Collagen isn’t a miracle supplement, but it is one of the most useful protein supplements you can take for anti-aging, joint repair, and a healthy skin glow. Along with the noticeable benefits to your skin, collagen supplements can actually improve your hair and nails as well. If any of these benefits sound appealing to you, it’s time to learn how to choose the best collagen supplements for your body.
How Does Collagen Work?
Despite what it may sound like, collagen is naturally produced in the body. It is a protein that makes up a large percentage of your flexible body tissue, especially in the skin and joints. Collagen supplements help to replenish your body’s supply of this necessary compound, and to enhance absorption of collagen in each part of your body that uses it.
Uses for Collagen
As I mentioned before, collagen has a number of uses in your body. Supplements that contain collagen may be geared towards providing a few different benefits. The main benefit we usually see from these supplements is anti-aging. This is because the right collagen supplements will add elasticity back into your skin, making it look full and firm and helping smooth out wrinkles.
Collagen supplements also help with your joints by rebuilding the flexible tissue inside. If you take specially formulated supplements, you can sometimes help to reverse joint damage and strengthen your body from the inside out,
How to Choose the Best Collagen Supplements ?
Type of collagen used
There are three varieties of collagen used to make supplements. Type 1 collagen is the most plentiful type in the body, and it makes skin, hair, and nails firm by creating their structure. Type 2 collagen is what’s used in your joints to make them flexible and movable.
Lastly, type 3 collagen is found mostly in younger skin, especially in babies. It gives the skin its extra softness and makes it appear plumper. We usually replace type 3 collagen with type 1 is we grow older, so type 3 is not as useful in supplements for adults.
Size and make-up of collagen molecules
If you tried to use a supplement with collagen molecules in their natural form, it wouldn’t be as effective as you would like. Collagen is a large molecule that cannot be directly absorbed into the skin, so it must first be broken down into smaller particles. In many products, especially creams and topical applications, collagen must be broken down into peptides before it will be useful.
Internal supplements don’t necessarily have this same requirement, as it is easier for the body to break down a large particle through digestion.
Type of supplement
There are a lot of different forms of collagen supplements. You can ingest collagen through a powder supplement mixed with water, a full liquid supplement, or in tablet form. It can also be found in topical applications like creams, serums, and oils. How you want to use collagen depends largely on what effects you’re looking for in your body.
For concentrated results in one particular part of your body, a topical application is better than an ingested supplement. If you want widespread effects to your entire body, an ingested supplement in any form works more effectively than a topical application.
Potency and concentration
How much collagen is in the supplement will matter when you’re looking for results. If you want to help reverse aging skin and remove wrinkles or other signs of aging, look for a supplement that has at least 10,000mg per serving. If your main purpose is to maintain healthy skin and you are not trying to reverse gaining skin, you can use a supplement within the 2,500 – 5,000mg range instead.
Ingredients in the supplement
There are a host of other ingredients that might be found in collagen supplements that will actual boost the effects of the supplement. These include: Hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulfate protein complex, vitamin C, CoQ10, DNA, and ceramide.
Avoid unnatural sweeteners, processed sugars, or strong preservatives, as these will have the strongest negative impacts in your body over time. Look instead for natural sweeteners like raw honey, stevia, molasses, palm sugar, or coconut sugar.
Collagen supplements are made from marine (fish), chicken, porcine (pig), bovine (cow) collagen extracts. Some supplements use plant-based collagen, but this is not seen as an effective source. Chicken collagen is also not preferred, because it does not significantly increase the levels of collagen when used topically or ingested.
The best source for most supplements is marine collagen, since it’s easier for the body to absorb and has a purer form of collagen. Bovine is also considered to be a good source, and it has the benefit of being cheaper than most other sources. Many porcine supplements are more useful for type 2 collagen than type 1, making them great for the joints, but not for skin, hair, or nail benefits.
Top 10 Best Collagen Supplement Reviews
1 – Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
This is a collagen powder supplement that is soluble in cold, warm, and hot liquids. It’s made from grass-fed, non-GMO, pasture raised beef and does not feature any flavor additives. There is no discernible flavor, so you can dissolve it into any drink without ruining the taste. Use only 1 – 2 scoops per day to get the recommended dosage.
- No funky aftertaste when you add it to a drink
- Mixes in well and dissolves fully into cold or hot liquids
- Quickly see the results in your hair, nails, and skin
- May promote better sleep for some people
- Has a slight taste when added to water
- May give some people gastro issues or heart burn
2 – Great lakes Gelatin Collagen
Made from beef collagen, this powdered gelatin supplement easily mixes with hot or cold liquids to create a drinkable collagen supplement. Despite being a gelatin product, this hyrdolysated collagen does not form a gel substance when mixed with liquids, and will dissolve completely into the proper amount of liquid. Each daily serving is 2 tablespoons of the supplement, or 12 grams.
