Before we jump into the foods we can eat to increase collagen production, let’s start with a general discussion to make sure we understand what collagen is and why it matters.
What is collagen? Why does it matter?
Collagen is commonly recognized throughout the supplement industry for its anti-aging and beauty benefits. While these are certainly great perks, it’s important to note that collagen is far more than a beauty supplement.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body (present in all animals; most abundant protein in mammals). It’s the primary component of connective tissue in our skin, bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons, blood vessels, and gut.
Due to its prevalence throughout the body, our quality of life largely depends on our ability to produce collagen.
In fact, the reason why collagen is commonly glorified as an anti-aging supplement is because our body’s natural production decreases with age. In turn, the hallmark signs of aging (i.e., wrinkles, hair loss, joint pain, etc) are linked to a lack of collagen production.
What foods can we eat to increase collagen production?
Age isn’t the only variable that dictates our ability to produce collagen. Most lifestyle choices — healthy or unhealthy — have a great impact.
In short, unhealthy lifestyle choices (i.e., poor diet, high sun exposure, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking) decrease collagen production. In turn, visible signs of aging show up earlier in life when we incorporate these choices into our regular lifestyle.
On the flip side, we can increase collagen production by consuming the vitamins and minerals needed for our body to complete the steps of collagen synthesis. Also, some vitamins, minerals, and amino acids help us preserve the collagen already present in our body.
Let’s take a look at some of the most potent sources of the nutrients we need. The list below discusses foods we can eat to boost collagen production.
While vitamin C is crucial for pre-collagen production, it also serves as a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants protect against the breakdown of collagen cells caused by free radicals (toxins) present in our air, food, and water supply. 
Like kiwi, berries are another great source of vitamin C. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries are potent sources of antioxidants that prevent free radical damage.
Almonds contain a healthy dose of vitamin E, the most abundant antioxidant in our skin; it serves to neutralize free radicals that are damaging to collagen cells. Vitamin E also coordinates with vitamin C to stimulate collagen formation. 
Additionally, almonds are a great source of copper, an essential trace mineral required in the formation of collagen fibrils. In short, our body needs copper to complete the final step in collagen synthesis. 
Avocados might not be quite as rich in vitamin E as almonds, albeit they contain an adequate amount of the antioxidant. Go ahead and order that side of guac — your skin and hair will reap the benefits.
(Yes, we know guac is extra…)
Carrots are a plentiful source of vitamin A, which helps repair and restore collagen in damaged skin. 
Don’t like carrots? No worries. Sweet potatoes, squash, apricots, cantaloupe, and mangos are great alternatives. Pretty much anything orange (except oranges, ironically) can help us meet our vitamin A needs.
6. Dark Green Vegetables
Dark green vegetables are some of the most nutrient-dense superfoods our planet has to offer. For starters, they’re potent sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E; all of which are vital nutrients for collagen synthesis, as mentioned prior.
Furthermore, dark green vegetables like spinach, kale, green beans, and broccoli — among others — contain chlorophyll (pigment that gives plants their beautiful green color). Studies have shown that chlorophyll increases procollagen (precursor to collagen formation) in our skin, so we reap its beauty benefits as well. 
Garlic is rich in sulfur, a trace mineral that has been shown to enhance collagen synthesis.  Sulfur also helps prevent the breakdown of collagen fibers, so it’s particularly beneficial towards preserving healthy skin and joints.
9. Pumpkin Seeds
Don’t have time to prepare a fancy seafood dinner? No problem. Most seeds and nuts are high in zinc, especially pumpkin seeds and cashews. Both of these quick-and-easy snacks can provide a boost of collagen while on-the-go.
Tomatoes contain a healthy dose of lycopene, an amino acid that protects our skin from sunlight.  As noted earlier, high sun exposure damages collagen fibers in our skin, which speeds the process of aging (i.e., wrinkles) and can even lead to skin cancer.  Adding tomatoes to our diet can help preserve youthful skin.
Do any foods contain collagen itself?
Absolutely. As mentioned, collagen is present in all animals, and it’s the most abundant protein in mammals. However, cuts of beef or chicken aren’t necessarily going to contain high concentrations of collagen.
The highest concentrations of collagen are in connective tissue (i.e., tendons, ligaments, cartilage, skin, and bones) of the animal. Slow cooking these animal parts into a bone broth is a great way to get a rich source of bioavailable collagen in our diet.
What about collagen supplements?
Supplements are another viable option to increase collagen in our body, but there are some important factors to consider when selecting a collagen supplement.
First, it’s always best to use hydrolyzed collagen. In its native form, collagen molecules are too large for our body to absorb efficiently. When hydrolyzed, molecules are reduced to smaller peptides that enable efficient absorption.
Next, a quality collagen supplement contains vitamin C, as this enables our body to use amino acids glycine and proline (from the collagen supplement) to produce more of our own collagen.
And finally, in order to get the maximum benefit from a given collagen supplement, avoid any that contain added sugars, artificial flavors, or preservatives. Since these toxins are damaging to the collagen in our body, it defeats the purpose when a supplement contains them.
For those interested in trying a quality supplement, we recommend our Collagen Protein JumpShot. Each shot contains 20 grams of hydrolyzed collagen, along with 120 milligrams of vitamin C; plus made with no added sugars, artificial flavors, or preservatives.
Take advantage of our exclusive reader discount — 25% OFF your first order — by using promo code COLLAGEN25 at checkout.
Want to learn more about collagen?
Learn everything you need to know about collagen from our complete guide (link below). We discuss the amino acids, health benefits, types, bioavailable food sources, nutrients that boost production, supplements, and more.