Collagen in food: the most important questions and answers

Kollagen in Lebensmitteln: Die wichtigsten Fragen und Antworten

At the latest in the course of aging, each of us is confronted with the facts at some point. Wrinkles run across the forehead, the corners of our eyes and around the mouth. There are also health problems, joint and muscle pain and immune deficiency. The reason for this is the natural breakdown of collagen in the tissue.

Collagen-forming building blocks and other amino acids (vitamin C, E and zinc) must also be supplied to the body. Since collagen is contained in many foods, only correct intake and healthy nutrition must be observed.

This article is intended to give you an understanding of the essential properties of collagen and give you an overview of the foods richest in collagen. You will also receive recommendations on how to deal with collagen in food and how to deal with the dosage.

the essentials in brief

        • Collagen is a natural protein that is produced in the body. Collagen production decreases with age.
        • The main consequences of reduced collagen formation are wrinkles, weak connective tissue, joint and muscle diseases,
        • Balanced and protein-rich foods provide the body with the necessary amino acids and support collagen formation.

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What is collagen?

Collagen, translated from the Greek ("kolla"), means "glue". Collagen is actually found everywhere in a person's body. It is the most important structural protein and, at almost 35%, the most frequently found protein in the body.

Found mainly in the connective tissue, it is responsible for the elasticity and tensile strength of the tissue. Collagen is also particularly important for your bones, cartilage, joints and hair.

For this reason, there are four different types of collagen, which differ in their form and properties depending on where they occur in the body.

      • Type I: broad, in bones, tendons, skin, and teeth
      • Type II: thin, in cartilage, intervertebral discs, in the eye
      • Type III: very fine, in smooth muscle, lymphatic tissue, bone marrow
      • Type IV: non-fibrous, in basement membrane and lamina externa (11)

As we age, collagen in the body decreases, which can lead to skin aging and weak tissues.

By the way: Collagen is used in industry to produce gelatine. It is even the main ingredient. However, gelatin is usually very high in sugar.

When should I start using collagen-rich foods?

Since your skin already starts to reduce collagen production in your early to mid-20s, you can theoretically make sure you eat collagen-rich foods at this point.(12)

Our bodies contain natural collagen, which tightens our skin, stabilizes bones, ligaments and tendons, and also supports the ribs and spine in the form of cartilage.(2)

collagen on the face

As an important part of our body, collagen is responsible for the regeneration and elasticity of the skin and tissue. Collagen production decreases with age. You can help that with collagen-forming foods. (Image source: pixabay / silviarita)

Studies show that collagen synthesis slows down with age, especially in the face. So, supplementing with collagen is essential if you want to slow down the aging process.

However, you should be aware that collagen in food is not a miracle cure for aging and the development of cellulite. There are numerous other factors to consider here.

If you suffer from rheumatism, diabetics or sarcopenia (muscle breakdown), the increase in collagen-promoting foods is also suitable.

Which foods contain collagen?

Collagen is found as a protein in all protein-rich foods. These are mostly animal. If you're a vegetarian or vegan, don't panic - there are also plant-based foods that boost collagen.

What are plant-based, collagen-forming foods?

Unlike animal products, plant foods only contain amino acids, the building blocks of collagen. By increasing amino acids, your body can produce collagen. The most important amino acids for this are glycine, lysine and proline.(3)

However, there is no table or list that enumerates which foods are particularly rich in all three building blocks. However, there is information about the individual amino acids, which we list here in summary with the foods richest in collagen for you.

amino acids In contained foods
Rich in glycine Oatmeal, walnuts and peanuts, lima beans, lentils
Rich in lysine All legumes ((chick)peas, beans, dried lentils), peanuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts, mu-err (mushroom), grain products such as bran, buckwheat, oatmeal, rye, peanut paste, baker's yeast
Rich in proline Soybeans, lentils, lima beans, parsley, peanuts, millet, rusks, wheat(1050,405)


As you can see, proline is not found in many plant foods to promote collagen. However, remember that there are different amino acids and fats in almost every food.

Collagen is made up of strands of protein that are intertwined. Like all other proteins, collagen is made up of amino acids: It contains a particularly large amount of glycine, proline and lysine, which are only changed with the help of vitamin C.

What are collagen rich foods?

Especially among the meat, fish and dairy products there are numerous foods that promote collagen build-up in your body or that contain collagen.

