Which Collagen is Best for You? Explore the Differences Between Bovine, Marine & Vegan


We know that collagen is a fantastic nutrient for optimising our health and longevity, providing us with essential amino acids that many of our modern diets often lack. 

However, one thing is for sure; not all collagen is created equal. We always ensure to source the highest quality ingredients so that you can be safe in the knowledge that you are getting the best on the market. We are aware that with many variations hitting the shelves, it’s so easy to become overwhelmed and confused with which collagen to choose. To help bring you clarity, we’ll give you the low down on the different collagen sources so you can decide which is the best option for you. 


What sources of collagen are available?

Hydrolysed collagen peptides can be obtained from many different animal sources. Studies have looked at everything from sheep, pig, chicken, duck and rabbit skin however the most preferred sources to use as a functional food or supplements are bovine (cow) or marine (fish). The collagen is usually extracted from bones, skin (hide) or scales of the animal depending on the brand and what type of collagen you are utilising.

Whilst the health benefits of collagen are similar whichever type you choose, each source has its own unique advantages depending on factors such as molecular weight of the peptide chain, amino acid profile, solubility, and functional activity. (1). It is important to note here that there have not yet been any comparative studies which look at the beneficial effects of bovine vs marine collagen. Until such a time, we can only look at them as individual sources and glean what we can from the available studies. 


Bovine Collagen 

Bovine collagen can be extracted from different sources and tissues, however here at Ancient + Brave, we only use collagen taken from the hide, rather than derived from bone or cartilage. It is theorised that collagen sourced from the hide is the most pure and ‘clean’, as this part of the animal is constantly being regenerated and regrown throughout its life. 

Using the hide also means that this is an environmentally sustainable source of collagen, as the majority of the by-products from processing beef, such as the hide, would otherwise become waste. Sourcing bovine collagen from the EU also ensures that there is a reduction in carbon footprint, with less air miles to travel as well as tight regulations on the use of antibiotics, hormones and the welfare of the animals.

The source of collagen also impacts the particular ‘type’ found in each product. 

There are 28 different types of collagen in the human body.  Rather than looking at different types for different purposes, more important is how well it is absorbed and quality

Our True Collagen product is derived from hides containing mainly Type I collagen, but also contains a bit of Type III collagen (the younger the animal, the more type III present). However, after hydrolysis it’s impossible to analyse the amount of collagen peptides that originated from Type I and the amount that originated from Type III. As we can’t quantify it, we focus on Type I, but it is highly likely you are gaining benefits from both types.

Type III may have some benefits and is found in areas of the body such as the gut, however this hasn’t been widely tested through supplementation and the science is still very new. Bovine collagen is often the choice for those looking to support their gut as both types I and III are found in the intestinal lining and so may be beneficial in maintenance and repair (3). 

Importantly, Type I collagen is the most abundant and strongest type of collagen found in the human body,and is the most clinically tested, meaning it works the most effectively to heal and rebuild tissues. 

The amino acid profile is slightly different between bovine and marine, with bovine being higher in glycine and hydroxyproline (important for skin, muscle tissue and brain) and marine having more alanine (supportive for immune and recovery). So far, there tends to be more research around bovine collagen.

As well as the generalised improved skin, hair and joint use, studies have found further benefits in bovine collagen which include antioxidant, antimicrobial and antihypertensive activity (2). 

Bovine collagen is also free from the top 14 major allergens making it a preferred product for those especially with shellfish or fish allergies. Ancient + Brave's True Collagen is the highest quality, 100% bovine hydrolysed collagen peptides.


Marine Collagen 

One of the biggest pros to a marine based collagen is the amino acid profile as it is thought to display a high resemblance to the amino acid profile found in human collagen. 

The peptide molecules in marine collagen products are often described as smaller in size, which means potentially this source of collagen is absorbed more efficiently, making it slightly more bioavailable for target tissues to utilise. However, we have ensured that in terms of molecular weight, both our True and Wild collagen are approximately 5000 daltons, the optimal weight for absorption according to studies. 

