Collagen, the protein abundant in skin, muscles, bones, and connective tissues, is the latest trendy addition to smoothies, soups, and sauces all over the wellness sphere. There's pure collagen, collagen boosters and everything in between. So, which is best?
As a supplement, collagen powder is credited with helping your body produce even more collagen, which upholds the structural integrity of your body inside and out. This in turn, according to collagen aficionados, helps decrease wrinkles, fade cellulite, soothe joint pain, improve your gut, boost your immunity, and even brighten your mood. Plus, research, such as this study, has demonstrated eating collagen can help your skin up its elasticity, hydration, and youthfully resiliency—and that’s definitely sparked some interest among those of us who seek that “otherworldly glow” (i.e. all of us).
As always, a hip health trend comes with a deluge of products to choose from. How do you decide which collagen powder to begin sprinkling into your morning latte? The first thing to learn are the numerous types of collagen—and that a whopping 80% to 90% of the collagen your body produces consists of Types I, II, and III.
The 3 Types of Collagen You Should Eat
Since the your body naturally manufactures types I, II, and III, it makes sense they may also benefit you the most via ingestion.
“The most important type of collagen is Type II collagen. This is the type of collagen that makes up your cartilage, ligaments, and gut lining. People that suffer from joint issues, digestive issues, and autoimmune disease would benefit the most from Type II collagen,” Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, CNS, DC, founder of DrAxe.com, best-selling author of "Dirt,"and co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, tells Organic Authority. “In addition, Type I and III are also very important, as these are the types that make up your skin and bones.”
To make the decision-making process a little easier for you, here’s a snapshot of the three collagen types to look out for when you’re shopping:
Type I: Type 1 collagen is the most copious in the human body. It’s known to help with bone structure and contribute to healing wounds and keeping skin elastic and strong.
Type II: Type II collagen makes up over half of protein in cartilage, which makes it vital for joint health.
Type III: Type III collagen is typically found along with Type I and it best known to help keep skin firm, taut, and elastic as well as maintain stronger nails and thicker hair.
Sources of Collagen Powders
Now that you know about the three collagen types, you should be aware of the different sources of collagen powder supplements, especially if you have an aversion to a particular type of meat or are vegetarian or vegan.
Animal Collagen Powder
The vast majority of collagen powders come from cows and chicken. Bovine collagen is found naturally in cows’ skin, muscles, and bones and contains Type 1 and Type III collagen. Then there’s chicken collagen, which carries an wealth of Type II collagen from the bird’s bones, cartilage, and tissues.
Marine Collagen Powder
Marine collagen mostly comes from fish, which contains Type I collagen. Fish collagen is smaller in size and is known for its higher absorbability in the body.
Vegetarian Collagen Powder
Vegetarian collagen comes from chicken egg whites and eggshells, which offers Type I and Type V collagen (Type V is found in relatively minimal amounts, in hair and placenta mostly, so it's not one you need to focus on, but doesn't hurt to consume if you prefer vegetarian powders).
Vegan Collagen Powder
There is no direct source of consumable collagen for vegans, but there’s still a way to help collagen levels flourish: by eating foods that help stimulate the body's production of the vital protein.
“Vegans and vegetarians who want to incorporate more collagen into their diet should look to consume more vitamin C, silica, vitamin A, certain antioxidants such as ellagic acid, and foods rich in zinc including spinach, and pumpkin seeds,” suggests Dr. Axe, who adds that broccoli, red bell peppers, oranges, and medicinal mushrooms are great collagen-boosting options. “Beets are also high in nitric oxide which supports circulation and may support collagen production."
If You’re Not Vegan, Which Is the Best Option?
If you’re fine with eating animal-derived collagen powder, Dr. Axe recommends adding it into your food and beverages on top of consuming vegetables that help stimulate its production. “What we’ve noticed in the thousands of patients we’ve worked with even is that though they’re consuming foods high in vitamin C and silica, the results they’re getting from adding collagen supplements into their diets are far more tremendous,” he says.
Unlike organic vegetables, health trends are often, well, trends. Sometimes they work, other times they don’t. Sometimes there’s ample scientific data, other times all the evidence comes from your wellness fanatic friends or that one celebrity who seems to age backwards. Eating collagen seem to hold a lot of promise in both ways, but really, there’s only one way for you to find out. Try it for yourself, like Salma Hayek does to avoid Botox, and see what happens. Here are 5 collagen supplements you can trust.
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