If you have found yourself torn by the argument around using plant based products over animal based products you’re not alone. Topics such as the benefits of plant collagen vs animal collagen may well be heated with a lot of emotion being wrapped up in the discussion. As a Vegan, I can appreciate that I may be seen by others who are non-vegans as being more than a little passionate about the topic.
I’m not going to push my beliefs on you with this article. Instead, I want to give you an objective view of plant collagen vs animal collagen as we explore the options for collagen sources for Vegans.
Until I decided to no longer consume or use animal products, I was not aware that there was an alternative to animal sourced collagen. There is, in fact, a very reliable collagen source for Vegans (and anyone who just wants a collagen sourced from plants) which can be found in a number of plant based products.
Specifically, I am going to explore a different type of collagen as there are a lot of plant based collagen products which contain collagen that is derived from wheat. Being gluten intolerant, this source of plant based collagen doesn’t work for me.
What does collagen do?
Collagen is that amazing substance that helps keep your body functioning in a fit and healthy way. It is also responsible for helping you maintain that glowing look to your skin where you have an incomparable radiance. There are a lot of parts of the body that require collagen to maintain optimal health, such as:
- Keeping you connective tissue and joints, including cartilage, in good heath
- Helping with tissue regeneration and the healing of wounds
- Maintaining healthy bone structure at a cellular level
- Supporting healthy eyes, particularly the sclera, the white part of the eye
- Providing a network of healthy collagen fibres in the dermis to support the normal and healthy creation of elastin
- Reducing the appearance of cellulite through supporting healthy tissue structure and reducing the presence of stubborn fats
- Improving digestive health as the gut’s connective tissue relies on collagen to function properly, and more
As you can no doubt tell, there are a lot of functions that the body has where collagen plays an important part. But before we start to consider the benefits of plant collagen vs animal collagen, we first need to have a bit of a closer look at the types of collagen, and where they are normally found to end up, or naturally occur in the human body.
If collagen occurs in my body naturally, why do I need more collagen?
After you get to a certain age, typically 25 years old, the amount of collagen that your body produces naturally begins to reduce. This is often the result of simply aging, but it can also be brought on through a number of factors such as:
- Poor diet
- Excessive sugar consumption
- Exposure to UV radiaion
- Excessive alcohol consumption, and more
When we are born, our skin is packed with an abundance of Collagen Type 3 (more info about collagen types below). This is the type of collagen that is responsible for children having soft, supple skin. As we move out of childhood and into our teenage years, the amount of Collagen Type 3 starts to deteriorate as Collagen Type 1 begins to increase until we get to around 25 years old. From there, the decline in the amount of Collagen Type 1 begins, and is more and more noticeable as the years go by.
Collagen is said to reduce at a rate of around 1.5% each year in the average person. This is why your skin gets saggy, and wrinkly as you get older. But, there is a way to reduce the effects of the natural deterioration in collagen levels. Increasing the consumption of collagen in your diet can help.
It is safe to say that as the primary way in which we obtain collagen from external sources is through the foods we consume, and for some, through collagen supplements. But is this the most effective way to get the collagen you need?
What is the most effective way to use collagen for my skin?
Eating collagen will first provide the required supply of collagen to the parts of the body that need it to support the primary functions of sustaining life. Your organs, ligaments, cartilage, and other parts of the body that are not seen on the surface will take their share of the collagen first.
What is left, after it has been through your digestive processes and then carried to the remaining parts of the body are extremely limited by comparison. Without even beginning to look at the comparisons between plant collagen vs animal collagen, we need to get this step right first.
Using a high quality collagen serum can help deliver the collagen directly to the skin. where it is needed. This delivers it in such a way that it doesn’t need to go through all of the internal digestive processes that can reduce the concentration, and potentially deteriorate the structure of most of the collagen. And that’s before any that is left over after the organs get their share even gets to your skin.
How important is collagen?
Did you know that collagen makes up one third of the of the protein in the human body? It is incredible to think that as a hard insoluble protein, collagen is stronger than steel is when you look at it from a ‘gram for gram’ perspective.
Being the most abundant of the proteins in the extracellular matrix, collagen accounts for as much as 90% of the protein content within your bones. This concentration of collagen helps to give structural support to the surrounding cells. The human body requires a variation on the different types collagen, known as families, that typically includes the following types of collagen:
- Fibrillar Collagen
- Collagen Type 1
- Collagen Type 2
- Collagen Type 3
- Collagen Type 5
- Collagen Type 11
- Facit Collagen
- Collagen Type 9
- Collagen Type 12
- Collagen Type 14
- Short Chain Collagen
- Collagen Type 8
- Collagen Type 10
- Basal Lamina
- Collagen Type 4
- Collagen Type 6
- Collagen Type 7
- Collagen Type 13
We are specifically interested in Collage Type 1 and Collagen Type 3, which are a part of the Fibrillar Collagen family.
What is so special about Collage Type 1 and Collagen Type 3?
When you consider that there are actually over twenty different types of collagen found in the tissue of the human body, we want to know more about the types that help with improved skin heath and looking younger. Collagen Type 1 and Collagen Type 3 are in that category where the bulk of the collagen in the body is one of five different types, such as:
- Collagen Type 1 which is typically found in the
- Collagen Type 2 which is typically found in the:
- Eye (structure)
- Collagen Type 3 which is typically found in the:
- Collagen Type 4 which is typically found in the:
- Collagen Type 5 which is typically found in the:
- Cell surfaces
Remember how earlier in this article we mentioned that as a baby you have an abundance of Collagen Type 3, and then that changes as your body transitions into the teens to be an abundance of Collagen Type 1 until you are 25? These are the two types of collagen that will be the most effective at delivering amazing results when it come to your skin looking young and fresh.
What about Plant Collagen vs Animal Collagen?
As I mentioned in the opening, as a Vegan, I have been looking for an ethical source of collagen for Vegans. To be in congruence with my values as a Vegan, the discussion about plant collagen vs animal collagen is one that could easily go down the cruelty free route without any real effort.
But, I don’t want you to feel like you are being ‘bashed’ by a Vegan here based on those points. I think they speak clearly enough for themselves. What I would like you to consider is the methodology for harvesting collagen from plants compared to animals. Too many organisations claim that they have carefully cultivated collagen source for Vegans. But, beneath the surface, they are still using limited resources in what I believe is a wasteful way.
We could discuss the copious amounts of water, feed, and land that is needed for the animals to mature to a point that they contain sufficient collagen to then be evaluated as a potential source of collagen. We could also on the flip side discuss the same points if we were to source plant based collagen from crops such as wheat. From an environmental perspective there are flaws in both areas here.
What if I told you that these angles didn’t even matter when looking at a particular source of collagen? The topic of plant collagen vs animal collagen would become a mute point. Well, there is a source of collagen that does not require the demands that harvesting crops of wheat, or the like does. And I’m delighted to say that it doesn’t come from animals either!
Vegan Skin Care with Marine Collagen
In a previous article I spoke about a marine collagen that is made from seaweed which has a much higher quality of Collagen Type 1 and Collagen Type 3 than any other source. As this seaweed is carefully harvested from some of the most pristine waters on the planet, it is an amazing resource is a blessing to the skin care world. As a collagen source for Vegans, this fits the bill nicely.
Using an organic product that is not tested on animals, nor is it made from animal sources is a big plus for me. After extensive research into various sources of collagen, I have finally found something that delivers amazing results, and I don’t feel guilty using it. The plant collagen vs animal collagen discussion is irrelevant when you learn that you can get exactly what you are looking for in a high quality product that is carefully and ethically sourced from the ocean.