Top Nutrients to focus on for collagen production
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body where it plays an important structural and strengthening role.
Collagen forms a major part of the skin, bone, tendons, cartilage, blood vessels, hair and nails.
As mentioned in my previous blog, Collagen – The Low Down, a well-balanced diet can significantly contribute to the several components needed to produce collagen.
Collagen is made up of key amino acids, the building blocks of protein, but mainly glycine, proline, arginine and hydroxyproline. Some of these key amino acids can be produced naturally in the body by using other amino acids and nutrients obtained from foods (non-essential amino acids), and some are not produced in the body and can only be obtained from food (essential amino acids).
The amino acids are used to produce collagen through a multi-step process of chemical reactions that crucially require Vitamin C to be present. Other minerals that are used as ‘spark plugs’ in making this process more efficient include iron, zinc and copper.
Sounds confusing and overwhelming?
Not really. Let’s break it down by looking at the important nutrients, and their food sources, needed to increase the natural production of collagen by the body.
Important nutrients to note for collagen synthesis
This amino acid is an essential amino acid, which means the body cannot produce it and it needs to be obtained from food.
Food sources of proline include: egg whites, gelatin, soy protein, dairy products, beef, cabbage, asparagus, mushrooms, sunflower seeds and seaweed.
Lysine is another essential amino acid.
Food sources of Lysine include: egg whites, soy protein isolate and soy products, parmesan cheese, beef, gelatin and chicken (well most animal-based protein sources and dairy). Other sources include seaweed, avocadoes, beets, legumes, pumpkin seeds and grains like quinoa and buckwheat.
Glycine is the most abundant amino acid that is found in collagen, making up 33% of the amino acids in collagen.
Glycine is a non-essential amino acid, meaning it can be produced naturally by the body using other nutrients and amino acids. However, it can also be found in dietary sources.
Food sources of glycine include: pork and chicken skin, gelatine, beef, egg whites, cod, sunflower seeds, seaweed and soy protein.
Threonine cannot be produced naturally by the body and is therefore obtained from food (it is an essential amino acid).
Food sources of threonine include: animal-based protein, eggs, peanuts, cod, seaweed and soybeans.
Vitamin C is crucial for collagen formation and those with severe vitamin C deficiency can develop what is called scurvy, which presents as poor wound healing, suboptimal skin health and gum disease.
Food sources of vitamin C include: cherries, chillies, strawberries, citrus fruit, sweet peppers, guavas, kale, broccoli, parsley and tomatoes.
Copper is the ‘spark plug’ for the enzyme involved in collagen fusion and can determine its level of effectiveness.
Food sources of copper include: animal-based protein and organ meats, oysters, spirulina, shiitake mushrooms, sesame seeds, cashews, dark green leafy vegetables, lentils and raw cocoa.
Iron plays a role in oxygen transport and also acts as a ‘spark plug’ in many enzymatic reactions, including those that are involved in collagen fusion.
Food sources of iron include: thyme, basil, spinach, shellfish, liver and organ meats, red meat, chicken, turkey, legumes, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, broccoli and tofu.
Zinc is an important nutrient involved in maintaining skin health, wound healing and collagen formation. It too, is a ‘spark plug’ and food sources of zinc include: meat, shellfish, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, peanuts, cashews, almonds, dairy and eggs.
As you can see, by eating a diet rich in protein as well as seeds, nuts, wholegrain products and dark green leafy vegetables, you should be able to get enough key nutrients needed to increase collagen production.
Nourish yourself to the sunrise.
Written with love ,
Sunrise by HM
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