As much as you will hear that collagen only comes from animals, this is not true. There is a plant based resource capable of providing Vegan collagen sources; seaweed. Yes, you read right, seaweed! But not just any old type of seaweed.
With over 35,000 known species on the planet, you need to know where to look. We’ll take a deeper dive on that in this article. But first, why should you care? And what is collagen anyway?
What is Collagen?
Our bodies contain something called connective tissue. The connective tissues do precisely what you would expect based on the name they have been give, they are a type of tissue which ‘connects’ things. One such example is fascia tissue, sometimes referred to as fascicle tissue. To put it simply, this is the tissue that houses bundles of muscles.
Think of it this way; there’s a whole bunch of fibers (myofibril), like strings, all bunched up which are formed from filaments. These make up the single muscle cells. These muscle cells are wrapped up by a layer called the Perimysium.
And the bundling of muscles from smaller strands into larger groups is what forms the shapes we see muscles taking. The various parts of this structure can be seen in the image below.
These are all held together by connective tissue, the fascia being one type of tissue. Then we get into the other areas like the cartilage, tendons, dermis, even the tissue that you find around your nails and your hair; these are all connective types of tissue.
With seaweed providing an option in the world of Vegan collagen sources to keep this tissue strong this is great news.
As the primary protein of all connective tissue, collagen is insoluble. This means that it cannot be diluted or break down in to water. Collagen is fibrous by nature, taking on the appearance of tiny strands or threads. Roughly one third of the human body, and approximately 70% of the protein found in our skin, is made up of collagen.
The human body is capable of making its own collagen in our younger years. Typically, this reduces dramatically once you pass the age of 30 (see the Collagen Types in the Human Body infographic below). Our bodies start out with an abundant supply of collagen when we are infants, but it’s pretty much down hill after then.
Some would say that there is increasing evidence supporting the argument that with the right nutrients our bodies can continue to create collagen long into old age.
Collagen is made of a hydroxyl group and acids, namely proline and glycine, which have a better chance of functioning effectively in the presence of vitamin C. There is solid proof in the fact that a vitamin C deficiency will result in collagen synthesis being impaired, among other complications.
Types of Collagen
We know of sixteen different types of collagen. However, more than 90% of the collagen in our bodies is a mixture of collagen type I, type II, or type III.
Fun fact; the numbers given to collagen are based on their order of discovery. And the more we learn about them, the more we are finding validity in there being plant based, Vegan collagen sources.
Did you know that the shape of the collagen fibrils is determined by the type of tissue it is found in? Let’s take a closer look at some of the different types of collagen.
Collagen Type I
Collagen type I is the most abundant form of collagen found in the human body. And interestingly, in direct correlation it is in the highest concentration of proteins found in our bodies too. Collagen type I is found in the:
- Intervertebral (spinal) discs, and
- Scar tissue.
Collagen type I also makes up as much as 85% of the dry mass of our tendons, with the remaining 15% being made up of collagen type III and proteoglycans (decorin and aggrecan). As we are born with varying levels of collagen type I and collagen type III, it is not surprising to learn that these are often found together. These are the most notable collagen types in our tissue.
Collagen Type II
Think of collagen type II as being a strong supporting framework. This type of collagen provides a form of tensile strengthening to both Articular Cartilage and Hyaline Cartilage. These types of cartilage play key roles in the body and can be found in:
|Articular Cartilage||Hyaline Cartilage|
|Supportive tissues in the ears||Covering the articular surfaces of bones in synovial joints|
|Supportive tissues in the nose||Found in the ventral ends of ribs|
|Supportive tissues in the trachea||Found on the articulating surfaces of bones|
|Supportive tissues in the larynx||Found in the temporary embryonic skeleton|
|Supportive tissues in the smaller respiratory tubes||Found in the eyes|
Collagen type II is also very effective at for dealing with joint pain that is experienced as a result of age and deterioration thorough wear and tear. Helping to rebuild damaged structures, this is often a reliable source of reducing associated pain through healing.
Collagen Type III
Collagen Type III is typically found where there is collagen type I. This can be found within tissue linings like the walls of the intestines, the walls of blood vessel, and in your muscles as shown in the image above (Connective Tissue Covering Skeletal Muscle).
