There are currently no known collagen sources for Vegans, meaning there are no known collagen sources that are Vegan. Although there has been a lot of press around seaweed being a source of Vegan collagen, it turns out it is not actually true.
Don’t despair though, there are still Vegan options.
Collagen Sources for Vegans Rapid Fire Questions
For those who just want to get to the point, here are some rapid fire responses to common questions on this topic that we get asked. These will also help provide you with context on how this article fits in with your questions about collagen sources for Vegans.
Do Vegans need collagen?
Yes. Regardless of if you are Vegan or not, you need healthy levels of collagen in your body. Collagen is important for maintaining specific bodily functions from digestion working the way it should, right through to your joints being able to move without discomfort.
Is there such a thing as a Vegan collagen supplement?
No. Collagen as a protein is made up of amino acids. Vegan collagen supplements are not the same thing as collagen sources. Vegan collagen supplements typically stimulate collagen production but do not contain actual collagen.
What about Vegan collagen powder? Is this a real thing?
Essentially, no. Vegan collagen powders don’t contain collagen that is Vegan. They typically contain collagen stimulating constituents that are Vegan. We will look at this more closely in this article.
What about the best Vegan collagen sources? Are there any?
Again, no, Vegan collagen sources do not contain Vegan collagen, per se. There are collagen stimulating foods which are Vegan, and as sources which contain collagen stimulating properties they support the protection existing collagen and development of new collagen.
What is the Vegan substitute for collagen?
There is no product that is Vegan and is an effective ‘substitute’ for collagen outside of products that help with collagen stimulation. Products that can help with collagen stimulation typically contain peptides as smaller amino acids which make up collagen structures as a means of supplementation. We’ll go into that further in this article too.
How do Vegans get collagen naturally?
Collagen levels in the body are able to be supported through eating the right kinds of foods. These are foods that contain high levels of Hyaluronic Acid, a key constituent required for the promotion of collagen sources for Vegans, right through to a broader range of specific vitamins and minerals which we will look at more closely in this article.
If you’re Vegan you may have come to this way of life by one of two main pathways in my experience.
Most Vegans are either doing it for the planet and the animals, while others are doing it for their health. That’s not to say these are mutually exclusive. You may have a foot in both camps. That’s fine.
In this article we will take a closer look at some research that highlights certain interesting details emerging in the macroalgae and microalgae industries. We will also explore how you can find out how to stimulate collagen sources for Vegans through these developments.
Table of Contents
The Truth Behind Collagen Sources for Vegans
My preference for a reliable collagen stimulant source is found in Sea Moss.
Sea Moss has been promoted by many as a plant based source of collagen which has fibrils that are much smaller than animal based sources. Unfortunately, the research that this popular belief is pinned to has been misunderstood.
It is true that sources of collagen consisting of greater than six or seven amino acids, particularly those from animals such as bovine and porcine, are not that effective in their permeability. When applied topically to the skin their ability to penetrate the stratum corneum is limited. 
To overcome this, during the manufacturing process they are normally broken down, through a process of degradation, into hydrolyzed collagen, being peptides consisting of two or three amino acids. This is done to improve their bioavailability. 
To take a deeper dive into the topic, check out these articles:
- 3 Solid Facts About Collagen In Seaweed
- The Number 1 Truth Behind Collagen In Plants
- Amazing Younger Skin With Vegan Collagen Sources
How do Vegans get Collagen Naturally?
Collagen protein is needed to keep the connective tissue in our bodies healthy and strong. Not only does it play a key part in helping you look amazing, it is also important for your digestion as it plays a key part in ensuring that your gut lining is healthy. 
As you are probably aware, collagen is extracted from animal bones, hoofs, tendon, cartridge, horns, and teeth. The unused animal products are processed and then ground into a powder and sold as Bovine Collagen.
Clearly, these sources don’t align with Veganism and the values of those who live a Vegan life.
When it comes to thing to look for as a Vegan, keep your eyes peeled for foods that contain hyaluronic acids (pssstt! The collagen sources for Vegans list is down below).
Hyaluronic acids are required for joint health, skin elasticity, and moisture retention. 
Depending upon what you consume and expose yourself to, along with your specific biological circumstances, you may well get enough collagen stimulating elements in your day. Let’s consider what decreases collagen.
