While foods that build collagen and elastin are beneficial at any time of life, it becomes particularly important to get enough of these foods after age 50. At that point, your body begins producing less collagen and elastin, which can result in loss of elasticity and firmness in your skin and facial features.
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According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, your body uses vitamin C for making collagen and elastin, proteins which help keep your skin firm and supple. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and helps support your immune system, so you get both beauty and health benefits from foods rich in this vitamin. Getting your recommended 75 to 90 milligrams of vitamin C daily supports collagen production. After age 50, you should concentrate on a variety of fruits and vegetables containing vitamin C. Citrus fruits -- like oranges and grapefruits --red peppers, strawberries and sweet potatoes all contribute a significant amount to your vitamin C intake.
Lysine is an amino acid that your body uses to build collagen. It is an essential amino acid, which means that while your body needs it, your body cannot produce it by itself. Instead, it is provided exclusively by your diet. Red meats, cheese and nuts are all high in lysine, but they can also be high in fat. If you are over 50 and struggling with weight as well, try soy products, which are also high in lysine but lower in fat.
The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University reports that your body needs ample amounts of the mineral manganese to increase production of collagen and elastin, especially when healing wounds. If you are over 50 and have also had surgery that has left scarring, manganese will help your skin and help you heal. Your diet should provide a small amount of manganese -- 2.3 milligrams for men and 1.8 milligrams for women. Eat foods like pineapple, pecans, whole grains and leafy greens, which are high in manganese. Unorthodox foods like seaweed and other sea vegetables are also high in manganese.
Your body needs the essential mineral copper to knit together collagen and elastin to form strong skin. Copper, like manganese, is found in a wide variety of foods, although it is most concentrated in meat from animal organs, shellfish, nuts and seeds. Whole grain foods, like breads and pastas, are also high in the mineral. Copper is less frequently found in fruits and vegetables, but you can get reach your recommended daily intake by adding nuts and seeds -- such as cashews, almonds and sunflower seeds -- as well as lentils and mushrooms into your diet. Consume 0.9 milligram of copper daily for healthy collagen and elastin production.