The worrying thing for some people is the risk of rupturing blood vessels. This is possible where there is a deficiency in collagen type III. Elastin also plays a key parting in maintaining health in this area. Turning to Vegan collagen sources such as seaweed can help in the even distribution of both collagen and elastin in suitable ratios. Where these are imbalanced there can be complications over time.
Collagen Type IV
Critical to the structure of the basal lamina, collagen type IV helps through healthy cell development. It supports the formation of a fluid with gelatinous characteristics that is secreted by epithelial cells.
So, what is an epithelial cell? An epithelial cell is a cell that is found on the outer layer of your organs. In fact, the outer surface of your skin is made up from epithelial cells. This is why it is known as the epithelium. Beneath the epithelial cells, which form a layer, is the dermis.
This is a type of tissue that acts by design to cushion any organ it is found to surround. It is the basal lamina that sits between these two layers. This is responsible for providing padding to the epithelial layer. This padding is necessary to support blood vessel and nerve functions.
Collagen Type V
Collagen type V is typically not very well understood. As a part of the Fibrillar Collagen group, it is normally found to operate in connection with collagen type I and collagen type III. Collagen type V can be found within the matrix of tissues such as:
- Between muscle tissue (interstitial)
- Hepatic tissue (liver)
- Lung tissue, and
Collagen Type X
Collagen type X is key to the formation of strong bones. It also is necessary for healthy cartilage structure. This is key to the healing of broken and fractured bones.
Collagen type X is also found in vertebrae, ribs, and the growth plates of fetuses and juveniles. There is still consistent research being undertaken to better understand the precise mechanisms behind collagen type X.
Collagen Sources; Plant Based Collagen vs Animal Collagen
So you’ve already read the bad news; there’s no unlimited collagen supply if you don’t give your body what it needs. As we get older the concentration of collagen naturally reduces. This results in fine lines and wrinkles becoming more apparent.
As the market consists of virtually 100% animal based collagen supplements, what is there to do? Thankfully it’s not all bad news; there is a Vegan option which will help you much more effectively than collagen sourced from animals. Seaweed.
Like a superhero, seaweed is the superfood that is the top choice for Vegan collagen sources. And it is so versatile too! You may have seen all sorts of collagen powders and supplements on the internet, but as a wholefood you just can’t beat seaweed. Particularly sea moss.
Health Benefits of Vegan Collagen Sources
Seeing how there are so many different types of collagen it becomes a little easier to understand how it plays such an important part in maintaining good health. Finding a relabel supply of collagen for Vegans is no longer an ethical dilemma. Our sea moss is packed with collagen and an abundance of minerals that help to support a healthier life, one that you would most likely want to be well lived.
Collagen Supporting Foods
Making sea moss a part of your routine is a great start. You’ll get so much more from this powerhouse with the right kinds of other foods, such as:
- Citrus fruits
- Nuts and seeds
- Green vegetables
- Brown rice, and
Understandably, it can be difficult to consistently consume the full range of foods needed to maintain optimal health. Particularly in a society where convenience is given more mainstream stage time than healthy choices. Vegan collagen sources are becoming a more sought after option. But can supplements and creams build collagen on their own? No, they need certain other things to help them be effective.
What Else Does Collagen Require?
It is possible to boost your body’s ability to produce and absorb collagen. Even with how effective collagen can be, it isn’t capable of starting from nothing. Collagen requires specific precursors in specific amounts to get the best out of. These include:
- Vitamin C – this aids the manufacturing and absorption of collagen within the body
- Silicon – helps with synthesizing collagen through the activation of enzymes which are associated with the creation of collagen
- Copper – which is required to enhance collagen and elastin production; this is key to regenerating fibers with elastic characteristics in the skin
- Antioxidants – flavonoids and anthocyanins help with the protection of connective tissue and cell structure from damaging free radicals
- Zinc – much like copper in the function associated with collagen this mineral helps with maximizing the function of collagen
- Chromium – necessary for the prevention of collagen degradation and breakdown
- Omega 3 – required to regulate the production of collagen including effective collagen distribution
- Lysine – helps manufacture healthy collagen
- Proline – needed to maintain stability of collagen, and
- Sulfur – which plays a major role in providing support for the synthesizing and structure of collagen
Where can you get all of these minerals? There’s no need to turn to multivitamin supplements; you’ll find these packaged in a range of accessible fruits and vegetables!
