If you are strictly health-conscious and keep your eyes and ears open, you might have heard about this little thing called “collagen.” Sure, it sounds inconsequential, but you’ll never guess what the lack of this thing does. Marketed mostly as an anti-aging supplement, collagen has been deemed as the wonderkind for the healthy demographic.
In this article, we will be exploring “collagens” and their different kinds: plant based collagen vs animal collagen types. What are they, and where are they sourced from? What impact do they have on the environment, and which one fares best among the three? If you have had these questions too, this is an opportunity as good as any to know a little more.
What Is Collagen?
For those who do not particularly like biology as a discipline, it might not be common knowledge that the human body produces a slew of proteins to keep up our good health. “Collagen” is simply one of those which play the role of a “builder” and helps hold our body together.
It is typically traced in nails, skin, hair, and connective tissues like ligaments and tendons. When we are in our youth, our body produces collagen at timely intervals to ensure our body’s requirements are met. The problem starts as we inch closer towards middle and old age.
As the human body begins producing lesser and lesser collagen, we start noticing skin sags, brittle bones, joint aches, stunted growth, and such issues. With natural collagen production now stunted, we are left to our own devices to push collagen into our bodies.
That’s where companies come up with marketable artificial, albeit effective, collagen recipes of various kinds, be it bovine, marine, or vegan. While most proteins contain around 20 amino acids, collagen contains only 4: proline, alanine, glycine, and hydroxyproline.
What Is Vegan Collagen?
Adding to the already large list of nutrient deficient vegan foods, collagen is a yet another nutrient that vegans tend to have a hard time sourcing from plant-based foods. Sure, it is more common to get collagen from animals such as beef and fish, but there are ways you can procure this critical nutrient without causing harm to animals.
Now, vegan collagen is a little different than bovine and marine collagen. Since collagen is primarily an animal-based product, in vegan collagen, we essentially get “collagen builders.”
What are Vegan Sources of Collagen?
If vegan collagen doesn’t exist, what is it that is being sold? The plant-based collagen that you see on shelves doesn’t contain real collagen, but instead has nutrients required to kick start natural collagen production. They include specific amino acids such as proline, glycine, lysine, and arginine, vitamin C, zinc, copper, and sulfur. Even though vegan collagen isn’t really collagen, it is surely the next best thing.
There are various sources of vegan collagen such as tofu, tempeh, black beans, kidney beans, certain legumes, seeds such as squash, pumpkin, chia, and sunflower, and nuts such as cashew, peanuts, and pistachios.
But these sources are sometimes not readily available also they do not provide enough collagen builders. However, this dilemma is solved once you get your hands on the best vegan collagen supplements. You kill two birds with one stone: your collagen production increases while you get important nutrients through the vegan collagen supplement.
Vegan Collagen Benefits
- Boosts muscle mass: Studies have shown that having vegan collagen along with proper weight training helps built muscle mass in the body
- Strengthens hair and nails: vegan collagen got amino acids that help build keratin. Keratin is the protein through which hair and nails are built, so it strengthens your hair and nails.
- Promotes skin elasticity: vegan collagen helps your skin stay firm and smoother as you age.
- Improves joint mobility: It helps in maintaining strong cartilage, which helps protect the joints.
What is Marine Collagen?
As discussed earlier, marine collagen is yet another commonly marketed marine-based collagen that does the same work as bovine collagen or natural collagen. They are effective in healing and rebuilding our bodies. As the building block of elasticity and firmness, it helps boost skin health.
It has been used in the cosmetic industry for a long time as a skin-enhancing product. Marine collagen can add a tinge of plumpness, restore our youthful, glowing skin, and amp up the hydration in our skin.
Where Does Marine Collagen Come From?
Fish collagen, or as it is commonly termed, marine collagen, is sourced from fish skin and scales. It works just as well as any other animal-based or natural collagen, and helps keep up the collagen content of our body.
Here’s something to know: high-quality collagen products are usually hydrolyzed, which basically means that the particles are broken up into smaller and smaller pieces to make it easier for our bodies to absorb and utilize them. It consists of smaller peptides and has superior bioavailability to other types of collagen.
Health Benefits Of Marine Collagen
- Improves skin elasticity: consuming type 1 collagen makes your skin smoother and firmer which in turn improves the elasticity of the skin.
- Improves hair growth: Having marine collagen will give your hair a healthier look this is because marine collagen allows the dermis to repair. Dermis helps you to keep your hair stronger and locked in place.
- Promotes bone strength: marine collagen helps improve joint functions as collagen aids pain in the cartilage.
What is Bovine Collagen?
Bovine collagen is made up of the types of collagen that play a major role in the growth and repair of our bones, ligaments, tendons, and skin.
They can prove helpful for reducing joint pain by promptly stimulating cartilage production that can cushion joints, improve gut health (by repairing microscopic holes in gut linings), assist in speedy, athletic post-workout recovery, and can make ATP (the energy currency of cells) recycling more efficient. All of these combined lead to muscular strength and power.
