So... can collagen be vegan? Here's everything you need to know.
Collagen has been in the health world spotlight for quite a few years now. As people have started to learn more about collagen – and as some have added collagen supplements to their health routine – vegan collagen products have begun to pop-up. But what exactly does vegan collagen do, and how is it different from “normal” collagen? Below, we’ll go over everything you need to know about vegan collagen, and how you can add it to your health routine for skin, hair, nail, and joint support.
What is Collagen and What Does it Do?
Before we dive specifically into vegan collagen, let’s talk about collagen and what it does. Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the body. It is made up of amino acids, including glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline.
Here’s a quick science lesson: collagen synthesis occurs naturally in the body. In order to make collagen, the body needs amino acids, as well as vitamin C, zinc, and copper. The collagen synthesis process primarily occurs within and outside of fibroblasts, a network of collagen-producing cells. Fibroblasts are found in the skin, tendons, and other connective tissues in the body.
Collagen is found throughout the body, and works as a building block for the skin, hair, bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. There are 28 known types of collagen in the body, but around 80% to 90% of the collagen found in the body is type I, II, or III.
As far as the skin goes, collagen strengthens, hydrates, and helps maintain elasticity, keeping the complexion looking youthful and glowing. Collagen works in the dermis (the middle layer of skin), helping to form fibroblasts for new cells to grow. Collagen also supports stronger hair and nails, and helps maintain bone, tendon, and joint health (by way of maintaining the integrity of cartilage).
The Natural Decrease of Collagen in the Body
As we age, the natural synthesis of collagen in our body gradually decreases, and existing collagen in the body breaks down. It is believed that after the age of 20, the body produces about 1% less collagen in the skin every year. For women, after menopause, that decline becomes even more drastic.
There are also environmental factors that hinder the production of collagen. This includes exposure to the sun and damaging UV rays, lack of sleep, high levels of stress, smoking, drinking excess alcohol, a high-sugar diet, and not getting enough exercise.
With this gradual decline in collagen comes a variety of side effects. This can include wrinkles and less elastic skin, joint pain, weakening muscles, and stiffer tendons and ligaments.
What are Collagen Supplements?
In order to counteract the effects that aging and environmental factors have on the levels of collagen in the body, many people have started to consume external sources of collagen via supplements. Collagen supplements often come in the form of powder or capsules.
These supplements are meant to supply the body with collagen in order to counteract the decreasing levels of this protein in the body. Since the body isn’t able to absorb collagen in its whole form, collagen supplements are normally hydrolyzed. This means the longer amino acid chains are broken down into peptides with two or three amino acids.
Is Collagen Vegan?
Quick answer: no, collagen is not vegan. Collagen supplements source that collagen from the skin, bones, and connective tissues of animals (commonly bovine or fish), and therefore are not vegan or vegetarian.
So what does it mean when you see “vegan collagen” products? Well, vegan collagen doesn’t actually exist, but there are plant-based products that can help support the body’s production of collagen. These products work to give the body exactly what it needs for optimal collagen synthesis and protection. When you see the term “vegan collagen” used on a label, think of it as a collagen boosting and support product, rather than a direct source of collagen.
This means that, thankfully, if you follow a vegan diet (or are simply trying to reduce your animal product intake), there are still ways for you to support your body’s collagen production. This includes adding our Plant-Based Collagen Boost Drink Blends to your coffee, smoothie, or baked goods! You can SHOP HERE for all our blends in our amazing flavors: Original, Vanilla, Cacao Calm, and Matcha.
How Vegan Collagen Works
The Copina Co. Plant-Based Collagen Boost Drink Blends are fully vegan, and contain a mix of effective ingredients that help support the body’s natural collagen-producing process. The ingredients in this herbalist-approved formula contain vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that support collagen synthesis.
These ingredients address collagen in the body at all angles, by both fighting the loss of this protein while also boosting collagen production. This means you can get the various benefits of collagen supplements without having to rely on animal products!
