Bovine collagen vs marine collagen

by Hannah de Gruchy December 22, 2021

Bovine collagen vs marine collagen

Collagen supplements are becoming ever popular as we take control of our health and make more informed, conscious decisions about how to look and feel our best. 

Knowing which collagen is right for us can be difficult because there are multitude of different types available.

Bovine collagen and marine collagen are two of the main supplement types available. They come from different animal sources and have different benefits.

Fast facts

  1. Collagen is an important protein that supports the health of the tissues in our skin, joints, muscles, bones, and blood vessels.
  2. It’s normal for collagen levels to decline as we age, leading some people to take collagen supplements or consume more collagen-rich or collagen-boosting foods.
  3. Bovine collagen is derived from cows and marine collagen is derived from fish.
  4. Vegetarian and vegan collagen sources do exist and derive from bacteria and yeast.
  5. There are five types of collagen in the human body, bovine collagen is rich in types I and III whilst marine collagen is rich in types I and to a lesser extent, type II.

What is collagen?

Collagen is a protein and like all proteins, it is made up of chains of amino acids. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body.

What is collagen skinThe most known role collagen plays, is in the health and structure of the skin. It acts as a cellular scaffold beneath the surface, helping to keep the skin supple, hydrated, elastic, and lifted.

Collagen also plays an important role in the health of other tissues including cartilage, muscles, bones, and those that make up our blood vessels.

As part of the natural ageing process, we gradually begin to lose collagen. This results in fine lines and wrinkles. It can also result in the loss of elasticity and hydration within the skin, plus a weakening of the joints, muscles and bones.

Collagen supplements come from various sources, the main two being bovine and marine.

What is bovine collagen?


Collagen powder
Bovine collagen is collagen derived from cow bones (although it can also sometimes be derived from other animals such as yaks, antelope, bison and water buffalo).


In order to extract bovine collagen, bones are boiled in water until the gelatinous collagen is visible on the surface. It’s then skimmed, dried and ground into a powder in order to make supplements.

Bovine collagen can remain as gelatin and be used in supplements or it can be treated to break it down into smaller molecules called hydrolysed collagen or collagen peptides, that are more easily absorbed.

What is marine collagen?

Marine collagen is collagen that’s derived from the fins, scales, skins and bones of fish. These are then dried and crushed and the collagen is extracted using acids and enzymes before it’s made into a powder.

Pros and cons of bovine and marine collagen

There are 20 different types of collagen in the body, all with slightly different molecular makeups and roles. The five main types of collagen are type I, II, III, IV and V.

  • Bovine collagen is rich in collagen types I and III which are the collagen types found most predominantly in the skin.
  • Marine collagen is a plentiful source of collagen types I and II, which are found in the skin as well as the cartilage that cushions the joints. 

For this reason, some people might take bovine supplements to support the health of their skin whilst others might take marine collagen supplements to manage the needs of both their skin and their joints. 


Bovine Collagen

Bovine collagen is particularly beneficial for promoting skin elasticity and hydration, as well as reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It’s best to choose bovine collagen sourced from grass fed cows.

Collagen from intensively reared cows may contain added antibiotics and growth hormones.

Bovine collagen is ideal for someone who already consumes animal products but is sensitive or allergic to fish and fish-based products. 

If choosing a bovine collagen, we recommend Planet Paleo organic collagen powder.


Marine Collagen

Marine collagen supplements are also beneficial for the skin by helping to support moisture levels within the skin and reducing the signs of ageing.

Some people prefer to take marine collagen supplements because they absorb into the bloodstream faster than bovine. Another reason for utilising marine collagen is that they fit into a pescatarian diet.

Choosing wild-caught marine collagen is considered a better, and cleaner option than farm reared marine collagen.

Marine collagen is also suited to anyone who makes choices considering their environmental impact – farming and harvesting fish creates less carbon dioxide than farming cows. Although both bovine and marine collagen is made using discarded parts of the animal, cows have a much higher carbon footprint than fish.

If choosing a marine collagen, we recommend Planet Paleo marine collagen powder.

What collagen is better, bovine or marine?

bovine or marine

Many people take collagen supplements for their skin, to help to minimise the signs of ageing. There is evidence to suggest that marine collagen may have the slight edge over bovine collagen due to both its smaller molecular size and the fact that it contains predominantly type I collagen (with lower levels of type II) which is found in the skin.

However, other studies suggest that bovine collagen is better as it’s very similar to human collagen.

When it comes to bovine collagen vs marine collagen and which one might be better, the choice is a personal one, based on your needs and dietary preferences.

Collagen supplementation

Taking collagen supplements can be a good way of increasing the levels of collagen in the body as they begin to naturally decline. This can help to support the health and youthful appearance of the skin on the outside, as well as the health of the tissues inside our joints, muscles, bones and blood vessels. 

Whether you decide to take bovine or marine collagen, choose one that either comes from grass-fed cows or wild caught marine sources to ensure you’re taking unadulterated collagen supplements. Need helping choosing your collagen? Send us a message or read our article on the best collagen supplements in the UK.

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Hannah de Gruchy
Hannah de Gruchy


Health and wellness author and biologist specialised in sustainability, nutrition and eco-living.

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