What can Decrease my Collagen Levels?
Things that can decrease collagen levels are likely to have varying impacts. These are most effectively considered on a case-by-case basis. Your needs will be very different to the next person.
For example, if you smoke, consume a lot of caffeine, consume highly processed foods with poor nutritional values too frequently, or are exposed to a lot of sun, your collagen levels and general skin health will be impacted. 
Now, as these only stimulate collagen production, the challenge is; how do you get more collagen into your diet if it is lacking? 
How do Vegans Increase Collagen?
Underpinning the question of Vegans being able to increase collagen is the question ‘Do Vegans get enough collagen?’
If you consume enough foods that are high in hyaluronic acid, as mentioned earlier, you are off to a good start. Other options include ensuring that you get enough Zinc, Vitamin C, and Copper. 
Given that we have identified that the holy grail of collagen sources for Vegans is really a process of stimulating existing collagen supplies in the human body, lets take a look at where you can pick up some amazing sources of required nourishment from.
17 Best Collagen Stimulant Sources for Vegans
If you’re a Vegetarian or a Vegan then you’ll be pleased to know that there are a number of foods that help with the stimulation of collagen production, which include:
- Chia seeds
- Citrus fruit (lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit)
- Goji berries
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sea Moss
- Sprouted legumes
Many of the foods listed above are great options as collagen-producing vegetables. But there is one item the stands out above the rest for me. The humble sea vegetable. Yes, seaweed!
Sea Moss is a natural source of a Copper which is a key mineral in supporting collagen upregulation as a result of fibroblast health being maintained. [8, 9, 10, 11]
As a marine collagen stimulant, I believe that the constituents in this seaweed are by far the best of nutritionally supportive collagen sources for Vegans, Vegetarians, and anybody that wants to stay happy and healthy.
When consumed orally, the vitamins, minerals and supporting constituents are absorbed by all the parts of the body that need it. When applied topically, it also works very effectively to support the health of the skin.
The Secrets of Marine Collagen
Many cosmetic and nutritional supplement companies claim that they have Vegan Collagen in them under the guise of it being labeled as Marine Collagen. Well, that’s a little devious if you ask me.
As referenced in one of our other articles, Marine Collagen is predominantly, if not completely, made from fish. Fish that are starved produce a higher collagen content when compared to fish that are well fed. [12, 13]
We’re a fair way off the Vegan track in that case. But, I’ve got a few things to share with you about some interesting research.
Prepare to have your mind blown!
Did you know that studies have shown that it is possible for collagen fibrils to grow on titanium alloy scaffolds via collagen hydrogels?
Researchers working with sulfated exopolysaccharides (EPS) which are produced by Vibrio diabolicus, a deep sea hydrothermal bacterium, have found that under specific conditions they have been able to get collagen fibril layers to form on titanium discs. 
When you consider that development on top of Researcher successfully engineering recombinant human collagen using bacteria and yeast, the future certainly looks interesting. 
What are your thoughts as a Vegan with bacterium being used to synthesise collagen fibrils? Does this gel with being counted as a suitable addition to the collagen sources for Vegans category? Tell us in the Comments section below.
Plant Based Collagen Alternatives
These amazing sea vegetables have all the antioxidants, amino acids, minerals, nutrients and vitamins perfectly packaged for you.
All the fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds you could possibly consume will only help with collagen production. But seaweed is different. Specific seaweeds have been closely studied for their cosmeceutical production potential for quite some time now. 
Of all the options to consider when looking at stimulating collagen sources for Vegans, I’ve found seaweed to be the best. Superfood of the Year? I think so.
How to Boost Collagen Production without Eating Animal Products
Some simple ways to support existing collagen sources and maintaining good skin health for Vegans could easily includes things like:
- Getting sufficient sleep
- Avoiding excessive sun exposure
- Choosing organic produce where possible
- Avoiding drinking too much alcohol and carinated drinks
- Cutting back on, or simply quitting smoking
- Keeping yourself hydrated, and
- Slathering on a luxurious layer of homemade Sea Moss Gel!
