10 Best High-Collagen Foods for Stunning Skin

This article is based on scientific evidence

Welcome to the little-known natural secrets behind youthful skin. This article will uncover the top foods high in collagen to help you achieve a radiant and age-defying complexion. Collagen, the most abundant protein in our bodies, plays a vital role in maintaining the health and elasticity of our skin. By incorporating collagen-rich foods into your diet, you can support your body’s natural collagen production and slow down the signs of aging.

From collagen-boosting fruits like berries and citrus fruits to protein-rich sources like lean meats and fish, we’ll explore various options to suit every dietary preference. We’ll also delve into the benefits of incorporating leafy greens, nuts, and bone broth into your meals to nourish your skin from within. Lastly, we’ll determine if expensive collagen supplements are worth the money.

With these insider tips, you’ll be well on your way to achieving a youthful glow and improved skin texture. Say goodbye to wrinkles and hello to a firmer, healthier complexion. It’s time to embrace the power of collagen-rich foods and unlock your skin’s potential.

Key Takeaways:

  • Bone broth and marrow, gelatine, chicken and fish with skin are the foods highest in collagen.
  • Foods with zinc, copper, and vitamin C help boost collagen production, like citrus fruits and oysters.
  • Collagen from whole foods is more bioavailable than collagen supplements.

Table of Contents:

What Is Collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body (Stefanovic 20131).

It‘s an essential building block for teeth, joints, ligaments, connective tissue, skin, hair, and bones. In short, collagen is the substance that holds the body together.

Accordingly, it gives strength to bones and muscles and alleviates skin aging.

Why Collagen Is Important

This powerful protein helps maintain essential body functions. Accordingly, foods high in collagen support the body in building up the following regions:

  • Skin: Collagen can slow down skin aging and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Accordingly, a study shows that people who took collagen preparations for eight weeks could significantly improve their skin’s elasticity (Proksch et al. 20142).
  • Muscles and joints: Collagen positively affects bones, muscles, and joints. It increases the connective tissue’s elasticity and mobility, thus preventing brittleness. It also relieves joint pain and strengthens bones (Clark et al. 20083).
  • Intestine: Special amino acids in collagen help maintain the intestine’s barrier function by promoting the renewal of the intestinal wall (Rao et al. 20124).
  • Cartilage and tissue: Since arthritis is a disease characterized by cartilage and connective tissue breakdown, collagen can naturally counteract it (Bagchi et al. 20025).

How Can Foods Help With Collagen Production?

Two types of food can increase collagen production in the body:

  • Foods that are natural sources of collagen
  • Food containing nutrients that increase collagen production

First, collagen-rich foods such as fish, meat, chicken, eggs, and dairy products can help build collagen in the body.

Second, you can increase collagen production by eating the following foods with collagen-enhancing nutrients:

  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • vitamin C

These nutrients act together on the connective tissue, making collagen solid and elastic.

Therefore, the consumption of foods containing one or more of these nutrients helps to increase collagen production.

How Much Collagen in a Day?

Since there is no consistent scientific opinion on the topic, and the amount depends heavily on the person’s physical condition, I have to state my view.

And this is more about ensuring all collagen-promoting aspects than a certain amount per day.

Therefore, it makes sense to include copper, zinc, vitamin C, essential amino acids, omega-3 fatty acids in the diet, and foods high in collagen.

What Foods Are High in Collagen Naturally?

With the following whole foods, you can increase your collagen naturally in no time:

1. Bone Broth

Not only is bone broth an excellent source of electrolytes, but it‘s also one of the easiest ways to get more collagen into your diet.

Because animal bones and connective tissue are rich in collagen, it gels when cooked for several hours so it can be easily absorbed.

If the bone broth has a jelly-like texture, this is a sign that it is full of high-quality collagen. Bone stock is also a good source of magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin K.

I use beef bone in my recipe. Beef has the advantage that, in addition to collagen, it also contains hyaluronic acid, which is responsible for the skin’s moisture content.

After you can freeze the bone broth, cooking a large portion that will be kept for weeks is easy.

Bone marrow and bone broth are natural foods high in collagen

2. Bone Marrow

Bone marrow is the fibrous tissue inside the bones. Therefore, it‘s one of the best collagen, healthy fat, and B vitamins sources.

