Are you picking a collagen powder? If so, then the two main options you have are animal-based and plant-based collagen powder. In the 1930s scientists discovered that collagen has a molecular structure. Today there are many collagen products available, including bone broth, protein powders, and collagen creams. They’re all designed to boost levels of the protein that makes up 80% of the skin. The main difference is the source, whether it’s beef, chicken, or fish bones/connective tissue or plant-based. It starts with the sources of plant-based collagen. This is less known than the sources of animal collagen. For example, bone broth is usually simmered for 24 to 48 hours with animal bones and connective tissue.
Collagen doesn’t exist naturally in plants. However, it can be produced with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that involve yeast and bacteria. We often think of these microbes as bad stuff. However, it depends on factors like the yeast amount and bacteria type. For example, probiotics are “friendly” bacteria that can provide various benefits of gut health, immune system, and so on. It’s also possible to make collagen using these tiny organisms by tweaking their genes. Then there’s the issue of how they stack up versus animal-sourced collagen.
What Exactly Is Collagen?
This is the first main issue to take up before talking about the different sources including plant and animal sources in particular. Collagen has been trending for different skincare products in particular. So it’s critical to discuss what it is.
Collagen is a type of protein that makes up nearly one-third of all of the body’s proteins. It also makes up about 80% of human skin. There are other proteins in the skin like elastic, which makes it stretchy. Keratin is another protein that makes fingernails/toenails hard.
Collagen is found in the bones/connective tissue of mammals. It can provide various benefits including making skin soft yet firm. It also helps to make new skin cells, which is critical. Collagen also helps to make skin stretchy as elastin does.
Collagen is also found in other stuff like muscles, tendons, and ligaments. There are also collagen proteins in bones. This helps to explain why you can get a good amount of collagen when eating bone broth. It’s usually simmered for 24 to 48 hours. This helps to release the nutrients in the bones and connective tissue including collagen.
Collagen is the main stuff in connective tissue and the most common protein found in mammals. It makes between one-quarter and one-third of the human body’s total protein content.
The protein helps to provide strength to various body structures. It also helps to protect the skin by preventing the spreading/absorption of disease/cancer-causing substances, toxins, and microorganisms. The human body needs to avoid all of this stuff.
Collagen is found in different body parts, including organs like the stomach, intestines, heart, and gallbladder. It’s also found in blood vessels and other structures. Some of the main sources of collagens include hair and skin. It helps to explain why many skincare products like lotions and creams often include collagen.
One of the possible issues that older people might experience is lower collagen levels. This results from factors like weaker/thinner skin that is unable to absorb proteins as well. This can cause the skin to become dull, saggy, and wrinkled. Other body parts that can be affected include ligaments, tendons, and joints.
Plant-Based Collagen Powder vs. Animal-Based Collagen Powder
Before you start using plant-based collagen, you might wonder how it stacks up compared to animal-sourced collagen. It should be noted that collagen only exists naturally in animal bones and connective tissue.
This helps to explain why products like bone broth have been trending recently. Collagen is available in a relatively small number of foods. For example, you can simmer bones and connective tissue from different animal-based products including:
- Egg Shells
However, if you’re looking for plant-based collagen, it’s also available in genetically-modified bacteria and yeast. There are certain bacteria, in particular, that’s especially useful for making GMO collagen.
It’s done by combining human genes with the genes of microbes like yeast/bacteria. Afterward, the microbes then begin making the structures needed for human collagen. Another process involves adding a digestive enzyme to the collagen-building blocks.
The big question is whether vegan collagen is as good as animal-sourced collagen. Animal sources are more common. Plant-based collagen hasn’t been mass-produced yet. However, it seems to be a practical alternative to animal-sourced collagen.
There are various benefits that vegan collagen can provide versus animal-sourced collagen. As always, it’s worth weighing the pros and cons of plant-based collagen.
It’s worth noting that you’re stealing with a GMO. There’s an ongoing debate about whether or not GMOs are safe. Research about them is mixed. If you’re not vegan and are looking for a truly natural/organic collagen source, then you should go with traditional sources.
Top Benefits of Vegan Collagen
Plant-based collagen provides the possibility of cheaper collagen products for medical procedures. GMO collagen can provide various options in terms of medical procedures using collagen-like sutures, skin/tissue/growth, and wound healing.
Medical procedures can be quite expensive. If you don’t have health insurance it can cause high out-of-pocket expenses. So the possibility of mass-producing plant-based collagen makes such procedures more affordable. That, in turn, makes them more accessible to the public.
The lab-controlled environment increases the safety factor when producing collagen products. For example, it’s much easier to trace the product’s sources. That provides more safety for consumers, which is critical.
When picking a dietary supplement safety should be one of the top priorities. It helps to make sure it’s as safe as it is effective. While animal-sourced collagen can be safe various factors are starting with collagen sources. Another factor is the processing methods that are also used.
There’s a lower risk of allergy triggers. For example, some people might have food allergies like fish, shellfish, or eggs. In those cases, they’ll want to avoid animal-sourced collagen since it’s more likely to cause food allergies.
Another issue is the normal processing of animal-sourced collagen. Producing collagen from microbes creates a more controlled environment. That, in turn, reduces the risk of allergic reactions due to various substances in the process.