This small particle size simply allows quicker and easier uptake and transportation of the collagen peptides to the skin, bones and joints for the production of new collagen (4). Some also believe that the molecular structure of marine collagen makes it easier to digest, which may be an important factor if you have any digestive issues or have experienced any digestive discomfort with other collagen sources. 

Historically, marine collagen has been a favourite in the beauty industry for its impact on skin health. Rich in the amino acid hydroxyproline, an essential component of skin and other connective tissues, marine collagen has been shown in studies to improve skin elasticity hydration and reduce the appearance of wrinkles (5) however these studies haven’t yet compared the results with a similar quality bovine collagen source which also shows great benefits for the skin.  

As with the bovine collagen, marine sources are also considered environmentally sustainable. It creates even less greenhouse gas emissions and the majority of the by-products from fish production that usually becomes waste can instead be used for collagen peptide products. 

From a dietary perspective, marine collagen is also a great choice for those on a pescatarian or halal diet. Our new Wild Collagen provides 100% hydrolysed collagen peptides from sustainably sourced, MSC certified wild caught whitefish.



As plants do not create their own collagen, there isn’t a vegan source of pure collagen per se - however by supplementing with amino acids specific to collagen and Vitamin C for the synthesis of collagen, we can use this as a ‘vegan’ substitute. 

The long amino acid chains that help to form the large collagen molecule are mainly made up of 5 key amino acids (although others do feature). These are glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, arginine and alanine. Therefore, instead of using a direct animal source of collagen peptides, good quality vegan ranges contain generous amounts of all 5 of these amino acids, from vegan or fermented sources. Vitamin C is a key cofactor for the enzymes which build new collagen molecules, therefore products which feature this as an additional extra will further support the body in the natural production of collagen. 

Whilst there is yet to be robust comparative studies of vegan collagen against marine or bovine in terms of health benefits and outcomes, the key attribute of a vegan version is no doubt the environmental impact. When the vegan amino acids are sourced and produced in a sustainable way, there is an environmental benefit as well as an animal welfare advantage.

Ancient + Brave's innovative vegan Collagyn range contains the 5 main amino acids found in collagen from vegan and fermented sources, alongside beautiful botanicals which provide the body with important antioxidants , intelligent nootropics and bioactive nutraceuticals. With added vegan nutrients such as choline, biotin, zinc and vitamin D3, that are typically hard to come by in a vegan diet, this is a great vegan alternative to hydrolysed collagen. 



Let’s summarise  


  • Associated health benefits from supplementing - all sources are very similar (improved skin health, healthy hair, joint and bone support, muscle repair)  
  • Flavourless
  • Odourless 
  • Easy to use within drinks



  • Typically used to improve gut and joint health 
  • Environmentally sustainable source of collagen, as the majority of the by-products from processing becomes waste e.g. hide of the animal 
  • Rich in Type I collagen, naturally occurring Type III also in small amounts
  • Made in the EU from EU cattle, free from antibiotics and hormones. 
  • Top 14 allergen free
  • Preferred product for those with shellfish/fish allergies



  • Marine peptide molecules are generally smaller in size, potentially making them slightly more bioavailable and absorbable
  • Rich in Type I collagen
  • Wild Caught, not farmed 
  • Shown to improve skin elasticity hydration and reduce the appearance of wrinkles
  • Environmentally sustainable source of collagen. Produces less greenhouse gas emissions and because the majority of the by-products of fish processing usually becomes waste  - e.g. fish skin
  • Suitable for pescatarians or halal





How do you choose?

Ultimately the answer to this question will vary from person to person. Whilst collagen in any format is no doubt an amazing health optimising nutrient, your personal choice on whether you will benefit most from marine, bovine or vegan sourced collagen will depend on many factors including; dietary preferences, allergies, intolerances, health needs and also lifestyle. 

What is important however, is to find a high quality supplement that delivers results, whilst also ticking the boxes to ensure you take it consistently and can include it easily into your day. 



  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6891674/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23870967/
  3. https://www.gastrojournal.org/article/0016-5085(88)90411-8/pdf 
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7230273/ 
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4278207/