Is there a difference between animal-based collagen supplements and vegan collagen builders? Collagen supplements: You’ve probably seen collagen supplements promoting their ability to decrease wrinkles and make your skin look smoother and younger. Or maybe you’ve decided that you want to take a collagen supplement for the many other benefits of collagen.
But what kind should you buy? There are two distinct types of collagen supplements on the market. The majority of what you see advertised are typically animal-based collagen supplements. But there are also vegan collagen builders. What’s the difference, and which one is more effective?
RELATED: 7 Health Benefits Of Collagen - Muscles, Bones, Hair, Skin, Gut, More
What to Know About Animal-Based and Vegan Collagen
A Quick Rundown of the Basic Differences
- Vegan collagen builders give your body the ingredients needed to make collagen.
- Vegan collagen builders don’t contain collagen.
- Vegan collagen builders are made with plant-based ingredients.
- Animal-based collagen is made from hooves, bones, and hides of animals.
- Animal-based collagen is actual collagen from an animal.
- Animal-based collagen powder is more likely to have contaminants in it.
What Is Collagen?
What exactly is collagen? Collagen is formed from three complex, fibrous long-chain proteins that twist into a helix.
It's made up of 19 different amino acids.
Over 30% of all of your body’s protein is made up of collagen. That means having enough collagen in your body is essential to your health.
Collagen makes up your skin, bones, intestinal barrier, muscles, tendons, and joints. It acts like a glue for your entire body by keeping things pulled together and working properly.
The word collagen actually comes from the Greek word “kòlla” and the French suffix “-gene” that translates to glue-producing. Your body needs greater elasticity to have younger-looking skin, stronger bones, a more secure gut, and pain-free joints.
Natural collagen production decreases as you age. At age 35, the rate your body produces collagen starts to slow.
Then, at age 40, the rate your collagen levels decrease becomes greater than the rate your body can produce collagen. By age 60, your collagen stores are half of what they used to be when you were in your twenties and early thirties.
Your body needs some support to produce the amount of human collagen you need. That’s one of the reasons why a collagen supplement, along with a healthy lifestyle, is necessary for keeping you as healthy as possible.
Related: 7 Health Benefits Of Collagen - Muscles, Bones, Hair, Skin, Gut, More
How Does Your Body Produce Collagen?
Before we get into a discussion on the difference between vegan collagen builders and animal-based collagen supplements, let’s first talk about how your body produces collagen.
You don’t need to get collagen from an outside source. Your body produces collagen daily to support your needs.
Collagen production is a natural process your body was made to do.
Your body takes ingredients from your plant-based diet, and then transforms them into the glue-like substance called collagen. First, your body uses vitamin C and protein from your diet to produce tiny molecules called procollagen.
As more procollagen molecules are produced, they begin to glue themselves to one another. These clumps of procollagen molecules are called fibrils.
Fibrils look like tiny strings when examined under a microscope.
As the fibrils connect to one another and anchor themselves, they start to look like a net. This fully formed net is what we call collagen.
Your body needs three things to make collagen: vitamin C, minerals, and amino acids.
Most people eat more protein in an effort to increase their collagen levels. More often than not, you have enough protein in your diet.
You probably need more vitamin C and minerals to produce collagen at a faster rate.
Vitamin C is inextricably intertwined in the process of collagen production. You can see an example of this by looking at the scurvy epidemic that happened to seafarers during the 1500s to the 1800s.
These seafarers ate plenty of meat while they were at sea, but they didn’t eat any fresh fruits and vegetables. There was no way to preserve vegetables on a boat at that time.
What happened is their bodies lost collagen rapidly and couldn’t produce more collagen without vitamin C from vegetables and fruits.
They lost their teeth. Their gums bled.
Their skin broke out in rashes. Their hair fell out.
Their muscles weakened.
They were eating plenty of protein, but they needed more vegetables in their diet. Without vitamin C, your body just can’t produce collagen.
That is why you need to be sure to get plenty of vitamin C in your diet to stay healthy.
Some fruits and vegetables that contain vitamin C include:
- Brussels sprouts
- Bell peppers
Your collagen production also slows when you don’t maintain a healthy lifestyle. Smoking, drinking, not getting enough sleep, and too little exercise all cause your body to produce less collagen.
Eating a healthy diet is important, but it is just one piece of a larger puzzle to keep your body healthy and producing lots of collagen. Always remember that true health can’t happen in a vacuum.
You need to lead a healthy lifestyle in all parts of your life to really start to heal and live a more fulfilled life.
What Causes Collagen to Drop?
