Plant-based lifestyles are getting increasingly more popular as many health-conscious consumers are on the lookout for vegan and cruelty-free products. One recent trend in the beauty industry is food supplements and skincare products containing ‘vegan collagen’.
Collagen is not vegan
Collagen is a structural protein found in the skin, bones, joints and muscles of animals. It gives strength and elasticity to our tissues, protecting our internal organs and helping us to move pain-free. But since collagen doesn’t exist in the plant-based world, you may be wondering what ‘vegan collagen’ actually means and whether it can provide similar benefits.
But...Science has discovered a way to make vegan collagen! Continue reading if you are curious to learn how!
What is vegan collagen?
There is no established definition for what vegan collagen is. Based on our research, we believe that it is safe to define it as a term used for plant-based ingredients which help your own collagen production, also known as collagen boosters or promoters. Those ingredients include amino acids, ceramides, minerals (like copper), silica and antioxidants (like vitamin C).
Our body makes its own collagen, but self production starts to decline from the age of 25. Anything we can do to help our collagen production, including getting enough protein and nutrients into our body will be not only beneficial, but also a great help!
Studies on vitamin C
There are studies showing that vitamin C, the main ingredient present in many vegan collagen boosters, may increase the production of collagen, accelerate bone healing and reduce the levels of free radicals in the body. Free radicals have the ability to damage skin tissues and speed up the ageing process, so taking antioxidants may protect your skin from the negative effects of oxidative stress.
How is vegan collagen present in cosmetics and supplements made?
Instead of being sourced from animals, collagen can now be made by using genetically modified yeast and bacteria. This technique is relatively new, but thanks to recent advances, using microbes to produce vegan collagen may soon become more commonplace.
Scientists are particularly interested in utilising streptococcus pyogenes bacteria. We are always amazed by the progresses in science and were delighted reading this study that shows how this particular strain of bacteria has a structure that matches human collagen. This can be a more sustainable way to produce enough collagen to be commercially more durable and viable for cosmetics and food supplements.
Four human genes that code for collagen are added to the genetic structure of the microbes. Once the genes are in place, the yeast or bacteria then start to produce building blocks of human collagen. Pepsin, a digestive enzyme, is added to help structure the building blocks into collagen molecules with the exact structure of human collagen. Once this process is complete, we have vegan collagen!
Benefits of vegan collagen
- Lower risk of allergies
While the biggest benefit is that no animals are harmed, there are other pros to vegan collagen, especially for people who may have allergies.
The risk of transmission of illness through animal-sourced collagen is real. Collagen via microbes would eliminate this potential issue because it’s produced in a controlled environment where common allergens or other harmful substances can be removed.
- Higher safety profile for products
The lab-controlled setting gives manufacturers the ability to improve the safety profile. If the source is easily traceable, it makes it a safer product for all consumers.
Can I help boost the production of collagen with my diet?
You can add more vitamins and minerals through your diet, instead of supplementing, to help your body meet your amino acids needs. Vegan diets generally contain more plants than omnivorous diets, and plants are rich sources of anti-inflammatory properties. Below, you can find examples of foods that can help reduce inflammation and, therefore help boost collagen production.
The most abundant amino acids in collagen are glycine, lysine, and proline.
Plant-based foods high in all three amino acids include:
- soy products: tempeh, tofu and soy protein
- black and kidney beans
- spinach, kale, and other cruciferous vegetables
- seeds: especially pumpkin, squash, sunflower and chia
- nuts: almonds, pistachio, peanut, and cashew
- olive oil
So...Do vegan collagen boosters actually work?
We believe that a better question would be: ‘Does vegan collagen help raise the levels of collagen in your body? Then the answer would be: Yes! Vegan collagen can help as much as plant based products, because both have the ability to help support our natural collagen production.