Collagen supplementation has been all over the ’gram as of late, not to mention on Snapchat and Twitter. It’s also made headlines on every health and beauty website I know. If you haven’t heard about it yet, I’m honestly not sure how you’ve been functioning in society. It’s become so prevalent that it’s no longer about whether or not you want to try it, but rather what kind you’re already using.
First, let’s review what we already know. It is the basic building block for your bones, skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels and digestive tract. It’s made of amino acids and pieced together with the help of vitamin C. It’s basically the glue of our bodies; it keeps our bodies elastic and our skin looking youthful and wrinkle–free. But what happens when we start losing it? At the ripe ol’ age of 25, we start to lose around 1.5% of our production of it; by the age of 30, the effects of the loss are much more prominent. So, that’s it! Get out the sweatpants and start buying cats, folks, we’re done.
Or, maybe not. As we notice the signs of decreased collagen––sagging skin, pronounced wrinkles, dulled hair, joint pain, less flexibility, slower digestion, peeling or splitting nails, the list goes on––we can begin to combat them with supplementation.
There are countless brands of ingestible collagen on the market today. I am here to help you navigate the sea of options.
By nature, it is an animal–based molecule, so one would assume that supplements are animal–based. This is about 99% correct. There are vegan “collagen” lines out there and, although they are not synthesized from actual collagen, they do contain many of the amino acids and antioxidants that are used to build collagen.
Allow me to break it down for you:
In order for your body to absorb it, it has to be heavily broken down (when collagen is broken down it’s called hydrolyzed collagen). The more that collagen is absorbed, the more bioavailable it is to you. This is important to know when it comes to choosing the type of collagen that’s best for you. If you’re not opposed to using an animal-based collagen supplement, that would be your best bet since that’s what your body naturally produces. If you don’t want or can’t have animal–based collagen, then by all means, grab that vegan bottle.
There are four types of it, three of which are animal-based. To start, let’s take a look at the first two animal-based collagens, which are bovine (cow) and porcine (pig). Bovine and porcine collagens come from a cow and a pig’s bones, skin, tendons, ligaments and cartilage. Since collagen is such a large protein, it goes through quite a bit of processing before it becomes small enough for your body to absorb. Bovine and porcine collagens are rich in Type 1 and 3, which, coincidently, are what make up most of a human body’s collagen pool; however, they don’t have the best bioavailability (meaning that they’re not absorbed very well).
The third animal-based collagen is marine (fish). Marine collagen comes from the scales, skin and bones of cold–water fish. It tends to be smaller in particle size, but it does still need to be hydrolyzed for our bodies to absorb it. It’s mainly made up of Type 1 collagen, and is much more bioavailable than porcine or bovine. Because it’s more easily absorbed, it’s put to use much more quickly and efficiently, and it’s often the preferred choice of medical professionals. A common belief is that because the bones and skin are waste products in many fisheries, marine collagen is less detrimental to the environment.
Lastly, we have vegan (plant) collagen. Vegan collagen is sourced mainly from plants, fruits, legumes, and vegetables..eh hem I mean it is vegan. This is not considered a complete collagen, but rather a combination of amino acids and antioxidants that forms the collagen itself. Since the vegan version doesn’t have to be broken down or heavily processed because of its small particle size, it’s quite bioavailable.
So, now that you know what types of these supplements are out there, you’re ready purchase the one that’s best for you. But remember: when choosing a collagen, be sure to look for reputable brands that are ethically made and sustainably sourced.