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What are the best vegan collagen supplements UK buyers can find?

NW by Natasha Whiting
20 October 2022

What are the best vegan collagen supplements UK buyers can find?

→Before we get into this post, we just want to be clear about one important thing: right now, there is no such thing as a true collagen supplement that is vegan. Collagen comes from the bodies of animals, so vegan collagen supplements never actually contain any collagen. Read on to learn more. ←

When seeking the best vegan collagen supplements UK buyers can take, one of the first things you will discover is that there is a difference between vegan collagen and bovine or marine collagen. The root of this is that the collagen protein is found in the bodies of animals with skin and bones – it is not present in plants. So it is not currently possible to bring a fully vegan or vegetarian supplement to market that contains actual collagen.

Instead, the supplements contain various plant-based ingredients that are known to play a role in the natural collagen synthesis of our bodies.

What is collagen?

Collagen is a protein that is abundant in the human body, composed of a number of amino acids. Collagen plays a fundamental role in the structure of the skin, bones, hair, nails, tendons, ligaments and more in our bodies. As we age, our natural collagen production declines – this starts as early as our twenties. As the years go by, this collagen deficit is one of the reasons we experience the signs of ageing, including fine lines and wrinkles, brittle bones, stiff and aching joints, thinning hair and more.

Our body synthesises collagen using a variety of amino acids, including proline, glycine and hydroxyproline. There are many types of collagen, each of which plays a different role in preserving the health and youthfulness of different body parts. To fight the decline in collagen, we can take supplements that are abundant in the amino acids our bodies need to produce it. Currently, the most effective way to do this is to break down collagen taken from animals and add it to a supplement in order for the body to ingest those ingredients and stimulate collagen production.

The main sources of dietary collagen

The most effective collagen supplements on the market currently source their collagen from the bones of cows (bovine collagen) or the skin and scales of fish (marine collagen). Kollo uses high-quality marine collagen that is extracted using a process called hydrolysis, which breaks down the large collagen molecules into smaller peptides that can be easily absorbed into the body.

Of course, these products are not suitable for vegetarians or vegans, so they could not be included in a list of the best vegan collagen supplements UK consumers can take.

Does vegan collagen exist?

For a long time, the only way to include actual collagen in a supplement has been to extract it from the bodies of animals. As such, vegan collagen supplements have always contained various nutrients known to help promote the body’s natural production of collagen, though not as effectively as if you were ingesting the amino acids collagen is made from.

These nutrients include:

• Zinc
• Manganese
• Copper
• Vitamin C
• Vitamin B5
• Various amino acids (sometimes creating artificial collagen peptides)

Why the best vegan collagen supplements in the UK are not comparable to animal collagen supplements

Collagen boosters promise the same amazing benefits as naturally occurring collagen, but there are various reasons why they cannot deliver on this. Here are a few of them:

Synthesis of collagen from nutrients is significantly less efficient than using readymade collagen

Studies have demonstrated a number of biological barriers to efficient collagen production from nutrients alone. When the body uses vitamin C, protein and minerals to produce pro-collagen, the resulting molecules knit together to form fibrils, which must then form connections to make actual collagen molecules. This is a slow process - when collagen peptides are ingested, their high bioavailability means collagen molecules can be produced far more quickly in the body.

The same nutrients in collagen boosters can come from your diet

Vegan collagen boosters tend to contain things you can easily get from a normal diet. Though most people’s diets lack actual animal collagen, most people eat protein and consume vitamin C, so our bodies can break down the amino acids and use the vitamin C to produce collagen. Again, this process is far slower than taking a supplement with real collagen peptides, but it is far cheaper to get those nutrients from food rather than buying a collagen booster.

Vegan collagen boosters often contain various artificial ingredients and fillers

Many vegan collagen supplements are padded out with fillers, binders and chemicals. This is because no plant contains all the nutrients they need, so they have to combine the plant ingredients with artificial sources of certain nutrients and agents to help different sources combine together. Hydrolysed collagen, on the other hand, is always extracted from the original source and contains 100% collagen peptides with no artificial additives.

How sustainable are Kollo marine collagen supplements?

The marine collagen that goes into every sachet of Kollo is sourced from wild-caught fish that are not kept in cruel fish farms contaminated with antibiotics and other chemicals. It is a by-product of the fishing industry, extracted from the skin and scales that would otherwise be considered food waste when the fish are prepared for eating. In other words, no fish are caught for the express purpose of extracting collagen for supplements.

Now, of course, we are not trying to suggest that marine collagen is suitable for people seeking the best vegan collagen supplements in the UK. It is still an animal product. But the process by which the marine collagen in Kollo is obtained is highly sustainable, so if you are an ecotarian then it may not be against your principles. Likewise, if you are a pescatarian, marine collagen is suitable for you, but the same cannot be said for bovine collagen.

Why should I consider marine collagen?

The benefits of a daily collagen intake via supplementation are many. There is a wealth of research that suggests collagen peptides (collagen broken down into smaller amino acid chains) are effective at triggering the body’s natural collagen synthesis. This means that if you choose to take a collagen supplement that contains actual collagen, you are more likely to experience the benefits associated with that supplement.

These benefits include:

• Firmer and more youthful skin
• A reduction in the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines
• Relief from joint pain and discomfort
• A boost to bone density
• More keratin, meaning thicker, fuller hair and less brittle nails

Your natural collagen synthesis will inevitably decline as you get older and you will experience the signs of ageing. The amino acids required for collagen synthesis are very difficult to get in diet alone, so if you take no supplements, you are unlikely to slow the decline in collagen. Vegan collagen boosters, in their current form, may help a little with your body’s natural collagen synthesis. But if you take marine or bovine collagen supplements, you have a stronger chance of slowing or even reversing some of the signs of ageing.

In a nutshell, collagen supplements can help you look and feel younger as you age. The benefits can be particularly useful for women in menopause or people with certain conditions like eczema. If you have not yet tried a collagen supplement and you are experiencing difficulties that could be associated with low collagen levels, it is definitely worth thinking about.

Final thoughts

At the time of writing, there is no true vegan collagen supplement, only vegan food supplements containing nutrients that may help boost your collagen. Even the very best vegan collagen supplements UK stores currently supply are unlikely to be as effective for your collagen synthesis as a collagen supplement that contains bovine or marine collagen. There are still benefits to be experienced, but the science tells us that vegan collagen boosters are not currently as powerful.

There is hope for change on this front, with lab-grown collagen using bacteria and yeast showing great promise. This is definitely something to look out for in the future. For the time being, however, your best source of collagen is a supplement like Kollo, which uses high-quality, sustainable collagen sourced as a by-product of the fishing industry. If you are on a vegan diet, you may want to consider the nutrients that help with collagen synthesis and make lifestyle choices that are likely to help minimise the decline in your collagen levels.

We hope this article has been helpful. If you would like to learn more about Kollo, please feel free to look at our blog and explore elsewhere on our website. If you have any questions, you can always contact us and we will be happy to help.

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