Collagen is an abundant protein in your body and likewise found in numerous animals.

It serves as one of the major building blocks in skin, bones, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and blood vessels (1, 2).

Notably, this protein is also widespread as a supplement and food additive. What’s more, it’s been gaining popularity in the cosmetic industry as a potential remedy to reduce the effects of skin aging.

Bovine collagen is a form of this protein that’s mainly derived from cows.

It’s associated with several health benefits, including arthritis relief, improved skin health, and bone loss prevention.

This article tells you everything you need to know about bovine collagen, including its forms, benefits, and uses.

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Collagen is naturally produced by your body, but you can also obtain it from foods and supplements.

Most supplements are derived from a variety of animal and plant sources, the most common of which are bovine animals, pigs, and marine species like fish, jellyfish, and sponges. Less common sources include genetically modified yeast and bacteria (2, 3).

Bovine species include yak, antelope, bison, water buffalo, and cows — but bovine collagen comes primarily from cows.

To make it, cow bones or other cattle byproducts are boiled in water. After the collagen is extracted, it’s dried and powdered to form a supplement (4).

Bovine vs. marine collagen

Over 20 types of collagen exist in your body, each with a specific role. The main types are collagen I, II, III, and IV (3, 5).

Collagen supplements provide different types depending on their source.

Bovine collagen has been found to increase types I and III collagen, whereas marine collagen boosts types I and II (3, 4).

The collagen in your skin is primarily made up of types I and III collagen, meaning that bovine collagen may be especially useful for reducing wrinkles, promoting elasticity, and increasing skin moisture (4).

Meanwhile, marine collagen may improve cartilage and skin health. What’s more, some studies suggest that it carries a lower risk of transmitting diseases, has fewer inflammatory effects, and boasts a higher absorption rate than bovine collagen (2, 6).

Marine collagen is still relatively new. Nonetheless, research has shown promising health benefits for bone tissue regeneration, anti-wrinkling effects, UV radiation protection, and wound healing (3, 7, 8, 9).

summary

Collagen, an abundant protein in your body, can also be obtained from cows, pigs, or marine species. In particular, bovine collagen is made by boiling cow bones and other cattle byproducts.

As you age, your body’s collagen production naturally declines and can cause many health issues, including bone, joint, and skin problems.

Other factors affect collagen production as well.

Individuals who smoke, eat a lot of sugary or refined carbs, or are exposed to excess sunshine are also at risk of decreased collagen production (10, 11, 12).

As such, bovine collagen supplements may help counter the effects of lower collagen levels. Still, more human research is needed on all of these potential benefits.

May help alleviate osteoarthritis symptoms

Bovine collagen may relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis, a common type of arthritis caused by the disintegration of the protective cartilage at the ends of your bones. It can lead to pain and stiffness in your hands, knees, and hips, among other body parts (13).

In a test-tube study in mouse cells, bovine collagen increased bone formation and mineralization, which may aid osteoarthritis (14).

Furthermore, in a 13-week study in 30 people with osteoarthritis affecting their knees, those given 5 grams of bovine collagen twice daily experienced improvements in symptoms (15).

May decrease visible signs of aging

Bovine collagen may improve the symptoms of aging skin by raising the quality and quantity of skin collagen.

While an 8-week study in older mice indicated that bovine collagen supplements did not enhance skin moisture, they did significantly improve the skin’s elasticity, collagen content, collagen fibers, and antioxidant activity (5).

May prevent bone loss

Bovine collagen has also been shown to prevent bone loss in several animal studies (14, 16, 17).

As such, it may help combat osteoporosis, a condition in which your bone density declines. People with osteoporosis have a higher risk of fractures.

In a 12-week study, rats given an oral supplement containing bovine collagen and calcium citrate experienced significantly reduced bone loss (16).

summary

Bovine collagen has several potential benefits, including improved skin health and relief of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis symptoms. All the same, more human studies are needed to verify these effects.

The two main types of bovine collagen supplements are gelatin and hydrolyzed collagen, which differ primarily in how they’re used.

Gelatin is cooked collagen. It typically comes in powdered form and is largely used in desserts, as it causes liquids to gel. You may already consume bovine collagen if you eat jello, gravy, custards, or other foods containing this additive.

On the other hand, hydrolyzed collagen is collagen that has been broken down into smaller proteins, which are easier for your body to absorb. It’s very convenient and can easily be added to any hot or cold liquid, such as coffee.

Hydrolyzed collagen can be found in various forms, including powders, tablets, and capsules.

If you want to use collagen in your beauty routine, multiple facial and body creams include this protein in their formulas due to its potential benefits for your skin.

How to use bovine collagen

Though a dosage recommendation has not been set for bovine collagen, it has been recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (18).

Some people take hydrolyzed collagen as a pill, while others mix its powdered form into various drinks, such as coffee, orange juice, or smoothies. It can also be added to baked goods and sweets like pancakes, crepes, pudding, yogurt, muffins, cakes, and brownies.

Gelatin should be reserved for thickening liquids or making custards and gummies.

summary

Bovine collagen is primarily consumed as gelatin or hydrolyzed collagen supplements. While gelatin is typically used as a food additive in desserts, hydrolyzed collagen is taken as a pill or mixed into various foods and beverages.

Bovine collagen is a common food additive and supplement derived from cows.

Though more studies are needed, it’s associated with many health benefits, such as improved skin health and bone loss prevention.

Bovine collagen is safe and easy to add to your diet. If you don’t want to take a pill, you can mix collagen powder into smoothies, coffee, baked goods, and other snacks, desserts, and drinks.