A deeper review on
| The Darkside of Animal-Based Collagen |
| The Benefits of Plant-Based Collagen |
| How To Boost Your Own Collagen Receptors |
HOW COLLAGEN IS PRODUCED
First, our body uses primarily vitamin C and protein from our diet to produce tiny molecules called procollagen. As more procollagen molecules are produced, they begin to glue themselves to one another. These clumps of glued procollagen molecules are called fibrils. When looking under a microscope, fibrils look like tiny strings. As the fibrils connect to one another and anchor themselves, they start to look like a net. This fully formed net is what we call collagen. Three fundamental aspects to producing collagen are: vitamin C, minerals, and amino acids.
Most people eat more protein in an effort to increase their collagen levels. More often than not, we have enough protein in your diet, much of which comes from vegetables and fruits that many of us love to stock-up in our fridge. Studies show that vitamin C and antioxidants are absolutely essential for the synthesis of collagen. Based on several studies, such as this one, without the centralized aspect of vitamin C within collagen production, the body is unable to produce or metabolize collagen efficiently.
Vitamin C is an essential cofactor for two enzymes required for collagen synthesis: prolyl hydroxylase (to stabilize the collagen molecule) and lysyl hydroxylase (to give structural strength cross-linking). Recent research has further demonstrated that vitamin C acts directly on DNA to increase the transcription rate and to stabilize the procollagen messenger RNA, thus regulating and maintaining the intracellular amount of collagen.
Lets get STRAIGHT TO IT:
VEGAN vs. ANIMAL COLLAGEN
WHERE DOES ANIMAL COLLAGEN COME FROM?
Just like for us humans, the animals' cartilage, connective tissues, bones, ligaments, etc. are what make “collagen”, collagen. Most animal collagen is a by-product of factory farming. The vast majority of mainstream collagen products are made from a processed form of gelatin that is derived from slaughter-house by-products.
You’ve probably heard the terms “hydrolyzed collagen,” “collagen peptides,” or “collagen powder.” These terms are different names for the same thing: hydrolyzed collagen protein powder. “Collagen peptides” in particular, refers to collagen that has undergone a process called hydrolysis, which breaks down the amino acids in collagen to make it easier to absorb.
The animal by-products, that would otherwise be disposed of, are rendered into a “pink slime” utilizing heat and acid to break it down and convert into tablets, capsules, hydrolyzed powders, etc. The processing methods used to do this are so harsh that the majority of the protein’s nutritional value is destroyed. As a result, brands selling animal collagen peptides are forced to show “zero daily value” for the protein on their product labels in order to avoid lawsuits or government crackdown.
The concept behind consuming collagen powders is that by intaking animal collagen on a daily basis, you can increase the collagen levels in your body. But we go back to what we initially reviewed -- without the proper breakdown, or a vitamin C rich base, the animal based collagen itself becomes un-digestible.
WHERE DOES VEGAN COLLAGEN COME FROM?
“Vegan collagen” per-se does not exist. What does exist are plants that boost and protect our own body’s collagen production. Within nature’s pharmacopeia there’s a plethora of herbs, foods, flowers, roots, and algae that have been studied to greatly help with collagen synthesis and production. Many of the medicinal herbs that naturally fall under this category have been used for centuries for many other functions other than “collagen.” They have long historical use as “anti-aging” plants that have across-the-board strengthening, mineralizing, immune protecting properties, with the added beautifying elements such as skin clearing, hair strengthening, and more.
For example, Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) and Nettle (Urtica dioica) with their powerful mineralizing capacity, are known to strengthen hair follicles, tendons, and support bone health. Mineralizing herbs like Horsetail and Nettle have been used for bone strengthening along for protein, blood mineralization and more. Other herbs such as powerful rejuvenatives like He Shou Wu (Fallopia multiflora), Shisandra (Schisandra chinensis), Gynostemma (Gynostemma pentaphyllum). Also, well known skin regeneratives like Calendula (Calendula officinalis), Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) and Nettle (Urtica dioica).
As mentioned above, a crucial component to the proper assimilation of both animal-based collagen and vegan collagen boosters is Vitamin C. Vitamin C plays a central role in production and activation of collagen receptors. Particularly powerful vitamin c and high antioxidant sources are acerola cherry (Malpighia emarginata), amla fruit (Phyllanthus emblica), camu camu (Myrciaria dubia), mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana), hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), and more.
