Let's face it, when it comes to beauty and health supplements, a variety of pills and tonics abound. But with so many dietary supplements available, how do you know which ones will help your hair and nails — and which are duds? If you're struggling with hair loss, you want a products that pack a gentle but effective punch. And if healthy skin elasticity is your goal, you'll want something that offers a boost beyond a carefully curated diet.
Two of the most talked-about supplements that address these issues are undoubtedly biotin and collagen. Commonly uttered in the same breath, you might mistakenly believe they work toward the same goals, but biotin supplements and collagen supplements actually achieve different things. And one is vegan and vegetarian friendly, whereas the other is not. So, which one will align best with your wellness journey, and personal dietary goals?
What Is Biotin?
So many supplement aficionados and beauty editors consider biotin to be a beauty superstar, but what is it, and what does this vegan wonder do? Biotin is a b vitamin (also known as vitamin B-7 and vitamin H) that helps your body convert carbohydrates, protein and fat into energy. It's water-soluble, which means your body doesn't store it, and because there's no absorption, there's a relatively low risk associated with biotin supplementation.
Biotin is important for cell growth and fatty acid metabolism. It's essential for breaking down food, and the new cells and protein made in the process help strengthen the skin, muscles, nails, hair and bones.
Many people get the biotin they need from a consistent, nutritious diet, but biotin supplementation can undoubtedly help. Many claims suggest biotin is one of the B complex vitamins that can promote hair growth, prevent hair loss and boost nail health. It can also help improve the look of the skin across the body. Some claims suggest that biotin can help regulate blood sugar and keep pregnant women healthy too.
Alongside a biotin supplement, you could include these vegan foods in your diet to increase your intake:
- Various nuts
- Whole grains
If you choose to consume non-vegan foods, these foods are also rich in biotin:
- Egg yolk
- Organ meat
What Is Collagen?
The other supplement that gets beauty gurus talking is collagen. Collagen, a structural protein located in the connective tissues, is the most abundant protein in the human body. It accounts for about one-third of the body's protein composition, meaning collagen production is essential for healing joint pain. It promotes the health of your bones, skin and hair and keeps your muscles strong.
The production of collagen creates structure in blood vessels and arteries. Collagen breaks down into essential amino acids such as lysine, proline and glutamic acid. These then build new proteins and compounds. Collagen is a major component of muscles, skin, ligaments and tendons and is found in many other body parts. One of the benefits of collagen is that it acts as a fuse, or like glue, to hold everything together. As we age, our collagen production decreases, and our skin loses its elasticity. There are a few types of collagen, and Type I accounts for most of the body's collagen. It provides structure to the bones, teeth and more. Type I and III collagen are best for anti-aging and skin, nails and hair.
Collagen supplements are available but more often than not, they're not vegan though vegan collagen alternatives do exist.
Instead of a supplement, you can opt to add collagen-rich vegan foods in your diet, such as:
- Red peppers
- Citrus fruits
- Dark leafy greens
If your diet allows for animal products, these foods are also rich in collagen:
- Fish with the skin intact
- Bone broth
What's the Difference Between Biotin and Collagen?
Collagen and biotin might seem similar, but they have significant differences. The main difference between the two? Biotin is vegan, and collagen isn't — it's found in bone broth and other animal foods and parts. So if you're enjoying a vegan lifestyle, steer clear of collagen or seek alternative such as vegan biotin vitamins.
The Bottom Line
With supplements, it usually comes down to personal choice and trial and error. You can take biotin and collagen together, take them apart or try something completely different.
Overall, whether you choose a biotin supplement, a collagen supplement or both, the bottom line is to choose what feels right for you.
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