The skincare trend is far from over. After all, it’s a billion-dollar industry that’s only bound to keep increasing every year.
But whether you’re into health and beauty supplements or not, I’m sure you’ve come to know about the insane popularity of collagen in the recent years.
Collagen supplements are literally everywhere! It’s literally massive!
For us vegans, there’s always controversy because of those who say that we are missing out on collagen.
Today I will debunk some of the myths that surround this controversy. Yes, there are vegan collagen sources, and yes, they work!
What Is Collagen?
Ever wondered why collagen is so popular? It’s the secret to a youthful appearance! Well, no longer a secret now. Collagen is a major protein in our body that forms our connective tissues. It is the one responsible in the regeneration of healthy skin, hair, and nails, among others.
Think of collagen as the glue that holds our tissues together. Naturally, our body produces its own collagen. However, as we get old, collagen production decreases. In some cases, dietary issues may also cause lower collagen levels in the body. Since the discovery of its role in maintaining youthfulness, collagen has become a staple in beauty supplements.
Today, they don’t just come in capsules or tablets, you can also find them in drinks, beauty creams, and soaps. In derma clinics, collagen even comes in injectables to make skin plumper in an instant. It is indeed the modern fountain of youth!
The Benefits Of Collagen
Countless of collagen users rave about it as sort of an elixir for reversing the signs of skin aging. In skincare alone, collagen is known to deliver the following results:
For Skin, Hair, and Nails
- Reduces fine lines and wrinkles
- Heals inflammatory skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and even psoriasis
- Prevents stretch marks and cellulites
- Hastens the healing of wounds
- Makes pores look smaller
- Reduces age spots
- Improves skin texture and tone, making it smoother
- Promotes healthy-looking hair and nails
- Maintains skin elasticity and hydration
And that’s just on the outside! As a primary component in the production of connective tissue, collagen works in the inside.
While that is of course the reason that it can reverse the external signs of aging, it’s also how it can contribute to internal health.
For Internal Health
- Strengthens bones
- Promotes heart health
- Prevents plaque build up in the arteries
- Lowers bad cholesterol levels
- Reduces knee, back, and joint pain
- Helps heal leaky gut
- Protects the brain from Alzheimer’s disease
- Improves digestive health
- Repairs muscles
Isn’t that a chock-full of benefits? Now who wouldn’t want to take advantage of all these?
No wonder collagen is the most sought-after ingredient in beauty and wellness products today! I bet you’ll want to start on a collagen supplement now (if you haven’t yet).
So they say a vegan diet will leave you lacking in collagen. Most non-vegans get this idea because the most popular sources of collagen are animal products.
Most collagen supplements today come from marine animals and livestock, primarily from their:
- Connective tissues
Extracting collagen from human remains also happen in some cases. Ummm, okay I think that’s TMI, sorry folks.
Well, while it’s true that the ideal sources of collagen are mammals, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT VEGANS LACK COLLAGEN.
To begin with, our body produces collagen naturally. That alone, makes that common non-vegan claim absolutely invalid. Collagen production may only be affected by three things: age, diet, and lifestyle.
In rare cases, some diseases (autoimmune disorders) may affect it, too. Going back to the point, most non-vegans would also say that a vegan diet lacks collagen sources. Well, not exactly. Let me go ahead and discuss more points.
The Case Against Animal Product Sources Of Collagen
There are also growing concerns about the safety of sourcing collagen from animals. Some doctors say that all the ground up animal parts can potentially contain heavy metals.
Livestock sources may also carry diseases, according to dermatologists. Stricter testing procedures and hygienic practices in the industry are ideally the remedy for it.
However, we also know that not all manufacturers and sellers are strict enough, and issues like this can always happen anywhere.
In addition, some countries do not have enough regulations to guarantee the safety and efficacy of wellness supplements. In the end, it will be up to the consumers to be meticulous enough about the quality of the supplement.
In other cases, animal collagen from fish products and eggs may trigger allergies for some people. Moreover, there are also potential side effects from taking collagen supplements such as heartburn, and other digestive issues.
Can Collagen Be Found In Plants?
It is true that there are currently no plant sources of collagen. However, since collagen is naturally in our bodies already, there are many ways for vegans to boost their own production. And I mean MANY!
Like all other proteins, collagen needs a lot of other nutrients in order to be produced and absorbed by the body. What does it mean?
Well, if you lack these necessary nutrients, no matter how much collagen supplements you take, your body cannot use it. Money down the drain.
This is why most collagen supplements come with extra nutrients such as Vitamin C for better absorption. Vitamin C is of course, can be found in fruits and vegetables only.
The Real Difference Between Animal And Plant Sources For Collagen
Most arguments out there are quick on the assumption that vegans are depriving themselves of collagen. Let’s be more specific. Animal and plant sources of collagen are technically different since one is a direct source and the other, an indirect source.
