If you’ve done a bit of research on collagen supplements, you may have noticed that these products fall into two camps: vegan collagen supports and animal-based collagen products. While they are both formulated to target the same needs, these two products are actually quite different. Let’s go over the differences between vegan and animal-based collagen products, and how to know which is better – the answer just might surprise you!
What is Collagen?
We’ll talk about the specifics of animal-based collagen and vegan collagen alternatives below, but first, it’s important to understand what exactly collagen is. Here’s what you need to know!
Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the body. This structural protein (which is made up of amino acids) is found in the bones, muscles, tendons, and skin, and is essentially the glue that holds the body together and keeps it functioning. Throughout the body, collagen works as a building block, keeping the joints and bones healthy and strong. It also supports the skin by strengthening, hydrating, and maintaining elasticity – basically, it keeps your complexion looking glowy and youthful!*
Here’s where things get tricky: there are a variety of factors that can lead to a decrease of collagen in the body. As we get older, the production of collagen gradually declines, while existing collagen also begins to break down. Certain environmental factors also negatively impact collagen. This includes exposure to damaging UV rays from the sun, smoking, a high-sugar diet, drinking an excess of alcohol, high levels of stress, not sleeping enough, and not getting enough exercise.*
As collagen production slows down, the body can exhibit a wide variety of side effects. Skin may start to show wrinkles and become less elastic. Joint pain may also become more common, along with weaker muscles and stiff tendons and ligaments.*
You can certainly implement a few lifestyle changes to help support the existing collagen in your body. Be sure to wear sunscreen, get your beauty rest, and eat a balanced diet! That said, to a certain degree, the natural production of collagen will inevitably continue to slow down as we age. This is where collagen supplements can help!
Collagen and Collagen-Supporting Supplements: The Benefits
Many people have chosen to add collagen supplements (plant or animal-based) to their health and wellness routine in order to boost their collagen levels.* These supplements most commonly come in the form of powder (that you can mix into coffee, smoothies, milks, baked goods, or just about anything you can think of!) or capsules.
Vegan collagen supports and animal-based collagen supplements work a bit differently (we’ll talk about that in detail below), but they ultimately serve the same purpose. When taken consistently, these supplements work to counteract the negative effects that can occur when the levels of natural collagen in the body deplete, helping to strengthen and support the skin, hair, nails, joints, and bones.*
What’s the Difference Between Vegan Collagen Support vs. Animal-Based Collagen?
While they are meant to serve the same purpose, there are some pretty notable differences between vegan collagen supports and animal-based collagen. Here’s what you need to know about these two options.
Animal-based collagen supplements use real collagen derived from the hooves, bones, connective tissues, and skin of animals. As you look at the various options on the market, you may also come across marine collagen, which contains collagen derived from the scales of fish. All of these animal-derived collagen products are formulated with the idea that you can give your body an outside source of collagen in order to make up for the loss of collagen in your body.
Naturally, one point of concern with these types of collagen products is the environmental impact of using more animal-based products, as well as the ethical dilemma. Some people have also noted that they experience side effects when taking animal-based collagen. Gastrointestinal side effects are particularly common, and some may deal with stomach aches when taking animal-based collagen.
A less serious factor to consider is the taste. Many collagen powders are unflavored or marketed as being “tasteless,” but they still have an off-putting taste that can negatively impact the food or drink you’re mixing them in. Finding an animal-based collagen that doesn’t have a detectable taste can be a challenge, and naturally, you’d want an option that you’re actually willing to take on a regular basis!
It’s important to note that you can support your body’s collagen levels without using animal-derived products. In fact, animal-based collagen products don’t actually address the underlying issue behind why your body isn’t producing enough of its own collagen. By taking a finished collagen peptide, you’re putting a bandaid on the issue, rather than getting to the root problem.