- “Peptides and Proteins” K. Lintner, 4 February 2022 [Wiley]
- “Collagen Hydrolysates for Skin Protection: Oral Administration and Topical Formulation” – G. A. Cruz, A. L. López, V. C. Gómez, R. J. Alvarado, G. A. Álvarez, 22 February 2020 [PubMed] [Archive]
- “Discovering the link between nutrition and skin aging” – S. K. Schagen, V. A. Zampeli, E. Makrantonaki, C. C. Zouboulis, 1 July 2012 [PubMed] [Archive]
- “Hyaluronic Acid” – Cleveland Clinic, 5 April 2022 [Cleveland Clinic] [Archive]
- “Diet and Skin Aging – From the Perspective of Food Nutrition” – C. Cao, Z. Xiao, Y. Wu, C. Ge, 24 March 2020 [PubMed] [Archive]
- “The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health” – J. M. Pullar, A. C. Carr, M. C. M. Vissers, 12 August 2017 [PubMed] [Archive]
- “5 Key Nutrients Required for the Production of Collagen” – MD Logic Health, 11 May 2022 [MD Logic Health] [Archive]
- “Using Copper to Improve the Well-Being of the Skin” – G. Borkow, August 2014 [PubMed] [Archive]
- “Evaluation of heavy metal, antioxidant and anti-tyrosinase activities of red seaweed (Eucheuma cottonii)” – V. S. Chang, S. S. Teo, 7 September 2015 [International Food Research Journal] [Archive]
- “Copper, an Abandoned Player Returning to the Wound Healing Battle” – G. Borkow, E. Melamed, 27 April 2021 [IntechOpen]
- “Effects of collagen-derived bioactive peptides and natural antioxidant compounds on proliferation and matrix protein synthesis by cultured normal human dermal fibroblasts” – S. Edgar, B. Hopley, L. Genovese, S. Sibilla, D. Laight, J. Shute, 11 July 2018 [PubMed] [Archive]
- “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]
- “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]
- “Marine Polysaccharide-Collagen Coatings on Ti6Al4V Alloy Formed by Self-Assembly” – K. Norris, O. I. Mishukova, A. Zykwinska, S. C. Jouault, C. Sinquin, A. Koptioug, S. Cuenot, J. G. Kerns, M. A. Surmeneva, R. A. Surmenev, T. E.L. Douglas, 19 January 2019 [PubMed] [Archive]
- “Recombinant microbial systems for the production of human collagen and gelatin” – J. Báez, D. Olsen, J. W. Polarek, 15 November 2005 [SpringerLink] [Archive]
- “Beneficial Effects of Marine Algal Compounds in Cosmeceuticals” – N. V. Thomas, S. K. Kim, 11 January 2013 [PubMed] [Archive]
Last Updated on 2 months by D&C Editorial Team
6 thoughts on “17 Best Collagen Sources for Vegans”
Can I this to freshly pressed juices?
Yes, you can add sea moss to freshly pressed juices. I would make a gel from the sea moss first and then add 1 or 2 tablespoons as desired.
Stir this through the juice, or shake it well if using a shaker. Don’t put the sea moss through your juicer, this won’t get you the best results and will waste too much of the sea moss.
I had no idea that animal based collagen molecules were bigger than what humans could absorb. Wow!
I know! When I first learned about this I went looking for the proof, and this is what I found:
The graph above shows the collagen pore sizes in frozen collagen sponges with the human pore sizes be much smaller than the bovine sizes. The images below on the top row are of human (plant based) collagen fibers taken under a microscope, while the bottom row is of bovine collagen fibers. These are clearly much bigger, and less suitable for human to assimilate.
As far as collagen sources for Vegans is concerned, this is clearly a mute point when you look at the scientific data. Plant based collagen stimulants are closer to what we need as humans compared to animal based collagen. If you don’t embrace this from a values driven perspective, that’s fine. But the data is the data, and it doesn’t lie.
So not enough vitamin c is bad for collagen?
Yes, your right. If your vitamin C levels are too low then one of the things that can happen is that your body will struggle to produce collagen. The vitamin C plays a part in adding hydrogen and oxygen to the active amino acids which play a key part in producing collagen.
Topping up on collagen will help deal with the depreciation of collagen production that takes place naturally as you age, which is where sea moss comes in. But sea moss also has minerals in it that function better in the body when you have enough vitamin C.
So keep eating those oranges!
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