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You’ve probably been hearing about “collagen this, collagen that” recently and wondering what the new craze is about.
Well, it maybe is a craze, but it’s definitely not new.
In fact, collagen has been touted as a beneficial skin treatment for years, among other things. In this guide we’ll look at what collagen is, the different types, how to choose the best collagen powder, and why you need it.
What is collagen, anyway?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in humans, making up about a third of the proteins in our body. It’s what our skin, joints, nails, bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments are made of.
The word collagen comes from the Greek word for glue – kólla – and that makes perfect sense, because that’s exactly what it does. It holds our muscles, skin, joints and other structural parts of our body together.
Where do we get collagen from?
All animal foods contain collagen.
We can also create collagen from various amino acids that we get from plant foods.
Our bodies produce collagen from these foods we eat, but as we age, our body not only produces less collagen but also lower quality collagen.
This is very easy to see in signs of aging, such as more brittle hair and bones, and wrinkled skin.
Joints and cartilage also require collagen, which is likely why they weaken as our body produces less and lower quality collagen as we get older.
What are the different types of collagen (and where do we get them)?
There are at least 16 types of collagen, but most supplements focus around the five core types, easily referred to as Types 1-5.
Here is how they differ:
Type I Collagen
Makes up ~90% of the collagen in our bodies. Almost every tissue in your body contains Type I collagen, including your skin, bones, and all connective tissues.
- Skin hydration and wrinkles
- Reduction in cellulite
- General skin health
- Wound healing
- Animal proteins, such as fish and beef
- Bone broth
- Bovine collagen supplements
Type II Collagen
Type II collagen is found less in skin and hair, and more in joints and cartilage. It is essential for good joint health.
- Bone health
- Joint health
- Chicken and fish
- Bone broth
- Multi-collagen supplements
Type III Collagen
Found in our muscles alongside Type I, but also makes up a lot of our organs, arteries, and connective tissues in our internal organs. It is very abundant in the intestines and in muscle tissue.
- Muscle health and growth
- Health of internal organs
- Intestinal health
- Healthy blood clotting
- Chicken and fish
- Bone broth
- Bovine collagen supplements
Type IV Collagen
Type IV collagen is unique in that it lacks the amino acid glycine, giving it a different structure. It is made of web shaped fibre that makes up the thin layers outside our cells and skin layers, and is important for wound healing.
- Skin healing
- Filtration organs
- Possibly aids digestive health
- Egg whites
- All high protein animal foods
Type V Collagen
Forms cell surfaces and hair, and particularly important in forming the cells in a pregnant woman’s womb. It is also found in the eye.
- Health in pregnancy
- Possibly aids eye health
- Multi-collagen supplements
Why take a collagen supplement?
When we’re young, our body is able to create sufficient collagen to keep your skin, joints and organs healthy.
However, as we age we produce less collagen, and lower quality collagen.
This is not only due to aging itself, but due to the lifestyles we live. We don’t get enough sleep for our body to produce and replace collagen. We live sedentary lives and may only exercise once or twice a week. Most importantly we don’t eat the right foods to get sufficient collagen into our bodies.
How often have your skipped breakfast and just had a coffee on the go?
Traditionally we would eat a hot plate of eggs, maybe some freshly toasted bread and some fruits.
Not only does this include a good serving of collagen, but also Vitamin C which is the ingredient necessary for synthesizing collagen in our bodies.
As our diets and lifestyles suffer, so does our ability to produce good quality collagen in sufficient quantities.
Moreover, not all of us have access to the highest collagen foods that were staples in traditional food cultures, such as bone broth, fresh fatty fish and grass fed beef.
What does taking collagen supplements do?
The benefits of collagen have already been widely studied and even more so.
This 2019 study showed collagen supplements produced noticeable improvements in women’s skin health and elasticity.
This 2003 study showed people with IBS (inflammatory bowel syndrome) had deficient levels of Collagen Type IV.
This 2015 trial of 53 elderly men showed that those who lifted weights and supplemented with collagen made significantly more muscle gains than those who only lifted weights.
This 2008 study showed collagen supplements significantly reduced joint pain in high level athletes.
This 2017 study suggested that collagen supplements could alleviate many of the symptoms of arthirtis.
This 2019 study showed collagen was an effective protein supplement for increasing muscle and strength.
