Looking for a collagen supplement? Which source of ingestible collagen is best?

Is collagen really the answer to all our beauty woes? From bovine, plant-based and marine - we look at the pros and cons.

Is anyone else confused about collagen? There are ingestible elixirs containing it, plus creams and serums that promise to boost our cells’ capacity to produce it. But do any of them actually work? And why do we need more collagen anyway?

The short answer is that collagen is what helps give structure to our bones, muscle and skin. It’s our body’s most abundant protein, but from the age of 25, we become less efficient at making it, so our skin loses its firmness and begins to wrinkle and sag. Sigh. 

The wellness industry would have you believe that by popping a pill you’ll emerge anew, with skin as youthful-looking as Jennifer Aniston (who takes collagen daily). And yet, as with all things ‘anti-ageing’, it’s more complicated than that.

There are three main sources of ingestible collagen: bovine, plant-based and marine. 

    Collagen from beef

    Bovine collagen is usually is a by-product of cows' hides processing. If the collagen coming from the hides weren't getting turned into gelatin or hydrolyzed collagen, it would just get thrown away. It contains Collagen type I and III and is used to help with bone and joints, skin, and nails health.

    A negative with bovine collagen is that most comes from large multi-national companies that source cattle hides from all over the world. These companies are unable to share the exact source of the cattle because they are often drawn from multiple countries.

    There is also uncertainty about the type of feed the animals were raised on an whether it was it grass-fed which is optima or if it was raised on a feed lot - which is particularly unhealthy. In most cases the producers of bovine collagen are unable to guarantee that their beef is free of artificial growth hormones or excessive antibiotics. 

    Plant based collagen

    Naturally, those who don’t eat meat will prefer plant-based collagen supplements, however they are not a direct source of collagen, which can only be found naturally in fish and animal products. Vegan alternatives are what’s known as ‘collagen promoters’ and will prompt your own cells to produce more of their own supply of collagen. 

    Vitamin C is one such, and has been shown in studies to improve collagen synthesis, even helping to aid recovery from musculoskeletal injuries when taken orally. When applied topically on the skin it can brighten and firm the complexion. 

    Marine collagen

    Ocean fish provide the best source of type I collagen.  This makes up 80 percent of our skin and works with elastin to help structure the skin, supporting hair follicles. Due to the smaller molecular size of hydrolyzed marine collagen, marine collagen is absorbed 1.5 times better than bovine collagen and dissolves better in cold and warm drinks.

    Marine collagen supplements are typically produced from fish skin and scales.  Some marine collagen supplements are made from wild fish while others are made from farmed fish.  Wild fish live on natural diets.  Farmed fish are typically raised on an unnatural diet of dried pellets made from plant and animal trimmings, live in confined spaces and are given antibiotics to fight disease. 

    Wild fish is best 

    The nutritional value in wild-caught fish is much higher than that of the farm-raised fishThe diverse and natural diet of wild fish creates a varied blend of nutrients by the time the fish is harvested. This makes wild fish the best source for natural and powerful collagen. 

    Rare by Nature – single origin wild fish 

    Rare by Nature’s marine collagen is sourced from sustainable populations of wild arctic codfish (Gadus morhua) that are caught in the pristine glacial fed waters of the Norwegian Sea.  You can see the area on a map by entering the DMS coordinates into your internet browser 068° 56' 53” N 001° 34' 32” W.  Our focus on traceability is such that we can identify the fishing boat that caught the codfish used to make each batch of our collagen.

    Norwegian Sea

    Rare by Nature collagen production 

    Only the skin of the fish is used to produce Rare by Nature's collagen.  We do not use the scales.  Our small batch production methods preserve the integrity of the collagen. Each capsule contains 100% Norwegian wild sourced marine collagen, with nothing added or taken away.  

    Rare by Nature – Wild Marine Collagen 100% Norwegian Sea Origin
    (120 Capsules)