Do you want to look young when you’re older? Start now including foods and supplements in your diet that build collagen. Collagen is the part of your connective tissue that keeps your body’s tissues together and gives them structural integrity. Many collagen-building foods are ones that you can eat raw, too, which makes them even more beneficial to your body. There are also supplements that can make a significant difference in your collagen.
A collagen-building superstar is vitamin C. This is because you need it for changing proline into the form used in collagen—hydroxyproline—and because vitamin C has antioxidants and wonderful anti-aging properties. Taking vitamin C daily was a habit I formed decades ago when I first started learning about vitamins and nutrition. There were so many known benefits of vitamin C even then that I just added it to my regimen and never removed it. Now I’m glad I did, because it has helped me keep my skin more youthful as well as boosting my health.
Vitamins B-complex and E contribute to the formation of your collagen too. You can get B-complex from green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, and beans. Vitamin E is found in nuts and seeds.
CoQ10 is an excellent supplement that promotes collagen-building as well as protecting your gums and your heart. It is beneficial taken internally and can also be found in skin products, such as the CoQ10 line at DHC. Serums or creams with olive leaf extract in them are effective too. DHC offers a number of products containing olive leaf, but its amazingly effective serum, Olive Leaf Extract, is no longer available.
An important nutrient for collagen-building is protein. Eggs and low-fat dairy are good sources of protein, but you can also get it from beans, bran, flaxseeds, split peas, and alfalfa or clover sprouts. Collagen is made from protein, so if you eat a low protein diet, you may find your collagen suffering after awhile, with some evidence of sagging. Nuts and seeds are also good sources of protein, and you can eat them raw. Many of these foods are phytoestrogens, which are especially beneficial for menopausal women.
Green tea is a great source of catechins. Catechins and anthocyanidins help stabilize your collagen and keep it from breaking down. For anthocyanidins, look for red and blue fruits, such as cherries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. These phytonutrients help your collagen fibers link to each other, strengthening the connective tissue matrix.
There are things that can destroy collagen too, though. Smoking and excessive sun exposure, for example. Excess sugar consumption is also a culprit.
Eat the foods that support your collagen, and you will be preserving your youthfulness without surgery (which rarely looks natural) or drugs (which can have dangerous side effects). Although the right cleansing and moisturizing products can help, they are external. Youthfulness is really built from the inside out, so what you eat is much more beneficial, especially when it comes to structural benefits like building collagen. If you’re still young, now is the time to start your collagen-building habits. Then someday when you’ve reached middle age, you’ll look around and notice that others your age look older than you do. Even if you’re already older and noticing some wrinkling or sagging, it will help to start supporting your body’s collagen-building process with the right nutrients. You can slow the damage and look young longer. The added advantage is that all of these foods and nutrients will also build your health, which is another way of maintaining your health and your good looks.