Collagen is the most common protein in your body. It’s an essential building block for your skin, connective tissue (like joints and ligaments), hair, bones, teeth, and muscles[*].
In recent years, collagen supplements have become popular as a way to improve your skin, strengthen your joints, and more.
But what are the different types of collagen supplements, and which one is best?
You may have seen collagen peptides before. They’re the best-studied type of collagen supplement and seem to be the most beneficial.
Here’s a look at what collagen peptides are, the benefits of collagen, and why you may want to incorporate collagen into your daily routine.
Collagen peptides are a broken down, easy-to-absorb version of whole collagen.
Collagen is a complex protein that forms large, sprawling webs of interconnected tissue. It’s tough and fibrous, yet stretchy, which makes it perfect for things like skin and joints.
However, collagen’s toughness also makes it difficult to digest. If you consume whole collagen protein, you won’t absorb the majority of it.
For that reason, the best collagen supplements are hydrolyzed –– a chemical process that breaks them down into peptides.
Peptides are short chains of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Collagen in peptide form is much easier for your body to digest and absorb[*]. It can then use the amino acids to rebuild its own collagen sites.
Collagen peptides are unusually high in glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline –– three rare amino acids that are essential building blocks of joints, ligaments, and skin.
When you take a collagen supplement (along with vitamin C, which is a co-factor for collagen production), you provide your body with an abundance of the exact amino acids it needs to strengthen those joints, ligaments, and skin.
Here are five science-based health benefits to taking collagen.
1. Better Skin
Studies show that taking collagen peptides leads to smoother, more youthful skin.
A 2015 study found that when people took collagen peptides daily for eight weeks, their skin became significantly denser and more hydrated, and overall they had fewer signs of skin aging[*]. The benefits also persisted for at least another four weeks after the people stopped taking collagen, suggesting that the changes are long-term.
Another study found that women who took collagen daily fo eight weeks saw increased skin hydration and had fewer wrinkles, more skin elasticity, and biologically younger skin[*].
2. Stronger Joints
Collagen is a major component of joints and ligaments. As you age, your body’s natural collagen production decreases, and your risk of developing joint pain and damage increases[*].
However, research suggests that collagen supplements can help your joints function better and may protect against age-related collagen loss[*].
A 2012 study found that people who took a daily collagen peptide supplement saw a significant improvement in symptoms of osteoarthritis, especially when it came to joint pain and decreased joint range of motion[*].
Collagen may help with athletic performance too. Younger athletes who took collagen daily saw better overall joint health and range of motion during an intense workout schedule, as well as less activity-related joint pain[*].
3. Stronger Bones
Collagen is also a major component of bones –– and like with joints, as you age, your bone collagen density decreases and your risk of injury increases[*].
One study found that women who took five grams of bovine hide collagen (collagen from cowhides) daily for a year saw a 7% increase in bone density in their necks and spines[*].
4. Better Heart Function
Collagen is an essential part of your arteries. It keeps them flexible and guards against arterial hardening, an issue that contributes to heart disease risk as you age[*].
The effects of collagen on heart function are not as well-studied as the other benefits in this article. However, there’s promising early research on collagen and heart health.
A 2017 study found that people who took collagen daily for six months saw a significantly reduced arterial stiffness[*].
The most collagen-rich foods are bones, tendons, and joints. As a result, dietary sources of collagen are somewhat rare, especially in Western countries where connective tissue is not a common part of most people’s diet.
However, that’s beginning to change. Foods like bone broth are an excellent source of collagen-rich gelatin. Chicken skin and fish skin are also high in collagen.
One of the easiest ways to get high-quality collagen is to take collagen protein powder as a dietary supplement.
Collagen peptide powder is easy to absorb and contains the exact amino acids your body needs to improve its own collagen production[*][*]. In addition, collagen peptide supplements are gluten-free, dairy-free, keto, paleo-friendly, and come in both unflavored and flavored options, making them easy to incorporate into almost any diet.
There are no known interactions or side effects to collagen products. They are generally recognized as safe for almost anyone to consume.
The one exception could be marine collagen –– if you have a shellfish allergy, you may want to choose bovine collagen (collagen from cows) instead.
That said, this article is not medical advice, and it’s safest to consult a healthcare professional before taking new supplements, especially if you have concerns about side effects or interactions with medication.
Most studies on collagen’s effectiveness use a serving size of between 5-15 grams of collagen per day.
Our collagen protein powder offers 10 grams of high-quality collagen peptides per serving. It comes from grass-fed cows and includes medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and no added sugars or artificial flavors.
Robust research suggests that collagen protein may help you improve your skin, joints, and bones, and could be a valuable supplement for overall health.
Several foods contain collagen (like bone broth, chicken skin, and fish skin). A convenient way to get high-quality collagen is through a collagen peptide supplement. Collagen peptides (also called hydrolyzed collagen) are the best-studied form of collagen and are easiest for your body to absorb.
Collagen is generally safe and research suggests that it’s effective. Collagen supplements are worth a try if you want to support skin, joint, and bone health.