No Vitamin C Equals No Collagen
Right up the top of the list above was vitamin C. This is critical to collagen production. A lack of vitamin C can result in a range of health complications. Often unknown by many, this can directly impact on bone health due to collagen assimilation being inhibited. Given that we can’t produce vitamin C on our own, a steady, reliable source is needed.
There is enough vitamin C in an organically grown orange to meet the average daily needs of an adult. As the vitamin C is surrounded by natural sugars, fiber, and a host of minerals, the body is able to direct it to where it needs to be.
As scary as it sounds, the body virtually begins to fall apart as the existing collagen breaks down and is not replaced.
We often attribute healthy bones to the level of calcium in our diet. Collagen’s role, not so much. Emerging research is showing that collagen is just as, if not more important for bone health than calcium. Combining sea moss with a healthy source of vitamin C will help what is the best of Vegan collagen sources work it’s natural magic for you.
Sources of Vegan Collagen Available in Sea Moss
So now we can get into the nuts and bolts of this. Believe it, this amazing source of collagen is a real thing! And what’s best in my opinion is that it is not animal based.
If you’re a Vegan veteran, you’ll know that when you have seen collagen on an ingredients list it has always been a red flag. But that’s thankfully about to change with sea moss. With every report on collagen up until recent times being one that clearly spells out the animal sources, non-Vegan was the subsequent category. And then there’s the marine collagen discussion…
Scary fact; did you know that the majority of marine collagen sources are from fish (guts, bones, scales, etc.)? What is worrying is that fish farmed for ‘marine collagen’ produce higher amounts of collagen when they are starved! I’ll let you join the dots on that one.
But now there is a saving grace in using sustainably farmed sea moss. Vegan collagen sources are now 100% plant based, verified! I can say that ‘hand on heart’ having visited sea moss farms in multiple countries.
Taking time to explore farms and speak with the Farmers, I’ve learned a lot on my journey.
So, now you can welcome collagen back into your life knowing that you are doing no harm. More than that, you can rest assured that you are contributing to a sustainable venture when you buy sea moss that is responsibly cultivated, and not wildcrafted.
If you’re not persuaded by Vegan values, that’s OK. The science behind collagen coming from seaweed shows that it is much more practical for the human body to assimilate than animal based. Sea moss naturally contains a substance called hyaluronic acid. It is great at helping to reducing the appearance of wrinkles and demolish fine lines, all while aiding the regeneration of cells.
The holy grail of younger looking skin can be attained through the topical application of sea moss gel and making sea moss a part of your daily diet. Sea moss gel is able to be absorbed by the skin easily, and it works fast! I’ve personally experienced the power of sea moss myself, and have since become more than an advocate for sea moss, along with other species of seaweed.
But it’s not just collagen that sea moss offers. There is an abundance of minerals that are beneficial to good health. Curious about how sea moss can benefit you in other ways? We’ve put together a list of our top 10 benefits of sea moss.
Alternative Vegan Collagen Sources; Spirulina
So, maybe the thought of seaweed isn’t ticking the boxes for you, that’s OK. But did you know that when it is prepared correctly that sea moss has virtually no smell to taste? If that’s still too much of a stretch for you then you could try Spirulina.
Spirulina has become a very popular health supplement in the last decade or so. It is a blue-green algae which does put it in the seaweed category, but that’s not the primary connection that a lot of people make when they think of Spirulina.
Spirulina contains a lot of iron, and having as little as one teaspoon of Spirulina in your meal will help you to get more proline and more glycine than you can find in a large sized egg. Being rated as one of the most nutrient-dense food sources available, Spirulina is also a very powerful source of protein suitable for Vegans.
But why talk about protein in Spirulina? Keep in mind that collagen is a protein. Being constructed from amino acids, these make up as much as 65% of the composition of Spirulina. Now you can see why it is high on the list for any collagen promoting plan.
Easy to use, all you need to do is add a spoon of Spirulina to your juice or smoothie to support the collagen levels in your body each day. Vegan collagen sources just got seriously unlocked!