Which is better: bovine or marine collagen?
Collagen peptides are popular in the cosmetic and wellness industries right now, and there is a good reason. Collagen is a potent nutrient that offers important amino acids that we simply don't get from our diets, and the benefits to our health and beauty are abundant. But not all collagen supplements are equal. The collagen they contain can be sourced from cows (bovine collagen), fish (marine collagen) or even pigs and chickens. Collagen from these different sources is not the same, so we have created this guide to help you understand the differences between bovine collagen and marine collagen and get an idea of which is better.
So just what is collagen, exactly?
Collagen is the human body's most abundant protein. It can be found in the hair, skin, connective tissues, nails, joints, ligaments and cartilage. Your body needs collagen to maintain good health in all these areas, particularly as you get older. The older we get, the faster our collagen production declines, and this begins as early as our 20s. By consuming collagen peptides, we can stimulate our bodies' natural collagen synthesis to keep those levels as high as possible. You could do this by sipping bone broth or eating the skin and tendons of animals, but this does not appeal to everyone. An easy intake of collagen in powder or liquid form is a preferable option for the vast majority of us. The advantages of doing this are many:
• Improved skin health
• Longer, stronger nails
• Thicker hair
• Supple joints
• Stronger bones
Collagen can even support muscle repair
The collagen peptides used in the food supplement come from cattle (bovine), pigs (porcine), fish (marine) or chicken, and the benefits of each type vary slightly. Depending on the type of collagen in question, it is extracted from the skin, scales or bones of the animal in question. Many experts believe that collagen peptides are a fantastic source of protein and essential for well-rounded nutrition.
What are bovine and marine collagen?
Bovine collagen supplements are produced by extracting collagen from the hide of cattle. It is usually available in a powder or pill form. There will be variations in taste and smell, so it is wise to compare reviews and perhaps look for unflavoured bovine collagen. Bovine collagen is mainly made up of Type I and Type III collagen, both of which are abundant in the human body. The benefits will be mostly experienced in the skin and, perhaps, the connective tissues in the digestive system. One of the concerns with bovine collagen is its quality, which mainly comes down to the source. The parts of the animal that the collagen is extracted from are by-products of the meat industry. This means the cattle are often not grass-fed and may have been pumped full of antibiotics and hormones to help with their development. There have been tests on bovine collagen that has found it to be impure, contaminated with these other chemicals. This may restrict its effectiveness and also make it less appealing to people looking to avoid putting harmful substances into their bodies.
Marine collagen is extracted from the skin and scales of fish. A process called hydrolysis is used in extracting collagen from both fish and cattle, and it breaks down the collagen to make it easier to digest once consumed. This means it yields maximum benefits as a supplement, and it doesn't put much strain on the digestive system. Some companies use other methods involving solvents or heat to extract the collagen, but this can expose us to harmful contaminants and result in the end [product being more difficult to absorb. It is recommended that you only take hydrolysed collagen supplements to ensure it is safe and effective.
Marine collagen is sometimes offered in powder or capsule form, but we prefer the liquid version. It is quick and easy to consume in a delicious shot form and comes from wild-caught whitefish to ensure it is ethical and free from any form of contaminants. Marine collagen is primarily composed of Type I collagen, which is the most abundant in the human body. It is highly bioavailable, meaning our bodies can absorb it quickly and put it to use for synthesising collagen efficiently. The easy digestion is particularly helpful for people with digestive disorders or who have had discomfort with other types of collagen.
What about collagen supplements with other ingredients added?
Some collagen products are fortified with other nutrients like Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin B7 and Vitamin C. The reason for this is that research has shown these nutrients to work well with collagen peptides to maximise their benefits. It's important to remember that, as convenient as it is to have these additional nutrients in your supplements, they can all be obtained from a healthy, balanced diet as well. Some people prefer to take a pure collagen peptide supplement with no added ingredients so that they can consume their separate nutrients elsewhere. It is true that some collagen sources with other ingredients, particularly drinks, add unhealthy extras such as sugar to add flavour. But a high-quality product with carefully-selected ingredients can boost the collagen's effectiveness and enhance the benefits.
Another thing to consider is the dosage of the supplement. Many products have a very low dosage that is unlikely to have the desired effect when consumed. Our marine collagen is 10,000 mg (10 grams) per serving, so you can be confident that it will provide an abundance of amino acids for your body to absorb.
So which is better - bovine collagen or marine collagen?
Naturally, everyone's body is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Collagen is a powerful nutrient for health and cosmetics in any high-quality product, and there are other factors involved such as dietary preferences, intolerances/allergies, lifestyle and budget. We believe marine collagen is better for various reasons, with two fundamental advantages being the purity and the bioavailability. Here are some pros and cons of both types:
Bovine collagen pros:
• There are grass-fed options available
• It contains Type I and Type III collagen
• It is often cheaper than marine collagen
• It is free from the top 14 allergens
Bovine collagen cons
• It is not suitable for pescatarians (or vegetarians, vegans, etc.)
• The large molecule structure is harder to digest
• The collagen is less similar to human collagen than the marine alternative
Marine collagen pros
• Suitable for pescatarians (but not vegetarians, vegans, etc.)
• There are sustainably caught options
• Contains Type I collagen in high purity
• Smaller molecules are potentially easier to digest
• The size is very similar to human collagen
Marine collagen cons
• Generally more expensive than bovine collagen
• Not suitable for people with seafood allergies
Can I take both types together?
Many people choose to take both marine and bovine collagen together to maximise their benefits. With high-quality versions of both, you would potentially get the most benefit in terms of the types of collagen you are consuming. However, you would need to take care to ensure you are not taking too high a dosage of collagen - there have been reports of some mild side effects in people consuming more than 20 grams of collagen per day. Taking both supplements together is possible, but you should do so with care.
How can I tell if a collagen supplement is good?
It's important to be aware of the things to look for when choosing a collagen supplement. The source Marine collagen from farmed fish is worse for the environment, so collagen from wild caught fish is preferable. You need to be careful with this as some brands will attempt to disguise the fact that their collagen actually comes from farmed fish. Bovine collagen that is not from grass-fed cattle is more likely to contain contaminants that you really don't want to be putting in your body.
Unwanted additives and ingredients can serve as empty calories or even unwanted contaminants. Look our for things like bulking agents, additives or synthetic ingredients as these are not helpful. Some of these fillers may even contain allergens like grains or milk, so take extra care to examine the ingredients before buying.
Taste, consistency and odour will vary from one collagen supplement to the next, but you do not want any variation in nutritional value. Routine lab testing is used in high-quality supplements to ensure every batch meets the required standard. This way, you can ensure they are free from microbes, toxins, heavy metals, mycotoxins, dioxins, pesticides and PCBs.
Many collagen supplements come in non-recyclable plastic tubs or pouches with lots of unnecessary packaging. This is wasteful and bad for the environment, so look for products with minimal packaging that use recyclable or compostable materials.
If you think marine collagen sounds like the right option for you, please take a minute to look at our delicious Premium Marine liquid collagen. We tick all the right boxes for a high-quality marine collagen supplement and we're confident you will feel the benefits like thousands of satisfied customers have already.