Here’s something else to consider: animal-based collagen doesn’t just start working as collagen in your body as soon as you consume it. When digested, the collagen is broken down into amino acids, and then absorbed and used to produce either collagen or other proteins, depending on what your body needs.
This means that taking actual animal-derived collagen isn’t your only option if you’re looking to increase your collagen levels. You can alternatively focus on consuming foods and supplements that are rich in amino acids (and other vitamins and minerals necessary to support collagen production – more on that below!). This will more directly get to the root issue behind why your body isn’t producing as much collagen on its own, and give it the support it needs for optimal collagen production.*
Vegan Collagen Supports
On the other end of the spectrum are vegan collagen support supplements, which work a bit differently than their animal-based counterparts. As you may have guessed, you can’t actually source collagen from plants — it is only found in animals and humans. Rather than giving the body an outside source of collagen, these types of products contain targeted ingredients that boost the body’s natural collagen production process*
In order to create collagen, the body needs amino acids, vitamin C, zinc, and copper. Vegan collagen-supporting supplements contain specific plant-based ingredients rich in these elements so that the body has the building blocks it needs in order to naturally produce its own collagen.* Unlike animal-based collagen, these plant-based products get to the root issue behind why your body isn’t producing enough of its own collagen, and give it the support it needs to boost its collagen production.*
Let’s look at Copina Co. Plant-Based Collagen Boost Drink Blends as an example. These herbalist-approved formulas are packed with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to boost the body’s ability to naturally make its own collagen. All drink blend flavors contain bamboo leaf extract, organic tremella mushroom extract, organic amla berry, biotin, and gotu kola, as well as additional ingredients that promote collagen production and support the skin, hair, nails, and joints.*
Copina Co's Plant-Based Collagen-Supporting Blends help address both collagen degredation and support your body's natural collagen production. They're available in 4 varieties: Matcha and Cacao Calm which can be used in lattes or smoothies and Vanilla and Original which make amazing creamers or blends in smoothies.
Want to know how these plant-based ingredients help support your body’s collagen production process? Here’s a quick rundown:
- Bamboo Leaf Extract: This extract is an amazing source of the mineral silica. Silica plays a key role in collagen synthesis, helping the body build and then absorb collagen. It also supports the skin’s ability to retain water (so it helps your complexion look plump and glowy!), and has been found to reduce hair breakage.*
- Organic Tremella Mushroom Extract: This superfood mushroom (also known by its nickname “the beauty mushroom”) contains amino acids and zinc, which are both essential for collagen production. It is also packed with carbohydrate chains called polysaccharides, which help promote collagen synthesis in the skin. This leads to improved skin elasticity and the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles!*
- Organic Amla Berry: Amla berry is popular in ayurvedic medicine, as it is one of the most potent sources of antioxidant-rich vitamin C – one of the key vitamins needed for collagen production. It is also a great source of copper, which experts say the body also needs in order to produce collagen.*
- Gotu Kola: Also known as centella asiatica, this powerful anti-inflammatory herb has been shown to support collagen production while also protecting existing collagen.*
- Biotin: This B vitamin plays an important role in the production of keratin (a hair protein), and helps support healthy and strong hair, skin, and nails.*
These impactful collagen-supporting ingredients are carefully sourced and dosed by herbalists. The unique expertly formulated blends address collagen loss from all angles, helping to both support the body’s natural collagen production process and address the root cause behind collagen loss for the best possible results.*
Vegan Collagen Support vs. Animal-Based Collagen: Which is Best?
While both vegan and animal-based collagen products can have an impact on your collagen levels, the pros of vegan collagen support products far outweigh the pros of animal-based collagen.
When formulated well, vegan collagen support products can effectively counteract some of the negative effects of collagen loss for strong and healthy skin, nails, hair, and joints. Most importantly, they are safe to use, and also don’t come with the environmental and ethical dilemmas that are tied to animal-based collagen products. Whether you follow a plant-based diet or are just looking to find the best collagen supplement for you, vegan collagen support is the way to go!