cross-link and form bonds thanks to the availability of copper (22).

    Nuts, prunes, dark leafy vegetables, potatoes, black pepper, pork, shellfish like oysters, poultry, and organ meats like liver and kidneys are good sources from where you can get your copper fix.

    • Omega-3 Fatty Acids

    You can keep your ligaments in shape by consuming more omega-3 fatty acids. A study has found that omega-3 can enhance the collagen forming fibroblasts (cells that make connective tissues) working in the ligaments of your body (23).

    Seeds like flaxseed, sunflower seeds and chia, walnuts, Brussel sprouts, kale, spinach, and fatty fish like mackerel, sardines, and salmon are excellent sources of omega-3.

    • Antioxidants

    Antioxidants do not directly make collagen for you. But, they do something very crucial for your skin. Not only age, but free radicals in your skin are also responsible for collagen loss. Antioxidants are free radical scavengers and can protect collagen in your skin from excessive damage (24).

    Dark chocolate, beans, berries, kale, spinach, red cabbage, onions, prunes, apricot, broccoli, and green tea are only a few of the vast sources of antioxidants that you can include in your collagen diet.

    • Legumes

    Legumes are another food source believed to be beneficial for collagen production. They are an extremely nutritious substitute for meat. While they are rich in fiber, protein, carbs, and B vitamins, they also contain some of the above-mentioned minerals like zinc and copper that may stimulate collagen production (25). Furthermore, they are naturally low in fats and cholesterol, making them a good food option for many healthy diets. This diverse nutrition profile may prove to be beneficial for collagen production in the body.

    Incorporate food items such as lentils, chickpeas, peas, beans (lima, kidney, common types), soybeans, and peanuts in your diet to avail their benefits.

    If you are wondering why it is so important to boost the body’s collagen production, the answer’s coming right up!

    What Happens To Your Body If Collagen Is Low

    By the time you are in your early twenties, your body has already started losing collagen. When you hit your forties, you can expect a one percent loss in collagen every succeeding year. By the time you are eighty years old, your body produces less than 75 percent of the collagen it used to produce when you were a young adult. Besides age, several other factors may lead you to lose collagen—free radicals, smoking, alcoholism, disease, and a nutrient-deficient diet (26).

    The numbers may seem quite alarming, especially since collagen is a vital component for healthy skin, hair, bones, joints, and more. So, let’s see what some of the symptoms of a drop in your body’s collagen levels are:

    • Skin Aging
    Woman with aging skin due to drop in collagen levels
    Image: Shutterstock

    Collagen loss leads your skin to lose elasticity, firmness, and protection against natural wear and tear. Wrinkles, deep lines, crepey, and sagging skin which is more prone to damage from pollutants and UV rays are some of the signs that your skin is losing collagen (27).

    • Joint Pain

    Collagen may boost joint health. The cartilages are designed to help your bones glide over each other, without friction. With collagen loss, those cartilages wear down and lead to a condition called osteoarthritis. Stiff joints, aches, and swelling are the most commonly reported symptoms of osteoarthritis (28).

    • Weak Bones

    This might come as a surprise to many, but collagen is needed for improved bone health. The structure and strength of your bones depend greatly on collagen, which accounts for more than 80 percent of the proteins in them. Weak, brittle bones that are more susceptible to injuries and fractures can be linked with a loss of collagen in the connective tissues of your bones (29). According to another study, loss of collagen may even be responsible for osteoporosis (30).

    • Stiffness In Ligaments And Tendons

    The tendons in your body connect your bones to your muscles, while the ligaments connect your bones. Both tendons and ligaments are composed of connective tissues that contain collagen and if you lose enough of it, you can experience stiffness and mobility problems (31).

    With so many issues that you may face if your collagen levels drop, you may have an idea of the benefits a collagen diet may give you. Read on, to verify.

    Health Benefits Of A Collagen Diet

    If you eat collagen-rich foods, you may reverse signs of skin aging. Studies have revealed that oral collagen can improve the thickness of the epidermis and make the skin hydrated. It also reduces wrinkles and age lines on facial skin, besides affecting the elasticity and smoothness of skin positively (32).

    You can also reap the benefits of eating foods rich in collagen with an improvement in joint pain (33).

