Did you know that there are different types of collagen? In fact, there are 28 of them! While all types of collagen have their benefits, certain types are better than others when it comes to specific goals like weight loss or wound healing.
So, that begs the question: Which types of collagen are best? And, more importantly, what are the best types of collagen supplements to take?
Today we will explore the different types of collagen and the sources you can get them from, so you can get the most out of your collagen supplementation.
What are the different types of collagen?
While there are 28 known types of collagen, only five of them are commonly used in collagen supplements. But all of the types of collagen are only found in animal products. Why?
Collagen is a structural protein that makes up the connective tissues of animals - including humans. In fact, collagen is the most abundant protein in the animal kingdom, and makes up ⅓ of the protein in our bodies.
We need collagen for healthy skin, bones, muscles, joints, ligaments, and more. And, while it can naturally be produced by our bodies, our own collagen production starts to slow down by the time we turn 25.
So, if you’ve noticed a few extra wrinkles, or some new aches and pains you didn’t have growing up, you have low collagen levels to thank!
That’s why collagen supplementation is so important as we grow older. Our bodies can’t always make enough collagen to function optimally, and a collagen supplement can make up for that deficit.
And, while that may seem like a simple concept, it’s also where things get tricky.
There are SO MANY TYPES OF COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENTS on the market. It can be downright overwhelming to understand what types of collagen are best for you. But not to worry! That’s exactly what we’re here to help you understand.
Before we dive into the different sources of collagen, let’s talk about some of the common types of collagen themselves so you can understand what to look for in your supplements.
Here is a brief introduction to the five most common types of collagen:
Type 1 collagen
Type 1 collagen makes up 90% of your body’s collagen. It helps with forming your skin, tendons, blood vessels, and other connective tissues - which is why it is popular for both healing and beauty supplements.
Type II collagen
Type III collagen
Type III collagen is a component in your skin and organs. It is especially abundant in the intestines and is thought to aid in the synthesis of blood platelets. It is also often used when building muscle or working towards weight loss.
Type V collagen
Type V collagen helps to form interstitial fibers. This makes it a structural component in tendons and ligaments. It also creates placental cells, so it is thought to support neonatal development.
Type X collagen
Type X collagen is known as a network-forming collagen. It is thought to promote bone health and new bone growth.
These five types of collagen are not the only ones available to you. However, they are used in many available supplements.
Now that you have a general understanding of the types of collagen on the market, what are the different types of collagen supplements and sources available? Let’s take a look at the best ways to get your daily dose of collagen.
What are the different types of collagen sources?
There are many sources of collagen - from food to daily supplements - and not all of them are created equal. Here are some of the different sources of collagen:
Collagen found naturally in food
Since collagen is sourced from animal products, there are many different ways people choose to consume collagen naturally. Depending on the animal you consume or which part of their body you eat, it will determine the specific type of collagen it is.
Here are some of the commonly consumed animal products that contain collagen:
- Egg whites
- Bone broth
Although there are no plant-based collagen sources, there are some foods that may help boost your body’s natural collagen production. Some of these include:
- Citrus fruits
- Leafy greens
- Some herbs
Choosing bovine collagen (from cows) vs marine collagen (from fish) is an entirely personal choice. The food source of your collagen doesn’t matter so much as the fact that you’re getting it from food to begin with.
You see, collagen is naturally a rather big protein, which makes it very difficult to digest in its whole form. If you try to get the majority of your collagen in its natural form, your body won’t actually absorb most of what you ingest. That’s why collagen supplements are usually recommended.
Topical collagen supplements
While talking about collagen supplements, we need to touch on topical collagen.
Many cosmetics claim to rejuvenate your skin and strengthen your hair and nails with collagen. The thing is, topical collagen will never be as effective as collagen you ingest.
Most topical collagen supplements target skin health, so it may seem logical to put type 1 collagen directly on your skin. It’s the area you’re trying to help, after all!
Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work that way. Collagen molecules are not easily absorbed through the pores of your skin. And even if they do, it will only be in the outer layer. If you really want the best benefits of collagen for your skin, it’s actually better to take oral collagen supplements.
When you ingest a high-quality type 1 collagen supplement, your body can easily absorb it and send the collagen proteins to the areas of your skin where they are needed most.
Now comes the debate of collagen powder vs pills.
Some people prefer the ease of popping a few pills and carrying on with their day - no need for mixing any protein shakes.
