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Bovine Collagen vs Marine Collagen: What is the Difference?

by George Boskos
Bovine Collagen vs Marine Collagen: What is the Difference?

This article in a nutshell: Collagen is an integral protein in the human body. Collagen is essential in keeping hair and skin looking healthy and smooth, and increasing bone strength and muscle mass. There are two types of supplemental collagen available: bovine and marine. Each has its unique benefits.

study “found a significant increase in collagen density and skin firmness” after 12 weeks of use.

VitaBright’s Marine Collagen Complex is created with superior quality ingredients and an advanced formula that improves the health of the skin, increasing smoothness and decreasing the appearance of fine lines, aiding in bone strength and density, and boosting collagen production in the body. 

    Deciding between bovine collagen and marine collagen can be confusing, but there are key differences between the two that can help make your decision easier. Read on to find all the information you need to decide which is best for you.


    Introduction - Bovine Collagen vs Marine Collagen: What is the Difference?

    Aging is a natural process in life, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could slow down that process? Fortunately, there is something that can help. With its ability to rejuvenate skin, hair, and nails, collagen is quickly rising in popularity.

    Although its rising popularity is for good reason, there is more to this super protein than meets the eye. You may be aware that collagen can help you age gracefully, but what you probably don’t know is that there are as many as 28 different types of collagen.

    The forms of edible collagen products available in the market range from powders, pills, bars, gummies, and shake. What all these supplements have in common is that they are mostly extracted from two sources: bovine collagen and marine collagen.  

    Understanding the differences between bovine collagen and marine collagen can be confusing, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed when you have to decide which one to pick.

    But don’t worry—we have compiled all the differences between the two major types of collagen so that you have all the information you need to make the right choice.

    What do you need to know about collagen?

    What is collagen? 

    Collagen is the most abundant structural protein produced by animals, comprising one-third of the total protein in the human body. That makes it one of the major components of the extracellular matrix.

    Along with this, the insoluble fibrous protein is also the main component of structures like bones, tissues, teeth, skin, muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, joints, and the walls of blood vessels.

    A single collagen molecule consists of three helical polypeptide chains that wind around each other to create a triple helix structure. Two of the primary amino acids that make up the triple helix are glycine and proline.

    Collagen is an especially important structural protein because its tightly wound structure gives it great tensile strength without compromising on flexibility. This lets the molecule support a large amount of force.

    When you are young, your body produces sufficient amounts of collagen, which is known as endogenous collagen and is mostly secreted by connective tissue cells. This collagen forms a network of fibroblast cells in the dermal layer of your skin, making it smooth, plump, and more elastic.

    With its role as a supportive protein, collagen is often considered the glue that helps bind the body together. The word ‘collagen’ is derived from the Greek word ‘kólla’, or glue.

    Why do you need collagen?

    Collagen is an integral protein in the human body. Its elasticity and water retention capabilities make it a major contributor to skin smoothness and elasticity.

    Research has proven that collagen can promote skin youthfulness, strengthen your joints and bones, improve gut health, and even prevent wrinkles.

    Since it plays a significant role in promoting internal and external body health, collagen is considered an indispensable protein. You might be thinking—if the human body naturally produces it, what is the point of taking collagen supplements? Studies show that by the average age of 20, our body’s natural collagen production begins to decrease by 1% each year.

    Although this decrease in collagen production can start as early as the age of 18, the effects are most prominent by the age of 40, when you start developing saggy skin, wrinkles, and thinning hair. By approximately age 80, your body’s natural collagen production decreases by 75%.

    Along with the natural decrease in collagen production caused by aging, several other factors also play a role in depleting your collagen reserves. These include exposure to UV light, smoking, and consuming too much sugar and processed carbohydrates.

    For these reasons, collagen supplements are becoming increasingly popular in the health and beauty world. Not only do they help in aging gracefully, but edible collagen products can also help promote bone and joint strength. There is also evidence of collagen helping prevent preventing osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.

    In short, consuming collagen supplements is a good idea, especially when you consider the factors that affect the body’s ability to produce it.

    What are the different types of collagen?

    Research has determined that there are as many as 28 different types of collagen found in nature. However, only three of these (collagen types I, II, and III) make up the bulk of collagen naturally found in the human body.

    Up to 90% of the collagen in our bodies consists of collagen Type I, making it the most abundant protein in the body. Collagen Type I is found in skin, bones, ligaments, tendons, and teeth.

    Collagen Type II is the major type of collagen found in cartilage, and it plays an important role in protecting the joints.

    Collagen Type III is abundant in the skin and provides structural support to connective tissues like intestinal walls and blood vessels.

