With all the collagen supplements on the market, do you know how to choose a collagen powder? These products are everywhere from lining the beauty isles at your local health food and grocery store to countless ads popping up on social media. Yet, not all collagen products are equal.
As you may already know collagen is the most plentiful protein in your body. It has many important functions including giving your skin a youthful appearance, keeping your gut healthy, supporting joint health, cartilage formation and promoting lean muscle.
Your body produces collagen naturally, however at about age 35, your body’s production of collagen begins to slow down. By age 40, collagen begins to deplete faster than your body can produce it. What’s more, over half of your body’s collagen has been depleted by the age of 60.1
This rapid decline is why it’s important to know what to look for in a high-quality collagen powder. When choosing a collagen powder, it’s important to know the source of collagen and what types of collagen that’s included in your collagen powder. Let’s start with talking about what collagen is and the different types of it.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the main component of connective tissue and is a principal protein in your bone, muscle, cartilage, and skin — basically, it’s all over your body! You can think of collagen as the “glue” that holds your body together.
Factors including poor diet, genetics, and exposure to toxins can result in depletion even sooner. Most of us cannot get enough collagen from our diet alone. Even if you eat a clean, healthy, Paleo-inspired diet you will still have trouble getting as much collagen as our distant ancestors did, let alone enough for optimal health. That’s because we don’t eat the same collagen-rich tendons and organ meat that our ancestors did. These just aren’t a part of our typical diet anymore.
In addition to aging and diet, other factors impact the amount of collagen in your body, including genetics, whether you smoke tobacco, air pollution and toxins, excessive sun exposure, and nutritional deficiencies.
Luckily, adding a collagen supplement to your daily regimen can help you continue reaping the benefits of collagen as you age.
There are several types of collagen, however the majority of collagen comes from five main types.2 Let’s talk about the types of collagen.
Types of Collagen
Most collagen products on the market only contain only one or two types of collagen, so you may not be getting the type of collagen in your collagen powder that your body needs. There are 16 different types of collagen, the majority of collagen in our bodies comes from five main types.
This is by far the most common type, accounting for 90% of your body’s total collagen. Type I collagen is found in the layer of skin just below the surface, the dermis. Type I collagen is why our skin is so tough yet flexible. Type I collagen provides structure to your skin, bones, joints, cartilage, and your teeth. It is the collagen known for supporting healthy skin, hair and nails.
The main difference between type I and type II collagen is that type II collagen is not so tightly packed together. Type II collagen supports your joints and bones because it produces substances that have been found to support a healthy inflammation response in your joints.3 It targets your joints and connective tissues to restore a healthy, smooth range of motion. Type II also contains chemicals chondroitin and glucosamine, which have been found to help rebuild cartilage in joints. 4
Type III is the second most common type of collagen found in your body. It is different from the other types because it consists of only one collagen alpha chain, as opposed to multiple chains. This type of collagen actually contains three alpha chains supercoiled around each other. It partners with type I to support your gut, muscles, blood vessels, and the uterus in women.7 Because type III collagen is so involved in our major organ systems, it also plays a large role in diseases associated with inflammation.5
Type V & X
Type V collagen helps form cell membranes and the tissue found in a woman’s placenta, which is essential for embryo development. It’s also found in layers of the skin and hair as well as in the cornea of the eye. Type X, described as a network-forming collagen, plays a crucial role in bone formation and is found in joint cartilage.
Sources of Collagen
The next time you’re walking down the beauty aisle of your local health food or grocery store, pay attention to what’s in your collagen powder. One of the first steps in choosing a collagen powder is to understand its source.
Bovine collagen is derived from breaking down cattle byproducts such as bones. It is a great source of type I and type III collagen since it’s highly concentrated in the bones of cows. Bovine collagen supports skin elasticity and hydration.6
Bone Broth is a fantastic source of bovine collagen because the collagen has been drawn out of bones.7 Bones are a great food source of collagen and are rich in minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Collagen from bone broth is full of amino acids and peptides that also help maintain and promote optimal gut lining health. The cells lining your intestinal tract absolutely love bone broth.
Marine collagen comes from the skin of fish.8 This type promotes growth of types I and II, which promotes skin health and cartilage. The science on marine collagen is still new, however, research suggests marine collagen may help protect your skin from harmful UV radiation damage and promote healing, bone tissue growth, and a youthful appearance.