THE TOXICITY + SUSTAINABILITY FACTOR
The unfortunate issue of animal based collagen powders is the amount of contaminants that have been found. These contaminants include antibiotics, prescription drug metabolites, steroids, synthetic hormones, heavy metals, pesticides, insecticides, and parabens. The Consumer Wellness Center conducted a study that tested eight popular bone broths and similar products such as collagen supplements. They tested these products to determine if there was any presence of chemical pesticides, pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals, toxicological chemicals, and food additive chemicals.
Because the livestock industry tends to be at high risk of serious contaminants, it is of vital importance to only source from small farms that actually prevent exposure to these myriad of chemicals. But then again, the same goes for regular agricultural industry. It is of vital importance to source good herbs, vegetables and fruits,as they can also be contaminated with heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, etc.
Dr. Mark Moyad, who is the director of preventive and alternative medicine at the University of Michigan, is also worried about harmful heavy metals like copper and arsenic in collagen supplements. Also, when animal tissues are processed and broken down into powders, they typically exude creatinine which can be toxic. Another issue that Dr. Moyad references in his book The Supplement Handbook is the likelihood of absorption of collagen supplements: “It’s not at all clear that eating collagen increases your body’s levels of it.” The main problem with animal-based collagen is it doesn’t confront the root cause of collagen loss. The body can't absorb collagen in whole form; rather, the protein must be broken down during the digestive process before absorption into the bloodstream. The tightly twisted helix of full-form collagen (from animals) is difficult to break down during digestion and too large to cross the intestinal wall, so collagen from animals is not an effective oral supplement.
WHAT MAKES COLLAGEN LEVELS DROP?
According to scientific studies, we start producing less collagen at the young age of 25. Yet this is all variable and it depends on the lifestyle of each individual. Keeping a diet naturally high in vitamin c sources, antioxidants, clean protein, and mineralizers will naturally lead to graceful aging as it’s supplying the essential building blocks to staying healthy, inside and out. Another key factor to this is stress. One of the key components to oxidative and cellular damage is exposure to emotional, mental, and biological stressors that contribute to aging.
Other factors that can contribute to collagen shortage is exposure to heavy metals, toxic chemicals, chronic illnesses, hormonal imbalances, smoking, drinking, drugs, not getting enough sleep, living a stressful life, little exercise, etc.
FOODS + MEDICINAL HERBS KNOWN TO BOOST COLLAGEN PRODUCTION
Below are just some of the highest vitamin C fruits, herbs and vegetables:
- Acerola cherries
- Rose hips
- Berries (especially wild berries!)
- Black Currants
- Thyme! (Fun tip! Gram for gram, fresh thyme has three times more vitamin C than oranges and one of the highest vitamin C concentration of all culinary herbs!)
- Camu Camu (60x more per serving than an orange!)
- Brussels sprouts
- Bell peppers
How Do Herbs Support Collagen Production?
Another fascinating element that a lot of these herbs have in common is their energetic and chemical properties. The bone-strengthening type of herbs are naturally high in silica, calcium and minerals, which assists in bone strength and healing. Some of these herbs are astringent, yet contain what I like to call the “holy glue” — it’s an essential glue (a demulcent quality) in the plant that, once metabolized, becomes an incredibly powerful food for our bones, connective tissue, skin and more. Much like the “glue” that animal collagen is well known for! Some of the herbs that contain this mucilage that not only greatly assist our digestion, they may support repair and rejuvenation: Marshmallow, Horsetail, Cornsilk, Comfrey, Chlorella, Spirulina, Slippery Elm and more.
Not many herbs contain these two oppositional natures — astringent and demulcent — and it is here that this nutrition must be widely used and understood in order to reap the incredible health benefits. Many of these herbs have been widely studied by the scientific community, backing up ancient folkloric uses among many cultures worldwide.
Here are some “anti-aging” herbs along with some of their active benefits, that have been revered for many reasons beyond their collagen boosting benefits:
- Aloe Vera
- He Shou Wu
- Mangosteen Pericarp
- Camu Camu
- Green Tea
To read a more in-depth review on some of anti-aging herbs that are within our signature formula, click here.
- Anima Mundi’s Signature Collagen Booster Formula -
Our formula is a blend of herbs that are known to support and boost collagen production in the body. Composed of adaptogens, herbs, and flowers traditionally used to beautify, repair, and restore. These herbs aren’t just designed to support collagen production and make your hair grow. It’s a medicinal compilation of bioavailable herbs known to increase longevity through their adaptogenic chemistry, strengthen the bones and tissues through their mineralizing capacity and provide the body with essential chemistry such as antioxidants, vitamin c, and more.
DIRTY ROSE COLLAGEN CHAI
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