Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies. It is created through a complex process, which generally is created from protein, amino acids and vitamin C. This article will explain how vitamin C helps in the production of collagen.

Collagen is the main protein in everything from bones and teeth, along with skin and connective tissues like tendons and ligaments. It helps to keep the structure in our arteries, like the heart. In addition, collagen is in our stomach lining and helps heal and stop what is known as 'leaky gut'.

Because it is so integral to the body's cells and structures, collagen production is particularly important to our natural healing processes. Collagen rushes to the site of wounds and injury. For this reason, we want to make sure we have enough collagen in our bodies for healing.

The thing is, natural new collagen production starts to decline as we get into our 30s, then approximately 1% less each year after that. As a consequence, we start to lose structure in our skin (wrinkles), hair (dull and falling out), nails (brittle) and joints (creaky, painful).

The Role of Vitamin C in Collagen Production

Collagen production starts with vitamin C, protein and amino acids (primarily glycine and proline) from our diet. This process creates what is known as procollagen. Procollagen produces fibrils--fibrils are like a string of thread in a shirt.

The next stage is an infusion of vitamin C and other nutrients that complete the process of creating the final complex collagen structure. The final structure is called a tropocollagen.

With this in mind, vitamin C assists in the synthesis of collagen to such an extent that the body can't make collagen without it. However, although our bodies can make collagen, we can't make vitamin C. The only way we can get vitamin C is through the food we eat.

Apart from this, vitamin C is water-soluble. Water-soluble means vitamin C (and other nutrients such as B, folate and biotin) are washed through and out of our system each day. Thus, we need to replenish our bodies daily with vitamin C.

In fact, a lack of dietary vitamin C causes scurvy, a disorder in which the body is unable to synthesize collagen. This lack of collagen causes symptoms as lethargy, shortness of breath, pain, loosening of teeth, mood changes, edema, neuropathy, and eventual death.

In today's world, we don't have to worry so much about scurvy. However, we must consider the nutritional value of our food supply has declined over the years. Furthermore, these factors in our environment and other habits can reduce the vitamin C in our bodies.

Boosting Collagen Production with Vitamin C

Since collagen is so essential to our overall good health, and because our natural production becomes slower with age or illness, it's not a bad idea to consider taking active measures to help the body produce collagen.

Alternatively, certain habits and lifestyle will damage or destroy the collagen we already have and would be smart to avoid. These include:

-Air and noise pollution
-Certain drugs (eg. oral contraceptives)
-Growing babies and pregnant women
-Fever, infection

Whether you want to boost collagen to support bone and joint health, help your skin stay full and youthful, or recover from wounds and burns or move without pain, collagen is a key factor.

Vitamin C is not just essential for the synthesis of collagen. It is also used by enzymes that create neurotransmitters, they help to support the immune system, and is an antioxidant that helps protect the body from cellular damage.

It's a nutrient that we need throughout our bodies on a daily basis.

Foods High in Vitamin C

The average western diet contains enough proteins and amino acids in the form of meat, fish, eggs, and cheeses, to provide us with the essential amino acid building blocks of collagen. However, many people do not eat enough fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C to help the body use those proteins to make collagen.

For many people, vitamin C supplements in addition to a healthy diet can help to increase the body's collagen production and support better health.

Remember that if you are eating collagen-rich foods like gelatin or bone broth in order to boost collagen, it is essential to also eat foods rich in vitamin C in order to complete collagen synthesis in the body.

Unlike humans, many animals can make vitamin C, so many animal products contain a surprising amount of this essential nutrient.

These foods and spices are known to be high in vitamin C (2). When preparing these kinds of foods, cook them lightly (but always with food safety in mind), because overcooking can damage or dissipate delicate vitamins. A good tip is to use the water vegetables are cooked in other food preparation.

Mustard Spinach
Brussels Sprouts

If you want to be efficient, these foods are high in vitamin C and amino acids needed to create collagen protein:

-Bone broth
-Almonds (good source of copper, which is the final step in collagen production)
-Garlic (3) (high in sulfur, studies indicate may help stop the weakening of collagen fibers)
-Oysters, seeds and nuts (4) (contains zinc, which stimulates collagen production)

Collagen and Vitamin C Supplements

Given that our current food supply is not of the highest nutritional value(5), adding supplements would be a smart move.

Because of the essential relationship between collagen and vitamin C, many supplements have been developed that contain both the necessary amino acids and vitamin C at the same time.

Remember no matter what a product says on the label, the nutrients need to be bioavailable for the body to properly absorb and use them in collagen production.

Many vitamin C supplements are made of ascorbic acid, and not everybody absorbs it fully. Here's a tip, you may need to look for a natural L-ascorbate or liposomal vitamin C supplement to get the full benefits.

Collagen supplements also come in a variety of forms, including capsules, powders, and serums.

Hydrolyzed collagen has been broken down to be easily digestible and rapidly available to the body. Because its small molecular weight means that the peptides pass easily into the bloodstream and can be available for new collagen fibers within as little as an hour.

Hydrolyzed collagen is usually derived from beef, while marine collagen is derived from fish. They are both effective at providing the body with the amino acids and proteins needed to create collagen.

For our friends who might be vegan or vegetarian, we haven't forgotten about you! There are vegan collagen supplements that are sourced from plants to help ensure you have all the necessary ingredients to create and save collagen.


Amino acids, protein and vitamin C work together to help the body make and protect the collagen we need for good health and vitality.

Most people struggle to get enough of the need nutrients in their diet or have a lifestyle that damages the collagen we do have.

That's why supplements can help make up the shortfall so that your body's structures and connective tissues can function properly, protect your health and young-looking appearance for years to come.


(1) Bellows, L. and Moore, R, Water-Soluble Vitamins: B-Complex and Vitamin C,

(2) Bobroff, L, Valentín, Facts about Vitamin C,

(3) R. Glenn Brown, Grace M. Button, John T. Smith, Changes in Collagen Metabolism Caused by Feeding Diets Low in Inorganic Sulfur, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 87, Issue 2, October 1965, Pages 228–232,

(4) Seo HJ, Cho YE, Kim T, Shin HI, Kwun IS. Zinc may increase bone formation through stimulating cell proliferation, alkaline phosphatase activity and collagen synthesis in osteoblastic MC3T3-E1 cells. Nutr Res Pract. 2010 Oct;4(5):356-361.

(5) Wallinga D. (2009). Today's Food System: How Healthy Is It?. Journal of hunger & environmental nutrition, 4(3-4), 251–281. oi:10.1080/19320240903336977,

Author's Bio: 

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