Chicken collagen is naturally produced in chickens and prominent in type II collagen. This type promotes a healthy inflammatory response and is crucial for healthy joints, cartilage, and ligaments.
Remember your mother or grandmother feeding you chicken soup when you were sick? That’s because chicken soup is a nutritional powerhouse, and thankfully, it’s also delicious! Drinking chicken bone broth is a great way to get chicken collagen.
Eggshell Membrane Collagen
Since collagen is found in chicken it only makes sense that it is found in eggs. Collagen-like proteins similar to Type I and V, have been found in eggshell membranes of the hen.
This protein has essential amino acids that support healthy tissue growth, which can promote a healthy aging process and skin quality.
Whichever sources you choose, to fully power collagen production your body needs vitamin C. Berries, broccoli and leafy green vegetables are great sources of vitamin C. I like to use Liposomal Vitamin C for maximum absorption and an easy, tasty collagen production boost.
The Problem with Most Collagen Powders
Unfortunately, many of the collagen powders on the market will never be properly absorbed by your body because they are made in a form that your body cannot absorb. The truth is, our body cannot absorb collagen in its natural form. Collagen must be processed or hydrolyzed to be digested, broken down, and reach the bloodstream. When collagen proteins become hydrolyzed, they break down into easy-to-digest particles called peptides that your body can absorb.
Collagen found in many drinks, moisturizers, and “health foods” are usually not hydrolyzed, which essentially makes it of no benefit to you because your body cannot absorb it.
Most collagen products are also not from grass-fed or natural sources. This is problematic because the cow or chicken used for the collagen supplement could have been fed harmful chemicals such as pesticides, and contain antibiotics, GMOs, or growth hormones. Through cross-contamination they get into collagen products. I always recommend getting your collagen powder from natural, grass-fed sources.
A Note About Plant-Based Collagen
Plant-based collagen products are becoming increasingly popular among those following a vegan or vegetarian diet. While these products are intriguing if you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, plant-based collagen powders do not contain natural collagen.9
True collagen can only come from animal sources. Collagen is the most common protein in animals. The collagen in plant-based collagen powders has been genetically engineered, so it’s full of chemicals that could potentially be harmful or toxic.
If you choose to use vegan and vegetarian collagen supplements, make sure they do not contain processed and GMOs ingredients.
Here’s What To Look For In Collagen Powder
I know how difficult it can be to choose a collagen powder with so many products to choose from. Don’t worry! I’m about to tell you the two most important factors to look for in a collagen powder and how to choose a collagen powder. Here are the two factors you should consider when choosing a collagen powder.
1. It Should Be From Organic Sources
Since collagen comes from animals, you want to be sure you choose a collagen powder from organic sources such as grass-fed cows, wild-caught seafood, or free-range chickens.
If you see the term “natural sources” that is a broad term that means the animal used for the collagen was minimally processed and is free of synthetic dyes, coloring, flavorings, and preservatives. The term is largely unregulated by the USDA for most foods except meat, poultry, and egg products. In order to be labeled “natural,” the meat must be minimally processed and free of artificial ingredients.
However, the term “artificial ingredients” doesn’t include antibiotics, growth hormones, or ingredients that include GMOs. So while natural sounds great when you’re looking to eat a nutrient-dense diet, you can still be exposed to harmful toxins.
Collagen powders with the term “all-natural” means the animal used is free of synthetic dyes, coloring, flavorings and preservatives, along with never given antibiotics, growth hormones, or GMOs.
2. It Should Be Hydrolyzed
All collagen is hydrolyzed, however there are different levels of hydrolyzation. You may know this better as collagen peptides. In the hydrolysis of collagen, the amino acids in protein are broken down into smaller units to make them more digestible. If a collagen product is labeled hydrolyzed, that means it dissolves in both hot and cold liquids, unflavored and odorless, and easy to mix into smoothies, coffee or even water.
Studies indicate that fully hydrolyzed collagen is easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Once absorbed, your body’s cells can rebuild the peptides into full-length collagen that can help repair our skin, bones, and joints.
According to one human study, hydrolyzed collagen-peptide supplementation improved wrinkling, elasticity, and hydration in aging skin.10“
How to Choose a Collagen Powder
When choosing a collagen powder it’s important to keep the above two factors in mind – does it come from natural sources and is it hydrolyzed? However, it’s also important to know what types of collagen are in your collagen powder.