Aside from aging and unhealthy diet, there are also other reasons why collagen levels drop.
1. Autoimmune Diseases
There are several autoimmune diseases that cause collagen to drop primarily because they target the protein in the body. Collagen vascular disease, for example, is a group of disorders affecting your connective tissue, and because collagen is a protein-based connective tissue, it significantly affects the protein.
This condition happens because your immune system mistakenly attacks your body tissue, resulting in inflammation. Collagen vascular disease varies from one person to another and on the specific disease.
Smoking is never good for the body as it can cause serious damage. The chemicals present in tobacco can harm your elastin and collagen supply.
Nicotine, which is the primary ingredient of tobacco, can restrict your blood vessels, negatively affecting the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the body.
3. Ultraviolet (UV) Rays
UV radiation can cause collagen breakdown at a higher rate than aging. When it enters the skin, in the dermis or middle layer, it causes your elastin to build up in an abnormal way.
The accumulation of elastin causes your body to create some enzymes that break down collagen. Constant exposure to the UV rays can potentially speed up the process of the damage, which leads to sagging and wrinkling.
4. High Sugar Consumption
Too much sugar can negatively affect your skin. When your body takes sugar, sugar molecules attach to collagen and elastin through the process of glycation.
This process created advanced glycosylation end-products (AGEs), which causes dull skin, fine lines, and wrinkles. AGEs may also disrupt the creation of elastin and collagen in the body, preventing your skin from tissue repair.
AGEs Definition: Lipids or proteins that become glycated from exposure to sugar, which can contribute to aging and development of degenerative diseases.
5. Free Radicals and Pollution
Exposure to water or air pollution can lead to premature signs of aging and other skin conditions. Free radicals from pollution can damage your collagen supply, leading to fine lines and hyperpigmentation.
Related: Collagen for Anti-Aging & Beauty: Get Youthful Skin, a Glowing Face, Thick Hair, and Strong Nails
What Happens When You Lose Collagen in Your Body?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body, so when its levels drop significantly as you age, you experience some health issues. Although you can't measure the levels of collagen, the following symptoms are indicators that the protein levels drop:
- Gastrointestinal issues because of the thinning of your digestive tract's lining
- Osteoarthritis or joint pain because of worn cartilage
- Weakening or shrinking of muscles
- Less flexible ligaments and tendons
- Sagging skin
RELATED: Age Like A Man: Myths About Collagen
The Difference Between Vegan Collagen Builders and Animal-Based Collagen
Animal-Based Collagen Supplements
Now, it’s time to talk about plant collagen vs animal collagen, and we’ll start with animal-based supplements. The majority of the collagen supplements you see on the shelves are animal-based collagen supplements. That means these supplements come from the ground up hooves, hides, bones, and joints of animals.
Most animal collagen is a by-product of factory farming, where pesticides and herbicides like glyphosate are stored in the bones.
Companies that make these animal-based collagen supplement powders transform the collagen of animals into mainly tasteless or flavored powders you can mix into your coffee or put into a smoothie.
The idea behind these supplements is that by taking animal collagen, you can replace the collagen levels in your body.
For example, as the collagen levels in your joints begin to deplete as you age, animal-based collagen powders are supposed to replace the collagen you’ve lost.
What Are The Negatives Of Collagen Supplements?
There are a couple of issues with these supplements, though. The first issue is contaminants are often found in animal-based collagen supplements.
These contaminants include antibiotics, prescription drug metabolites, steroids, insecticides, and parabens. None of these are good for your body.
The Consumer Wellness Center conducted a study that tested eight popular bone broths and bone broth products such as collagen supplements. They tested these products to determine if there was any presence of chemical pesticides, pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals, toxicological chemicals, and food additive chemicals.
This study wasn’t biased because companies couldn’t pay to be included or excluded from the study. After they completed the testing, they found antibiotics, drugs, and chemicals in many animal-based collagen powders.
The company is still conducting research to determine the safety of these products.
One thing to keep in mind is the antibiotics in these powders can accelerate the risk that you might get an antibiotic resistance problem.
Because it is recommended that you take collagen supplements daily to truly feel the effects, antibiotic resistance can become a reality much faster than you think. That means if you become very sick and need antibiotics, taking a prescription antibiotic won’t be as effective.
Dr. Mark Moyad, who is the director of preventive and alternative medicine at the University of Michigan, is also worried about harmful heavy metals like copper and arsenic in collagen supplements. Also, when animal tissues are processed and broken down into powders, they typically exude creatinine which can be toxic.
Another issue that Dr. Moyad remarks in his book The Supplement Handbook is the likelihood of absorption of collagen supplements: “It’s not at all clear that eating collagen increases your body’s levels of it.”
