Collagen has been all the craze in recent years. It has many plant-based consumers asking, “Is collagen vegan?”
Although collagen mostly comes from animal sources like beef or fish, vegan collagen is now being made using a surprising source…
Read on to learn more about vegan collagen sources, plus everything you need to know about this plant-based protein.
What Is Vegan Collagen?
Collagen is a fundamental building block. It is used to add structure to the human body. Helping to form connective tissues, collagen strengthens the bonds in the body. Its main role is to help skin and organs balance flexibility and firmness.
Healthy hair, skin, bones, and ligaments cannot survive without collagen. Essentially, collagen produces the binding that holds bones and muscles together. It also plays a major part in wound healing. Vitamins C, E, and curcumin are also integral in improving and boosting collagen synthesis (the process by which collagen is made).
The main difference between animal and vegan collagen is found by looking at their sources. Animal collagen comes from animal products and sources such as fish, which is respectively prepared into marine collagen.
On the other hand, vegan collagen is created using bacteria and coded collagen genes in laboratories to mimic human collagen. It may sound like science fiction, but plant-based collagen seems promising.
Promising Scientific Evidence
The benefits of collagen supplements show to improve skin elasticity and hydration. Research consistently shows that vegetarians and vegans can consume all the necessary amino acids and other nutrients for collagen production. A well-balanced diet can keep vegans at healthy protein levels.
Mixed Scientific Evidence
Research is mixed in regards to evidence showing that collagen helps with joint pain. The existing evidence shows that most of the studies have been done on collagen supplements. As the future unfolds, research will likely begin to investigate food products with collagen as a functional additive.
Limited Scientific Evidence
Women are discouraged to use collagen supplements during pregnancy and lactation. They have not been studied in enough detail to promote use during this stage of life.
Supplements have also not been proven to help with wrinkle prevention or antiaging. Topical products are not considered effective from a collagen standpoint. The skin has poor absorption when it comes to collagen.
The Verdict on Vegan Collagen
There is no universal verdict yet. So far, studies say that there are many factors considered when talking about collagen and its possible benefits. The type, dosage, and duration required, as well as safety and quality control, are all concerns involved in heading towards an expert consensus.
For now, professionals say that collagen is a relatively safe supplement to take, however, there can be a few side effects. It is important to discuss options and treatments with your doctor before beginning to take pills on your own.
Vegan Collagen Sources
Traditional collagen comes from animal sources, such as beef or fish. Vegan collagen is a plant-based alternative that gets its start in a very different environment.
How Vegan Collagen Is Made
Vegan collagen is made in a laboratory environment. Using genetically modified yeast and bacteria, plus pepsin (a digestive enzyme), structural building blocks are created by mixing these molecules together.
Researchers have found that this formula produces the exact same structure as human collagen but without the need for animal proteins. Clean, inexpensive, and effective, this process is thought to have many impressive benefits.
Plant-Based Collagen Benefits & Uses
Low-cost, safe collagen has many benefits for human health and beyond. The science has not quite caught up with supplement claims.
However, plant-based vegan collagen has applications from beauty at the skin’s surface all the way down to bone health.
Ethical and Environmental Considerations
Engineered bacteria are used instead of animals as a source of plant-based collagen. This evades the need to use animals for collagen production.
People who adopt a vegan diet often choose their eating pattern for animal welfare-related reasons. Vegan collagen is produced in a way that escapes the need for animals and environmentally harmful farming practices to be involved.
Protein is critical for exercise recovery. It makes sense how collagen could assist in the healing that follows a hard workout. Making sure to get the proper amount of collagen-promoting nutrients in the diet can also help.
Vitamin C is crucial to repairing tendons, ligaments, and even in healing surgical wounds. It is needed to produce the collagen that aids in these efforts. Foods such as the following can help provide necessary nutrients for collagen production:
- bell peppers
- Whole grains
- Beans & peas
- Nuts & seeds
Plant-based collagen is created from inexpensive ingredients that are highly available. What this means for the market is that production is scalable.
So since it costs less for the sellers to make, vegan collagen could easily be mass-produced.
Especially for Allergy-Prone Eaters
Animal-sourced collagen carries the added risk of contamination. There is a risk of illness with animal-based options, whereas lab-created collagen is made in a controlled environment.
In other words, vegan-sourced collagen production is carefully monitored. It occurs in a place where common allergens, cross-contamination, and other harmful substances or risks are removed. This means better healthcare options may become available for allergy-prone people, from homes to hospitals.
Elevated Safety & Eliminating Risks
Labs are generally sterile environments, making plant-based production of collagen extremely clean. Instead of investigating a long process from the original animal to their collagen output, vegan collagen is easy to trace. It simply comes from one source and is exchanged among a minimum number of hands.
Even More Availability & Applications
One promising implication of vegan collagen production is in the medical industry. Plant-based patients could potentially be provided vegan collagen in the future.
As research mounts, vegan collagen can be studied as a supplement and find a place in regular routines and health regimens.
Extra Uses for Vegans
Collagen helps in health areas beyond just the inside. It is known to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and stimulate the production of the body’s natural collagen. Along with this, collagen has properties that support joint and digestive health.
Until recently, very few affordable options for vegan collagen were available. Now, supplements and products with beauty benefits are offered more readily. Researchers are hard at work to learn about all the applications.
The Bottom Line on Vegan Collagen
Vegan collagen still has a ways to go before truth and trends will be separated. However, it has a promising start built on plant-based sources. Soon, scientists and experts say it will be lining supermarket shelves and assisting surgeons as they help their patients.
Until the science becomes more solid, include foods and nutrient supplements to support and promote collagen production. Plant-based foods include:
- Soy products (i.e. tempeh, tofu, soy protein)
- Black and kidney beans
- Seeds (especially pumpkin, squash, sunflower, and chia)
- Nuts, such as pistachio, peanut, and cashew
- Vitamins: A, C, E
- Minerals: Zinc, Copper
- Other Nutrients: Omega-3s
Overall, plant-based collagen opens up a lot of possibilities, for vegan eaters and for everyone!
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