What is the difference between a vegetarian collagen supplement and a collagen peptide protein? And is one of these types of collagen better than the other?
You have likely seen vegan or vegetarian collagen supplements on the market, but is collagen actually vegan?
Knowing the differences between different types of collagen - and how they interact with your body - is the best way to make an educated decision when purchasing a supplement.
In this article, we will break down the pros and cons of both vegetarian collagen supplements and collagen peptide proteins, how each interacts with your body, and how to decide which types of collagen supplements are right for you.
Is collagen vegan?
Let’s get this out in the open. There is no true source of vegan collagen.
The reason true vegan collagen doesn’t exist is because collagen is only found in animal products. Just as humans can naturally produce collagen, animals also need collagen protein to maintain their skin, cartilage, and other connective tissues. We can utilize the natural collagen in the tissues of animals to fuel our own bodies.
Then how are there such things as vegan or vegetarian collagen supplements?
When these plant-based types of collagen supplements are produced, they act more like a collagen booster than an actual replacement or supplemental collagen source.
For example, many plant-based types of collagen products use a combination of foods that naturally boost your body’s collagen production. These can be foods like tocos, peas, tremella mushrooms, aloe vera, and other antioxidant and amino acid-rich foods.
These food combinations are known to provide the tools your body needs to amp up collagen production on its own. Plus, they give a way for people who don’t eat animal products to enjoy some of the collagen supplementation benefits.
In some cases, vegan collagen can even be made using modified yeast and bacteria.
These supplements are made by combining human gene codes for collagen protein and the genetic structure of the microbes. Once those genes and yeast have been combined correctly, they can start producing collagen. In most cases, a digestive enzyme known as pepsin is added to this structure to closely resemble real human collagen.
When taking this replicated form of vegan collagen, it will act more similarly to types of collagen that are derived from animals. This means it should get you a little closer to your performance goals.
Benefits of vegan collagen boosters
As you age, through a combination of genetics, lifestyle choices, and environmental factors, your collagen production begins to slow down. While there are various theories as to why exactly this happens, the one thing that we know for certain is that it does happen.
Your body uses a combination of amino acids as a building block for collagen production. With that in mind, vegan types of collagen combine antioxidants and amino acid-rich foods to create collagen-boosting supplements.
Most plant-based collagen supplements use the exact same amino acids found in animal-derived types of collagen protein. That way, your body can recognize and utilize those amino acids to make collagen.
This works well if you are planning to take a collagen-boosting supplement daily. Instead of providing collagen directly to your body, a collagen booster simply provides your body with all the building blocks to make your own collagen.
If you provide enough of the right tools, like amino acids and vitamin C, your body can distribute them to the necessary areas and use them to produce more collagen each day. The antioxidants in the foods then help by fighting off free radicals that can slow down collagen production even more.
Plant-derived types of collagen supplements are often more affordable, have a higher safety profile, and have a lower risk of allergens.
These vegan types of collagen boosters can be found in various plant foods and often mixed in powder form to make it easy to add to a smoothie or other recipes. If you choose to live a plant-based lifestyle, then a collagen booster is one of the most natural ways to jumpstart your natural collagen production.
If you aren’t a vegetarian, however, there may be more beneficial ways to get your collagen intake. Let’s take a look at some of the animal-derived types of collagen you can take to boost your whole-body health.
What are the types of collagen you can take?
Of all the types of collagen available, hydrolyzed collagen and collagen peptide proteins are the most widely used. Let’s examine these two types of animal-derived collagen a bit more closely.
Collagen peptide proteins
Collagen peptides are the most frequent type of collagen supplement you will see online and in stores. When a supplement company says “collagen peptides,” they are essentially just saying collagen protein. They are synonymous.
Almost all animal-derived collagen supplements are a byproduct of factory farming, and are processed to become tasteless liquids or powders for consumption.
The idea for taking these types of collagen is that you are replacing the collagen your body is no longer producing. While collagen peptide proteins may be the primary type of collagen, there is one other type of collagen that we will discuss below.
Hydrolyzed collagen is technically still collagen peptide proteins - the difference is that the full collagen molecule is put through a hydrolysis process to make it easier for your body to digest.