But this might not be the most effective way to take your supplement.
Because pills are compressed or encased in a coating, your body has to work harder to digest pills than it does with a loose powder or liquid collagen supplement.
Of course, the real issue will come down to what types of collagen the pills contain, and if that collagen is hydrolyzed or not.
Hydrolyzed collagen has gone through the chemical process of hydrolysis. This process breaks collagen down into easier to absorb pieces, making your collagen supplements all that more effective.
Hydrolyzed collagen protein
When searching for a collagen supplement, it is most important to look for one that is hydrolyzed.
Why is this important?
Well, it massively affects the absorption of your supplement. You wouldn’t want to pay for a supplement and then only receive 10% of the potential benefits!
You see, collagen protein in its natural form is quite large. That’s why we don’t recommend trying to get all of your collagen from food alone. A single collagen molecule has a size of 30,000 daltons. (Daltons are used to express the mass of atoms and molecules.)
To give you perspective on this, our stomach pores only have a size of 4,000 daltons. In short - there is no way all those molecules are going through your stomach pores.
Sure, your stomach acid will help to break some of the molecules into absorbable pieces. But before you’ve been able to absorb much of your supplement, the collagen will continue on its way through your digestive tract and go, quite literally, to waste.
So, for your collagen supplement to be fully absorbed, it needs to fit easily through your stomach pores.
That’s where hydrolysis comes in.
Hydrolysis can break the collagen molecules down into a fraction of their original size. You can even do the process of hydrolysis multiple times so that the (now nano hydrolyzed) molecules are only a mere 2,000 daltons in size!
Hydrolysis makes your collagen supplements easier to digest, easier to absorb, and MUCH more effective. Hydrolyzed collagen supplements are often referred to as “collagen peptides,” which you can look for on the packaging of your supplement.
The great thing is, hydrolyzed collagen supplements come in both powder and liquid form. So, if you liked the ease of collagen pills, you might prefer a single-serve liquid pouch that you can toss back on the go.
Or, if you like the idea of mixing your collagen with coffee, smoothies, shakes, or yogurt bowls, then maybe you’d prefer a powdered supplement.
Whatever the case - just make sure it’s hydrolyzed!
FAQs about the different types of collagen
Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about collagen types and usage:
What is the healthiest type of collagen?
The healthiest type of collagen is one that has no additives or sugars mixed in. It’s also best for the collagen to be hydrolyzed for easy digestion.
What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 collagen?
Type 1 collagen is found in your skin and muscle fibers, whereas type 2 collagen (type II collagen) is found in your cartilage. As such, type 1 is better for healing and skin health, and type II collagen is better for joint health.
What is the best type of collagen for skin?
Hydrolyzed type 1 collagen is the best type of collagen for your skin. It is the most abundant type of collagen in your body, but begins to decline at age 25, so a type 1 collagen supplement may help with lines and wrinkles.
What is the best type of collagen for joints?
Type II collagen is the best collagen for joints. That’s because 60% of the makeup of cartilage is type II collagen! Many people find that type II collagen helps with arthritis symptoms and healing after joint surgeries.
How much collagen should I take?
Most supplements should list the recommended dosage, but if you’re still wondering: “How much collagen should I take?” the answer is - it depends!
Your age, lifestyle, and goals will all affect how much collagen you should take. That being said, generally speaking, you should ingest 5-15 grams of collagen up to three times a day.
What type of collagen is most effective?
Hydrolyzed collagen, also known as collagen peptides, is generally considered the best type of collagen to take. That’s because the molecules have been broken down into easily digestible pieces - making it easier for your body to absorb and utilize effectively.
There are numerous collagen peptides benefits, including that:
- It may cut wound healing time in half
- It may help prevent injuries from happening in the first place
- It may improve and maintain joint health
- It may promote healthy, youthful skin
- It may improve gut health
- It may assist in weight loss
In fact, if you want an even MORE effective collagen supplement, you can look for one that is nano hydrolyzed. This means it has gone through the chemical process of hydrolysis more than once to make the collagen extra bioavailable.
Nano hydrolyzed collagen supplements, like the medical-grade collagen from ProT Gold, are proven to fully absorb in just 15 minutes or less - making them extremely effective, indeed!
Whether you’re looking to lose weight, gain muscle, improve your skin, or recover from surgery, a nano hydrolyzed collagen supplement is your best bet for achieving the results you’re looking for.