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7 Nutrients to Pair with Collagen
By Dr. Josh Axe
March 3, 2023
A common question among those who are new to supplementing with collagen protein is, “Can I take collagen and other supplements together?”
For collagen to do its job, it needs support from other nutrients that help to enhance its synthesis, absorption and utilization. These include nutrients like vitamins A and C, plus a number of minerals, such as zinc and copper.
Let’s dive into the answer to this question below and also find out which foods high in collagen and collagen-boosting foods (those that help the body make its own collagen) are best to include in your diet.
Of course, you should always consult your healthcare professional prior to beginning any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, including dietary supplementation or the pairing of any nutrients.
Before we review some of the best nutrients to pair with collagen, let’s start with some background info on what collagen is and why you should consider taking it.
If you’re not yet familiar with collagen powder and its benefits, here’s what you need to know:
Collagen is a protein that helps give structure and elasticity to your skin, bones joints, and other connective tissues. If you want to maintain healthy skin, thick hair and comfortable-feeling joints and ligaments, then your body needs enough collagen.
Not only do you produce your own collagen, but you can also obtain collagen from supplements to help support your body’s own production of collagen. Some products to consider include: Multi Collagen Protein, Bone Broth Protein, and Organic Supergreens Collagen.
An added benefit of acquiring collagen from these supplements is that they contain multiple types of collagen, antioxidants and collagen cofactors, such as hyaluronic acid for example, which further assists in joint health.
You can definitely take collagen with other supplements —and you may want to consider it. Collagen pairs well with protein powders (such as our plant-based protein), vitamin C, zinc, Organic Supergreens, probiotics and multivitamins.
There are a handful of foods and products to consume with collagen in order to help with absorption, as well as to support your body’s own production. As explained in more depth below, foods to consume with collagen include those high in protein (such as meat, eggs, and fish), antioxidants and essential minerals.
In terms of how to use collagen supplements, it’s really a matter of preference. You can take collagen any time of day, either on an empty stomach or with a meal.
How much collagen per day to take? For most adults, a general recommendation is about one to three servings of collagen power daily, or about 10 to 30 grams/day. However, you should always read and follow the directions for use on the product label.
What vitamins are needed to absorb and maintain collagen? One that greatly helps is vitamin A, which acts like an antioxidant and contributes to a healthy immune system and skin health.
How it helps:
Vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin, plays an important role in collagen synthesis and helps to regulate the growth and differentiation of skin cells. Vitamin A also helps to support healthy collagen levels. In addition to its role in collagen synthesis, vitamin A is needed to maintain the integrity of the skin barrier, which has roles including preventing water loss and guarding against everyday environmental stressors, such as pollution and UV radiation.
If you regularly take a multivitamin, such as our Women’s Fermented Multi, for example, you’re probably already covering your vitamin A needs. You can obtain vitamin A naturally from foods including: liver, fish, eggs, dairy products, and orange and yellow fruits and vegetables like sweet potatoes.
Much like vitamin A, vitamin C is an antioxidant and healthy immune system supporter, plus it contributes to overall skin health.
How it helps:
Vitamin C is essential for the synthesis of collagen in the body, as it helps to convert the amino acids called proline and lysine into collagen. Vitamin C, being an antioxidant, also helps to promote healthy skin and to fight free radicals.
You can take vitamin C capsules on a regular basis; however, it’s beneficial to get plenty from your diet, too, such as from foods including: leafy greens, berries, citrus fruits, kiwi, tropical fruits like mango and pineapple, and bell peppers.
Zinc is a vital mineral that’s needed for overall healthy immune system function, skin health and protein synthesis.
How it helps:
Zinc is involved in the synthesis of collagen and is also important for keeping skin healthy. It can help promote healthy collagen production, which forms the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, thereby supporting a healthy immune system, since approximately 70 to 80 percent of the immune system is housed in the gut.
Multivitamins usually include 100 percent of your needs for zinc, or you might choose to take a zinc supplement for additional healthy immune system support. You’ll also get zinc from your diet when you eat foods such as: grass-fed beef and lamb, organ meats, chicken, turkey, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes, dairy, and whole grains.
Manganese is needed to assist in bone development, healthy skin and many metabolic functions.
How it helps:
Manganese is necessary for the enzymatic reactions that help form collagen protein. When someone’s diet is lacking in manganese, collagen production can be impacted as well as skin skin elasticity and joint comfort.
You’ll find manganese in foods including: whole grains like brown rice, oats, quinoa, nuts, seeds, legumes, teas, spinach, pineapple, sweet potatoes, and avocado.
Copper is an essential mineral that assists in the maintenance of healthy bones and connective tissues. It also supports an overall healthy immune system and facilitates the production of red blood cells.
How it helps:
This mineral is involved in the cross-linking of collagen, which helps to provide its structural stability. To boost your intake of copper, add foods to your diet such as: organ meats (liver, kidney, heart), shellfish, nuts and seeds (like cashews, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds), legumes, dark leafy greens, whole grains, avocado, and mushrooms.
Within your connective tissues, especially your skin and joints, a compound that works with collagen and elastin (another protein) to keep your skin healthy is hyaluronic acid.
How it helps:
Hyaluronic acid attracts water and helps with hydration. It also helps bind collagen with elastin, contributing to joint mobility, comfort and healthy skin elasticity. You can take hyaluronic acid in supplement form, or get it from Bone Broth Protein, which also has other collagen cofactors called glucosamine and chondroitin.
While it’s hard to get hyaluronic acid directly from foods, a diet that contains plenty of type 2 collagen, antioxidants and protein helps your body to make its own.
Aside from vitamins and minerals, what can you combine collagen with? One supplement to consider adding to your routine to help collagen do its job well is probiotics, which are “friendly” bacteria that populate the gut microbiome.
How it helps:
Considering that collagen production relies on the utilization of a range of vitamins and minerals — including vitamin C, zinc and copper, which are all absorbed in the gut — a well-functioning gut is essential for maintaining healthy collagen levels.
While probiotics may not directly affect collagen production, they can indirectly support collagen synthesis in the body by supporting a healthy gut microbiome and gut lining integrity. This, in turn, can help support nutrient absorption and support overall healthy immune system function.
You’ll find probiotics in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha. Additionally, you can supplement with probiotics to further support gut health.
We recommend a hardy type of probiotics called SBOs (soil-based organisms), such as our SBO Probiotics for Women capsules. Why SBOs? Because they’re resilient to the harsh environment of the stomach and capable of making their way to the right parts of the gut where they can be most beneficial.
Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CNS, is a doctor of chiropractic, doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist and author with a passion to help people get well using food and nutrition. He operates leading natural health website DrAxe.com and is co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, a health supplement company. He’s also author of the books Eat Dirt, Essential OIls: Ancient Medicine, Keto Diet, Collagen Diet and Ancient Remedies.