Here’s What You Need to Know About Vegan Collagen

Here’s What You Need to Know About Vegan Collagen

You’ve probably heard the buzz around collagen supplements and your skin by now. But is the hype really that promising? After all, research has pointed to both the benefits and downsides of collagen supplements — and for many beauty-conscious folk, collagen isn’t vegan.

That’s because collagen, a protein found mostly in hair, skin, nails, bones, and ligaments, comes mostly from animal sources, such as beef or fish.

But science has discovered a way to make vegan collagen. We’re here to answer exactly how that works and how it competes.

How can collagen be vegan?
Instead of being sourced from animals, collagen can now be made by using genetically modified yeast and bacteria.

Researchers have found that the bacteria P. pastoris, in particular, is the most effective and commonly used for genetically engineering high-quality collagen.

To produce collagen, four human genes that code for collagen are added to the genetic structure of the microbes. Once the genes are in place, the yeast or bacteria then start to produce building blocks of human collagen.

Pepsin, a digestive enzyme, is added to help structure the building blocks into collagen molecules with the exact structure of human collagen.

Once this process is complete, you have yourself vegan collagen!

Benefits of vegan collagen
The ability to make inexpensive, safe collagen sourced from microbes instead of animals has many promising applications for human health.

1. Potential lower cost for consumers
Using yeast or bacteria to produce collagen is cost effective and highly scalable in a lab environment. While it hasn’t rolled out as a mass-produced product yet, this has potential to lower the cost of collagen for all consumers and make it widely available for various uses from medical treatments to supplements.

2. Lower risk of allergies
While the biggest benefit is that no animals are harmed, there are other pros to vegan collagen, especially for folks who may have allergies.

For example, there’s some concern over the risk of transmission of illness through animal-sourced collagen. Collagen via microbes would eliminate this potential issue because it’s produced in a controlled environment where common allergens or other harmful substances can be removed.

3. Higher safety profile for products
The lab-controlled setting gives manufacturers the ability to improve the safety profile. If the source is easily traceable, it makes it a safer product for all consumers.

4. More and cheaper availability for medical procedures
There are many potential medical benefits to this technology, as collagen is used for much more than just dietary supplements.

The ability to genetically engineer collagen safely and effectively may be beneficial for many medical procedures. Collagen is commonly used:

in dermatology for sutures
to stimulate skin and tissue growth
to promote wound healing
It can also serve as a vehicle for drug delivery, or for certain tumor treatments.

5. Beauty benefits for vegans
The majority of collagen supplements on the market are animal-based, which means people who live an environmentally-friendly or vegan-friendly lifestyle can’t access these products.

With vegan options available, they can now take collagen to potentially help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and stimulate their body to produce more collagen naturally as well as support joint and digestive health.

But, science is still building around these products and applications, so at this time, most of the promises around supplements can still be considered hype

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