Curious about the specific ingredients? Here’s a breakdown of the collagen-boosting ingredients found in all of the Plant-Based Collagen Boost Drink Blends.
Bamboo Leaf Extract
Bamboo leaf extract is an incredibly rich source of silica. This mineral is also naturally found in the body – it’s the third most abundant trace mineral, following iron and zinc.
Silica plays a crucial role in collagen synthesis, as it helps the body build and then absorb collagen. This contributes to silica’s ability to keep the skin looking plump and glowy while also strengthening connective tissues and improving their flexibility. Additionally, silica works to create bonds between protein molecules, which helps the skin retain water (further improving the complexion). As an extra beauty bonus, silica has also been found to help reduce hair breakage!
Just like collagen, the levels of silica in the body decrease as we age. This means that finding external sources of silica (like bamboo leaf extract) can be particularly beneficial for our overall well-being.
Organic Tremella Mushroom Extract
Tremella mushroom (tremella fuciformis) has a centuries-long history in traditional Chinese medicine. It has earned its nickname “the beauty mushroom” because of its ability to help improve complexion by boosting skin hydration and fighting signs of aging.
Tremella contains polysaccharides, which are carbohydrate chains. Polysaccharides have been shown to promote skin collagen synthesis, which in turn can help boost skin elasticity and minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Tremella mushroom also contains amino acids, which are crucial for the production of collagen.
Organic Amla Berry
Amla berry (also known as Indian gooseberry) is commonly used in ayurvedic medicine. This berry (which is native to Asia) is one of the richest sources of vitamin C. This vitamin is one of the most important vitamins in the synthesis of collagen.
Vitamin C is required to support two enzymes (prolyl hydroxylase and lysyl hydroxylase) that are essential for collagen synthesis, so having enough vitamin C is crucial for collagen support. This vitamin also plays a crucial role in protecting collagen that already exists in the body. Since vitamin C works as an antioxidant, it is able to help neutralize free radicals, which are known for causing oxidative stress. Oxidative stress degrades collagen, so antioxidant support is crucial to prevent this from happening.
Hyaluronic acid (also known as hyaluronan) is another molecule that is naturally produced in the body. About half of the amount of hyaluronic acid present in the body is found in the skin.
Hyaluronic acid is known for its ability to attract and lock in moisture in the tissues – it can hold a shocking 1,000 times its weight in water! – which helps with collagen production.
Hyaluronic acid has been shown to fight skin aging, helping to minimize fine lines and wrinkles while boosting elasticity. Additionally, research has shown that hyaluronic acid helps speed up the wound healing process by regulating inflammation. It is also present in the joints, where it keeps the area lubricated to prevent joint pain.
Just like with collagen and silica, the amount of hyaluronic acid found in the body decreases over time. This is due to the natural aging process, as well as exposure to damaging environmental factors. By giving your body an extra boost of hyaluronic acid, you’re helping to fill in the gaps left behind by those decreasing levels!
Additional Collagen-Supporting Ingredients in Copina Co. Blends
You’ll find the ingredients mentioned above in all flavors of the Copina Co. collagen boost blends. You’ll also spot some additional collagen-supporting ingredients in the different flavors. The Original Blend, for example, contains antioxidant-rich grape seed extract, which has been shown to improve collagen levels and strengthen the bones.
The Cacao Calm Blend contains cacao bean, which is high in antioxidants and copper (which is needed for collagen production). It also contains ashwagandha, an adaptogen known to reduce stress levels, which helps prevent the negative effects of stress on collagen. This adaptogen also has antioxidant properties. Finally, the Matcha Blend contains antioxidant-rich matcha leaf, which helps fight oxidative stress that can negatively affect collagen levels.
Get Your Vegan Collagen Support with Copina Co.
If you’re ready to support your collagen the vegan way, be sure to check out the Plant-Based Collagen Boost Drink Blends. In addition to being fully plant-based, these blends are gluten-free, non-GMO, and herbalist-approved. Easily add them to your drink of choice (or baked goods!) for a daily dose of collagen support!