Collagen supplements are becoming increasingly popular these days, and as scientific evidence continues to build in its favor, more and more companies are creating collagen supplements.
But what type of collagen supplement is best for you, and how should you take collagen? Read on for ways that collagen can enhance your health, the four different ways to take collagen (with benefits and drawbacks of each, and typically doses for maximum results.
Collagen provides the best protein for your skin, hair, joints, and other soft tissue. That’s why it’s quickly becoming one of the most popular supplements on the planet.
The word collagen comes from Greek roots that literally mean “glue-producing.” Collagen makes up 25% of your body’s protein content (making it the most abundant protein in your body), and is helpful in soft tissue repair.
Many people wonder what the difference is between collagen and gelatin. Collagen breaks down into gelatin, so they are the same amino acids with different chemical structures. Think of them as the same tool but with different packaging.
- Energy production
- Building healthy DNA
- Supporting blood vessels
- Supporting joint health and managing joint pain and osteoarthritis
- Supporting cartilage, ligaments, bone health, and connective tissue
- Skin hydration and skin elasticity
- Nails growth and strength
- Gut health
By far, the most popular way to take collagen is in powder form. However, most people don’t realize that there are actually several different forms of collagen available. Below are the four ways you can incorporate collagen into your supplement regimen:
Collagen powder is the most popular way to take collagen for a good reason — it’s easily incorporated into foods and beverages, and it has a very mild flavor (practically none at all).
Another benefit of powder is that many manufacturers will add other nutrients to collagen powder due to the easily modifiable format. MCTs make an excellent addition to collagen powder, especially for a keto dieter, due to their ability to provide quick energy and a smooth and creamy texture. In addition, other nutrients like vitamin C can be added that support collagen production.
In addition, collagen powder may come in various flavors, making it even more versatile and easy to add to different foods and beverages.
When looking for collagen powder, always keep an eye out for collagen peptides or “hydrolyzed powder.” When collagen goes through hydrolysis, a molecule of water is added to break down the collagen and make it more readily absorbable. For this reason, hydrolyzed collagen is more bioavailable than other forms of collagen — meaning you get more collagen bang for your buck[*].
One potential drawback of collagen powder is that you will need to take the time to incorporate the powder into your diet. If you aren’t already in the habit of adding collagen to your foods or beverages, it may take a little while before you get consistent. In addition, although most people hardly notice the addition of collagen powder to their meals due to how readily it dissolves in liquid, some people may have an aversion.
How To Take Collagen Powder
You can add collagen powder to almost any liquid or semi-liquid meal. There are troves of recipes that include collagen, and it’s easy to come up with your own. Many people choose to add a scoop of collagen to their morning coffee or latte. You can also easily incorporate it into smoothies as a protein powder, or soups, stews, oatmeal (or keto oatmeal), or any other liquid or semi-liquid medium.
The flavored collagens can make an excellent choice if you’re looking for extra flavor in smoothies, while flavorless collagen is great for more savory dishes like soup.
Collagen capsules are just collagen powder that’s been put into capsules for ease of use. Many people opt for collagen capsules when they’re traveling or if they have difficulty making time in their day for collagen powder.
If you’re not a big fan of smoothies or adding powders to your drinks, collagen capsules may be the way to go — it doesn’t get much easier than simply swallowing a pill.
With that being said, there is one significant drawback to collagen capsules, and that’s dosage. Due to the fact that you can only cram a small amount of collagen into a capsule, it makes it a lot more challenging to get a significant amount of collagen into your diet when you take it in cap form. To get the same amount of collagen from a capsule as you would in powder form, you may have to take up to ten caps daily.
Some people have a hard time with pills, so capsules can be extra challenging if you fall under that category.
How To Take Collagen Capsules
To take collagen capsules, simply choose the dosage you would like and gulp them down with some water or liquid of choice.
Liquid collagen is also available and can come in either a condensed (shot-like) form or in a larger, more diluted form. Several companies have come out with liquid collagen drinks to make getting collagen into your diet easier without messing with powders or pills.
One thing to be aware of with liquid collagen is the potential for low-quality ingredients being added to the mix. As with most packaged foods, be aware of artificial sweeteners, chemicals, and preservatives.
Another downside to liquid collagen is that you won’t necessarily get to choose your dose. Furthermore, it can be a bit cumbersome to rely on a daily packaged beverage if you want to make collagen a part of your supplement routine. It’s considerably easier to store a tub of powdered collagen or a bottle of capsules than a package of liquid collagen bottles.
How To Take Collagen Liquid
To take liquid collagen, you can either drink the whole bottle or collagen shot or divide it into doses. If you want to branch out and use these liquids in formats like smoothies or other beverages, you can also feel free to do so.
Collagen injections are also available, although they are more specifically designed to support skin health instead of offering collagen support to your joints, bones, and other tissues.
Also referred to as “dermal fillers,” injectable collagen can be used in skincare to improve the appearance of wrinkles on your face and give you a more youthful, glowing complexion. If your primary reason for including collagen in your diet is to support skin health, collagen injections may be an option for you.
Although collagen fillers can give you immediate results, there are some potential side effects of using collagen in this way. First, fillers are injectables which means that if you don’t like needles (who does?), this could be a rather unpleasant experience. Furthermore, some people find that they have an allergic reaction to collagen fillers and end up with redness, inflammation, and potential scarring.
Dermal fillers either come from bovine collagen, or they can be harvested from your own skin, sent to a lab, and then re-injected into your body in the desired area.
How To Take Collagen Injections
Unlike the other three options, collagen injections are not offered over the counter. If you’re interested in collagen injections, you would need to work with a licensed healthcare practitioner such as a dermatologist or nurse practitioner that can provide the injections for you.
This depends on you and your goals. Many people start with half a scoop and increase from there. You can experiment with 0.5-3 scoops per day, depending on how much you’re exercising, your weight-loss or weight-gain goals, or if you’re traveling and don’t have easy access to healthy options.
In general, the sweet spot tends to be between 10 and 20 grams of collagen per day.
Determining the best way for you to incorporate collagen into your life is up to you, but many people choose to go with collagen powder due to the ease of use and the mild taste. Collagen protein powder can also be taken on an empty stomach with no problem.
When choosing a collagen supplement, regardless of the format, it’s always important to focus on quality. When doing your research, look for grass-fed bovine that’s been hydrolyzed; this will show up as “collagen hydrolysate” or “hydrolyzed collagen” in the ingredients list. Marine collagen is also becoming popular, but it’s not as well researched as bovine.
You may also want to keep an eye on the types of collagen that your supplement provides. The form of collagen you take is just as important as the quality. With this in mind, the most well-researched options are type I and type III.
If you’re burnt out on dietary supplements and collagen products, you can also find collagen in food sources like bone broth, but the amount of collagen you’ll get in each serving won’t be as consistent or robust.