Vegan Collagen 101: Everything You Need to Know
Collagen is one of our favourite proteins. Found in skin, connective tissues, bones and joints, this compound is responsible for keeping our looks youthful and our movements smooth. Human and animal bodies synthesise collagen naturally, but specific health issues or physical stressors can cause collagen production to decrease. Besides, diminished collagen production is, sadly, a natural part of the ageing process.
With less collagen comes wrinkles, saggy skin, aching joints and brittle bones. Not really anyone's cup of tea. Thankfully, collagen supplements are widely available all over the world, helping everyone to stay on top of time and keep their skin soft and smooth for as long as possible.
Unfortunately, the collagen supplement route is not a vegan-friendly one, but there are a few alternatives out there...
Where Does Collagen Come From?
As mentioned above, collagen is a protein synthesised in our bodies and found mostly in our skin and bones. Animals produce collagen as well, meaning that most widely available collagen supplements are sourced from cows or fish. What's a vegan to do?
Grow Your Own
The problem with supplements is that 'collagen ingested' is not necessarily equal to 'collagen absorbed.' Adding it externally to your diet isn't a sure-fire method of growing your collagen levels in the long run. A solution to this conundrum, and a vegan alternative to supplements until further notice, is to make sure your diet includes plenty of plant-based foods that boost your body's natural ability to produce the protein.
Focus on including produce in your diet that brings you the minerals and vitamins needed in the synthesis of collagen. These comprise vitamins C, E and A, and silica, zinc and copper, as well as many polysaccharides. A few collagen-friendly foods are kiwis, berries, almonds, avocados, carrots, dark green veggies, garlic, pumpkin seeds and tomatoes.
There are also three primary amino acids involved in the production of collagen: glycine, lysine and proline. Many vegan nutrition shops will sell amino-acid supplements, but you can also source them naturally from foods like soy products, legumes, seeds and nuts.