In summary, you will also find the foods richest in collagen here. You can use them as a guide, but make sure you eat a varied and healthy diet!

amino acids Rich in food
Rich in glycine Goose, smoked pork belly, Kasseler, roast chicken, pork fillet, liver, boiled ham, beef fillet and roast beef, North Sea shrimp, trout, mackerel, sardines, tuna, oysters, caviar, carp, Alaska pollock, lobster, halibut
Rich in lysine Cooked ham, pork fillet, Kasseler, beef fillet, chicken, pork liver, salami, duck, sardines in oil, tuna, carp, cod, salmon, prawns, trout, lobster, redfish, plaice, mackerel, Gouda, Edam, Appenzeller, Brie, quark, egg
Rich in proline Noodles, pork liver, roast beef, pork and beef fillet, boiled ham, real caviar, sole, tuna, North Sea shrimp, trout, lobster, cod, Emmental, Edam, Tilsiter, Appenzeller, Brie, Camembert, cream cheese


What should I consider when eating collagen-boosting foods?

Basically, you can't go wrong if you pay attention to a balanced and varied diet. Below we will list the foods with the most collagen-rich amino acids. However, that doesn't mean that you should only eat it in bulk now.

If you want to support and promote collagen build-up in your body, simply consuming collagen or collagen-forming amino acids is not enough.


Vitamin C is an essential amino acid for collagen synthesis. Without enough vitamin C, the collagen structure cannot develop. (Image source: unsplash / freestocks)

In order to use the amino acids for collagen formation, your body needs various nutrients. Vitamin C comes first.

It has the potential to accelerate collagen synthesis for bone healing while reducing oxidative stress. There are also studies showing that vitamin C limits the damage to the skin caused by exposure to UV light.(8,9)

Similarly, zinc reduces the breakdown of collagen.(10) So, again, it shows that eating a healthy, balanced diet is beneficial.

How Much Collagen Should I Consume Per Day?

Since collagen is produced in the body itself, all you have to do is support it. A protein-rich diet is sufficient for the production of collagen.

There is therefore no dosage recommendation. Numerous studies examine the effect of additional collagen promotion.

We have summarized a few studies for you in tabular form to give you a rough idea. They showed an improvement in symptoms compared to placebo.

Diseases dosing recommendations
osteoarthritis 8 to 12 grams per day
rheumatoid arthritis 10 grams per day
Skin folds, skin elasticity 2.5 to 5 grams per day
Improvement of joints in arthritis up to 40 grams per day


All studies presented the results after several weeks. This means that collagen in food can have a positive effect on it. However, this is not possible overnight. It is best to consult your doctor about this.

What leads to collagen breakdown in the body?

There are numerous influences that promote collagen degradation or destroy collagen. You can counteract some influences, while others may be genetic.

What are the intrinsic aging factors?

Intrinsic skin aging includes everything related to the physiological aging of the skin. These include factors such as your DNA genetic material, which you cannot influence. Enclosed you will find a short list of intrinsic factors that cause your skin to age.

Genetic, hormonal factors include genetic predisposition and hormonal changes. These include menopause in women, andropause in men, and somatopause (growth hormone deficiency) in adolescents.

Other factors include alcohol and tobacco use, stress and medication (e.g. corticoids). However, you can influence these factors (4).

However, through certain habits you can also accelerate the aging process by breaking down collagen.

What are the extrinsic aging factors?

Extrinsic or external skin aging is determined by environmental influences. The skin is often and quickly exposed to these influences.

The factors of these external influences are:

  • UV sun rays and artificial light (tanning beds)
  • cigarette smoke
  • extreme exposure to heat and cold

Extrinsic (also exogenous) skin aging is clearly more recognizable on the outside. Deep wrinkles, irregular pigmentation and leathery skin are the consequences. As a result, the face and hands often age prematurely.(4)

At the molecular level, there are other processes that accelerate skin aging. It would be too extensive to go into them here.


Collagen is naturally produced in our bodies. However, collagen synthesis slows down in old age, which causes wrinkles to appear, connective tissue to weaken and joint and bone diseases to occur more frequently.

Various amino acids are important for collagen formation - the most important are glycine, lysine and proline. In addition, vitamin C, zinc and other amino acids are also essential.

Collagen-forming amino acids can also be ingested through food through a balanced and protein-rich diet. There is no exact dosage recommendation for how much collagen you should consume every day.

Through the targeted selection of foods rich in collagen, an increased intake is possible, but questionable. The latter because little is known about the side effects.


      Description and summary of the components of different tissues.
      Medical Encyclopedia.
      Study of endogenous glycine and tyrosine production in adults
      Various factors favor collagen degradation or destroy it.
      glycine content
      lysine foods
      proline in food
      Efficacy of Vitamin C Supplementation on Collagen Synthesis and Oxidative Stress After Musculoskeletal Injuries: A Systematic Review
      Vitamin C and skin health
      Study on the influence of zinc
      A quantitative study of type I and type III collagen production
      skin aging
      Role of collagen hydrolyzate in bone and joint disease
      Effects of a nutritional supplement containing collagen peptides on skin elasticity, hydration and wrinkles
      Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study
      Efficacy and tolerability of an undenatured type II collagen supplement in modulating knee osteoarthritis symptoms: a multicenter randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study
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