What are Plant-Based Collagen Supplements?

Dr. Josh Axe Contributes to Vitacost Blog | Vitacost.com/blog

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Can you get collagen from plants? If you follow a plant-based diet, unfortunately the answer is no.

Collagen is distinctly produced by animals and not plants, as it’s found in animal parts including bones, hooves, tendons and skin/hides (the same parts that are used to make real bone broth).

However, there are certain “collagen builders” that are available which are both vegan and helpful for boosting your body’s natural production of collagen protein. Adding collagen-boosting foods to your diet may pay off in in terms of minimizing joint pain, keeping your skin soft and smooth, and supporting gut health.

Woman's Hand Scooping Powder From Jar on Marbled Surface to Represent Question Can You Get Collagen from Plants? | Vitacot.com/blog

What are plant-based collagen supplements? 

Most collagen supplements on the market today, whether collagen protein powders or capsules, are animal-derived products. Products that are labeled as plant-based or “vegan collagen” are actually collagen builders — meaning they help you maintain healthy collagen without needing to consume any animal products.

How do collagen builders work exactly? Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the human body, helping to form connective tissues including joints, tendons, skin, the lining of the gut, organs, bones and more.

The collagen that your body makes on its own is formed from chains of proteins made from 19 different amino acids, which are often described as the “building blocks of proteins.” Some of the amino acids are key components of collagen include glycine, proline and arginine.

Collagen builders, including plant-based supplements, can help provide you with amino acids, vitamins (such as vitamin C) and minerals that your body utilizes to synthesize collagen, plus some also offer antioxidants that defend against oxidative stress which can diminish collagen. Vitamin C seems to be an especially important component of collagen-boosting supplements since it helps to form and strengthen collagen helixes.

A diet rich in collagen builders and protective antioxidants becomes especially beneficial after you reach your 40’s and beyond, when you naturally start making less collagen each decade due to effects of aging.

How can you maintain healthy collagen levels without consuming animal products?

Holding on to the collagen that your body already makes is important for supporting skin health, strong bones, muscle mass, healthy gut function, and joint mobility and comfort.

And just because you avoid eating animal-derived products doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from obtaining certain amino acids and nutrients from plant-derived foods which can facilitate your natural production of collagen as you age.

Which plant-based/vegan foods act like natural collagen builders? Here are some of the best foods to include in your diet in order to build and protect collagen:

Plant-Based High Protein Foods:

  • Beans and legumes, including lentils, chickpeas, green peas, etc.
  • Whole grains, such as quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, buckwheat, etc.
  • Nuts and seeds, such as pumpkin, flax, chia seeds, almonds, walnuts, etc.
  • *If you are willing to consume animal products, eggs and fish are other good ways to obtain collagen-building amino acids as well as minerals

Foods High in Vitamin C:

  • Oranges and other citrus fruits
  • Goji berries, came camu, acai, strawberries, blueberries and other berries
  • Kiwis
  • Mango
  • Leafy greens like kale and spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Guava
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Bell peppers

Other High-Antioxidant Foods:

  • Raw cocoa
  • Spirulina and other algae
  • Green tea
  • Garlic and herbs/spices such as turmeric and ginger
  • Medicinal mushrooms
  • Dried greens, such as wheat grass

While a healthy diet should be your first priority, vegan/plant-based collagen supplements can also be a beneficial addition to your diet.  While they don’t directly supply you with collagen (because collagen is only found in animal products), plant-based collagen supplements help your body build its own collagen and can also defend against loss of collagen as you age.

Some of the ingredients you may find in collagen building supplements can include:

  • Peptides/protein from foods like seeds and grains
  • Berries, powdered greens and other rich vitamin C and vitamin A sources
  • Medicinal mushrooms, which provide many nutrients and a healthy inflammation response
  • Hyaluronic acid, a compound that supports skin moisture
  • Silica, which can help strengthen connective tissue
  • Biotin, a B vitamin that helps to form and protect the skin and other tissues
  • Trace minerals such as zinc and copper, which support overall skin health

In addition to supplementing with collagen builders and eating a diet that defends against oxidative stress, you’ll also want to avoid “collagen diminishers” to keep yourself in tip-top shape as you age. This includes avoiding highly processed and sugary foods, smoking, drinking too much alcohol, sleep deprivation, chronic stress, overtraining, and excessive sun exposure.

Featured product:

Garden of Life MyKind Organic Plant  Collagen Builder

Garden of Life MyKind Organics Collagen Builder | Vitacost.com/blog