    So, if these are the main types of collagen found in the body, what exactly are bovine collagen and marine collagen?

    Bovine and marine collagen are examples of collagen that the human body does not produce itself but can be found in supplements. They are both composed of collagen types I, II, and III, albeit in different ratios. What is important to remember here is that the source of your collagen is not the same as the type of your collagen.

    Bovine and marine are collagen extracted from different sources. The former is from cows and the latter from fish, but they both have the same amino acids as that of collagen found in humans. The only difference is the ratio of collagen types I, II, and III.

    What do you need to know about bovine collagen?

    What is bovine collagen?

    Bovine collagen peptides mostly contain Type I and Type III and are extracted from cowhides and bones.

    Bovine-sourced collagen supplements are the ones most easily found in stores and are mainly available as powders. These supplements can come from conventionally raised or grass-fed cattle. This means they are sourced from cows that only ate grass and forage, making the latter a healthier option for collagen.

    After the cows are harvested for meat, their by-products—including cowhides and bones—are hydrolysed and processed into collagen powder supplements through boiling, evaporation, and milling techniques.

    What are the uses of bovine collagen?

    Bovine-sourced collagen has a wide range of benefits that make it a good collagen supplement option. 

    • Research has determined that bovine collagen peptides can increase collagen types I and III. These are the types involved in reinforcing the skin and cartilage. This makes bovine collagen supplements especially important as our natural collagen reserves begin depleting as we grow older.
    • Bovine collagen supplements are known to promote skin elasticity and smoothness as well as have an anti-aging effect. A study conducted in 2014 found that 15% of women who consumed a hydrolysed bovine collagen supplement had a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles after 60 days, 32% had decreased sun damage, and 39% had increasingly hydrated skin. Another study conducted in 2013 determined that consuming hydrolysed collagen supplements containing 2.5 to 5 grams of collagen enhanced skin elasticity and hydration after four weeks.

    • Bovine-sourced collagen has also been proven to improve gut health. Research studies have shown that glycine in Type I collagen can promote digestion by increasing the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which helps prevent heartburn, acid reflux, and IBD. The Type III collagen in bovine collagen supplements contains glycine and glutamine that help prevent a leaky gut by strengthening the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Along with this, bovine collagen can also treat a leaky gut by repairing the microscopic holes in the gut lining.

    • Recent studies have also suggested that bovine collagen could help relieve the pain caused by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis by increasing cartilage production that helps in cushioning the joints.

    • Since bovine-sourced collagen is rich in amino acids, it can be used to accelerate the process of athletic recovery after working out.

    • Bovine collagen supplements also speed up ATP recycling, which enhances muscle strength and power.

    Why should you choose bovine collagen?

    From the list above, it is obvious that there are multiple benefits to taking bovine collagen supplements. But what makes it different from marine collagen?

    One of the advantages of choosing bovine collagen over marine collagen is that it is a more cost-effective option than marine collagen. Because bovine collagen supplements are less expensive to produce, they are more widely available.

    Bovine collagen is also a better option than marine collagen if you suffer from shellfish allergies. In general, bovine collagen supplements have a lower allergic potential than marine collagen supplements. Along with this, bovine-sourced collagen does not have a beefy smell or taste, so it can easily be mixed into drinks.

    Bovine collagen has been proven to be better for muscles and joints than marine collagen. Studies have shown that bovine collagen can be useful in building up muscle mass in individuals suffering from sarcopenia (muscle loss that occurs as a result of aging). This is likely because bovine collagen comprises Type III collagen, which is a major constituent of muscles.

    What do you need to know about marine collagen?

    What is marine collagen?

    Marine collagen peptides primarily consist of collagen type I, with small traces of collagen type II. They are extracted from fish skin, bones, and scales.

    Fish species, such as red snapper and cod, are popular sources of marine collagen. They can either be wild or raised in captivity.

    Once the collagen is extracted from the fish skin, scales, and bones, it is processed through enzymatic hydrolysis to create a flavourless powder. This powder can be directly used as a supplement or it can be further processed to create pills, health bars, gummies, or shakes.

    What are the uses of marine collagen?

    Marine collagen mainly consists of collagen type I, which makes it a great source of collagen peptides, as type I collagen is the most common in the body, and research has determined it to be the best for consumption.

    Type I collagen is the most abundant, as well as the strongest type of collagen found in the human body. It helps in reducing wrinkles and fine lines and rejuvenates hair, skin, and nails. It also helps enrich skin hydration and elasticity and speed up muscle recovery.

