When cooking with fruits and vegetables, there is no question where our ingredients came from. Some still have leaves and roots attached! However, when it comes to makeup and natural supplements, the road our ingredients have traveled becomes a lot blurrier. How ethical are your ingredients?
We know protein is easy to secure through eating meat, but also that there are equally nutritious analogs in other plant-based sources. With a plant-based diet comes greater sustainability, but what of other health products, like collagen, amino acids, and creatine? Simply seeing their ingredients list doesn’t offer us much information when it comes to where they were sourced from or how ethically they were produced.
Our search for nutritional supplements that had ethical ingredients, were ethical in nature as well as sustainable, taught us a lot about where we source our cosmetics and food additives. This blog will go over some of the sustainable origins of popular nutritional supplements (as well as what they do) so that you can better search for your next ethical supplement.
Collagen is the magic that makes your skin elastic, your joints flexible, and your bones firm. It’s a type of protein in nearly every part of our bodies and is essential to daily function. Our bodies produce it naturally in three forms known as Type I, Type II, and Type III, with Type II being the most common for deficiencies.
When we cannot produce adequate Type II collagen, we experience lower joint and cartilage health. Luckily, this is where Ethical can help.
In terms of where supplemental collagen is sourced, there are four primary categories you will see on shelves:
Marine Collagen Powder – Sourced from fish or seaweed and known for high absorbability.
Animal Collagen Powder – Sourced from the bones and skin of beef and poultry.
Vegetarian Collagen Powder – Sourced from chicken egg whites and eggshells.
Vegan Collagen Powder – Sourced from low-cost bacterial synthesis.
As you consider these sources, examine how companies are working to reduce overharvesting, waste, and byproduct generation during the synthesis of consumer-grade collagen.
Amino Acids and ethical ingredients
When you think of ethical ingredients, do you think about amino acids? When your body breaks down muscles for regrowth, amino acids help restructure and shape the proteins to become bigger, stronger muscles. Additionally, amino acids help reduce muscle soreness, fatigue and are commonly prescribed to aid in health outcomes for those undergoing intensive surgeries or cancer treatments.
While vegans and vegetarians may have a more challenging time meeting their daily requirements for amino acids, many over-the-counter products that deliver BCAA’s (Branched-Chain Amino Acids) for faster muscle recovery, improved appetite, and more.
Similar to collagen, there are both animal and non-animal sources of BCAA’s. For meat-eaters, BCAAs are sourced from any animal protein source, as well as from eggs. For vegans, beans, nuts, soy, and lentils all contain BCAAs, but secondary supplementation will be required to draw the most benefit from the protein in your diet.
After you have talked to your physician about supplementing with BCAAs, look for signs of an excellent ethical amino acid producer. Signs will include a detailed listing of ingredients, commitment to reducing waste, and following all best testing practices.
Creatine is also an amino acid essential for building and maintaining muscle. They act as building blocks of protein, and supplementation can help muscles retain water. Using it before workouts lead to more appearances and more prolonged exercise times before exhaustion sets in. For bodybuilders working with heavy loads with fewer reps, having the ability to squeeze in even one extra rep is invaluable.
Luckily, there are plenty of natural sources of creatine before you begin supplementing. When the day comes to explore higher quantities, health and supplement shops will have a variety of easily-mixed powders to choose from. For vegans, creatine is typically sourced from seeds, whereas omnivores will have options that usually come from fish and beef.
Curiously, the ethics around creatine can have a lot to do with your area of exercise practice. While gym enthusiasts and sports lovers will undoubtedly enjoy the benefits, there are concerns that the chemical acts as a “performance-enhancing drug” and may dilute the quality of fair play in sports.
We’re not here to answer the debate, but it is a curious question – similarly to how our bodies produce endocannabinoids, but we can still “dope,” should we consider this natural product an ethical misstep for professional athletes? Let us know!
We hope to make the process of choosing ethical ingredients as well as choosing natural supplements stress-free. You can shop our catalog online or contact us for more information on what sets us apart from the rest in high-quality and ethical nutritional goods.
We’re passionate about giving bodies the comfort they need, both in spirit and health. Let us know if there are other nutritional questions you’d like to see answered, or check back here for more discussions that can help make our world a better, more thoughtful place.