Four Ways To Boost Collagen Production

Among the many proteins we need for our body to thrive in good health, collagen stands out as one of the most vital. Collagen serves as the ‘glue’ holding the body together, ensuring strength and resilience throughout our joints, skin and teeth. However, as we age, our body’s natural collagen levels begin to decline. 

This imbalance between collagen production and degradation eventually results in visible signs such as fine lines, wrinkles, loss of firmness and other external changes to the body. To help combat this, let’s delve deeper into the world of collagen and explore four effective ways to enhance its production. 

What Is Collagen?

Collagen is our body’s superstar protein. The body is comprised of plenty of different types of proteins, but collagen is found in the most abundant amounts. 

The reason we have so much collagen is because it is vital for forming multiple structures, all the way down to the cellular level. Collagen plays many different roles in the body. 

It supports the body and helps with things like:

  • Cellular communication
  • Immune response 
  • Tissue maintenance and repair 
  • Tissue resiliency 

In fact, there isn’t just one kind of collagen — there are 28 known types of them! Ninety percent of the collagen in the body is type I, which provides elasticity and strength to bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons and skin. 

How Is Collagen Produced?

Collagen starts with amino acids, the “building blocks”of protein. While there are 20 amino acids in the body, the three primary amino acids that help produce collagen are hydroxyproline, glycine and proline. These amino acids work together to form collagen’s triple-helix structure, along with crucial vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, copper, manganese and zinc. 

Another critical component of collagen production is tissue cells known as fibroblasts. These cells are responsible for creating collagen fibres, which then knit together into bundles or strands. Eventually, these fibre-like structures form a complex extracellular matrix with other supportive proteins (like elastin) to create crucial connective tissue. 

What Happens To Collagen As We Age?

Similar to other physiological processes in the body, our collagen production changes as we age. Over time, collagen production decreases gradually. The collagen we already have in our body also starts to degrade, eventually leading to an imbalance between what we’re losing and what we can produce to replace it. 

The collagen we make when we get older of lower quality than in our younger years, making it easier to break down Other factors aside from the ageing process can also affect the speed at which our collagen production and degradation happens. 

Things like chronic sun exposure (especially without the use of sunscreen), smoking tobacco, not getting enough sleep or exercise and drinking an excessive amount of alcohol can all alter how much collagen is made and how tightly it is held together in its characteristic matrix formation. 

With less supportive collagen in the body, the skin can’t be as resilient as it needs to be to keep it looking firm and youthful. Over time, you’ll notice sagging, fine lines and wrinkles slowly develop. Collagen also impacts how good you feel on the inside — most notably the health and resiliency of your joints. This loss of collagen contributes to stiffer, sore muscles as we age, too.

Four Ways To Boost Collagen Production

With the amount of collagen in our bodies decreasing every year, finding ways to boost collagen production is crucial. Though it may not be possible to fully restore depleted collagen, you can certainly alleviate some of the effects its deficiency has on your skin’s health and appearance, paving the way for a more radiant and youthful appearance. 

1. Use a Collagen Supplement

One of the easiest ways to support collagen production is by incorporating a collagen supplement into your routine. Collagen supplements, derived from animal-based sources, provide a direct intake of collagen, thereby contributing to the maintenance of your body’s collagen levels. 

There are multiple sources of collagen for you to choose from — marine (from fish), bovine and porcine — each with their own unique benefits on the body. For example, some (such as supplements that include marine collagen) are slightly easier for the body to absorb than others, rendering them even more effective. 

However, although there are supplements that can help support collagen production in the body, collagen sources are all from animal products; there are no vegan collagen supplements available at this time (although scientists are continuing to work on a viable option!). 

But don’t worry — collagen supplements have come a long way since their inception. When you choose a high-quality supplement, you no longer have to worry about a “fishy” taste or smell; many of them have added flavouring to improve the experience. 

2. Eat More Collagen-Rich Foods

In addition to using a supplement to boost collagen, you can also focus on getting more collagen-rich foods in your diet. When it comes to actual collagen, it can only be found in animal products. 

Bone broth is one of the most bioavailable forms of collagen, as it can be used immediately without breaking down into another form. Chicken or fish are also collagen-rich. 

While collagen-rich foods won’t work magic or take effect immediately, focusing on getting plenty of them in your diet (especially over the years) can significantly support your body’s natural stores. 

3. Collagen Promoting Foods Are Crucial, Too

Foods don’t just have to have collagen to help with production. There are a variety of foods that have the right nutrients to help the body be able to manufacture more collagen protein, as well. 

For example, several foods are naturally high in a specific type of protein that can assist with collagen production. These foods are considered beneficial because they also contain the same amino acids that build collagen — hydroxyproline, glycine and proline. Along with chicken and fish (which are also themselves high in collagen), dairy, eggs, legumes and soy are excellent protein-rich additions to your diet. 

Foods high in Zinc can also help support collagen production, so increasing the number of nuts, seeds and whole grains is beneficial. Vitamin C is another crucial vitamin for collagen promotion, so remember to include bell peppers, berries, citrus fruits, leafy greens and tomatoes into your diet, too. 

Overall, focusing on eating a well-balanced diet with a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables is not only great for collagen production but, ultimately, for your overall health and wellness. 

4. Make Lifestyle Changes

It isn’t just foods and supplements that can help with your collagen levels; lifestyle changes are also vital. After all, think about all of the factors that can play a role in speeding up the degradation of collagen — the sun, tobacco, alcohol, etc. 

Here are a few ways that you can approach it:

  • Wear sunscreen - The ultraviolet radiation from the sun can lead to the creation of dangerous molecules known as free radicals, which can wreak havoc all across the body. Free radicals have been linked to an increased risk of cancer but can also lead to a quicker collagen breakdown. Wearing appropriate sunscreen (with an SPF of 30 or more, broad-spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays and that is water-resistant) can help lessen the sun’s potential impact. 
  • Stop smoking - Tobacco smoke can impact your collagen and appearance in multiple ways. For example, tobacco can decrease the rate that the body can synthesise both types I and II collagen. The repetitive act of smoking can also speed up the formation of fine lines and wrinkles around the mouth. Plus, smoking can significantly increase your risk of lung cancer. Although it may be challenging to stop smoking, the positive benefits on your health are well worth the effort. 
  • Get better sleep - Sleep gives the body the crucial time it needs to heal itself, so not getting enough of it can have a significantly negative impact. Focusing on finding ways to increase your sleep hygiene — creating a bedtime routine, cutting back on caffeine (especially in the hours before bedtime) and removing as much technology from your bedroom as possible — are all extremely helpful. 
  • Manage your stress - When your body is under stress, especially chronic stress, it is constantly pumping out a hormone known as cortisol. Over time, high levels of cortisol in the body can also decrease collagen production. Cortisol also puts stress on your entire system, raising your blood pressure and lowering your immune system. Finding ways to counteract that stress is crucial — meditation, breathing exercises and even medication if you need additional help. 

In Conclusion

Supporting collagen production is vital for supporting healthy, beautiful, resilient skin. Although the amount of collagen in our bodies will naturally start to decrease during the ageing process, there are ways to combat it and keep your body and skin looking and feeling its best. 

The right collagen supplement is a crucial part of that routine, especially when combined with a collagen-supportive diet and supportive lifestyle changes. 


Biochemistry, Collagen Synthesis - StatPearls | NCBI Bookshelf

Fibroblast | NIH

18 Foods With Collagen Boosting Benefits | Cleveland Clinic

Physiology, Cortisol - StatPearls | NCBI Bookshelf