It makes sense when you think about it. Collagen is a protein found naturally in the body and is responsible for skin’s elasticity. It forms part of the connective tissue that contributes to healthy joints. Yet it breaks down as we get older and becomes more difficult to produce. That’s why collagen supplements are so incredibly popular.
According to UCLA Health, these dietary add-ons support collagen production. But there is a catch.
“Natural collagen is not vegan as it comes mostly from animals sources such as fish and beef”, explains Medical and Aesthetic Doctor and Dermatologist, Antoni Calmon.
The most popular of these products are derived from marine sources or bovine, which means that those following a plant-based diet will find it challenging to secure a supplement without these animal by-products. Vegan collagen is rarer but it does exist - and many brands are suggesting that it’s even more effective.
“Science can now produce collagen by using genetically modified yeast and bacteria that are not animal, and are 100 per cent vegan” says Dr Antoni. “It needs to use four human genes that code for collagen 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. Then 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, you have vegan collagen!”
By opting for these man-made ingredients, Dr Antoni says they are “more sustainable, safe, economic and less allergenic”.
Consultant Dermatologist, Dr Alia Ahmed breaks it down. “It will depend on the vegan collagen alternative you’re using, but a biomimetic formula such as the Revive Collagen Vegan identically mimics human type 1 collagen with all 21 amino acids. These ingredients utilise ground-breaking fermentation and bioactive molecules from medicinal plants to induce the synthesis of new collagen and powerful inductors, including vitamin C, ginseng and Asiaticoside, which are responsible for stimulating the fibroblasts in the body to make optimal use of the collagen. Molecules are also 100x smaller than those in animal collagen meaning they are highly absorbable and can bypass digestion”.
There are few studies done on the long-term effect of collagen. Dr Antoni reveals that “collagen or vegan collagen supplement do not have any scientifically documented proven effect on your skin, but will eventually improve your digestion”. However, testimonials have noticed improvement in the strength and length of hair and nails as well as the plumpness and radiance of complexions. There are a couple of brands, namely Feel and Revive Collagen that have put their products through a process of clinical research.
Dr Ahmed adds, “Plant-based collagen products can work very well depending on the product, but the efficacy will depend entirely on the ingredients. Some vegan collagen alternatives can act as great overall skin boosters, but only have a handful of amino acids and vitamins meaning they won’t be strong enough to trigger collagen production. Collagen in the body is made up of 21 amino acids, including glycine and proline so look for a vegan collagen alternative that includes all 21 amino acids. There are exciting results in recent human clinical trials showing increased collagen density, skin hydration and reduced wrinkles and skin redness in just 4 weeks (VeCollal) proving it can work.
“It’s also great to have added ingredients that further help to increase collagen production such as retinol and vitamin C, which are also renowned for their skin-boosting benefits to brighten and enhance skin tone.”
Shop the best vegan collagen supplements below
One of the leading collagen brands on the market, Revive Collagen takes a science-first approach to its formulation. It is one of the few labels who has scientific research supporting its claims. The supplement is clinically proven to mimic our natural human type 1 collagen - and without tapping into traditional marine or bovine sources. Instead, for this variation, the entire formula is plant-powered and so vegan-approved where the main ingredient is set alongside vitamins B, C, D and E so you’re ticking off your daily recommended intake of all in just one sachet.
What’s more, it has a tasty fruity raspberry flavouring (that’s not overly sugary) that will ensure it slips into your routine with ease, whether you’re home or away. Consistent use over a month or two will see an improvement in the condition of hair and nails as well as skin and overall wellbeing. You can look forward to giving your strands a healthy sheen, a radiant, smooth complexion and stronger nails. The syrupy texture means it can be had directly from the packet.
Buy now £32.99, Amazon
You may already be familiar with Feel for its collection of clean, science-led supplements, skincare and functional foods - and this is one of the newer additions to the range. Much like the rest of the offering, the label has used the highest quality ingredients to led its expertise to the vegan collagen market.
Forgoing the use of marine or bovine sources, it opts instead for a trademarked VeCollal ingredient that is designed to replicate the amino acid profile of type 1 collagen so that anyone, even those following a plant-based diet, can maximise its skin, hair and nail-boosting properties. Backed by research, it can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, especially through the inclusion of vitamins A, E and C that support the normal function of skin and biotin that offers hair-growth benefits too. In fact, in a clinical study from the brand, 80 per cent of users saw an improvement in elasticity, hydration and suppleness in just 28 days and a reduction in the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
It has a cherry flavouring.
Buy now £56.43, Feel
Solve your skincare concerns from the inside out with this beauty drink. The Inner Beauty Boost, as the name suggests, works to provide your body with the components it needs in order to support the skin’s structure, smooth and firm.
The drinkable serum concoction has been bio-fermented and includes probiotics and nutrients derived from certified organic maqui berry, acai, papaya, blueberry, goji berry and pomegranate. There’s also grape seed extract, zinc and vitamin C, which work to plump and encourage your body’s own collagen production.
The fermentation process keeps all the goodness in tact and allows for increased bioavailability. The vegan combination is also free from nasties, sugar, gluten or artificial colours. You should also notice benefits for the hair and nails too. Take a 15ml shot or combine with 200ml water, a smoothie, porridge or a dessert to make it all the more palatable.
Buy now £18.00, Cult Beauty
With ingredients you’ll recognise from your bathroom cabinet, this supplement incorporates many skin-loving components to encourage collagen production and make hair and nails stronger and longer. There’s berries, pea and rice-derived protein and vitamin C as well as hyaluronic acid, bamboo extract, biotin and amino acids.
What sets this apart from the crowd is the taste. Its pleasant flavour can be seamlessly added to your breakfast without bringing the fishy element traditionally associated with the non-vegan alternatives of this product type.
Buy now £16.99, Holland & Barrett
This new and improved supplement that is part of Holland & Barrett’s own brand label is a high-strength dietary add-on that will come welcomed to those following a plant-based diet or find the taste of bovine or marine-sourced collagen too unpleasant to be consistent.
The main ingredient is a silica complex that packs calcium, magnesium, zinc, betaine hydrochloride, boron and horsetail that play a part in supporting the health of bones as well as skin, hair and nails. It may take a few months to notice the effects but once you do, you should see an increase in the strength and thickness of your hair, speedier growth for the strands and nails and glowing skin.
Buy now £10.49, Holland & Barrett
The Starpowa supplements are renowned for being some of the most easily consumed on the market. This is certainly due to being in gummy form, which makes them like a midday treat to satisfy your sweet tooth, while also giving the benefits of skin, hair and nail-loving ingredients.
They are formulated with a lemonade taste and encourage the body’s own production of collagen. There’s also hyaluronic acid for plumping and hydration, bamboo for nail quality, BCAA’s for muscle health and recovery and an essential amino acid that is to thank for supporting the skin’s structure and elasticity.
Buy now £39.99, Holland & Barrett
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