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How to Increase Collagen Naturally

Collagen is responsible for healthy skin, tendons, muscles, and more. Want to learn how to increase collagen naturally? Find out how with these five tips from a board-certified nutritionist.

By Mia Rigden Board-certified nutritionist, classically trained chef

Collagen is not only the most abundant protein in the body, but perhaps the most sought after for its role in maintaining skin elasticity, bone density, joint health, muscular structure, and a whole lot more. While popular in supplement form, our bodies are actually pretty good at making collagen naturally. Still, as we age our production starts to decline, as evidenced in wrinkles on our skin, decreased muscle mass, and joint pain. Despite the age-related decline, there are many ways how to increase collagen naturally with food and supplements.

Eat more protein-rich and collagen-containing foods.

Protein is made of amino acids. Our bodies break down protein from food into individual amino acids and rebuild it as different types of proteins, including collagen. Think of these amino acids as building blocks. To increase your collagen levels, consume foods rich in amino acids like proline, glycine, and lysine. These are critical for collagen production and are found in abundance in high-protein foods like meat, poultry, fish, legumes, and dairy products. You can also directly consume collagen more directly from foods like bone broth, egg whites, and collagen supplements, including collagen protein powders.

Take a vitamin C supplement.

Vitamin C plays a vital role in maintaining and building collagen in the body by helping convert the amino acid proline to the form necessary for collagen production. Additionally, vitamin C’s antioxidant properties protect the collagen already in your body from damage. I recommend 1000mg a day in an absorbable form, like LivOn Labs’ Lypo-Spheric® Vitamin C.

Eat a varied diet.

A diverse diet filled with a variety of fruits and vegetables, healthy proteins, nuts, seeds, and whole grains will ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients you need to both maintain and help increase collagen naturally levels. Antioxidants — heavily concentrated in fruits and vegetables — and copper — from foods like shellfish, nuts, seeds, and whole grains — protect your collagen from damage. Minerals involved in collagen formation — zinc, silicon, and sulfur — are found in a range of foods from meat and poultry to leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) to bananas.


Drinking adequate water helps maintain and increase collagen naturally in a few ways. Hydration helps collagen fibers to create more elasticity, thereby reducing the appearance of wrinkles. You may have even noticed if you’ve ever been dehydrated your skin will be more prone to dryness, sagging, and wrinkling. Water also helps transport all the important nutrients we’ve discussed to the cells responsible for collagen formation. It’s also critical for the elimination of toxins that could damage existing collagen.

Protect yourself from the sun.

Too much sun exposure can cause oxidative damage (basically the opposite of an antioxidant) which can harm the collagen in your skin. Wear a hat, use sunscreen, and wear protective clothing to avoid sun damage.

While collagen production is bound to decline with age, prioritizing your nutrition helps to maintain and increase collagen naturally while supporting overall health.

Mia Rigden is a Los Angeles-based board certified nutritionist, trained chef, and the author of The Well Journal (2020) and Foodwise (2023), a comprehensive, encouraging guide to healthy eating with 100 original, nutritionally-balanced and flavor-enriching recipes. Learn more about working with Mia on her website, check out an online course, and follow on Instagram @mia_rigden for science-backed, practical nutrition advice.

Tags: Skin, Vitamin C