However, I still feel that there is a need to lay them out beside each other. This is because people keep pitting them against each other, for understandable reasons. So, here’s a more comprehensive comparison:
Plant Vs Animal Collagen
Method of Provision
Direct – provides pre-formed collagen protein
Indirect – provides nutrients that enhance natural collagen production
Skin and bones from pig, chicken, cow, and/or fish
Plants and vegetables
May be difficult to digest and absorb; Requires a longer breakdown process
Has a higher and faster absorption rate
Allergic reactions, heartburn, diarrhea, nausea, swelling, itching, localized redness
No known side effects; Potential for allergies are very low
Unregulated sources may have heavy metals or disease contamination
No known risks
More studies should be done between these two. However, as with all dietary supplements, always make sure to read and follow label instructions. Going beyond the recommended dosage is never a good idea!
Boosting Collagen Production And Absorption
Even with its potent power, collagen doesn’t just start from nothing. Like all other proteins, it needs the right amount of precursors to be brought to life.
- Antioxidants – anthocyanins and flavonoids; protects the connective tissues (and all the cells) from free radical damage
- Chromium – prevents the breakdown of collagen
- Copper – enhances the production of collagen and elastin; contributes to the regeneration of the elastic fibers in the skin
- Lysine – helps manufacture healthy collagen
- Omega 3 – regulates collagen production and distribution
- Proline – responsible for collagen stability
- Silicon – aids in the synthesis of collagen by activating the enzymes that create collagen
- Sulfur – has a major role in supporting the structure and synthesis of collagen
- Vitamin C – helps manufacture and absorb collagen in the body
- Zinc – works like copper; also helps maximize antioxidant function
And guess what? You can find all of these in fruits and vegetables!
Vegan Collagen Sources
It is true that vegans cannot get collagen directly from its known animal sources. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t or can’t have it.
Since the human body produces collagen naturally, there are many ways to boost this natural production process. What’s even better is you don’t have to worry about compatibility issues.
Collagen from animal products may have an issue with metabolic compatibility, especially the ones from livestock sources. On the contrary, when our body produces its own collagen, there is no question about compatibility.
In the plant world, there is an abundance of natural sources when it comes to the nutrients that are essential in collagen production. To me, that’s all that matters, end of story.
Since we humans produce our own collagen, that is all we need, really. So while there are no direct sources from plants, I’d say there are plenty of indirect sources.
Many people prefer the shortcut of course. However, I would easily choose the long route if it guarantees metabolic compatibility. Case closed.
A little trivia: Scientists are currently studying tobacco leaves to replicate human collagen. Wow!
In addition, colorectal cancer was the principal alcohol-related cancer among men.
As a matter of fact, alcohol is now considered to be a cause of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colorectum, breast, and liver, and is linked to other cancers too.
Collagen-Boosting Plant Sources
Now I’m gonna bust a myth and say this, vegans do not need animal products for collagen! All we have to do is boost our own natural production!
This is so much more preferable than taking collagen from animals that our body may not even accept. Why buy it when you can make it, right?
Here’s a list of what you can include in your daily diet to make sure your body produces optimum collagen:
- Brown rice
- Brussels sprouts
- Citrus fruits
- Fermented veggies
- Green beans
- Green pepper
- Green tea
- Kidney beans
- Leafy greens
- Pumpkin seeds
- Red grapes
- Sweet potatoes
- Whole grain
This list can go on forever, but these are the best sources!
BONUS: To learn how to boost your body’s natural collagen production, check out the video below
Vegan Collagen Hydrolysate
When planning to take supplements, the number one question you should ask is, “is it in a bioavailable form already?”.
The bioavailability of a dietary supplement is its biologically usable property. This means that the higher its bioavailability is, the better our body can absorb and use it.
For collagen supplements, ideally, they should come in a “hydrolyzed” form. In collagen supplements, you will see this in the label as “collagen hydrolysate”.
Like all other essential nutrients, collagen must be broken down into smaller molecules before the body can absorb it. Collagen hydrolysate is simply collagen’s broken down form.
Since there are no vegan sources of collagen, there is no vegan collagen hydrolysat, either. But then again, like I was saying earlier, this is not a problem for vegans at all.
When you boost your natural collagen production, you are already getting the best form of collagen possible. You don’t even need to question its bioavailability. You simply fuel the production then let your body do the magic by itself!
The Best Vegan Collagen Supplements: Vegan Collagen Builders
Yes there are vegan collagen supplements! Although technically, they are “vegan collagen builders”.
Do you feel you aren’t getting enough of the nutrients essential for collagen production?
Are you worrying about skin aging?
Are you allergic to animal collagen?
Or you just want to take advantage of all the health benefits it can give?
Well then, this is what you need, vegan or not!
With hundreds (or maybe thousands!) of wellness brands in the market today, choosing might make you dizzy and even pass out.
