With so many health experts touting the benefits of collagen supplements (like Dr Axe and Dr Oz), it’s interesting to note that what many people don’t know is that collagen comes from different sources. The two main types of course being: marine and bovine.
In this article we’ll explore the difference between these two, and why this matters.
Collagen is a protein naturally produced in the body that makes up our bones, tissues, muscles, skin, hair, and so much more. In essence, you can say it holds our bodies together just like glue. As we age however, our collagen production naturally decreases. This is why it’s so important to supplement with collagen as we age.
Since you now know what collagen is and what its function is, naturally you’ll want to know why it’s so good for you right? Collagen comes with a whole host of perks, whether you’re still producing it at great levels, or whether you’re supplementing.
Making up a whopping 80% of the skin, collagen is found in the dermis, or the middle layer of the skin. Working in conjunction with elastin (another protein), collagen strengthens the skin and is responsible for the “bounce back” you see when your skin is stretched.
As you also now know, collagen is lost as we age. This increases the likelihood of sagging, wrinkles, and other age-related skin damage. There are other factors such as environmental exposure (sun damage, harsh wind), smoking, hormones, and a poor diet that also contribute to a loss of collagen.
Taking a collagen supplement is a great way to restore your skin’s beauty and prevent early ageing. In fact, a 2008 study in Tokyo showed a 91% increase in skin hydration and resilience in just 2 months. That’s not all, collagen has been proven to combat many more skin conditions including dryness, crows feet, and sun damage.
Strong joints and bones ensure that we’re able to be active well into retirement. To help keep your joints in shape, collagen peptides are just what you need to keep yourself injury free.
Research in the British Journal of Nutrition shows that collagen, in combination with resistance training, increased muscle strength and fat loss. Another study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition showed that just 10 grams of collagen taken daily for 6 months showed a great improvement in those with osteoarthritis knee joint comfort.
Collagen also helps in many other ways. Weight control, stronger hair and nails, lower cholesterol levels, and stabilised blood sugar, are just a few more perks of supplementing with collagen daily.
The collagen most abundant in the body is also known as Type 1 (in skin, hair, cartilage, bones etc) collagen, and it just so happens that marine is also Type 1. Derived from fish (bones, scales, or skin), marine has a high bioavailability, being absorbed up to 1.5 times more efficiently into the body than bovine. Its smaller particles make digestion and absorption easier and quicker, aiding in healthy skin and hair.
Marine collagen can be enjoyed in a variety of food and drink without altering the taste, including soups such as this hearty pumpkin soup, on-the-go snacks like these protein balls, or delectable caramel pancakes.
If you get your marine from a source such as ProPlenish, you can also rest easy knowing that you’re receiving a form of collagen that’s been wild-caught (from sustainable fishing practices), and has practically no side effects, nor does it react adversely with other supplements you may be taking.
Sourced from the skin, bones, and muscles of cows, bovine collagen contains Type 1 and Type 3 collagen. Because bovine contains Type 3 which is found in our intestines, it’s a good source for those with intestinal issues. Cheaper than marine, bovine is a great choice if you’d like to supplement on a budget.
Aside from getting bovine powders as a supplement, another common way meat-eaters can enjoy their fill is by making their own bone broth. An old practice, bone broth isn’t without its critics though, with many experts claiming there is very little actual research behind the effectiveness of bone broth alone. Not to mention, all the varying methods (simmering for 60 minutes vs 24 hours for example), can get your head spinning if you’re new to the art of bone broth making!
We should also mention that given the bleak state of the agricultural industry, it’s important to remember that if you are choosing bovine, you should get it from good sources. Choosing bovine collagen from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows over common farming is recommended given the higher risks of disease in penned cows (think Mad cow disease).
At the end of the day, the choice is up to you. Both marine and bovine provide their own benefits. They’re both good for the hair, skin, bones, and gut. Bovine on one hand is cheaper and may be better for those with intestinal issues, while marine is certainly a better choice for those seeking more immediate results from collagen, as well as those who do not eat cow products. Both are beneficial, but if you want to supplement with the most readily available form, with faster results (especially with skin issues), then marine collagen may just be the winner for you.
For more articles about marine collagen, see our blog.
Photo credit: Shifaaz Shamoon