Woman preparing her collagen drink

What Is Collagen? Types, Benefits & More

Collagen is becoming more and more popular – and not just in the beauty industry. Athletes, doctors, and senior citizens are all touting the use of this powerful supplement. So what is collagen anyway, and should you be using it?

Collagen has so many benefits and uses, but there are also so many types of collagen that it can be difficult to understand.

What is hydrolyzed collagen? Is Type I collagen better than Type II? Is topical collagen effective?

To use collagen to its full potential, it’s important to understand what collagen is, how it is used in your body, and the best type of collagen to take. 

Today we will cover all that and more. So you understand precisely how this incredible supplement can benefit you. Before we dive into all the great reasons to use collagen, let’s discuss what collagen is. 

What is collagen, exactly?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body – making up 30% of your total protein. It is strong but flexible, making it ideal for providing a durable and forgiving structure for your connective tissues. 

Where is collagen found? Almost everywhere. It’s a main structural component of your skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, organs, blood vessels, and more. 

What is collagen made from?

Collagen protein is made up of chains of amino acids. The main amino acids in collagen are proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline. These three amino acids form protein fibrils in the shape of a triple helix structure. 

In order to synthesize new collagen molecules, your body needs vitamin C, zinc, copper, and manganese on top of those amino acids. 

What is collagen used for in our bodies?

As we mentioned, collagen is a structural protein. It provides strength and support to your body’s connective tissues.

What is collagen used for specifically? Well, some of its roles include: 

  • Helping your blood to clot
  • Replacing dead skin cells
  • Protecting your organs
  • Making your skin elastic
  • Creating new cells
  • Healing wounds

As you can see, collagen is what your body uses for many, MANY processes. Of course, because there are so many roles for collagen protein, it also needs specialization. That’s why there are so many different types of collagen

What are the types of collagen?

As of writing this article, some 28 types of collagen have been identified. Each type of collagen has molecules that are assembled slightly differently – but they all have at least one triple helix structure. 

When most people talk about what collagen is, they are discussing Type I, Type II, or Type III collagen. These are the most abundant forms of collagen in your body. In fact, Type I collagen makes up a whopping 90% of your body’s collagen! 

Each type of collagen has its own specific role. Here are the five most common types of collagen and where they are located in your body:

Type I: What is collagen Type I? It’s the most common type of collagen that provides structure for your skin, tendons, ligaments, and bone. 

Type II: Type II collagen is found in your cartilage and helps provide joint support. 

Type III: Type III collagen is what is found in your muscles, organs, and arteries. 

Type IV: This type of collagen is what is used in the deep layers of your skin. 

Type V: The final common type of collage, Type V collagen, is found in your corneas, hair, some skin layers, and in placenta tissue. 

These are only five of the 28 types of collagen, and you can already see how widespread it is. Collagen is incredibly important to your body. But, if it already exists in your body, and your body produces collagen naturally, then why should you supplement with it?

Let’s examine why more and more people turn to collagen supplementation as they age. 

Why do people supplement with collagen?

Now you know what collagen is, and what collagen is used for in your body – but why do people supplement with it? 

Unfortunately, your body produces less and less collagen as you age. Women, in particular, see a large drop in natural collagen production after menopause. The collagen you DO have also starts to break down faster as you get older. 

This means you have less elastic skin (hello wrinkles!), take longer to heal, and feel more aches in your joints. As your collagen production continues to decrease, you can even end up with a collagen deficiency

While you can get more collagen in your diet through bone broth, gelatin, and certain animal products, collagen can’t easily be absorbed by your body in its whole form. 

If you want to truly get the benefits of collagen, it’s therefore much better to take a high-quality collagen supplement that has been formulated for easy digestion. 

But what are the benefits of taking collagen? Let’s take a look at some of the prime reasons to supplement with this protein. 

Benefits of collagen protein

Here are just a few of the benefits that collagen is known for:

Collagen can improve skin and hair health

The benefit to skin and hair is probably what collagen is best known for. And for good reason! Collagen has been proven to improve skin elasticity, hydration, texture, and density. 

Additional studies have found that collagen can stop hair thinning and improve hair growth rates, making this a wonderful beauty supplement. 

Collagen may prevent injuries

Of course, collagen is so much more than a beauty product. 

Collagen is what your body uses to naturally reinforce your tendons and ligaments. When you supplement with collagen, you provide your body with all the building blocks it needs to make your connective tissues more strong and flexible.

In turn, this helps your tissues to react more favorably against stress and strong forces. If your tendon or ligament can stretch (and not snap), you can prevent many sprains and other joint injuries. 

