The right types of collagen supplements can work wonders for your health, beauty, and performance needs. But do you know what to look for among the many options out there?
When it comes to collagen supplements, the type and quality matters. So let’s talk about what collagen is, the different types available, and which is best for you.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. It’s fibrous and acts as a “glue” to hold together your joints and tendons. It’s also what keep your skin looking elastic, smooth, and strong.
If we were to do a full body scan for collagen, you’d see it in your bones, muscles, joints, tendons, skin, and even your gut and blood vessels. It’s everywhere!
Unfortunately, as you get older collagen production decreases, contributing to weaker joints and wrinkles among other issues. Environmental factors like high sugar consumption, autoimmunity, smoking, and UV light can also deplete collagen.
Collagen supplements combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle can help protect the body from damage and promote optimal health. So if you’re considering a collagen supplement, that’s a great first step! But choosing the right type is important. So here are four points to keep in mind before choosing the one that’s best for your body and your diet.
In case you aren’t aware of some of the great collagen supplement benefits, here are just a few of the best:
Great for joints and ligaments: Collagen contains 19 different amino acids, making it a great protein supplement and source of essential amino acids, which your body needs to build joints and ligaments. Giving your body additional collagen to work with can help reduce pain associated with joint deterioration.
Anti-aging for hair, skin, and nails: Wrinkles and looser or more saggy skin are not only signs of aging but also a sign collagen is decreasing! Boosting your collagen levels can support tighter, smoother, and healthier hair, skin, and nails. Read more about collagen’s anti-aging benefits here.
Supports gut health: Collagen can promote gut health, including leaky gut. It helps build connective tissues like those found in the lining of the gut.
Your body contains 16 or more different types of collagen! But the majority is either type I, type II, or type III collagen, and these are the types used in supplement form:
Type I collagen is the strongest and most abundant collagen protein in your body, found in almost all of your connective tissues. It also helps form bones and is crucial for healing wounds. Most collagen supplements contain at least some type I collagen protein.
Type II collagen is the main component of your joint cartilage and important for building new cartilage and keeping joints healthy and reducing the chance of arthritis or joint pain associated with aging.
Research has shown type II collagen may decrease joint swelling to bring pain relief from symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis as well as enhance the quality of daily activities for those with osteoarthritis joint pain.
Type II collagen is also responsible for building healthy hair, skin, and nails and promotes gut health.
Type III collagen is a major part of the extracellular matrix, which is present in all tissues, skin, and organs in your body. It’s often combined with the other two types of collagens in supplement form.
While all three collagen types are commonly used as supplements, type II collagen (from chicken collagen—more on that below) is most popularly used in medicine, Chinese medicine, and around the world for a number of ailments from immune and digestive health to better athletic performance and arthritis and joint pain relief. It’s the best bet for science-based health benefits.
Collagen in its normal form is hard for the body to break down and assimilate. To make its amino acids more usable and absorbable as a supplement, it must be enzymatically hydrolyzed.
Hydrolyzed collagen has been pre-broken down so it’s easier for the body to break down and use the amino acids. This process reduces the amino acids into collagen peptides without damaging them or affecting their benefits. In fact, it makes them able to be quickly absorbed into the bloodstream for your body to use!
When choosing a collagen supplements, always look for hydrolyzed collagen in the ingredients.
Hydrolyzed collagen supplements can be made from cow, chicken, fish, or pig collagen, but two of the most common are cow or chicken collagen. Let’s break down the differences between the two.
Most collagen protein powders out there use cow (bovine) collagen, also known as beef collagen protein. Cow collagen comes from the bones, cartilage, and hides of cows and is nearly identical to human collagen. It’s rich in glycine and proline, two non-essential amino acids needed for healthy DNA and connective tissue.
Cow collagen is more affordable for suppliers than chicken collagen, but there are downsides that come with the cheaper price tag. As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.
Although beef collagen certainly has its benefits, chicken collagen is made mostly of type II collagen which, as mentioned above, is the type most commonly used in medicine.
Chicken protein contains chondroitin and glucosamine, natural compounds used for supporting joint mobility and flexibility, along with rare and essential amino acids. Unlike other protein sources, chicken collagen doesn’t come with the common blood sugar spike. This is great for those following a low-carb or ketogenic diet!
Chicken collagen also contains essential, rare amino acids, making it ideal for mitochondrial function, gut health, the building of healthy connective tissue and hair, skin, and nails.
When it comes to the different types of collagen supplements, the takeaway is this: Always look for hydrolyzed chicken collagen powder or capsules, make sure you understand the type of collagen and its benefits of you, and choose a product that is high-quality from a brand you trust. The right choice will further nourish you in body, mind, and spirit.