The use of collagen for the skin and health in general may seem like a recent trend, but the truth is, collagen and gelatin have actually been used as a food and a supplement for a long time, especially in the form of bone broth. You may have noticed that now it is widely available in capsule and powder form, and an increasing number of people take collagen as a supplement or add some to their coffee or smoothies.
So what is the best source of collagen? Keep on reading to learn more about the differences between marine collagen vs bovine collagen, and to find out why collagen supplementation has become so popular.
What Is Collagen?
Collagen is a fibrous, structural protein made up of 3 main amino-acids: glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. It is the most abundant protein in the body and is mostly found in the skin and connective tissues including cartilage, bones, tendons, and ligaments.
Collagen is what holds the body altogether. In fact, the word collagen gets its origin from the Greek word “kolla”, which means “glue”.
There are actually many types of collagen, but the 3 main types are type I, II and III.
Type I and Type III collagen are present in higher amounts and are considered to be the best for skin, muscles, bone, hair and nails. Whereas Type II collagen is mostly present in cartilage and so is often used for cartilage and joints’ health.
Although our body produces collagen naturally, over time, the amount of collagen produced starts to decrease. After the age of 25, collagen production decreases by 1-2% every year that passes. Less collagen means that the skin starts to lose its strength and elasticity, leading to the appearance of wrinkles and sagging skin. The same goes for the other parts of the body, with bones, joints and muscles that become weaker and more fragile as we age.
There are some other factors including smoking, excessive sun exposure and a diet high in sugar, that can negatively affect collagen production.
As the natural decline in collagen production can’t be avoided, the use of collagen peptides supplements has become increasingly popular, mostly driven by the desire to prevent skin aging and look younger. But collagen isn’t just about the skin. And as you will see, taking collagen peptides has a lot of other benefits that many people don’t seem to be aware of. But first, let’s take a look at what collagen peptides actually are, and why taking this form of collagen supplements actually matters.
What Are Collagen Peptides?
So we now know what collagen protein is. But the thing is, in its original state, collagen is fibrous and has a high molecular weight, and thus can’t be dissolved or digested. So to make it digestible and possible to dissolve in hot and cold liquids, collagen has to undergo a process called hydrolysis. When collagen is hydrolyzed, it turns into peptides. More simply, collagen peptides are tiny pieces of collagen protein. And this is why collagen peptides are also called hydrolyzed collagen or collagen hydrolysate.
Collagen peptides are highly bioavailable. They are soluble in any type of liquid and are easy to digest. This means that they can be quickly absorbed and used by our bodies.
Once ingested, collagen peptides act in 2 ways. They provide strength to the cells and parts of the body that need it, and at the same time, they stimulate and encourage the body to produce more collagen.
The Health Benefits Of Collagen Peptides
- Improve skin, hair and nails
Collagen and skin:
Collagen peptides are mostly known for their pretty amazing skin benefits, and this is the main reason why most people choose to take these as a supplement. I know many people swear by the skin benefits of collagen and it turns out they are right.
As we age, the body produces less collagen, wrinkles and dark spots start to appear, and the skin loses its moisture and elasticity, which leads to sagging skin.
Collagen peptides have been shown to reduce these effects of skin aging by reducing wrinkles and improving skin moisture. It has also been proven that collagen peptides help increase the production of hyaluronic acid which is also essential for proper skin hydration.
Collagen and hair:
If you suffer from weak, light, dull or damaged hair, taking collagen can be helpful as it also plays an important role when it comes to hair health in general.
Collagen can improve hair growth and volume, as well as reduce hair loss and premature greying. As collagen supports hair health from the follicle and the root, it can make the hair stronger and shinier.
Collagen and nails:
Studies have shown that taking collagen peptides as a supplement could improve nail growth and reduce the symptoms of brittle nails. This shows that collagen peptides support overall nail health as they help to strengthen nails, reduce breakage and promote growth all at the same time.
- Promote bone and joint health
As bones contain a lot of collagen, the fact that collagen peptides can benefit our bones makes sense.
Some studies have shown that collagen peptides could increase bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. Collagen peptides can help those who suffer from osteoporosis or who are at risk of developing it, by reducing bone loss and the risk of breakage, especially if taken along with calcium, as some studies have also shown.
