The Number 1 Truth Behind Collagen in Plants

Is there really collagen in plants? As more and more people turn to plant-based sources over animal products, this is proving to be a very interesting area of discussion and research.

Plants that are able to be relied upon as a source of collagen support is something that more of us are slowly waking up to. But it’s not just any plants that you can get stimulants from to support natural collagen production.

The best sources of collagen support derived from plants I have encountered can be found in seaweed. Not just any seaweed, but Sea Moss! Our favourite!

There’s Collagen Stimulants in Plants? Really!?

Have you ever had one of those moments where you wonder ‘is this person pulling my leg?’ when you’ve been told something that sounds fantastic.

I can recall having that same feeling when a close friend of mine told me that I can get reliable sources of collagen stimulants from plants. It is worth noting that this is quite different to finding collagen in plants.

This was quite a long time ago, and I was convinced the only way to support collagen levels and production in my body was through animal sources.

Typically, collagen type 1 and collagen type 3 are sourced from the bovine family of animals, which includes cows and in some cases, apparently buffalo. There is also a considerable amount of collagen harvested from porcine animals too. If you didn’t know, porcine means pigs. 1

Containing Collagen is Different to Stimulating Collagen

As the heading reads, there is a big difference between containing and stimulating collagen.

To date, no plants are known to contain collagen, per se. However, research has identified that transgenic tobacco plants are capable of producing recombinant human collagen Type I (rhCOL1). 2 3 4

Wait! What? I thought there was no collagen in plants. Well, there isn’t, but that’s not to say that it can’t be engineered that way.

Studies in the area of engineering plant-based collagen have largely been undertaken to address qualitative and safety considerations. The concerns Researchers had were with immunogenicity connected to animal-sourced collagen, and the associated risks of the disease being able to be transmitted. A reasonable concern some might say.

Keep in mind that this isn’t a naturally occurring form of compatible collagen in plants. It’s specifically engineered to present what is believed to be a safer option to animal-sourced collagen. 5 6

Here’s a quick question for you; if you’re Vegan, do you consider genetically engineering microorganisms in the form of bacteria and yeast to be ethical? Not a joke…

The reason is, that bacteria and yeast that have been genetically engineered at scale have been reported to have been able to produce recombinant human collagen (rhCOL) and recombinant gelatin (rG). 7

What the heck is involved in producing recombinant human collagen anyhow? Take a listen to the soundbites from the National Human Genome Research Institute below.

The Number 1 Truth Behind Collagen in Plants – DNA Sequence
Source: National Human Genome Research Institute
Source: National Human Genome Research Institute

Marine Collagen Sources

I was aware that there was a growing source of marine collagen, often marketed as being a type of plant-based collagen powder, or that it is collagen in plants that are being used, which was collagen extracted from fish. The research that I did into marine collagen uncovered some troubling information.

It turns out that marine collagen is extracted almost exclusively from fish. Specifically, fish guts, bones, and scales as the primary sources.

As glamorous as that sounds, it’s not the cringe-worthy bit in the plant-based collagen for skin health marketing pantomime.

Fish that are starved produce a higher collagen content when compared to fish that are well-fed. 8 9

Take a moment to join the dots with that thought…

It’s cheaper to not feed fish you are farming for their collagen. And, if you don’t feed them, they make more collagen. What’s that I can smell? Potentially fishy exploitation?

What Plants Build Collagen?

We’re going to go back to the fish for a moment here. Not that they are the source of collagen we are talking about right now.

I’m not going to play some smoke and mirrors trick to form a point that makes fish sound like they are a part of the process for finding a plant-based collagen supplement. But marine life can benefit from what we are going to look at.

Some types of seaweed produce collagen type 1 and collagen type 3 supporting constituents which can stimulate collagen production. And there’s been research conducted that shows the effects of collagen stimulants from plants, specifically seaweed, of humans. 10

Again, this is not to say that there is collagen in plants.

So there’s little need, if any at all, for animal collagen if you look after your supply.

In fact, seaweed is a perfect source of collagen stimulation and maintenance for Vegans and Vegetarians. And the fish benefit from seaweed too!

The Number 1 Truth Behind Collagen in Plants - - Happy Smiling Turtle playing in Seaweed

Did you know that seaweed is a key food source for many marine life, so with responsible seaweed farming, there’s more food out there to support the life in the oceans.

While we’re on the topic of the ocean, you may have heard the expression ‘the forests of the sea’? Kelp forests and other seaweed that grow naturally in our waters do a lot to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen levels and bring balance back to waters that are often acidic.

Through sustainable ocean farming the ocean is being supported responsibly. Through natural sequestering mechanisms, this is one of the biggest bonuses with this emerging industry.

Seaweed, as a farmable source of collagen stimulants in plants harvested from the ocean, does a lot to help address environmental problems. It’s amazing to think that by changing the source of the collagen-supporting elements we use, the planet can have so many peripheral benefits!

Where is Collagen Support Found in Plants?

Let’s will look more closely at how your diet and the nutritional value of what you consume can support collagen production and stimulation.

So many natural sources of collagen supporting elements can be found in plant-based sources.

Let’s take a look at a handful of the ones we find particularly interesting while considering plant-based collagen benefits, meaning plant-based collagen stimulant sources and their benefits. Not some hocus pocus plant-based collagen sources spin.

Collagen in Plants from Seaweed?

Did you know that Sea Moss has long been used for a wide range of applications in many cultures?