- Absorbs rapidly into liquids that are either hot or cold
- Highly potent, with over 90% active protein
- Made up of mostly type 1 collagen for the hair, nails, and skin
- May help with sleeping and your metabolism
- Has a slight taste to it that may alter some drinks
- Results take longer for some people than for others
3 – Super Powder Collagen
Another bovine collagen product, this includes types 1 and 3 collagens in a powdered form. It’s meant to be mixed with hot liquids like your morning coffee, but you can also use it well in smoothies or other cold drinks. Each scoop has 6,600mg of collagen.
- Non-GMO and safe for a gluten-free diet
- Made from collagen peptides that are easy to absorb
- Awarded the 2012 Better Nutrition “Best Supplement” award
- Up to 90% absorption into the body
- May become lumpy when dissolved in cold liquids
- Some poor taste when mixed into colder liquids
4 – Health Logics BioCell Collagen Capsules
Formulated with the addition of hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfates, this collagen supplement claims to pack a bigger punch the help your skin, hair, nails, and joints. It absorbs quickly and you only need to take 2 tablets daily to get the full benefits from a serving.
- Made from cartilage, a safer source than hides, bones, and blood vessels
- Targeted mostly at joint health and flexibility, although it will also benefit your skin
- Veggie-based clear capsule is easy to digest
- Chicken cartilage is the main source, making it less effective for hair, nails, and skin
- Suggested serving sizes may be too small to help in some problems
5 – Sports Research Premium Collagen Peptides Powder
Collagen peptides in this supplement are derived from bovine hides, making it a good source of type 1 collagen. It can be mixed into hot or cold liquids without changing the taste or texture by thickening. You can also put it into foods like soups after they are prepared.
- May also help aid in muscle recovery and soreness
- Certified as paleo friendly
- 90-day money back guarantee
- Only 1 scoop is needed for the 11 gram serving
- May clump up in cold liquids
- Some people experience bloating and gassiness when first using this supplement
6 – Youtheory Collagen Advanced Formula Tablets
These tablets are made from a blend of all three collagen types, including a higher concentration of type 1. To complement the collagen, vitamin C is also including in the mixture. You will take 3 tablets twice each day for a total of 6 tablets daily. That will amount to 12,000mg daily, or 6000mg per every 3 tablets.
- Vitamin C helps to boost the collagen’s effectiveness
- 290 tablets included in each jar
- Uses bovine collagen with a high concentration of type 1 collagen
- Additional chicken collagen included for the joints
- You will have to take 6 tablets every day for the full recommended serving
- May give you gas or bloating at first
- Tablets are a bit larger than you may prefer to take
7 – NeoCell Marine Collagen Plus Hyaluronic Acid Capsules
Sourced from tilapia, this collagen supplement also features vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, magnesium, zinc, copper, and hyaluronic acid. This blend of nutrients makes the collagen supplement more effective while also providing your body with a lot of necessary nutrients. The servings suggest taking 4 tablets daily, for a total of 2,000mg of marine collagen.
- Works on total body collagen needs, especially on the skin
- Taken in tablet form for convenience
- Collagen is potent and effective, even in this smaller dosage
- Tablets may give some people digestive issues when first starting the supplement
- With so many different nutritional ingredients, allergic reactions may be more common
8 – Flamingo Supplements Gummies
If you don’t like capsules, dissolving powders, or liquid supplements, these gummy vitamins from Flamingo offer a great collagen supplement alternative. They are sourced from marine collagen, giving a high potency gummy with a delicious orange flavor.
- Natural sweetener used for flavoring (cane sugar)
- No more swallowing large tablets or drinking tasteless powder
- Tastes great
- Includes mostly type 1 collagen for your skin, hair, and nails
- Concentration of collagen may be too low for some people to notice the results
- Results may come more slowly
9 – Life Miracle LiquiVive Collagen Liquid Protein Supplement
Liquid collagen supplements are supposed to be some of the easiest for your body to absorb and use. Bovine collagen is used, and only 1 tablespoon of the liquid is needed daily to get 7,500mg of collagen into your diet.
- Better absorption than tablets, gummies, or powders
- 90-day money back guarantee
- You can take as many as 3 tablespoons per day if you want to increase the benefits
- Delicious cherry flavor masks any unpleasant collagen taste
- Many ingredients used, this is not an all-natural supplement
- May be too sweet if you take it directly instead of mixing in another liquid
10 – Health Direct Amino-Sculpt Liquid Collagen Supplement
Made with a delicious cherry flavor, this collagen supplement gives you 8 grams per tablespoons. You can take up to 2 tablespoons per day for a stronger concentration. It’s formulated from bovine collagen that is rich in type 1 collagen.
- Uses stevia for sweetening, rather than unnatural sweeteners
- Comes in 16 or 32 oz. sizes
- Delicious cherry taste (other flavors available)
- See results in as soon as 2 weeks for some issues
- May be too sweet to drink directly, and should be mixed with something else
- This supplement is generally more expensive than others because of where the collagen is sourced from within the US and Germany
From the supplements I’ve reviewed above, I would recommend the Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides as one of the best collagen supplements you can get. It uses a strong concentration of bovine collagen, supplying a high level of type 1 collagen to promote healthy and strong skin, hair, and nails. It’s a pure collagen product without any additional ingredients, so it’s best to mix it with a source of vitamin C, such as in orange juice or another citrus juice.