    There is more good news for you. A study has noted that certain collagen peptides can improve bone density in postmenopausal women (34). The result? Lowered risk of osteoporosis and stronger bones.

    protip_icon Did You Know?
    Over 90 percent of the collagen in the human body is type I collagen. This is the most abundant protein found in bones, ligaments, skin, and tendons.

    So, should you get on a collagen diet? Read the drawbacks and make a more informed decision.

    Collagen Diet: The Drawbacks

    • You can end up relying too heavily on collagen supplements instead of making positive lifestyle changes and nurturing healthy food habits.
    • You may have allergic reactions to ingredients in collagen supplements or nuts/shellfish. It is advised that you speak to your doctor before introducing anything new to your diet.
    • Some people report digestive issues with a high protein diet.
    • The diet is animal product-centric, so it is not very vegan-friendly.

    You may want to take the supplement route if your body is struggling to absorb nutrients from foods directly or if your doctor has recommended it. If so, read on to find more about collagen supplements.

    Collagen Supplements: Safety and Precautions

    You can get hold of a collagen food supplement and put it in your morning coffee, smoothies, and even water. Hydrolyzed collagen (or collagen peptides) is easily absorbed by the body as it is processed and a broken-down version of animal collagen. It is also tasteless, odorless, and colorless and likely won’t put you off. Preliminary research has found it to be safe and effective for improving skin elasticity and moisture retention (35).

    But, before you race ahead on the path of least resistance, take a look at some important safety concerns.

    • Unregulated Market

    Supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agency. That means that the supplements in the market may not follow the same standard procedures. Inconsistency in terms of quantity of processed collagen and its effectiveness is not guaranteed.

    • Not For Vegans Or Vegetarians

    Most hydrolyzed collagen is derived from animal and fish products. That makes them unavailable to vegans and vegetarians.

    • Allergic Reactions

    If you are allergic to seafood, or shellfish, you may be at risk of developing allergic reactions to collagen supplements. Talk to your doctor to rule that out.

    • Concerns About Toxicity

    There are some concerns about collagen supplements carrying a risk of viral infections or other environmental toxins. There is not enough evidence to prove or disprove these concerns.

    • Potential Side Effects

    There were no potential side effects reported on clinical trials involving collagen supplements, according to a placebo-controlled, randomized study (35).

    Judy Folks, a skin care blogger, shares her experience of taking skin care supplements such as collagen and lutein: “One of the first supplements I tried was collagen, which I heard helps maintain skin elasticity and firmness. I chose a water-soluble collagen powder and took it on an empty stomach every morning. I must say, after using it for a while, I did notice some improvements! My skin felt plumper, and fine lines seemed to have reduced a bit. Of course, this might also be attributed to my other skin care routines, but collagen has indeed become one of my daily supplements (i).”

    Collagen supplements may be safe and effective, but you still have to take care of your diet and skin to get the most out of them. Read on to find a checklist to restore your skin and reverse some signs of stress, pollution, and aging.

    How To Restore Collagen In The Face

    You can restore the collagen in your face with anti-aging techniques:

    • Follow a healthy collagen diet.
    • Use a collagen supplement if your doctor gives you the go-ahead.
    • Use sunscreen and protect your face from sun damage.
    • Stop smoking.
    • Hydrate yourself.
    • Sleep enough and reduce stress.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Does coffee destroy collagen?

    No, coffee does not destroy collagen but may affect its rate of production.

    Does yogurt contain collagen?

    Yogurt is a good source of amino acids, especially lysine, which acts as a precursor for collagen synthesis.

    Do egg yolks have collagen?

    Eggs are a good source of collagen, with the shell, yolk, and egg white all containing some amounts.

    Does coconut oil rebuild collagen?

    Coconut oil boosts the production of collagen and encourages the regeneration of cells in your skin.

    Does avocado have collagen?

    Avocado is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which aid the synthesis of collagen.

    How long does it take to rebuild collagen?

    While it depends on many factors like age, lifestyle, sleep, and nutrition quality, it generally takes somewhere between 3-12 weeks to restore collagen.