My Grandmother used Sea Moss to make ice cream, which we gobbled up as children until we learned that there was seaweed in it.

Kids can be very fickle.

I loved my Grandmother’s ice cream, but I associated the word ‘seaweed’ with what I knew from the beaches where I grew up in Altona.

After a storm, there was a lot of seaweed that washed up. In the heat of the sun, it began to rot and smell. That’s what I thought seaweed was at 5 years old.

When prepared correctly, like my Grandmother did, Sea Moss has virtually no smell or taste. It is a bland substance that has some amazing benefits. This is why it has been looked at for generations as a staple in many countries.

Today I make my own Sea Moss Gel, which I use twice daily, as a part of my skincare regimen. A great way to find collagen stimulants in plants, this delivers very low-cost, highly effective results.

I am also able to use the same Sea Moss Gel, which is kept in the refrigerator, in a range of recipes, like Vegan eggs, Avocado Mousse, and raw Red Velvet Cake!

Wholefoods High in Vitamin C Supporting Collagen Production

An essential requirement for collagen production to stay healthy is the need for sufficient Vitamin C. Higher levels of Vitamin C means healthier skin. 11

What happens if you don’t look after your Vitamin C levels? Did you know that one of the more obvious symptoms of scurvy is bleeding gums and skin fragility?

This is because the connective tissue that requires Vitamin C to keep it strong and healthy is substantially lacking to the extent that it breaks down. There are also direct correlations between this and reduced wound healing efficiency. 12

So, Vitamin C supports the development of collagen, yet, when you look more closely at some of the more popular products, you’ll see how they frame the ‘collagen in plants’ point to make it sound like something else.

Also, see our other articles for a list of collagen supporting foods and Vegan collagen stimulant sources.

Using Essential Oils to get the Most out of Sea Moss Topical Applications

Topical application and consumption of Sea Moss Gel provide the benefit of getting collagen type 1 and collagen type 3 stimulant properties into the body quickly.

The skin can absorb what it needs effectively, and according to the research I’ve done, you can also use essential oils to prime the skin first.

Marjoram essential oil helps the collagen stimulants to be absorbed into the skin at a higher rate. I have recently been using a small amount of this first, and then the Sea Moss Gel after it has had time to sit.

The range of essential oils you can you is limited to your imagination and your situation. Would you have thought that humble seaweed could be a means for us to find ways to stimulate collagen in plants?


  1. “Hydrolyzed Collagen – Sources and Applications” – A. L. López, A. M. Peñaloza, V. M. M. Juárez, A. V. Torres, D. I. Zeugolis, G. A. Álvarez, 7 November 2019 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎
  2. “Human collagen produced in plants: more than just another molecule” – O. Shoseyov, Y. Posen, F. Grynspan, January 2014 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎
  3. “Collagen manufactured from transgenic tobacco plants” – The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 10 June 2010 [ScienceDaily] [Archive] ↩︎
  4. “The Potential Use of Novel Plant-Derived Recombinant Human Collagen in Aesthetic Medicine” – J. Seror, M. Stern, R. Zarka, N. Orr, December 2021 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎
  5. “Recombinant DNA Technology” – NIH, 17 June 2022 [National Human Genome Research Institute] [Archive] ↩︎
  6. “The application of recombinant human collagen in tissue engineering” – C. Yang, P. J. Hillas, J. A. Báez, M. Nokelainen, J. Balan, J. Tang, R. Spiro, J. W. Polarek, 2004 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎
  7. “Recombinant microbial systems for the production of human collagen and gelatin” – J. Báez, D. Olsen, J. W. Polarek, 15 November 2005 [SpringerLink] [Archive] ↩︎
  8. “Development of fish collagen in tissue regeneration and drug delivery” – M. Furtado, L. Chen, Z. Chen, A. Chen, W. Cui, 18 April 2022 [ScienceDirect] [Archive] ↩︎
  9. “Marine Origin Collagens and Its Potential Applications” – T. H. Silva, J. M. Silva, A. L. P. Marques, A. Domingues,Y. Bayon, R. L. Reis, 12 December 2014 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎
  10. “Treatment of human skin with an extract of Fucus vesiculosus changes its thickness and mechanical properties” – T. Fujimura, K. Tsukahara, S. Moriwaki, T. Kitahara, T. Sano, Y. Takema, January 2002 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎
  11. “Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) as a Cosmeceutical to Increase Dermal Collagen for Skin Antiaging Purposes: Emerging Combination Therapies” – Y. C. Boo, 27 July 2022 [MDPI] [Archive] ↩︎
  12. “The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health” – J. M. Pullar, A. C. Carr, M. C. M. Vissers, 12 August 2017 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎

Last Updated on 3 months by D&C Editorial Team

2 thoughts on “The Number 1 Truth Behind Collagen in Plants”

    • Thank you for your question, Maria.

      Yes, there really are collagen stimulants in seaweed. This has become more of a focal point in recent years with more and more research being done on how collagen stimulants in plants, in particular, seaweed, can play a part in improving health.

      We have more articles here that look at collagen and how it can be supported and reliably sourced from marine vegetation that may help paint a clearer picture for you.


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About the Author

Matthew has been on an active journey towards living a healthy life from a young age. Influenced by his Grandmother, a practicing Naturopath who served her community from the 1940's to the 1980's, his views on living holistically were shaped from a young age. Growing up in different parts of Australia, his connection with the Ocean and a passion for sustainability comes through in everything he does and shares.

"I'm not a Doctor, and I don't play one on the Internet." - me

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