As a medical doctor, I can tell you many of the collagen powders on the market simply do not work! I have personally struggled with choosing a natural collagen powder. That is why, after doing months of research, I formulated my Collagen Protein powder and Spectrum 5 Collagen™. Both of my collagen powders are hydrolyzed for easy absorption in the bloodstream and come from natural sources. So how do you choose which is the best collagen powder for you?
Collagen Protein contains 100% grass-fed, pasture-raised bovine collagen. It contains both type 1 and type III collagens to support a healthy gut lining and intestinal permeability, promote vibrant hair, skin, and nails, and facilitates healthy bones and joints.
This collagen powder is one of my absolute favorite supplements and I use it every single day! The type I & III in Collagen Protein are the most important to supplement with to get all the great benefits to your skin, bones, hair, nails, and connective tissue.
Spectrum 5 Collagen™
Spectrum 5 Collagen™ also is made from 100% organic sources, however it also contains chicken collagen, marine collagen, and eggshell membrane collagen. Spectrum 5 Collagen™ is the first ever physician-formulated complete collagen complex on the market.
Marine collagen is essential to promote smoother and firmer skin, boosts elasticity and hydration, and facilitates rapid skin cell repair and renewal. The collagen from chickens and eggshell membranes are essential for your joints and cartilage. These two sources of collagen provide structure to your cartilage and promote flexible joints and support bone formation.
If you’re looking for bone, cartilage, and joint support, I highly recommend adding Spectrum 5 Collagen™ to your morning coffee or smoothie. Since it is hydrolyzed, it makes it easier to dissolve.
Choosing a collagen powder doesn’t have to be complicated. We all want our skin to keep looking healthy and young and have strong bones and joints. While there is no magical way to keep you from getting older, I’m here to tell you that collagen is an essential building block for your body. With Collagen Protein you can give your hair, skin, and nails the support they need to stay hydrated and looking vibrant. If you want full-range high-quality collagen to support your hair, skin, nails, bones, joints and cartilage, then Spectrum 5 Collagen™ is the perfect collagen powder for you.
FAQs About Collagen
Do Collagen Supplements Work?
Do Collagen Supplements Work?
Taking the correct form of collagen supplements can have both beauty and health benefits. Unfortunately, not all collagen supplements work as they claim and can contain toxins, pollutants, and other harmful substances. My supplements carry a good manufacturing processes seal and have been tested for purity, potency, and composition.
What should I look for in collagen powder?
What should I look for in collagen powder?
I recommend a hydrolyzed collagen powder from all-natural, organic sources. Hydrolyzed collagen powder has been scientifically proven for its ability to quickly absorb into our bloodstream.
How to choose a collagen powder?
How to choose a collagen powder?
When choosing a collagen powder, you want to make sure it is from grass-fed, antibiotic-free, organic animal sources to prevent unnecessary exposure to toxins.
- Decreased Collagen Production in Chronologically Aged Skin. James Varani, et al. The American Journal of Pathology, vol. 168. 2006.
- Collagen: The Fibrous Proteins of the Matrix . Lodish H. et al. Molecular Cell Biology 4th Edition. 2000.
- Effects of Orally Administered Indentured Type II Collagen Against Arthritic Inflammatory Diseases: A Mechanistic Exploration. D. Bagchi, et al. International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology Research, Vo. 22. 2002.
- Chapter 3 - Type III Collagen. M.J. Nielsen, M.A. Karsdal. Biochemistry of Collagens, Laminins and Elastin. 2016.
- 13 Foods That Help Your Body Produce Collagen. Sarah Garon. Healthline. 2019.
- What Is Bovine Collagen, and Does It Have Benefits?. Cheri Bantilan MS, RD, CD. Healthline. 2019.
- The Best Way You Can Get More Collagen. Cleveland Clinic. 2021.
- What is Marine Collagen. Radiance by WebMD. 2021.
- What to Know About Vegan Collagen. Danielle Dresden. Medical News Today. 2020.
- Determination of Bioavailability and Identification of Collagen Peptide in Blood After Oral Ingestion of Gelatin. Lin Wang, et al. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture vol. 95. 2015.