Hydrolysis takes the full collagen peptide proteins and splits the collagen molecules down into smaller and smaller pieces until they are small enough to fit your stomach’s pores.
You see, when collagen peptides are in their whole form, your body has a hard time digesting them. That’s because the dalton, or molecule size, is too large to pass through your stomach’s pores.
So, while you may be getting some benefit from collagen in the whole form, your body will end up working overtime to break down the molecules. That means that when you ingest whole collagen peptides, you end up passing most of the nutrients out, and you don’t get the full benefits for your supplement.
Hydrolyzed collagen breaks down the whole collagen peptide for you. That way, when you ingest hydrolyzed collagen, your body can take it and work with it right away.
In some cases, like with our Frog Fuel Ultra, you can find nano-hydrolyzed collagen. This breaks down the molecules small enough for your body to digest - and start utilizing the collagen supplement - within 15 minutes.
Benefits of collagen peptide proteins
When people think of collagen supplements, they often only think about the skin benefits and youthful appearance. However, there are so many other benefits of collagen peptide proteins.
Unlike collagen-boosting supplements, collagen peptide proteins replace and supplement your natural collagen production. Collagen proteins contain three amino acids: proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline.
While you can synthesize collagen by ingesting these amino acids, vitamin C, and antioxidants, this becomes harder to do efficiently as you age.
By providing your body with a more concentrated level of the exact collagen-building amino acids needed, you should be better able to supplement collagen production.
There are many collagen peptide protein applications - one of the most effective for wound healing. While this could be as severe as a surgical wound, collagen peptide protein also can help heal sports injuries like a torn ACL, damaged cartilage, or muscle tear. It can even be used as a way to prevent injury in the first place.
A hydrolyzed liquid collagen protein, like Frog Fuel, is easy to digest and goes to work quickly to protect and heal your body.
Your body is amazing, and when you give it the right tools, it can apply them where you need them most. That’s why so many of our Frog Fuel customers have found success when using a liquid collagen supplement to heal or prevent injury.
Types of collagen and athletic performance
No matter your dietary restrictions, there are ways to boost your athletic performance with either a collagen booster or collagen peptide proteins.
Vegan collagen boosters and athletic performance
There is a common misconception that vegan or vegetarian diets equal weaker athletes and a less than satisfactory gym session. With the right diet and collagen boosters, this isn’t the case. As mentioned before, collagen boosters still help your body produce collagen.
Integrating vegan collagen supplements into your diet gives your body the tools it needs to strengthen ligaments, have a faster muscle recovery, and withstand tough workouts.
Along with a collagen boosting supplement, many vegan athletes add some extra vitamin C to their diet. Vitamin C helps your body to synthesize collagen more easily, so when paired with the right amino acids, your body is more efficient at producing collagen.
Collagen peptide proteins and athletic performance
Just as with a collagen booster, collagen peptide proteins work with your body to strengthen tissues, repair damage, and quicken recovery. The stronger all of these connective tissues are in your body, the less likely you are to experience a sports related injury.
When you take collagen also influences how it interacts with your body. Taking collagen as a pre-workout supplement has been shown to be more effective for connective tissue repair, and taking it after a workout has shown to be more effective for muscle-building.
This has to do with the stress that your body undergoes during exercise. However, as long as you are consuming around 10-15g of collagen daily and you exercise regularly, you’re bound to see results, no matter when you take the supplements.
Just as with a collagen booster though, adding extra vitamin C to your diet can help the collagen synthesis.
Which type of collagen is right for you?
Knowing the types of collagen, and understanding your own health goals, can be great stepping stones to choosing the right collagen supplement for your lifestyle.
If you are vegan or vegetarian, looking into collagen-boosting supplements can be a great way to get some of the same benefits of a collagen peptide protein.
While vegan collagen will interact with your body in a slightly different way, it will still provide you with some of the necessary nutrients you need to produce collagen naturally.
Collagen peptide protein is also an excellent choice for those that choose to consume types of collagen from animal products. It’s even better if it is hydrolyzed. You will be getting a fast-acting protein source that can be used to make gains in the gym or heal up after surgery.
Whichever types of collagen you choose for your daily routine, make sure that they are actively and efficiently helping you achieve your health and fitness goals.