Can collagen be vegan? Here’s what you need to know

Can collagen be vegan? Here’s what you need to know 1

Collagen powder is one of the hottest beauty products on the market right now, and with good reason. Our bodies produce collagen naturally, but as we age, this supply starts to diminish. Collagen is a protein that serves as one of the main building blocks of the skin, bones, hair, muscles and ligaments. It prevents our skin from sagging and gives it a plump and youthful look.

Our collagen starts to decrease from about the age of 20, and it is believed that our bodies produce about 1% less every year from there on.

While our natural collagen supplies will inevitably decrease, there’s plenty we can do to keep our skin looking youthful for longer. One of those things, is to incorporate collagen powder into our daily diets. Collagen powders help supplement our collagen supplies and keep our skin looking young and plump.

Collagen powder not only offers benefits for the skin, but it has also shown to help maintain healthy bones and muscles, and is even used to help treat the symptoms of osteoporosis.

It comes as no surprise then that the African collagen market is booming, and is expected to experience 6% growth by 2025, with South Africa holding the bulk of the market share. However, with this product’s increasing popularity, various local and global manufacturers have claimed that they have brought “vegan collagen” to market to meet the rising trend of veganism.

Collagen powder is an animal-derived product, and in nature, is found exclusively in animals. Most collagen powders on the market are of bovine descent. So what does that mean for vegetarians and vegans? If collagen is exclusively found in human and animal connective tissue, is there really such a thing as “vegan collagen”?

“There really is no such thing as ‘vegan collagen’, so the use of this particular term is misleading. Collagen is, by definition, an animal product, created in animal bodies, including our own,” says Toni Carroll, founder and CEO of nutricosmetic brand My Beauty Luv. “As such, vegans who are concerned about the collagen levels in their bodies, especially as they get older, have a choice of two strategies: either stimulate their bodies to make more collagen or counter the degeneration of their existing collagen.”

Keeping collagen levels high in a vegan world

She continues, “Certainly, there are many plant-based products that will help vegans stimulate their own bodies to create collagen. However, vegans need to be careful about products that make wild claims or label their products as ‘vegan collagen’.”

Carroll explains that a supplement will either work directly, as in the case of animal hydrolysed collagen powder, or indirectly as with vitamin C and magnesium, to promote collagen production in the body. Plant-based supplements work through the indirect model, and some non-animal substances have far greater benefits than others.

“Taking pea protein and other powdered plant proteins – two basic ingredients that comprise the majority of products on the market for vegans – will not make your body synthesise collagen production,” she warns. “It is critical to take the full spectrum of essential and non-essential amino acids but finding a vegan source of amino acids can be tricky, so read your labels carefully. Another top tip for healthy collagen production is simply making sure you get a good night’s sleep every night and to obtain your vital vitamins and minerals through high-quality fruits and vegetables instead of through supplementation alone”

In terms of safeguarding existing collagen levels, Carroll says that the key is antioxidants. “Luckily for vegans, most antioxidants are found in non-animal sources, so it is very easy to obtain a plethora of these along with other vital nutrients that help with healthy skin metabolism”.

“Both approaches are important, as there are far too many external and internal factors -unrelated to what we ingest – that play a role in the health of our collagen-levels and how our body will or will not produce collagen effectively.”

A vegan-friendly alternative

Carroll has developed a vegan-friendly skin supplement that contains ingredients that enhance both collagen production and conservation.

“Our new vegan-friendly skin booster will contain four highly active and medicinal ingredients that have been used for thousands of years in the East for skin beauty. These have recently undergone modern testing methods and have been found to greatly improve the skin matrix. Three of these ingredients are exclusive to my brand, and we are the first in the world to incorporate them in a formulated, functional supplement,” she explains. These products include Sakura flower petal extract, Tremella mushroom, Cauliflower mushroom and Wood (Jew’s) ear mushroom.

The ingredients are all 100% natural, certified organic and certified halal and kosher. The benefits include type 1 collagen synthesis by promoting healthy fibroblast activity, improving pigmentation at cellular level, increasing hyaluronic acid production in skin cells, and protecting against UV damage, alongside other skin-beautifying benefits.

“At the end of the day, reading the label on any product is essential for knowing exactly which ingredients you are putting into your body, what the benefits are and if the promise of what’s being sold to you is true,” Carroll concludes.

Can collagen be vegan? Here’s what you need to know 2

Intrigued by this unique product, our editor tried My Beauty Luv’s Beauty Blast Vegan Skin Booster for herself. Here’s what she thought:

“Although I’m not vegan, I try to limit the amount of animal-derived products I consume. And while I wouldn’t necessarily give up collagen because it’s an animal-derived product, I know that the global rise in veganism calls for a vegan alternative. I was excited to try My Beauty Luv’s Beauty Blast, because it contains interesting ingredients I had never heard of.

This unique supplement comprises Tremella Mushroom, also known as the “beauty mushroom” (it is loaded with vitamin D and has scientifically shown to improve skin hydration and improve wrinkle depth), Wood’s Ear Mushroom (a medicinal mushroom prized for its ability to promote procollagen biosynthesis in skin cells and to increase hyaluronic acid synthesis), Cauliflower Mushroom (which has scientifically shown to protect the skin cells by inhibiting UVB-induced DNA damage and to promote collagen synthesis) and Sakura Flower Extract from the Japanese Cherry Blossom (a sacred flower shown to reduce pigmentation and prevent sagging among other benefits).

The supplement comes in a capsule form, and two capsules get taken twice a day for maximum benefits. I took a month’s supply, and while I understand and believe that one’s complexion is affected by numerous factors (everything from diet, to stress, to pollution and your skincare regime plays a role), I could definitely see an improvement in my skin’s texture after a month.

My skin looked less “tied” and dull, it was clearer and smoother. And while I don’t have any deep set wrinkles yet, the fine lines on my forehead and around my eyes didn’t seem quite as noticeable as before. Bear in mind that I follow a pretty healthy diet, I drink plenty of water and I follow a good skincare regime religiously. As with any supplement, you cannot rely on it to work entirely on its own. I like to think of it as a piece of the puzzle.

So not only is this product certified organic, but it is also free from: fillers, binders, flow-agents, preservatives, additives, flavours, sugar, dairy, gluten, wheat and absolutely anything that is foreign.

This is a wonderful vegan alternative to collagen, and a great supplement to take regardless of whether you follow a vegan lifestyle or not. I would highly recommend giving it a try.”

My Beauty Luv beauty Blast retails for R780.00 for 160 capsules (one month supply).

Order yours here.

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