This 2019 study showed collagen supplements had promising results in both reducing skin aging and wound healing.
How do you use collagen supplements?
Collagen supplements come in both powder and pill form.
Taking it is no different to a standard protein supplement.
When you take whey or pea protein for increased strength, muscle growth and overall health, collagen powder can be used in exactly the same way.
Some easy ways to incorporate collagen supplements into your daily routine:
- Add a scoop to your daily protein shake/smoothie.
- Mix a scoop into your cereal/oatmeal.
- Mix a scoop into your morning tea or coffee
- Mix it with yogurt
- Mix an (unflavoured) scoop into your water bottle
- Take collagen pills with your meal(s).
- Mix a scoop into homemade salad dressings, sauces, soups and stews.
- Mix a scoop into pancake or waffle mix (amazing!)
- Include a scoop when you bake a cake or a batch of muffins/cookies (collagen bakes very well).
As you can see, it’s very easy to include collagen in your day-to-day routine. Vanilla flavoured collagen works well with almost anything sweet like cereals, smoothies and baked goods. Unflavoured collagen can be used for anything else.
Marine Or Bovine Collagen – what’s the difference?
There are two main sources of collagen on the market – marine sourced collagen and bovine sourced collagen.
is made from fish bones and scales. Studies show that marine collagen peptides are smaller than bovine peptides, suggesting they may be more easily digested. They are also more expensive (generally). It has a higher concentration of the amino acid hydroxyproline, which is useful for skin and connective tissue health.
- Better absorption due to smaller peptides.
- Better for skin health and elasticity.
- Good for pescatarians.
- Depending on sourcing, is more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
- More expensive
- Usually only (or mostly) Type I collagen
- Should avoid if you have seafood allergies
Is sourced from cows. As cows are generally easier to source than fish, bovine collagen is almost always cheaper.
It is extremely rich in Types I and Types III, which are the main building blocks of skin and muscle. These are the most abundant types in the human body, and unsurprisingly, bovine collagen is closer to human collagen than fish collagen.
It is also worth nothing that all collagen in the body starts as procollagen, which is made from the amino acids proline and glycine – making them two of the most valuable amino acids in our bodies. Bovine collagen very rich in proline and glycine.
- Good for muscle and joint health, along with skin and connective tissues.
- Usually contains multiple types (primarily Type I & III)
- Better suited for post workouts.
- More affordable and easier to find.
- Good for those with shellfish or seafood allergies.
- Larger which means slower absorption.
- If feedlot sourced is less sustainable (look for grass-fed pastured sourcing only).
How do you find the best collagen powder?
These are the things we look for in a good collagen supplement:
- Sustainably sourced (wild caught fish or pastured cows)
- Hydrolyzed peptides – these are broken down collagen peptides that greatly aid digestion.
- Third party tested
- No additives – ingredients should be only collagen. If flavoured, make sure it’s sugar free.
- Vitamin enriched – Vitamin C is essential to collagen synthesis. Collagen with added Vitamin C is ideal.
We also have a preference for powders over capsules, though we generally recommend both. Powders are preferred because it’s hard to get a high enough intake on capsules. Powder is also the better type of collagen for mixing into coffee, yogurts, soups and food.
Collagen capsules are great for extra supplementation on days where you’ve been a little harder on your body.
Which collagen supplements should you take exactly?
We’ve done the hard work for you. After many hours of reviewing, see what we’ve come up with as our recommendations of the top collagen supplements in the UK right now:
Best Marine Collagen Powder
- Sourced only from wild caught Canadian deep sea fish.
- Sourced only from fish skins and not scales.
- Hydrolysed to industry leading micro particle size.
- Manufactured to strict Canadian guidelines and packaged at GMP Certified facilities in the UK.
- Non GMO, gluten free, paleo, keto friendly.
We love this collagen brand as it does everything right.
All their collagen is sourced from wild caught Canadian deep sea fish. They also source collagen only from fish skins, which can be more expensive but almost always offers a higher quality collagen than fish scales, which is what many other brands use.
It’s hydroysed meaning maximum bioavailability, with zeo additives, meaning every scoop of powder is 100% sustainably sourced marine collagen. It’s also packaged right here in the UK at GMP Certified facilities.
Remember, marine collagen is mostly Type I collagen, meaning it’s the best collagen for skin and addressing things like loose skin, wrinkles and most skin ailments.