Collagen can speed wound healing

Collagen is trusted for use by doctors across the nation for use in healing. Collagen wound healing benefits have been proven time and time again in numerous studies, and this powerful supplement may even cut healing times in half!

Your body uses collagen protein to make new cells after surgery or injury. By providing your body with extra collagen, you allow your natural healing process to work much more smoothly. 

Collagen may improve gut health

Research suggests that collagen may improve digestive issues and diseases, including IBS and leaky gut syndrome. Collagen can bolster the health of your intestinal lining and help to reduce bloating and discomfort caused by digestive problems. 

Collagen can reduce arthritis symptoms

Nearly 25% of adults have arthritis. This frustrating (and painful) issue can truly affect your mobility and quality of life. Luckily, studies have shown that collagen can reduce pain and inflammation caused by osteoarthritis. 

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the benefits collagen is known for, but with just these examples, you can see why many people are choosing to take daily collagen supplements. 

But what is the best way to take collagen? In our opinion, it is hydrolyzed collagen

What is hydrolyzed collagen - and why does it matter?

Hydrolyzed collagen is the most bioavailable and effective type of collagen you can supplement with. 

What is hydrolyzed collagen? It is collagen that has been broken down into easy-to-digest pieces through the chemical process of hydrolysis. 

It’s important to look for a hydrolyzed collagen supplement because collagen in its whole form is much bigger than your stomach pores. This makes it difficult to digest, and much of the collagen will pass through your digestive tract before you can absorb it. 

If you take hydrolyzed collagen (or better yet nano-hydrolyzed collagen), the molecules are much smaller and easier to fit through your stomach pores. 

Nano-hydrolyzed collagen is collagen that has gone through the process of hydrolysis more than once. For example, the hydrolyzed collagen protein from ProT Gold has been hydrolyzed multiple times so that it is fully absorbable in just 15 minutes or less!

FAQs about collagen

Here are answers to common questions about what collagen is and how to use it:

How much collagen should I take per day?

We recommend a 13 gram (13,000mg) serving of collagen per day, which is approximately two level tablespoons per day, depending on your spoon size. You can take this all at once, or spread it across meals and beverages throughout the day.

What are collagen peptides?

What are collagen peptides? They are just another name for hydrolyzed collagen. 

Collagen peptides have been broken down into small pieces of amino acid chains – often containing just two or three amino acids per piece. This makes them very easy to digest. 

Does heat destroy collagen?

No! Heat doesn’t damage your collagen supplement. In fact, many people enjoy adding collagen to their morning coffee!  

Collagen can be mixed into both hot or cold beverages. And you don’t need to worry about your supplement losing potency if it sat out in the sun. 

How can you naturally boost collagen?

In addition to eating foods that contain collagen, there are certain foods that aid collagen synthesis and naturally boost your body’s collagen production. 

These collagen boosting foods include:

  • Foods high in vitamin C
  • Cilantro
  • Aloe vera
  • Ginseng
  • Berries
  • Garlic
  • Cashews
  • Tomatoes
  • Bell peppers

You may also be able to boost your natural collagen production through exercise and massage, and by eliminating sugar from your diet. 

Of course, all these things are only so effective. If you want to truly boost your collagen levels, you should use a regular collagen supplement in conjunction with these methods. 

Can you take collagen while pregnant?

Yes, collagen is safe to take while pregnant – and while breastfeeding. Collagen is a natural part of the human body, so it is completely safe for babies too! 

There are actually many benefits of collagen during pregnancy

How long does it take to notice the benefits of collagen?

How long does it take for collagen supplements to work? That depends on your age, your goals, the quality of your supplement, and your body’s current state. 

For most issues with skin, hair, joints, and wound healing, we would expect it to take two to three months to see full results from your supplement. 

If you have a collagen deficiency, you should start to notice changes much more rapidly as your body puts the new collagen source to work. 

Does collagen have any side effects?

No, collagen doesn’t have any side effects that you need to worry about. As we said, it’s already a natural part of your body, so you won’t be dealing with interactions or allergic reactions like you would with some supplements. 

As long as you follow the directions for use and take the recommended dosage, you shouldn’t experience any side effects. You may experience bloating and indigestion if you take more than the recommended amount, since your body can’t easily process that much protein at once. 

If you do experience side effects from your collagen supplement, it is most likely from one of the additives the company put into the product. If this is the case, stop use immediately and look for a high-quality hydrolyzed collagen supplement that doesn’t contain any sugars or additives.