Marine Collagen vs Bovine Collagen: Which is Better?
The two major sources of collagen you see in the market are bovine and marine, or beef and fish collagen, but which one is considered better? Well first we should start with “what exactly is collagen” before we dive into the differences of the two types.
What is collagen?
Collagen is a protein naturally found in the body that provides structural support to the skin, bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Collagen is responsible for holding those components in your body together, as it is part of the extracellular matrix. Collagen is also the most abundant protein in the skin, representing approximately a third of the total protein in the human body. Residing in the dermal layer of the skin, it provides structural and biochemical support to the skin, and its ability to retain its shape, or be “elastic.”
Over time, the skin’s natural properties are diminished due to a variety of factors such as age, sun exposure (UV rays), hormones, and nutrition. Collagen content in the body, as well as its production, inevitably declines with age. But why does that matter?
Well for those who care about their appearance, the loss of collagen results in the skin losing its smoothness and elasticity. The skin will also become more dry and prone to wrinkles. As a result, the skin will lose its youthful, radiant glow.
The role of collagen peptides:
Here’s where collagen peptides come into play. Collagen typically cannot be broken down during digestion or absorbed due to their large size (collagen is formed from three long chains of over 1,000 amino acids into a triple helix shape). Collagen peptides, on the other hand, are short chains of amino acids that are made from breaking down full-length collagen molecules, making them easier for our body to digest and process.
The decline in collagen production can be countered by orally administering collagen peptides. Creams that contain collagen can only reach so far into the skin. When collagen is applied internally, cells in the dermal layer of the skin are stimulated by these peptides, resulting in a higher production of dermal collagen and overall extracellular matrix, replacing what is lost through natural and environmental factors. Through this, collagen peptides benefit the skin’s elasticity, firmness, and hydration.
Now that we have a better understanding of what collagen is and what it does for us, we can get a little more specific and dive into the differences between the two types of collagen peptides.
Bovine collagen is sourced from the hide of cows, after their meat has been harvested. Once removed, the hides are treated to extract their collagen protein through hydrolysis. As they undergo chemical breakdown, the larger proteins are broken down into smaller and more digestible amino acids due to the reaction with water. Bovine consists of type 1 and type 3 collagen, two types of collagen that are responsible for the growth and repair of skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments. It is great for all-around body health and recovery from injuries. Being relatively inexpensive, bovine is a much more common source of collagen supplements.
These cowhides are typically sourced from either grass-fed cows or feedlot cattle. Feedlot cattle are often treated with artificial growth hormones and excessive antibiotics, while being raised in an inhumane manner. If you have a high sense of ethics or strong moral standing for animals, be sure to look for grass-fed sourced bovine when picking out your collagen. Grass-fed cows live happier lives and are raised in a healthy and natural manner. They are provided with much better diets and overall care.
Daily consumption of bovine collagen supplements can give the body all the amino acids it needs to regenerate healthy connective tissue. Other health benefits of bovine collagen include:
- Reduces joint pain caused by osteoarthritis
- Repairs microscopic holes in gut linings
- Reduces fatigue from post workouts
So who is bovine collagen right for?
With the beef industry being so massive, bovine collagen is relatively inexpensive compared to marine collagen. It can be easily found and purchased from many stores and websites. Bovine has much more benefits towards bone and muscle health and recovery. Bovine is also an excellent choice for those who have shellfish allergies, or are unable to consume seafood products for any particular reason.
Marine collagen is produced similarly to bovine using hydrolyzation, but rather than using cattle hides, marine collagen is sourced from fish skin and scales.
When sourced via sustainable fisheries or from the wild, marine collagen from fish actually has very little negative impact on the environment, making it a very sustainable animal product.
The proteins from the skin and scales are broken down into very small and digestible amino acids. These peptide molecules are much smaller in size, making them superiorly bioavailable and digestible for our bodies to use compared to bovine. Bioavailability refers to the body’s ability to actually process the collagen once it is taken. This makes it easier for the body to absorb and flood the skin with much more anti-aging molecules. Marine collagen is especially rich in the amino acid hydroxyproline, which is an essential component of skin, blood vessels and other connective tissues. Other health benefits and uses of marine collagen include:
- Rebuilds tissues to increase skin elasticity and reduce the amount of wrinkles
- Protects the skin with antioxidant properties from oxidation and aging
- Increases moisture levels in skin
So who is marine collagen right for?
Marine collagen is perfect for pescatarians or people who avoid beef products. Marine collagen also has more beneficial effects on the skin for enhanced beauty and anti-aging. And finally, marine collagen is very sustainable and has minimal harm on the environment, so you can purchase worry-free of the environmental effects.
But which collagen is better: marine or bovine?
Both types of collagen are excellent additions for your daily diet to improve your body’s wellness. The answer to the question depends on your goals for taking collagen peptides: improving bone and joint health and recovery versus improving health of skin, hair, and nails. In fact, it may be better to take both types so that you may reap all the benefits collagen peptides can provide you.
Additional health considerations regarding collagen:
Though there is no clear “better” type of collagen, it does not mean all collagen is great. Be sure that you buy products that are manufactured using specified industry practices to ensure its quality. In addition, be aware of where your collagen is sourced from. For example, it would be unsafe to consume bovine collagen originating from a source that has a bad reputation for their cattle’s health, especially if they carried diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease. It would also be unsafe to consume marine collagen sourced from fish residing in polluted waters. Luckily, collagen peptides have had an excellent track record in recent years, but as a tip to choose the best collagen supplements: look for companies that get their collagen from animals that are cage-free, free-range, and antibiotic free. And perhaps do some research on the company’s website and see how they keep heavy metals and other contaminants out of their products.