They’re also unflavoured meaning it’s perfect for mixing into your coffee, cereal, oatmeal, or soups and sauces.
We’re happy to recommend this as our top marine collagen powder available for UK buyers.
Last but not least, the price is great!
If you prefer, the same great product is also available in tablet form:
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We actually think tablets are a great way to supplement collagen, even if you take powder regularly. Rather than mixing it into food and drinks, you can easily add to your daily collagen intake with just a quick sip of water or coffee. It’s the perfect thing to keep on your desk at work, or on your bedside table.No products found.
Best Bovine Collagen Powder
- Premium grass-fed pasture raised collagen
- New formula with Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid for greater bioavailability
- Hydrolysed peptides for max absorption
- Great source of Type I and Type III collagen
- Whole 30, Keto, Paleo and Gluten Free friendly
The bovine collagen market is crowded and it’s actually quite difficult to find fully grass-fed bovine collagen.
Many brands have resorted to mixing sources as it’s much cheaper that way, so only part of their collagen is from pastured cows. However if you know where to look, there are still brands with stringent quality standards.
The brand we love and use is Vital Proteins.
Vital Proteins burst onto the collagen scene and set the standard for high quality powders from only sustainable sources. They have a large variety of products available, but we’re recommending their most popular product – their unflavoured grass fed bovine collagen powder.
Their products are all fully hydrolysed, and their latest formula also includes Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid for greater absorption.
At 20g of collagen per serving, it’s an easy way to get quality, sustainable Type I and Type III collagen into your diet each day.Click here to learn more.
Best Multi Collagen Powder
- 5 Types of collagen from multiple sources!
- Sustainably and ethically sourced
- Hydrolysed for greater bioavailability
- 10% of profits go to non-profits for children in need
If you’re not taking collagen for any specific ailment and are aiming to boost health, recovery and vitality overall, this is probably the best collagen supplement for you to add into your diet.
Our recommendation is this all-round fantastic product from Revive Naturals. Their multi-collagen formula contains
- Type I marine collagen from Canadian wild caught fish
- Type II collagen from free range US chickens
- Type III and X collagen from grass fed pastured cows
- Type V collagen from free range eggshells
Type X collagen is one we haven’t discussed here much, but it is a collagen specifically good for joints and most abundantly found in egg shells.
Other things we love about Revive Naturals Multi Collagen is everything comes from sustainable, high quality sources, is fully hydrolysed and contains zero additives.
We love it, and it seems many others do too. Over 2,000 five star ratings can’t be wrong!Click here to learn more.
Best collagen capsules
For convenience, there are also collagen supplements in capsule form.
- 5 Types of premium bovine and marine collagen in tablet form.
- Enhanced with Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid and Biotin for greater bioavailability.
- Easily add to your daily collagen intake in a few seconds morning or night!
We don’t recommend collagen tablets as your main form of collagen intake, but they’re excellent for increasing your collagen intake on a particularly slow or taxing day. They’re also ideal for travelling and easy to add to your routine whenever you’re on the road.
These tablets contain Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid as well, perfect for aiding collagen absorption and synthesis in the body. We’d recommend these as the best collagen capsules overall, as they cover all bases you’d expect in a complete collagen supplement.Click here to learn more.
Best Vegan Collagen Supplement
- 100% plant based
- Full amino acid profile
- Vegan, vegetarian, keto friendly
- Contains Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid for greater bioavailability
“Vegan collagen” is somewhat of an oxymoron, as technically collagen is only found in animals.
However, all the amino acids found in collagen can technically be sourced from plants, and if the right amino acids are taken in the right ratios and put into a single supplement, it will be very nutritionally similar to real animal collagen.
Think of it like a car, that has Nissan wheels, Toyota interior and Honda panels, with maybe some BMW gadgets inside. Not quite the same, but it should still drive!
The good news is, there are finally some high quality vegan collagen supplements available in the UK now, and this product from Weight World is one we’re happy to recommend.
It has a full plant based amino acid profile to mirror the nutritional profile of animal collagen, plus is enriched with various other minerals too such as reservatrol, zinc, Vitamins C and E and hyaluronic acid.
If you’re after vegan friendly collagen in tablet form, this is our number one pick.Click here to learn more.
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Here’s a final summary of our top picks.
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Last update on 2023-11-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API