Either you add the marrow bones to your bone broth to make it more collagenous, or you roast the bones to eat the pure bone marrow.

Since the demand is not high, marrow bones are a cheap way to add more collagen to your diet.

The best thing to do is ask your local butcher if he has bone marrow from grazing cattle.

3. Gelatine

Gelatine is also obtained from the connective tissue of cattle or pork. Therefore, gelatine is a natural source of collagen, which you can add to various meals.

Furthermore, gelatine is a keto-friendly baking substitute. Hence, it’s a cooking staple on my low-carb food list.

4. Fish With Skin

Similar to chicken, fish is also rich in collagen.

If you fry the fish in a tube or pan on the skin side, you can increase the collagen intake.

According to studies, collagen from fish, in particular, is good for the human skin (Chai et al. 20106).

Use wild-caught fatty fish such as mackerel or salmon to increase collagen production. Since omega-3 fatty acids from fish promote collagen formation, that’s a successful strategy (Hankenson et al. 20007).

Furthermore, the omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) in seafood boost fat burning and stop fat accumulation (Mater et al. 19998).

5. Chicken With Skin

Chicken skin is an excellent natural source of collagen. Also, chicken meat contains essential amino acids that the body needs to boost collagen production (Leon-Lopez et al. 20199).

If you need it quickly, you can buy a whole roast chicken in the local supermarket. Otherwise, you can get some chicken skin by roasting thighs or wings in the oven.

Chicken bones contain a lot of collagen. You can also use them for bone broth.

6. Pastured Eggs

The egg whites contain glycine and proline, the essential amino acids that build up collagen.

Also, the shells of eggs contain collagen. In total, an egg white contains 18 different amino acids. Among them are all nine essential amino acids.

Nevertheless, this is no reason to skip the egg yolk because the egg yolk has a higher nutrient density. In addition to A, B, and D vitamins, it is full of healthy fats that help maintain and renew skin, bones, and muscles.

Moreover, researchers have recently discovered that the membranes of eggshells can counteract skin aging and protect against UVB radiation (Yoo et al. 201510).

7. Spirulina

Over 60% of spirulina consists of amino acids that form collagen.

Hence, the blue-green microalgae, found in fresh and marine water, is a natural source of collagen.

According to recent studies, spirulina prolongs cell life and promotes wound healing (Gunes et al. 201711).

Also, spirulina is excellent for muscle gain. Accordingly, one tablespoon of spirulina powder provides about 6 grams of pure protein.

spirulina is a food high in collagen

What Foods Boost Collagen Production?

Having already learned about the three essential nutrients for collagen synthesis, here are details of their effects on collagen:

  • Zinc helps in collagen production by acting as a cofactor (biochemical activator of crucial proteins).
  • Copper boosts collagen production by activating the lysyl oxidase enzyme for collagen maturation. Additionally, copper promotes compounds within collagen to maintain its functionality. When collagen is damaged, copper helps to make it elastic again.
  • Vitamin C synthesizes collagen.

Also, protein complements these powerful nutrients.

Thus, supplying sufficient protein with zinc, copper, and vitamin C can significantly boost collagen production.

Unlike the previous natural foods high in collagen, the following ones have combinations of these nutrients that help with collagen production:

1. Citrus Fruits

Although citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges do not contain collagen, they increase collagen synthesis. As an essential cofactor, the vitamin C in citrus fruits boosts collagen production.

Because without vitamin C, cells cannot produce collagen.

Cells can develop scurvy if you do not take up any vitamin C through food. This vitamin deficiency interrupts collagen synthesis, which is problematic for skin, hair, nails, and teeth.

Nevertheless, most people cover the minimum requirement of vitamin C through their diet.

However, consuming food rich in vitamin C can increase collagen production. It also brings additional health benefits to your skin (Boyera et al. 201912).

You get a keto and fasting-friendly change if you add freshly squeezed lemon, lime, or grapefruit juice to your water or mineral water. This vitamin C boost can also help the body produce collagen more effectively.

2. Leafy Greens

In addition to a high vitamin C content, chlorophyll is particularly rich in chlorophyll, giving vegetables a green color.

This nutrient helps the cells to produce more procollagen, the precursor of collagen (Cho 201413).

