Bovine (Beef) vs. Marine (Fish) Collagen: Which One Should I Take?

a white scoop containing white collagen powder in front of a white bowl containing white collagen powder with an out of focus daisy in the background

Bovine (beef) collagen is a type 1 and 3 collagen product sourced from cow hides. It is relatively inexpensive and is typically used to improve gut and joint health. Marine (fish) collagen is made from fish skin and scales, and contains primarily type 1 collagen. Marine collagen has high bioavailability, is sustainably produced, and in clinical studies has been shown to help reduce wrinkle depth and increase skin moisture levels.

But which one is right for you?

With multiple collagen options, the choice can be confusing, but keep reading to find out more about the differences between these two popular collagen supplements.

In this article you will learn:

Bovine Collagen Production and Sourcing

Bovine (or beef) collagen comes from cows and is the most common source of collagen in supplements.

After harvesting the cattle for their meat, the cow hides (skins) are removed, and then treated to extract their collagen protein. During this process, the proteins are hydrolyzed, which breaks down the collagen proteins into smaller, more digestible amino acids.

These hides can be sourced from either conventional feedlot cattle or grass-fed and -finished cattle, so consumers need to specifically look for grass-fed beef if they want to avoid consuming a collagen product produced by inhumane means.

Much of the grass-fed collagen currently available comes from countries that have a long history of grass-fed cattle production, like Argentina. Argentinian cattle graze on grass all year long and are not treated with artificial growth hormones or excessive antibiotics, making bovine collagen sourced from this country an excellent choice for consumers.

How Bovine Collagen Works

Bovine collagen consists mainly of type 1 and type 3 collagen, two types of collagen that play a major role in the growth and repair of bones, tendons, ligaments, and skin.

For the body to build its own type 1 and 2 collagen, it needs a ready supply of amino acids like glycine and proline, and there is no better source of these amino acids than—you guessed it—collagen!

When consumed daily (perhaps via a delicious Dairy-Free Keto Coffee), collagen supplements give the body all the amino acids it needs to regenerate healthy connective tissue.

Health Benefits and Uses of Bovine Collagen

  • Reduced Joint Pain: From common joint pain to osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, bovine collagen stimulates cartilage production, which can cushion joints and reduce joint pain.
  • Improved Gut Health: Collagen can reduce symptoms of “leaky gut” by helping your body to repair microscopic holes in the gut lining.
  • Better Recovery: The amino acids in collagen can help speed athletic recovery when taken after a workout.
  • Increased Strength: Collagen can make the recycling of ATP (the energy currency in your cells) more efficient, which helps increase muscular strength and power.

Why You Should Choose Bovine Collagen

Bovine collagen is easy to find and can be purchased from most natural food stores, supplement stores, or online. Because the beef industry is a large one, bovine collagen is also relatively inexpensive.

Bovine collagen is also a great choice if you have shellfish allergies and are unable to take marine collagen for that reason.

Marine Collagen Production and Sourcing

Although stocks and stews made from fish bones have long been consumed by people in many traditional cultures, marine collagen supplements are a relatively new addition to the supplement scene.

To produce marine collagen supplements, fish skin and scales—things that used to be thrown away as waste—are hydrolyzed in the same manner as cattle hides in bovine collagen production.

When sourced via sustainable fisheries or from the wild, marine collagen from fish such as salmon and red snapper has little negative impact on the environment and is about as sustainable as an animal product can be.

How Marine Collagen Works

In the body, marine collagen works the same way as bovine collagen, by providing amino acids essential to building strong, healthy connective tissue.

Unlike bovine collagen, however, marine collagen is almost exclusively type 1 collagen, and the peptide molecules are smaller in size, making them slightly more bioavailable and absorbable.

Marine collagen is also especially rich in the amino acid hydroxyproline, which is an essential component of skin, blood vessel walls, and other connective tissues.

Health Benefits and Uses of Marine Collagen

  • Fewer Wrinkles: Marine collagen rebuilds tissues to increase skin elasticity and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
  • Reduced Signs of Aging: Marine collagen is rich in antioxidants, which block free radicals and protect skin from oxidation and aging.
  • Healthier Skin: Marine collagen has been scientifically proven to help increase skin moisture levels and help protect against the harmful effects of UV exposure and photoaging.

Why You Should Choose Marine Collagen

Marine collagen is the perfect choice for pescatarians or people who avoid beef products.

Its beneficial effects on the skin also make it ideal for those with an interest in enhanced beauty and anti-aging.

Despite being sourced from fish, marine collagen has no fishy smell or taste because all the fish oils are removed during processing. It can therefore be added to coffee or tea, and won’t affect the taste or smell of food.

Bovine Collagen vs. Marine Collagen: The Verdict

Whether you choose bovine or marine collagen, you really can’t go wrong.

Both provide powerful health benefits and, with regular use, will help your body stay beautiful and strong.

The deciding factor comes down to your personal preferences, dietary restrictions, and health concerns, like allergies.

By reading an article such as this one, however, you’ve taken a big step toward becoming a more informed consumer and are now empowered with the information you need to make the right choice for yourself!


Also published on Medium.