Your Guide to Vegan Collagen
What is collagen?
Let’s start with the very basics, collagen makes up the majority of the protein in the human body. There are three types which make up and support various parts of our bodies; type I in skin, bones and teeth; type II in cartilage; and type III in skin, muscles and blood vessels. Our bodies make collagen themselves using amino acids, vitamin c, zinc and copper, but their ability to do so slows as we age. With less collagen, natural signs of ageing such as wrinkles and some joint pain may start. Healthy ageing is something to be celebrated, but being aware of the symptoms of collagen deficiency is important, as it can be a way that our bodies signal health problems. In recent years, collagen supplements have become popular as an anti-aging beauty treatment as collagen fibres provide structure to the skin, keeping it looking firm and wrinkle free. However, this isn’t the only benefit of collagen supplements, they may also support bone and joint health, as well as promoting healthy hair and nails.
Is collagen vegan?
Most collagen supplements source the collagen from cows or fish, meaning that they are not vegan or vegetarian friendly. However, research has shown that animal derivatives are not required for collagen-building effects, as ingesting animal collagen is not equal to collagen absorbed. This has led many people to search for a more natural alternative in the form of vegan collagen supplements.
What are vegan collagen supplements?
Vegan collagen supplements work in a completely different way to animal-based collagen, as they aim to improve the body’s natural ability to create collagen rather than ingesting the collagen created by a different body.
They provide vitamins and minerals, specifically Vitamin C, Silica, Zinc and Copper, which combine with amino acids from protein sources in order to help create collagen naturally.
Why pick vegan collagen boosters over traditional collagen supplements?
Vegan collagen supplements provide a more natural way to boost your body's collagen.
There is also scientific evidence that certain vitamins and plant-based foods have the ability to promote collagen synthesis, unlike their animal based counterparts.
Finally, animal-based collagen supplements are made from the skin, bones and joints of animals, vegan collagen offers an alternative which suits the vegan lifestyle, and is also much more sustainable with less impact on the environment.
What should you look for in a vegan or vegetarian collagen supplement?
Everything that we need to create collagen is available from plants. Vitamin C, silica, zinc, copper and amino acids are all necessary for your body to produce collagen (source). Just ensuring that we get enough of these things could lead to an increase in collagen production, but there are plenty of other beneficial vitamins and minerals which may boost collagen production or provide similar benefits. Read on to find out about some of these.
We know foods high in Vitamin C are good for us, we load up on it when we start feeling unwell. When it comes to collagen, Vitamin C is essential for our bodies to store and form collagen - which may make it the most important component when it comes to plant based collagen supplements (source). Vitamin C’s benefits include contributing to the normal formation of collagen for the normal functioning of skin, bones, cartilage and teeth. Vegan Vitality’s Collagen Complex sources Vitamin C from Acerola Cherry, which is renowned for its high Vitamin C content.
Zinc is an important nutrient for our health, it aids our body in creating proteins (including collagen) and DNA. The main sources of Zinc are meat, shellfish and dairy foods, so a zinc supplement is recommended for plant based diets. Zinc’s benefits include contributing to the maintenance of normal bones, nails, hair and skin, and also protecting cells from oxidative stress (source).
Copper is an essential nutrient for the body. It enables the body to form red blood cells and helps maintain healthy bones, Copper’s other benefits include contributing to normal skin and hair pigmentation, to the maintenance of normal connective tissues, plus it protects cells from oxidative stress.Biotin
Biotin’s benefits include contributing to the maintenance of normal skin and hair. Biotin and collagen both come up frequently in the beauty community, and are popular supplements used with the intention of growing healthy hair and nails.
Silica is required to produce collagen and is a natural anti-inflammatory. It has also been linked to healthy hair, skin and nails. In Vegan Vitality’s Collagen Complex, we use bamboo silica as bamboo has one of the highest percentages of natural silica, and would otherwise likely be agricultural waste (source).
Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, which is vital in fighting free radicals in our bodies. Our bodies are constantly exposed to free radicals from our environments, which can cause harm if their levels become too high. Vitamin E helps to maintain healthy skin and contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress.Vitamin A
Vitamin A is best known for aiding eye health - remember being told to eat carrots so you can see in the dark? - but it also contributes to the maintenance of normal skin. If you’re interested in skincare, you’ve probably heard of retinol which has become popular in recent years as a way to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and dark spots. Did you know that retinol comes from Vitamin A? Eating or supplementing this vitamin could help to achieve those effects from the inside out.
Manganese is part of an antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase, considered one of the most important in the human body (source). Manganese’s other benefits are that it contributes to the maintenance of normal bones and connective tissue, plus protects cells from oxidative stress. It also helps with metabolising amino acids, another component of collagen production.
Lysine is an amino acid which is essential in collagen production. Our bodies are best able to utilise L-Lysine, which we can get through protein sources such as tofu and legumes. Lysine has benefits for physical and mental health. It’s contributions to building collagen can help with healing wounds as well as supporting the health of skin, hair and nails, plus lysine is thought to improve calcium absorption which aids bone health. Not only that, a Japanese study found that l-lysine reduced the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in anxious adults.
What is the best vegan collagen supplement?
We recommend Vegan Vitality’s Collagen Complex. Its formula includes all of the above with natural plant based extracts such as Acerola Cherry and Bamboo, plus L-lysine, Biotin and 5 other essential vitamins.
It’s designed to support collagen growth without the use of Bovine, fish or marine ingredients, providing you with a completely vegan, sustainable alternative.
VeggieKins - Vegan Collagen
HealthLine - Vegan Collagen
NIH - Zinc
NIH - Copper
HealthLine - Copper
Lloyds Pharmacy - Biotin
WebMD - Biotin
HealthAid - Silica
NIH - Vitamin E
HealthLine - Antioxidants
NIH - Vitamin A
HealthLine - Vitamin A
Boots - Retinol
NIH - Manganese
HealthLine - Manganese
HealthLine - Lysine