Green vegetables also contain antioxidants that protect against collagen degradation, free radicals, and inflammation (Ganceviciene et al. 201214).

Among the best green vegetables for collagen synthesis are:

  • Broccoli
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard

3. Oysters

Oysters are the most abundant natural source of zinc.

Accordingly, 100g of oysters provide about 40mg of zinc, quickly covering the recommended daily intake. Already, two oysters include the daily requirement of zinc.

Also, oysters provide you with copper for collagen production. Here, too, less than 100g already covers the daily requirement.

While some sources list nuts as great foods to boost collagen production, they could not make it in the top 10 list. Oysters are far superior to nuts when it comes to bioavailable zinc and copper that your body can use right away to boost collagen production.


Natural Foods High in Collagen vs. Supplements

While collagen supplements can work, natural foods tend to be more bioavailable.

There are no reliable sources to compare the bioavailability of natural foods high in collagen to supplements. The studies on collagen supplements are controversial but help us derive clear statements.

A 2021 meta-analysis of 19 studies with 1,125 participants on the effects of hydrolyzed collagen supplementation on skin aging showed favorable results of hydrolyzed collagen supplementation compared with placebo regarding skin hydration, elasticity, and wrinkles (Miranda et al. 202115).

Another recent meta-analysis underpins these findings but states that dermatologic claims in the media surpass the evidence (Rustad et al. 202116).

In short, collagen supplements work but are not as good as we might think.

In my experience, natural foods are always superior to supplements. So I will keep preferring them.

However, you can also get collagen from supplements. In my opinion, the highest quality pasture-raised collagen products on Amazon currently are (affiliate links):

My favorite high-collagen foods are bone broth due to its easy preparation and shelf life and fatty fish due to its extra amino and omega-3 fatty acids.

However, you should also not underestimate those foods that increase collagen production.

That’s why a dash of lemon can’t be wrong, or spinach is worthwhile as a side dish to complement the food with natural collagen. This way, you can use the naturally absorbed collagen more efficiently.

What is your favorite food high in collagen?

Tell us at the very bottom of the page as a comment!


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best source of collagen?

Bone broth and marrow are among the best natural sources of collagen.

How can I rebuild collagen in my face?

Natural foods high in collagen (i.e., bone broth) and foods that boost collagen production (i.e., leafy greens) can significantly improve your skin.

What fruit or vegetable is high in collagen?

Fruits and vegetables do not contain collagen, but leafy greens and citrus fruits can help boost collagen production.

What is the #1 nutrient to boost your collagen?

Vitamin C is the #1 nutrient that boosts collagen synthesis in the body.



1Stefanovic B. RNA protein interactions governing expression of the most abundant protein in human body, type I collagen. Wiley Interdiscip Rev RNA. 2013 Sep-Oct;4(5):535-45. doi: 10.1002/wrna.1177. Epub 2013 May 28. Review. PubMed PMID: 23907854; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3748166.

2Proksch E, Segger D, Degwert J, Schunck M, Zague V, Oesser S. Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2014;27(1):47-55. doi: 10.1159/000351376. Epub 2013 Aug 14. PubMed PMID: 23949208.

3Clark KL, Sebastianelli W, Flechsenhar KR, Aukermann DF, Meza F, Millard RL, Deitch JR, Sherbondy PS, Albert A. 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Curr Med Res Opin. 2008 May;24(5):1485-96. doi: 10.1185/030079908×291967. Epub 2008 Apr 15. PubMed PMID: 18416885.

4Rao R, Samak G. Role of Glutamine in Protection of Intestinal Epithelial Tight Junctions. J Epithel Biol Pharmacol. 2012 Jan;5(Suppl 1-M7):47-54. doi: 10.2174/1875044301205010047. PubMed PMID: 25810794; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4369670.

5Bagchi D, Misner B, Bagchi M, Kothari SC, Downs BW, Fafard RD, Preuss HG. Effects of orally administered undenatured type II collagen against arthritic inflammatory diseases: a mechanistic exploration. Int J Clin Pharmacol Res. 2002;22(3-4):101-10. PubMed PMID: 12837047.

