Also, by now, you may have heard the buzz around collagen supplements and your skin. Is the hype really that promising? Besides, research points to both the benefits and downsides of collagen supplements and for many beauty-conscious people, collagen isn’t vegan.
This is because collagen, a protein found mostly in hair, skin, nails, bones, and ligaments, comes mostly from animal sources like beef or fish. However, science has discovered a way to make vegan collagen.
About Vegan Collagen
Instead of getting collagen from animals, you can now make them using genetically modified yeast and bacteria.
Particularly, researchers have found that the bacteria P. pastoris is the most effective and commonly used for genetically engineering high-quality collagen.
For collagen production, they add four human genes that code for collagen to the genetic structure of the microbes. The yeast or bacteria then start to produce building blocks of human collagen once the genes are in place.
Furthermore, you also add Pepsin, which is a digestive enzyme. The reason for doing this is to help structure the building blocks into collagen molecules with the exact structure of human collagen.
As soon as this process is complete, you have vegan collagen!
The ability to make cheap, safe collagen from microbes instead of animals has numerous promising applications for human health.
Here are some of the benefits of Vegan Collagen:
1. Consumers Get Them At A Potential Reduced Cost
Using bacteria or yeast to make collagen is cost-effective and highly scalable in a lab environment.
Even though it hasn’t rolled out as a mass-produced product yet, it has the potential to reduce the cost of collagen for all consumers. Also, it can make it widely available for various uses ranging from medical treatments to supplements.
2. It Has A Lower Risk of Allergies
While the biggest benefit of Vegan collagen is that no animals are harmed, it could be helpful for folks who might have allergies.
For instance, there are concerns over the risk of transmission of illness through animal-sourced collagen. Collagen from microbes would eliminate this potential threat since it’s made in a controlled environment where common allergens or other harmful substances can be removed.
3. It Offers A Higher Safety Profile for Products
Also, one of the benefits of vegan collagen is that it offers a higher safety profile for products.
This is because the lab-controlled setting gives manufacturers the chance to improve the safety profile. Again, if the source is easy to trace, the product becomes safer for all consumers.
4. Cheaper Availability for Medical Procedures
There are a lot of potential medical benefits to this technology. This is because we can use collagen for much more than just dietary supplements.
Again, the ability to genetically produce collagen safely and effectively might be helpful for numerous medical procedures. Collagen has common uses like:
- for sutures in dermatology
- stimulating skin and tissue growth
- for promoting wound healing
In addition, it can also serve as a vehicle for drug delivery, or for certain tumor treatments.
5. Beauty Benefits
Most of the collagen supplements on the market are animal-based. Thus, people who live environmentally-friendly or vegan-friendly lifestyles can’t get these products.
But, with vegan options available, they can now consume collagen to potentially help reduce the appearance of wrinkles. It’ll also stimulate their bodies to naturally produce more collagen and support joint and digestive health.
However, science is still building around these products and applications. Thus, most of the promises around supplements can still be considered hype at this time.
Vegan Collagen Alternatives
If you can’t easily access vegan collagen, you can turn to these alternatives:
At the moment, actual vegan collagen is hard to get. Lots of companies sell collagen boosters as supplements.
These boosters contain different vitamins and minerals, like vitamin C and zinc that the body needs for collagen production.
Also, some might add plant extracts and herbs that help stimulate collagen production.
You can include these vitamins and minerals through your diet, instead of a supplement, to help you meet your amino acid needs. Additionally, glycine, lysine, and proline are the most abundant amino acids in collagen.
Furthermore, Plant-based foods that richly contain all three amino acids include:
- soy products: tempeh, tofu, and soy protein
- black beans
- kidney beans
- many other legumes
- seeds: especially pumpkin, squash, sunflower, and chia
- nuts: pistachio, peanut, and cashew
With this in mind, another way you can get the benefits of collagen as a vegan is to take individual amino acid supplements. A lot of vegan-friendly companies sell these instead of pure collagen supplements.