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Marine Collagen vs Bovine Collagen

a man with his hand on his chin, wondering about the differences between bovine and marine collagen

When considering which type of collagen to take, it's easy to get confused when researching marine collagen and bovine collagen. Many people assume they’re the same, which isn’t entirely accurate. While there are many similarities between the two, there are some key differences that are important to keep in mind as you consider bovine collagen vs marine collagen. But before we compare the two and explain their differences, let’s discuss collagen first.

Collagen and How it Works

When you think about collagen, you may already know that it is the most prevalent protein in the body. It provides structure to almost every part of your body, including nails, hair, tendons, ligaments, and teeth. It also works to repair muscles and tendons, repair wounds, and hydrate the skin.

What you may not know, however, is that there are more than 16 different types of collagen, with each playing a different role. The biology is complicated, but basically, collagens are a large family of proteins. Collagen production occurs when your body breaks down dietary protein into amino acids.

infographic showing various benefits of taking collagen

Can You Lose Collagen?

diagram of the skin and how collagen fibers naturally break down as we age, causing deep wrinkles with age

There are several factors that lead to the depletion of collagen. Smoking, excessive exposure to sunlight, a diet that's not rich in protein, and aging all reduce the amount of collagen in your body. The aging process that impacts collagen begins much sooner in life than many people think. In fact, those in their mid-to-late-20s start to see such collagen depletion.

According to medical experts, some of the signs of depleted collagen levels include joint pain, digestive problems, wrinkles, and slow wound healing. That's why it's important to continually eat a balanced diet full of protein. Many people take this one step further by consuming collagen supplements to bolster their health. And if you’re one of those people, you may be wondering which type of supplement to take? In this guide we break down the battle of bovine collagen vs marine collagen. 

What is the Difference Between Marine Collagen and Regular Collagen?

When you choose a collagen supplement, there are many points to consider. One is your specific health profile. That's one reason it is essential to consult your doctor as you consider collagen options. One of the biggest things to consider is the difference between marine collagen and regular (bovine) collagen.

Bovine Collagen Peptides

The most common type of collagen is, indeed, regular (bovine) collagen. Producers make this type of supplement from bovine, including cattle, yak, bison, cows, water buffalo, and other bovine. They’re the most common foundation of what we call "regular" collagen. This type of powdered collagen is generally created after extracting collagen from the bones of a cow (or other bovine), drying it, and turning it into powder.

Although scientific studies about collagen are in their infancy, preliminary studies show that bovine collagen can ease the stiffness of arthritis caused when cartilage deteriorates at the end of bones. Small studies show it may increase bone formation, decrease wrinkles and other signs of aging, and prevent bone loss.

a full scoop of white collagen powder

Marine Collagen Peptides

fish swimming in the blue ocean - marine collagen is made from sea creatures

As the name implies, marine collagen is made from sea creatures, including small fish, jellyfish, sharks, starfish, and sponges. Much of it is made from fish skin, bones, and scales of cold-water species (such as cod and pollock). When producers make this collagen (also sometimes referred to as fish collagen), it is mostly collagen Type I. It is rich in amino accidents proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline.

Many people consider marine collagen preferable to bovine for environmental reasons. They point to the goals of the European zero-waste strategy. “A zero-waste plan would use far fewer new raw materials and send no waste materials to landfills," noted scientists.

It is reported that the seafood industry discards 75% of a fish's body weight. Although the bones, scales, and skin are not needed by the industry, those parts are collagen-rich. The use of fish to create marine collagen reduces waste and offers a safer source of collagen. Although there are pollutants in the water, wild-caught fish aren't treated with antibiotics or hormones.

Of the small number of studies about collagen, those that involve marine sources of collagen are rare. The preliminary studies done mainly revolve around the positive impact marine collagen has on skin and stalling signs of aging. That's not to say that marine collagen doesn't have the potential for other health benefits, but no studies specifically support that.

           So, Who Wins? Bovine Collagen or Marine Collagen?

Both bovine and marine collagen have different properties that impact different parts of the body. So, one form of collagen may be "better" for your particular needs.

The most common types of collagen and how they work include the following:

  • Type I: This is the strongest class for bones, skin, tendons, connective tissues, ligaments, and cornea. Also stylized as Type 1, this is found in both bovine and marine collagen.
  • Type II: Mainly found in cartilage, including the long bones at the joints. It is found in both bovine and marine collagen.
  • Type III: This is in the collagen that makes up significant parts of your skin, vessel walls, and individual fibers of most tissues (lungs, liver, spleen). It is found in bovine collagen.
  • Type V and X: Both types of collagen play relatively minor roles. One function of Type V is to work with Type II in joint collagen. Type X is often called the "network-forming collagen." Both are found in bovine collagen.

Note that types I, II, and III make up 90% of the body's collagen.

Both marine and regular collagen seemingly provide many of the same benefits. Still, bovine collagen contains two different types of collagen (I and III). It's also easier to find bovine collagen. Plus, those who have fish sensitivities should consider a collagen supplement made from bovine.

Can You Take Bovine and Marine Collagen?

a woman adding a scoop of collagen powder to mix into her beverage

It's important to talk to your doctor before you take collagen or any other supplement. Generally, collagen is considered safe and non-toxic to add to your diet. Adverse reactions are usually limited to minor digestive issues like an upset stomach. Although there are no overt warnings about taking the types of collagen we’ve discussed today, you should ask your doctor before you do so. Your specific health profiles may require you to avoid a specific dosage, for example.

It's important to remember that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't classify any dietary supplements as medication. The FDA mandates manufacturers follow specific guidelines, but the companies are the ones who monitor their products' safety and labeling. The manufacturers of collagen supplements have latitude over the ingredients they use in their supplements. That's why it's essential to read labels to understand a product's ingredients fully.

Although both marine and bovine collagen have benefits, it makes sense to choose bovine. It contains both Types I and Type III collagen, is readily available, and won't impact those that can't tolerate fish and marine products.

How to Get Started With Brightcore

One such premium product to consider is Brightcore's Revive®. The collagen powder has multiple types of collagen (I, II, III, IV, and X), and it’s developed from grass-fed hydrolyzed bovine, cage-free chickens, wild-caught fish, and eggshell membrane. It’s also tasteless, which means you can easily work it into your favorite soups, drinks, and more to enjoy the benefits.

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