    Key Takeaways

    • Collagen is an essential protein found in skin, hair, bones, nails, joints, muscles, blood vessels, cartilages, cells, placenta, and other organs.
    • Beef, fish with skin, chicken, eggs, and bone broth are rich in collagen.
    • You can experience skin aging, joint pain, and stiffness in ligaments and tendons if the collagen level in your body drops.
    collagen rich foods

    Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

    Discover delicious collagen-rich foods to help you achieve healthy skin, hair, and joints in the video below. Learn how to incorporate these foods into your diet for maximum benefits.

    Personal Experience: Source


    Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

    1. Hydrolyzed Collagen—Sources and Applications
    2. Skin Collagen through the Life Stages: Importance for Skin Health and Beauty
    3. The Role of Functional Foods in Cutaneous Anti-aging
    4. Hydrolyzed Collagen—Sources and Applications
    5. Proline Precursors and Collagen Synthesis: Biochemical Challenges of Nutrient Supplementation and Wound Healing
    6. Copper and the Synthesis of Elastin and Collagen
    7. Zinc May Increase Bone Formation through Stimulating Cell Proliferation Alkaline Phosphatase Activity and Collagen Synthesis in Osteoblastic Mc3t3-e1 Cells
    8. Discovering the Link Between Nutrition and Skin Aging
    9. Skin Anti-aging Strategies
    10. Oral Ingestion of Collagen Hydrolysate Leads to the Transportation of Highly Concentrated Gly-Pro-Hyp and Its Hydrolyzed Form of Pro-Hyp into the Bloodstream and Skin
    11. Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Review of Dermatological Applications
    12. Collagen Supplements
    13. Don’t Put Collagen In Your Coffee
    14. United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service | National Organic Program Document Cover Sheet
    15. Amino Acid Makeup of Beef
    16. Effects of Sizes and Conformations of Fish-scale Collagen Peptides on Facial Skin Qualities and Transdermal Penetration Efficiency
    17. Ingestion of Biocell Collagen® a Novel Hydrolyzed Chicken Sternal Cartilage Extract; Enhanced Blood Microcirculation and Reduced Facial Aging Signs
    18. Protein and Amino Acid Content in Four Brands of Commercial Table Eggs in Retail Markets in Relation to Human Requirements
    19. Bone Broth Unlikely to Provide Reliable Concentrations of Collagen Precursors Compared With Supplemental Sources of Collagen Used in Collagen Research
    20. Discovering the Link Between Nutrition and Skin Aging
    21. Zinc May Increase Bone Formation through Stimulating Cell Proliferation Alkaline Phosphatase Activity and Collagen Synthesis in Osteoblastic Mc3t3-e1 Cells
    22. Copper and the Synthesis of Elastin and Collagen
    23. Omega-3 Fatty Acids Enhance Ligament Fibroblast Collagen Formation in Association with Changes in Interleukin-6 Production
    24. Skin Anti-aging Strategies
    25. Legumes: Health Benefits and Culinary Approaches to Increase Intake
    26. Hydrolyzed Collagen—Sources and Applications
    27. Skin Collagen through the Life Stages: Importance for Skin Health and Beauty
    28. Type Ii Collagen Degradation and Its Regulation in Articular Cartilage in Osteoarthritis
    29. The Role of Collagen in Bone Strength
    30. Osteoporosis a Unitary Hypothesis of Collagen Loss in Skin and Bone
    31. Age-related Changes in Structure and Extracellular Matrix Protein Expression Levels in Rat Tendons
    32. A Collagen Supplement Improves Skin Hydration Elasticity Roughness and Density: Results of a Randomized Placebo-Controlled Blind Study
    33. Improvement of Activity-related Knee Joint Discomfort Following Supplementation of Specific Collagen Peptides
    34. Specific Collagen Peptides Improve Bone Mineral Density and Bone Markers in Postmenopausal Women—A Randomized Controlled Study
    35. Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Review of Dermatological Applications
    36. A Collagen Supplement Improves Skin Hydration Elasticity Roughness and Density: Results of a Randomized Placebo-Controlled Blind Study
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    Dr. Archna Agrawal

    Dr. Archna AgrawalMSc (Dietetics)

    Dr. Archna Agrawal is a licensed naturopathy and yoga practitioner with over 20 years of experience in nutrition and counseling. She is also certified in nutrition, child care, and mind-body medicine and is on a mission to help people attain innate healing capacity without having to depend on anything or on anyone. She has created the Vitality Coaching System, full bio

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