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Collagen Supplements Have Numerous Benefits, Here’s What to Know

Explore the different types of collagen and the potential benefits for skin, joints, and overall health. Plus get tips on choosing effective supplements.

By Allison Futterman; Medically Reviewed by Dr. Ahmad Talha Azam
Apr 17, 2024 1:00 PM
woman putting collagen powder in water
(Credit: Prathankarnpap/Shutterstock)


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Recently, collagen supplements have surged in popularity, touted for their wide-ranging health benefits. From improving the appearance of skin and nails to supporting heart and joint health, collagen is often presented as a wonder supplement.

But what does science say? Here are the types of collagen and the various areas where collagen is believed to have a positive impact.

What Is Collagen?

Collagen is the most predominant protein in the human body. It consists of three polypeptide chains. Collagen is a crucial building block of skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments. It is also found in blood vessels, organs, cartilage, and our intestinal lining. We make collagen naturally, but some people also take collagen supplements.

How Many Types of Collagen Are There?

Scientists have identified 28 distinct types of collagen. From providing strength to bones and skin, to ensuring the flexibility of cartilage, each type plays a unique role throughout the body. The most common types of collagen are:

Type I: Comprising 90 percent of the body's collagen, it's crucial for the strength of bones, skin, tendons, and ligaments.

Type II: Key for the flexibility and support of cartilage, especially in joints.

Type III: Found in the intestines, blood vessels, and uterus, helping maintain the structure and function of these tissues.

Type IV: Essential for skin health, forming a supportive layer that aids in regeneration and repair.

Type V: Supports the structure and strength of the cornea, skin, and placenta.

Read More: Scientists Uncover a Protein That Seems to Fight Aging in Our Skin

What are Collagen Supplements?

Collagen supplements are made from the skin, bones, and connective tissue of animals — cows, fish, and chickens. The term hydrolyzed is common in regard to collagen supplements. This means that the collagen has undergone a process to break down its bonds into smaller pieces, which are better absorbed by the body. 

These smaller pieces are referred to as peptides. Collagen supplements are available in various forms: capsules, liquid, and powder. Collagen peptide powders are easy to use, by adding them to smoothies, coffee, or soup. An added benefit is that they contain protein. 

Read More: These 5 Supplements Can Keep Your Skin Healthy and Glowing

Do Collagen Supplements Work?

Our bodies produce collagen in specialized cells found in connective tissue called fibroblasts. While sun exposure, smoking, and sugar can decrease collagen production, there are things we can do to naturally boost it. 

These include consuming vitamin C-rich foods, cilantro, ginseng, and using aloe vera. Collagen supplements are currently very popular, with many people touting their benefits.

Skin and Nails

Much of the positive buzz about collagen is related to how it benefits the skin. Collagen supplements have been shown to improve elasticity, hydration, and density, along with reducing wrinkles. Collagen has also been shown to reduce brittle nails and improve nail growth. 

Gut Health

Collagen can potentially help alleviate leaky gut syndrome, aid digestion, reduce gut inflammation, and balance the gut microbiome. 

Joint/Bone Health

There’s some evidence that collagen can reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis. It has also been shown to increase bone density in the spine and upper femur bones of those with menopause. 

Muscle Mass

While more research is needed, there’s some evidence that collagen (in combination with resistance training) can help build lean muscle

Heart Health

Collagen may also play a positive role in heart health. One study found that daily intake of Collagen Tripeptide (CTP) twice daily for six months showed healthier levels of certain blood markers that doctors use to assess the risk of heart disease.

Read More: Aging is Still One of Biology's Greatest Mysteries

What Are the Side Effects of Taking Collagen?

Collagen supplements are generally safe. Although side effects aren’t common, they can include nausea, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort.

Who Should Not Take Collagen? 

  • Those with beef, fish, or poultry allergies may have a reaction to collagen supplements. 

  • While the protein in collagen supplements is typically a benefit, it can be a problem for people with kidney disease who need to limit their protein intake. 

Read More: Strange Side Effects From Supplements and What You Need to Know

How to Find an Effective Collagen Supplement

It's best to consult with a healthcare professional before taking vitamins or supplements. Since the FDA may not regulate or approve supplements, it’s best to use a collagen supplement that’s certified by the National Sanitation Foundation International (NSF) or the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP). Both conduct product testing and verification.

Don't forget that less ingredients are better — select one with as few ingredients as possible. It’s best when collagen peptides or hydrolyzed collagen is the only ingredient.

It's also important to avoid flavored collagen powder due to the added sugars and artificial flavoring.

Read More: It's Tricky to Know Which Supplements Are Safe

This article is not offering medical advice and should be used for informational purposes only.

Article Sources:

Our writers at Discovermagazine.com use peer-reviewed studies and high-quality sources for our articles, and our editors review them for accuracy and trustworthiness. Review the sources used below for this article:

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