16 Food and Alternative Sources of Collagen

bone broth

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Food sources of collagen—and foods that support collagen production—are excellent additions to your diet. Collagen is the primary structural component of connective tissue outside of your cells (extracellular) providing elastic qualities to your tissues. This extracellular connective tissue sends a contractile force to your tendons and bones allowing for muscle movement. Supporting your collagen production through diet can improve your health and performance.

Foods that contain collagen can help improve your levels, but since your body makes collagen as well, consuming foods that support this process provides further benefits. Nutrients that support collagen production or prevent the breakdown of collagen include vitamin C, proline, glycine, zinc, sulfur, copper, and antioxidants. Below you can read more about the foods that support healthy collagen levels in your body.

Food Sources of Collagen (or Support Collagen Production)

  • Beef bone broth
  • Pork bone broth
  • Broccoli
  • Red bell pepper
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Citrus fruit
  • Organ meats
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Skin-on chicken
  • Turkey
  • Fish and seafood
  • Berries
  • Guava
  • Aloe vera

Beef and Beef Bone Broth  

Tough cuts of meat that contain connective tissues are more likely to be rich in collagen. Homemade beef bone broth made with high-quality beef bones and connective tissues can provide collagen, glucosamine, calcium, magnesium, glycine, phosphorous, amino acids, chondroitin, and other nutrients that support healthy collagen levels.

Research shows that making the broth yourself may be the best option. Store-bought varieties have been shown to lack the nutrients necessary for supporting collagen production.

Pork and Pork Bone Broth 

Pork and pork bone broth are rich sources of collagen, also called porcine collagen. Porcine collagen is known to closely compare to human collagen known to help with skin health, wound healing, and tendon repair.

Porcine collagen has been researched for its potential role in treating and preventing bone loss and osteoporosis. It works in part by inhibiting bone cell death (apoptosis) and promoting new bone growth.


Broccoli is high in nutrients that support collagen production. These include vitamin C and sulforaphane. One cup of broccoli contains your daily recommended dose of vitamin C, which is a nutrient involved in collagen production. Broccoli also contains sulforaphane, a sulfur-rich compound that supports collagen production.

Red Bell Pepper

Red bell pepper is another vegetable that is high in vitamin C, which helps promote collagen production. In fact, red bell pepper contains 190mg of vitamin C in one cup of raw, chopped pepper. That's a total of 211% of your daily vitamin C recommendation. Red bell pepper also contains antioxidants that may support collagen production such as carotenoids such as lycopene, beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.


Tomatoes are high in vitamin C, which helps promote collagen production. with 24.7mg per one cup of chopped tomato. That's 27% of your daily recommendation for vitamin C intake. Tomatoes also contain lycopene, which is a highly nutritious antioxidant that helps prevent cancer and contributes to skin health.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are high in skin-loving vitamin C, which helps promote collagen production. Sweet potatoes also contain beta-carotene antioxidants that the body converts to skin health-friendly nutrient vitamin A, which sends nuclear messages to your body to produce collagen. Sweet potatoes contain 1730mcg of vitamin A and 35.3mg of vitamin C in one large sweet potato (180g).

Citrus Fruit

A vitamin C powerhouse, citrus fruit is a tasty, sweet food to add to your collagen-promoting grocery list. Lemons, limes, grapefruits oranges, tangelos, and tangerines are packed with vitamin C and phytochemicals that boost collagen production and skin health. Oranges, for instance, one of the most popular citrus fruits, are an excellent source of vitamin C, packing in over a day's recommended amount in one serving.

Organ Meats

While not for everyone, organ meats are a nutrient-dense source of vitamins and minerals. They also contain collagen type I in a concentrated dose. You'll find collagen in organs, including the liver, heart, brain, and kidneys, which aren't typically on many people's menus. However, you can also find collagen in animal skin, bones, and ligaments, which are more common in American diets.

Beef liver also contains 5620mcg of vitamin A, which helps promote collagen production. Other collagen-promoting healthy skin nutrients are found in beef liver, tissue, and other organs as well including zinc and vitamin K.


The whites of eggs contain a significant amount of an amino acid called proline which is necessary for collagen production. They also contain glycine, which is another important amino acid for collagen production. The yolks contain protein and choline, which is converted to glycine and promotes collagen production.


Nuts contain large amounts of the mineral zinc, which is vital for collagen production and healthy skin. They also contain proteins that help your body synthesize collagen. Other skin healthful nutrients in nuts include vitamin E, polyphenols, and healthy fats.

Skin-On Chicken 

Skin-on chicken provides collagen, zinc, and amino acids that help to promote healthy collagen levels in the body. The connective tissues found in whole chicken provide a significant source of collagen.


Turkey is high in protein necessary for collagen synthesis and includes plenty of the amino acid lysine which is an essential amino acid you need to obtain through diet since your body does not make it and it helps with collagen production. Turkey also contains the nutrient choline which converts to glycine to produce collagen.

Fish and Seafood 

Fish and seafood contain collagen and nutrients that support healthy collagen levels. Fish collagen is found primarily in the bones, skin, and scales, so choosing cuts with the skin on will help boost levels. You can also buy whole fish with easy-to-eat bones like sardines and canned salmon.


Berries are high in vitamin C, which helps to promote collagen production. Strawberries provide more vitamin C than oranges compared by weight, with 58.8mg per 100 grams. Raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries also provide plenty of vitamin C, along with phytonutrients that support skin health.


Guava contains vitamin C and zinc, both of which help promote collagen production. Other tropical fruits are also high in vitamin C, including mango, kiwi, pineapple, and papaya. Guava contains 376mg per cup, which is a whopping 419% of your daily recommended needs. Guava also contains skin-loving vitamins A and E.

Aloe Vera 

Aloe may promote collagen synthesis, according to some studies, and can increase skin elasticity and moisture. More research is needed to determine its effectiveness, though.

A Word From Verywell

Collagen-promoting foods are also those that are a nutrient-rich source of other healthful compounds that increase your overall diet quality and health. Choosing to eat more of these foods may improve the appearance of your skin, and increase joint function, and improve bone health. If you are concerned about your collagen production, talk to a healthcare provider about your concerns.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you increase your collagen intake naturally?

    You can increase your collagen intake naturally by consuming foods containing collagen or those that help promote collagen synthesis in your body such as amino acids, vitamin C, zinc, and others.

  • How do foods contribute to collagen production?

    Foods contribute to collagen production by either providing collagen directly or by helping carry out the processes necessary for your body to synthesize collagen on its own.

  • What are some signs you need more collagen in your diet?

    Signs you need more collagen in your diet may include skin sagging and loss of elasticity, joint pain, bone density loss, and increased injuries. If you are concerned about your collagen levels, talk to a healthcare provider.

24 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Rachel MacPherson, BA, CPT
Rachel MacPherson is a health writer, certified personal trainer, and exercise nutrition coach based in Montreal.