6Chai HJ, Li JH, Huang HN, Li TL, Chan YL, Shiau CY, Wu CJ. Effects of sizes and conformations of fish-scale collagen peptides on facial skin qualities and transdermal penetration efficiency. J Biomed Biotechnol. 2010;2010:757301. doi: 10.1155/2010/757301. Epub 2010 Jun 8. PubMed PMID: 20625414; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2896882.

7Hankenson KD, Watkins BA, Schoenlein IA, Allen KG, Turek JJ. Omega-3 fatty acids enhance ligament fibroblast collagen formation in association with changes in interleukin-6 production. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 2000 Jan;223(1):88-95. doi: 10.1046/j.1525-1373.2000.22312.x. PubMed PMID: 10632966.


8Mater MK, Thelen AP, Pan DA, Jump DB. Sterol response element-binding protein 1c (SREBP1c) is involved in the polyunsaturated fatty acid suppression of hepatic S14 gene transcription. J Biol Chem. 1999 Nov 12;274(46):32725-32. doi: 10.1074/jbc.274.46.32725. PubMed PMID: 10551830.

9León-López A, Morales-Peñaloza A, Martínez-Juárez VM, Vargas-Torres A, Zeugolis DI, Aguirre-Álvarez G. Hydrolyzed Collagen-Sources and Applications. Molecules. 2019 Nov 7;24(22). doi: 10.3390/molecules24224031. Review. PubMed PMID: 31703345; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6891674.

10Yoo JH, Kim JK, Yang HJ, Park KM. Effects of Egg Shell Membrane Hydrolysates on UVB-radiation-induced Wrinkle Formation in SKH-1 Hairless Mice. Korean J Food Sci Anim Resour. 2015;35(1):58-70. doi: 10.5851/kosfa.2015.35.1.58. Epub 2015 Feb 28. PubMed PMID: 26761801; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4682498.

11Gunes S, Tamburaci S, Dalay MC, Deliloglu Gurhan I. In vitro evaluation of Spirulina platensis extract incorporated skin cream with its wound healing and antioxidant activities. Pharm Biol. 2017 Dec;55(1):1824-1832. doi: 10.1080/13880209.2017.1331249. PubMed PMID: 28552036; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6130752.

12Boyera N, Galey I, Bernard BA. Effect of vitamin C and its derivatives on collagen synthesis and cross-linking by normal human fibroblasts. Int J Cosmet Sci. 1998 Jun;20(3):151-8. doi: 10.1046/j.1467-2494.1998.171747.x. PubMed PMID: 18505499.

13Cho S. The Role of Functional Foods in Cutaneous Anti-aging. J Lifestyle Med. 2014 Mar;4(1):8-16. doi: 10.15280/jlm.2014.4.1.8. Epub 2014 Mar 31. Review. PubMed PMID: 26064850; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4390761.

14Ganceviciene R, Liakou AI, Theodoridis A, Makrantonaki E, Zouboulis CC. Skin anti-aging strategies. Dermatoendocrinol. 2012 Jul 1;4(3):308-19. doi: 10.4161/derm.22804. PubMed PMID: 23467476; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3583892.


15de Miranda RB, Weimer P, Rossi RC. Effects of hydrolyzed collagen supplementation on skin aging: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Dermatol. 2021 Dec;60(12):1449-1461. doi: 10.1111/ijd.15518. Epub 2021 Mar 20. Review. PubMed PMID: 33742704.

16Rustad AM, Nickles MA, McKenney JE, Bilimoria SN, Lio PA. Myths and media in oral collagen supplementation for the skin, nails, and hair: A review. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2022 Feb;21(2):438-443. doi: 10.1111/jocd.14567. Epub 2021 Oct 25. Review. PubMed PMID: 34694676.

Mag. Stephan Lederer, MSc.

Mag. Stephan Lederer, MSc. is an author and blogger from Austria who writes in-depth content about health and nutrition. His book series on Interval Fasting landed #1 on the bestseller list in the German Amazon marketplace in 15 categories.

Stephan is a true man of science, having earned multiple diplomas and master's degrees in various fields. He has made it his mission to bridge the gap between conventional wisdom and scientific knowledge. He precisely reviews the content and sources of this blog for currency and accuracy.

Click on the links above to visit his author and about me pages.

Leave a Reply