Where Does Bovine Collagen Come From?
Bovine or beef collagen is usually sourced from cows and is typically the most commonly added collagen in supplements. Cattle are usually harvested for their meat before removing the cowhides and treating them for collagen extraction.
In this process, the proteins get hydrolyzed, which helps break down the collagen into smaller and easily digestible amino acids. Most of the grass-fed collagen in the market comes from countries with a long history of grass-fed cattle production,wherein cattle are not treated with artificial growth hormones or antibiotics and are simply allowed to grow up on grass.
Bovine Collagen Benefits
- Improves gut health: bovine collagen contains amino acids that support digestion and improve gut health
- Promotes deeper sleep: bovine collagen contains the amino acid name glycine, which help promotes deeper sleep.
- Helps muscle recovery: bovine collagen supports tendons and ligaments that you use during exercise, and hence it supports quicker muscle recovery.
What Impact Does Marine, Bovine, and Vegan Collagen Have on the Environment?
1. Vegan Collagen
Needless to say, vegan collagen is the most environmentally friendly form of collagen, sourced completely from whole food plant-based sources. As a result, it requires minimal processing. Its estimated carbon emission is 0.5 CO2 eg/kg.
While the sourcing processes and shipping methods of ingredients for vegan collagen are the primary drivers of carbon emissions, companies can ensure that their products are locally sourced and that their factories are built in the countries where they sell the product.
2. Marine Collagen
Marine collagen is better than bovine collagen when production processes are taken into account, but it surely has its limitations in terms of sustainability.
It utilizes the so-called ‘waste’ of the fishing industry by extracting collagen from the bones and skin of discarded fish bits. However, marine collagen’s extraction and hydrolysis processes still require energy produced by burning fuels.
The estimated carbon emissions of marine collagen production stand at 4.41 CO2 eg/kg. Several fisheries practice unethical fishing methods, leading to over 300,000 dolphins, sharks, whales, and other marine wildlife being trapped and killed by bycatch each year.
This endangers marine wildlife and hampers the fertilization of sea plankton, important for absorbing carbon dioxide and bringing down the effects of climate change.
3. Bovine Collagen
As one can picture, bovine collagen calls for a great deal of industrial processing, right from the rearing and production of beef, up to the extraction and processing of collagen via their bones and cartilage to create dandy peptides and powders, you can throw into your morning coffee.
Livestock production amounts to 14.5% of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, and beef contributes to 41% of such emissions. More than 25% of the world’s landmass is used to graze or grow industrially farmed animal food, and the land is usually obtained by clearing forests.
Lastly, the demineralisation and hydrolysis procedure of extracting gelatin and then breaking it down into collagen peptides calls for high heat and extreme temperatures. This is achieved by burning fuels, amounting to global warming. The carbon emissions of bovine collagen production is estimated at a whopping 28.73 CO2 eg/kg.
Vegan Collagen vs Marine Collagen vs Bovine Collagen | Which is Better?
|Parameters||Vegan Collagen||Marine Collagen||Bovine Collagen|
|Sources||Food sources rich in vitamin c, zinc, copper||Fish skin||Cow & Buffalo|
|Benefits||Boots muscle mass, Strengthens hair and nails||Improves skin elasticity, promotes bone density and hair growth||Promotes deeper sleep and helps muscle recovery|
|Effectiveness||Less effective on skin but great to get all the necessary nutrients||Improves skin health and improves bone density||Reduces wrinkles and increases skin moisture|
|Carbon Emission||0.5 CO2 eg/kg||4.41 CO2 eg/kg||28.73 CO2 eg/kg|
Well, it’s hard to pick one over the other when it comes to vegan collagen vs marine collagen vs bovine collagen. Because we get questions like whether vegan collagen will be effective or is marine collagen better than bovine collage. All in all they serve the same broad purpose with a few additions and eliminations.
At the end of the day, the efficacy of your chosen collagen will depend on your requirements and needs. If you are looking for youthful, healthy-looking skin from a highly bioavailable, flavorful, and most importantly, sustainable collagen source, marine collagen is the way to go.
Bovine collagen is your best bet if you want the flavor to stay and the cost to still be lower. With a lower allergenic potential and more scientific evidence in their arsenal, they are touted to be the best for improved gut health and strengthened joints and muscles.
Lastly, if you want to get some minerals, vitamins, and amino acids crucial for your health, your choice should be vegan collagen builders while you ingest your collagen. It acts as the catalyst for collagen production while still serving the betterment of the body’s nutritional content.
Here’s the takeaway: there’s only one right way for environment-conscious masses- vegan collagen builders. Animal collagen does have its own benefits for being a natural collagen.
The risks of contamination are best avoided. As for plant-based collagen, it boosts collagen production and offers necessary nutritional benefits.
Nothing beats natural collagen in our body, but it takes some extra support to keep up your good health once you are past your prime. That’s where plant-based collagen and animal collagen come into play. Choose wisely, and you will benefit accordingly!