The main problem with animal-based collagen is it doesn’t confront the root cause of collagen loss. It’s like putting Band-Aids over scrapes.
But, you don’t look down to see the things you keep tripping over that cause you to fall and scrape your knee in the first place.
Collagen production is influenced by several different factors. If you choose to take an animal-based collagen supplement or a vegan collagen builder, make sure you also take steps to make your lifestyle healthier overall.
In summary, the tightly twisted helix of full-form collagen (from animals) is difficult to break down during digestion and too large to cross the intestinal wall, so collagen from animals is not an effective oral supplement.
Vegan Collagen Builders
Vegan collagen peptide builders work in a very different way from animal-based collagen supplements. Vegan collagen peptide builders are not made from collagen.
Like the name suggests, these plant-based collagen supplements help your body build its own collagen.
Vegan collagen builders work in a similar manner as a food subscription box service. When you buy a food subscription box, all the ingredients of a recipe are delivered to your door.
Related: Is 'Vegan Collagen' As Good As Animal Collagen
You have the exact amount of each ingredient you need to make a recipe.
Then, all you need to do is cook the ingredients and voila! You have a delicious meal.
Essentially, vegan collagen builders give your body all the ingredients it needs to produce more collagen.
Your body already naturally makes its own collagen. But, if you don’t get enough of what your body needs, it slows down the production of collagen.
This happens more rapidly as you age. You need more nutrients in your diet to combat the effects of aging.
A vegan collagen supplement can help you meet those needs more easily.
That doesn’t mean you should substitute eating nutritious food and living healthy for mixing in some powder in your morning coffee. Collagen builders are a supplement.
They are supposed to supplement what you are already doing in your life to keep yourself healthy.
An important thing to note is you don’t have to be vegan to take a vegan collagen builder. Vegan collagen peptide builders are made without any animal products in them, but that doesn’t make them less effective.
As mentioned before, your body produces collagen from protein peptides and vitamin C. Neither of these has to be animal ingredients.
In fact, the best sources of vitamin C are going to be fruits and vegetables.
Sunwarrior Vegan Collagen Building Peptide Powder
The Sunwarrior Vegan Collagen-Building Peptide Powder contains all the ingredients your body needs to build its own collagen. This isn’t external collagen coming from an animal into your body.
Instead, a collagen builder boosts your body’s production of collagen naturally. Sunwarrior’s collagen peptide-building powder contains:
- Vitamin C
- Sea buckthorn
- Rice peptides
- Hyaluronic acid
- Silica from bamboo
- Tremella mushrooms
- Trace minerals
- Green leafy vegetables
All of these ingredients were selected for a specific purpose.
Sea buckthorn is a plant that has ten times the vitamin C as an orange. Rice peptides work to strengthen cell hydration, reduce cell death and damage, and actively keep your skin smooth.
Spirulina is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on Earth. Over 65% of its composition is made from amino acids.
Hyaluronic acid boosts collagen in your body and makes your skin look visibly younger and more hydrated.
Related: How To Build your Collagen With Plant-Based Sunwarrior; No Hooves, No Hides, No Horns
Sunwarrior also included trace minerals in their formula since they’re also necessary for collagen production. Trace minerals speed up the process of healing, which is essential for producing and repairing collagen.
There is also a blend of dark leafy green vegetables in the ingredients. Kale and spinach both have vitamins A and C in them that help your body produce more collagen.
The antioxidants of these vegetables also help protect your body against free radicals.
Organic Tremella mushrooms work in a similar manner as hyaluronic acid. These mushrooms pull moisture from the surrounding area into your skin to deeply moisturize your complexion and body.
The particles are extra small, so they go deep into your body to really hydrate all of your cells.
Sunwarrior wanted to create products they felt were safe for themselves and their families to use. They source from the finest plant-based ingredients.
This is how you can be certain that Sunwarrior products are clean, good for you, and don’t contain any fillers. Our mission is to nourish and transform the planet.
Watch the video below from Sunwarrior as Thomas DeLauer goes deep into how collagen is formed and why it is a good idea to take a supplement to encourage collagen production:
With the comparison of plant-based collagen supplements and vegan collagen builders, it's clear that the latter is ideal to boost collagen production in the body. Animal t-based collagen supplements may contain chemicals that are harmful for your body.
What you need is the "right builders" to help create collagen naturally and increase the protein in your body. If you're looking for a healthy way to increase collagen production, go for our vegan collagen builders.
Have you tried our plant-based collagen building protein peptides? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 19, 2019, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.