So let me help you with some suggestions from my own research. These are the ones that are leading in quality:
Vegan collagen builders are a great start to your skincare routine. Always best to work from the inside! Pop a capsule or two each day, or mix the powder with your favorite drink.
You can also use the powder for baking! If you love ready to drink concoctions, just grab a bottle for your daily dose!
These supplements are also available on Amazon and online beauty shops like Sephora. Be quick though! They run out of stock very quickly, so make sure to get them fast and to get some extra bottles!
Is Neocell Collagen Vegan?
The popular collagen supplement brand Neocell is NOT VEGAN. Its main source? Cows. From its ingredients list: pharmaceutical food grade bovine collagen. So sorry vegans, but you have to remove it from your list, now!
Why Choose Vegan Collagen Supplements?
Since they are boosters technically, and have no animal products in it, you can feel at peace with these advantages:
- Metabolic compatibility is not an issue
- Bioavailability is not even a question
- No need to worry about the presence of heavy metals and possible contamination with livestock disease
- Much lesser chances of triggering allergies since the common sources of animal collagen are known allergens
- Plant materials are absorbed faster by the body compared to animal products
If it’s still not obvious by now, vegan collagen supplements are, by far, safer than animal collagen.
Geltor Vegan Collagen
If you must have vegan collagen then you will have to wait until 2020. That is when the startup named Geltor is planning to debut their animal-free collagen to the food industry.
According to an article by Food Navigator-USA, Geltor “is using synthetic biology techniques to engineer micro-organism to produce collagen”. In other words, they will produce collagen without using or harming animals.
All I can is, I hope the wait is worth it!
Whip Up Your Own Vegan Collagen-Boosting Meals!
Isn’t it amazing how vegans can always find ways to surpass what others think are a limit? Vegans can get lots of collagen, too!
Now if you prefer getting all your nutrients from your food instead of supplements, that’s not a problem, either! Or maybe, you’re just wanting a little extra and want to have the best of both worlds? Totally up to you!
There are now plenty of recipes for a diet rich in collagen-boosting fruits and vegetables. There might even be a book about it already! Now if you don’t know where to start your collagen booster-infused diet, I have something for you.
Check out these handful of recipes from the Peaceful Dumpling. They’re all vegan!
Take advantage of all the pumpkins this fall season! This smoothie is full of antioxidants, fiber, and Vitamin A. It can help with digestion too!
Love soup? You will enjoy this base either as it is or with other spices and flavors! It is rich in biotin, B vitamins, and Vitamin C. It’s a perfect combination of anti-inflammatory and immune system-boosting nutrients!
If you’re feeling low in energy, this bowl of some rice goodness will pick you up! With a load of proteins, it will fill you up in no time and give you that energy boost you need!
Bone broth is one of the most popular sources of animal collagen. While this alternative contains no animal bones at all, it can rival it in terms of nutrients. On second thought, it’s actually much healthier! This creamy plate of veggies is a full-gear army of free radical fighters!
Vitamins A, B, C, E, and phytonutrients, all in one plateful of serving!
Tip: For days you don’t have the time or energy to cook, make sure to stock up your fridge with fruits from the list above. You can simply snack on them anytime of the day, easy peasy!
Beyond Food And Supplements
So you’ve found the best vegan collagen supplement and have made sure your diet complements it. Don’t sit just yet, it doesn’t stop there! Your lifestyle practices will also affect your body’s ability to sustain collagen.
If you don’t get enough rest, recovery and cell regeneration will be difficult. So remember the following tips if you don’t want your natural collagen production dwindling down without you even knowing:
- Minimize stress – I know that stress is inevitable of course. However, prolonging your stress will negatively affect your body’s ability to recuperate. Specifically, stress produces cortisol, which is collagen’s enemy.
- Get enough sleep – When we sleep, our body repairs itself. This is also the best time for the skin to produce more collagen.
- Find time to relax and rest – The best way to fight stress is to make sure you relax. Take breaks from work when you know you need it. Engage in hobbies that can relax you whenever possible.
- Limit toxin exposure – Toxins create free radicals. When there’s too much free radicals, our body’s antioxidants will have to work harder. This means lesser antioxidants that will work on collagen production. More importantly, free radicals can weaken and destroy collagen that’s already in our skin. Toxins can come from smoke, heavy metals, processed foods, alcohol, and pollution, among others.
- Avoid excessive sun exposure and tanning – UV rays damage collagens. Use sunscreen when heading out and avoid the use of tanning beds.
- Lower your sugar intake – too much sugar can weaken collagen. Cut down on sugar or sacrifice your precious collagen!
Currently, there are no known plant sources of collagen. However, there are plenty of plant sources for collagen builders to boost our natural collagen production, which is even better!
They’re the best and safest choice not only for vegans but also for those who want to avoid possible allergies and side effects.
Are you taking vegan collagen builders? How’s your experience? Let me know on the comment section below. And don’t forget to share this article in your favorite social media platform.