    These properties of Type I collagen help enhance the benefits of marine collagen. Below are other benefits to marine collagen that may be helpful.

    • Marine collagen supplements play an important role in reducing wrinkles as they restore tissues and improve skin elasticity.
    • Research has determined that marine collagen peptides help build bone strength by increasing the absorption of minerals like calcium and phosphorus that are required for bone growth.
    • Marine collagen peptides help diminish the signs of aging as they are a good source of antioxidants. This means that they grant skin protection from free radical stress and injury.
    • Research has shown that collagen supplements help give you glowing, healthier skin by preventing moisture loss and photoaging caused by UV exposure.
    • Studies have determined that marine collagen supplements could play an important role in strengthening hair and nails, as well as stimulating hair growth.
    • Research studies have also shown that marine collagen peptides could increase collagen synthesis in bones by promoting osteoblast activity and increasing the absorption of calcium and other minerals required for bone strength.

    Why should you choose marine collagen?

    Marine collagen has a plethora of benefits, but what exactly makes it different from bovine collagen and why should you choose marine-sourced collagen supplements?

    One of the biggest advantages of choosing marine collagen supplements over bovine collagen supplements is that marine-sourced collagen has the greatest bioavailability.

    It is absorbed 1.5 times more efficiently into the body because of its small particles. This means that it can be absorbed and broken down more quickly for rejuvenation of skin, bones, and hair, giving you faster results. Marine collagen particles resemble human collagen particles the most, which also aids in their quick absorption and digestion. 

    Since marine collagen acts quicker than bovine collagen, it is considered a better option. With its quick absorption rates, marine collagen helps in giving you healthier, younger-looking skin. It is also considered a more effective supplement for processes like wound healing.

    Along with this, marine-sourced collagen is more environmentally friendly than bovine-sourced collagen. According to the UN, nearly 50 million tons of fish are wasted every year, and if these were used to make collagen supplements, not only would it be cost-effective, but it would also be good for the environment.

    Adding to this, fish protein releases fewer greenhouse gasses than other meat products, including cow products. 

    So, although cowhides are by-products of the cattle-farming industry, they have negative effects on the environment because of their large carbon footprint. 

    The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has determined that 14.5% of all human-produced greenhouse gas emissions are due to livestock farming, with beef and bovine milk production contributing to 41% and 19% of those emissions.

    Another thing to note: when marine-sourced collagen comes from wild fish or fish procured from sustainable fisheries, your collagen supplements are free from drugs, like antibiotics or hormones. This makes marine-sourced collagen the safest and cleanest form of collagen supplementation on the market.

    Marine collagen is also a great option for pescatarians and for individuals who cannot consume beef products. Another important point to remember is that although they are sourced from fish, marine collagen supplements do not have a “fishy” smell or taste and their powdered version can easily be added to any drink.


    Can you take both bovine and marine collagen at the same time?

    Yes, you can take both bovine and marine collagen.

    As you can tell by now, both bovine vs marine collagen have their unique properties, and taking both means that you get to avail the benefits of each.

    The only thing you need to be mindful of is a potential allergic reaction. Once you are certain that you do not have any allergies to these components, you can take both supplements simultaneously or at different times during the day.

    Many people take both bovine- and marine-sourced collagen because that allows them to enjoy the advantages of the different types and ratios of collagen in both supplements.

    For example, marine collagen is a good option for people who want quick results or healthier hair and nails, while bovine collagen is great for people who want to build up muscle mass. If you want to do both, then a combination of bovine and marine collagen could be just the thing for you.

    Bovine Collagen vs Marine Collagen: Conclusion

    Both bovine collagen and marine collagen supplements are great sources of collagen and will help your body retain its strength and vitality with consistent use.

    Consider your dietary restrictions, individual preferences, and personal health issues when deciding between bovine vs marine collagen.

    What matters is that you are well-informed about your own body and its functions, so you can work towards healthy well-being.

    If you prioritize youthful-looking skin, thick hair, and shiny nails, then marine collagen would be an ideal option for you. If you want to focus more on muscle strength, joint mobility, and a healthy gut, then bovine collagen is the right way to go. It is also important to remember that you can always take a combination of bovine and marine collagen as long as you do not have any allergies.

    In the end, whatever supplement you decide to take, it is essential to do your research on the product and its sources so that you can ensure its quality, cleanliness, effects, and any potential side effects.

    By reading an article like this, you have already made the first step in taking charge of your health. You may now have a better grasp of why you might need collagen supplements and what supplements are available for use. This is an important step in empowering yourself with the knowledge needed to make the choice that fits you best.  

    Marine Collagen Complex


    by George Boskos
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