Hydrolyzed collagen has also been shown to be effective for the treatment or osteoarthritis, by having a protective effect on joint cartilage as well as reducing pain.
- Support heart health
It has also been shown that collagen could help prevent and manage atherosclerosis, a disease characterized by the build-up of plaques of fatty materials that causes narrowing of the arteries.
- Support digestive health
Some studies have pointed to a link between inflammatory bowel disease and low levels of collagen, suggesting that collagen may have an important role to play in the protection against inflammation. Collagen peptides can, therefore, be useful to treat leaky gut syndrome.
- Can help lower blood sugar levels
Other studies have shown that glycine enhances insulin secretion and that people with type-2 diabetes usually had lower levels of glycine. Because glycine is one of the main amino-acids in collagen, supplementing with collagen peptides could indeed help balance blood sugar levels.
- Can help build muscle
Collagen is also an important component of muscle tissue. Studies have shown that collagen peptides supplementation could increase muscle strength in people suffering from a loss of muscle mass due to aging, also called sarcopenia.
- Can help weight loss
As collagen protein can help us feel full for longer, it can also help to prevent cravings and overeating, and therefore promote weight-loss.
Collagen also has the ability to make bones, joints and muscles stronger. Because of this, as the body is stronger, we are more likely to stay active and therefore avoid weight gain.
Moreover, as collagen peptides can help balance blood sugar, it can also help if you are trying to lose weight.
Marine Collagen Vs Bovine Collagen
What is Marine Collagen?
Marine collagen usually comes from fish skin, bones and scales.
Marine collagen contains type I collagen.
Compared to bovine collagen, marine collagen has a lower molecular weight, which means that it can be absorbed and digested more easily. As a result, marine collagen can bring quicker results.
It also has lower inflammatory effects and contains less biological contaminants (toxins).
Marine collagen is also a great choice for people who are pescatarians or those who do not eat beef for religious reasons.
If you are interested in trying a marine collagen supplement, we suggest this marine collagen powder from Vital Proteins, which comes from wild caught fish.
Possible side-effects of marine collagen:
Marine collagen is usually considered safe to take. Rarely, some side-effects can include indigestion, nausea or flatulence. Of course, you should be careful if you are allergic to fish or shellfish. In that case, bovine collagen would be a more suitable option.
What is Bovine Collagen?
Bovine collagen is the most widely used type of collagen supplement and is derived from discarded cow bones, skin, muscles and cartilage.
It usually contains type I and type III collagen.
If you are interested in taking bovine collagen and you want to get the best results, make sure that you choose a supplement that comes from cows that have been grass-fed and that haven’t been treated with growth hormones or tons of antibiotics.
Bovine collagen is usually a bit cheaper than marine collagen.
If you are looking for a great bovine collagen supplement, you should definitely try this collagen peptides powder from Vital Proteins, which is sourced from grass-fed and pastured raised bovine hides.
Possible side-effects of bovine collagen:
Bovine collagen is usually safe to take, although some people can sometimes experience indigestion or bloating.
If you are allergic to beef, you could take marine collagen instead.
So, what is the best source of collagen? Well, both!
Our Honest Opinion
Collagen is indeed an amazing protein that can be found in pretty much all parts of the body, providing strength and elasticity to the skin, hair, bones, ligaments and other organs.
Although it is not a magical solution to prevent aging, collagen peptides can help improve your skin, hair and nails from the inside and the outside, as well as improve bones and joints strength. On top of that, collagen also has some other less known benefits. It supports digestive and heart health, and at the same time, it has the ability to help lose weight and build muscle.
If you are wondering which one between marine collagen vs bovine collagen is best, the answer generally depends on your preferences and lifestyle as they both pretty much provide the same health benefits and have almost no side-effects.
To get the best results, make sure you choose a natural, high-quality collagen supplement that is free from unnecessary ingredients. And of course, to maximize the benefits of collagen peptides, try to eat a healthy, balanced diet as otherwise, it may not make much of a difference.
If you have ever taken collagen supplements, whether it is marine or bovine, or you are considering doing so, we’d love to hear from you! You can tell us about it in the comments below.