Updated: Aug 12, 2019
So, what is collagen, anyways? Collagen is a naturally occurring compound of all 9 essential amino acids. An amino acid is the building block of proteins. Protein is used in the body for restoration during sleep, for exercise to build and repair muscle, cell turnover, and general homeostasis of the body. There are 16 types of collagen found all throughout the body, however there are 4 main types that most want to address.
Type I: This type accounts for 90% of your body's collagen and is made of densely packed fibers. It provides structure to skin, bones, tendons, fibrous cartilage, connective tissue and teeth.
Type II : This type is made of more loosely packed fibers and is found in elastic cartilage, which cushions joints.
Type III: This type supports the structure of muscles, organs and arteries.
Type IV: This type helps with filtration and is found in layers of your skin.
Now that we know what it is, let's cover how its sourced. Direct sources of collagen are animal-based. Generally from various beef or fish parts. Gross. How, then, do we get vegan collagen? Scientists have found a way to genetically engineer P. pastoris bacteria into producing synthetic human collagen. Scientists isolate 4 human genes that code for collagen, and add it to the microbes. They then add the digestive enzyme, pepsin, to help convert the building blocks into collagen molecules.
While this method does great to create vegan collagen, it is not a readily available option, presently. This is where the more common collagen booster or collagen builder comes in. The human body needs 6 key nutrients in order to make its own collagen. These nutrients are:
Vitamin C: Large amounts are found in citrus fruits, bell peppers and strawberries.
Proline: Large amounts are found in, wheat germ, cabbage, asparagus and mushrooms.
Glycine: Found in seaweed, spirulina, and various protein-containing foods.
Copper: Large amounts are found in, sesame seeds, cocoa powder, cashews and lentils.
Lysine: Found in wheat germ, various beans, spirulina, soybeans, nuts, brewer's yeast.
High Quality Proteins: Found in legumes, tofu, dark leafy greens
Some additional plant-based foods high in glycine, lysine, and proline are:
Seeds: pumpkin, squash, sunflower, and chia
Nuts: peanut, pistachio, and cashew
While building your own collagen is important, so is protecting what you've already got. The best way to avoid collagen breakdown is to stay away from: sugar and refined carbs, over exposure to UV/sunlight, and smoking.
So there you have it, my lovelies. I hope I could help you get a better understanding for what collagen is, why its important to us, how it can be vegan, and how we benefit from it. I want to leave you with a list of my fav vegan collagen builders. Please feel free to leave some love in the comments below. No Negative Nellies, please. Stay beautiful!
Popular Vegan Collagen Boosters I love:
Healthy Skin Within Skin Elixir by Arbonne International, includes: hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, sea buckthorn, pine bark extract, biotin, got kola leaf and stem extract. Price: $55.00
myKind Organics Plant Collagen Builder by Garden of Life, includes: biotin, silica, antioxidants, and several vitamins and minerals. Price: $27.19
Reserveage Vegan Plant-based Collagen Builder, includes: vitamin C, amino acids, and white tea extract. Price: $39.99