Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and an essential building block of muscle, skin, heart and organ tissue. Unfortunately, once we reach our mid-20s, our bodies begin producing less and less collagen.
This has wide-ranging negative health consequences and may increase the risk of developing osteoporosis, heart disease, arthritis and more. Collagen supplements are a simple, affordable way to fill the collagen gap and ensure a higher degree of overall health.
Below are the best collagen supplements of 2020.
1. Collagen Complex
Collagen Complex uses high-quality hydrolyzed collagen to provide comprehensive protection and support for bones, skin, joints, hair and more. There are no unnecessary or counterproductive ingredients, no artificial additives, fillers, colors or flavors, and no genetically modified organisms.
Women in particular will find Collagen Complex a valuable ally in helping to fend off osteoporosis, and in helping to counteract the effects of aging on the skin. Collagen complex can also help alleviate the pain and stiffness of arthritis, reduce inflammation and may reduce the risk of heart disease. Collagen Complex is made in the US in a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) facility.
2. Healthy Origins UC-II
If you suffer from arthritis or are an athlete who often has to battle stiff, achy joints, Healthy Origins UC-II can likely help. UC-II is packed with Type II collagen, the type of collagen found almost exclusively in our joints, where it bolsters the integrity of cartilage. Healthy Origins undenatured collagen is a pure, potent supplement that gets right to work shoring up the strength and elasticity of your joints.
Stronger joints mean a reduction in workout pain, and the alleviation of pain and stiffness associated with arthritis. Healthy Origins UC-II is free of all common food allergens and produced in an FDA supervised facility in the US.
3. Youtheory Collagen with Vitamin C
Youtheory Collagen with Vitamin C provides an impressive 1600 mg of Type I, II, and III collagen in every serving. These are the three most common types of collagen in the body and are foundational components of muscle, organ and skin tissue. They also play a role in nail and hair production and are key to strong and healthy bones and joints.
This is hydrolyzed collagen that is well-accepted by the human body and has proven its effectiveness in multiple clinical trials. Youtheory also tosses some vitamin C into the mix. But the real star here is the high-quality collagen. If there is a downside, it’s that they recommend taking six capsules per day.
4. Perfotek Hydrolyzed Collagen Peptides
The Perfotek claim to fame is their insistence on sourcing their collagen only from open pasture, grass-fed cattle. As opposed to most others who source from cattle raised in stockyards. Does this provide a more potent brand of collagen? The jury is out. But there is no doubt that sourcing collagen in such a way eliminates the possibility of impurities finding their way into the product. And that can only be a good thing.
Keep in mind before buying that this is a collagen powder. Not a capsule or tablet. It is meant to be mixed with your favorite non-carbonated beverage, or mixed with your protein shake if you are a bodybuilder.
5. NeoCell Super Collagen with Vitamin C
NeoCell Super Collagen is rigorously tested to make sure it is completely free of genetically engineered cells that sometimes appear in lesser products. It is also 100% free of common food allergens including starch, yeast, soy, gluten and more, and it does not contain any artificial ingredients, fillers or flavors.
What you get is 6000 mg per serving of pure, potent hydrolyzed collagen types I and III. These are ideal for strengthening bones and bolstering the health of nails, skin and hair. There is also a modest amount of vitamin C in every capsule to enhance the integrity of your bodily tissue at the cellular level.
6. Forest Leaf Advanced Collagen Supplement
Forest Leaf Advanced Collagen Supplement provides generous amounts of the three primary forms of collagen. Each capsule also contains 100 mg of hyaluronic acid, which plays such an important role in bolstering skin health. Between the Type II collagen and the hyaluronic acid your skin will get the help it needs to fend off the ravages of age.
At least, that’s the theory. Fortunately, most users seem to think it lives up to its billing, which is why it earns a place on our list. Forest Leaf supplements are made in the US in a GMP facility under the watchful eye of the FDA.
7. Garden of Life mykind Collagen Builder
Rather than providing straight up collagen for your body to absorb, Garden of Life provides a long list of ingredients that are thought or believed to promote collagen production. These include vitamins A and C, biotin, selenium, magnesium, zinc, folate and many more.
This is likely among the best alternatives for vegans who have traditionally been left out of the collagen supplement equation. All Garden of Life products are certified organic, certified vegan, contain no GMOs and are 100% free of common food allergens including gluten.
8. Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Powder
Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Powder is formulated to mix well with your favorite non-carbonated beverage. It provides you the Type I, II and III collagen your body needs to maintain healthy bones, skin, hair and nails.
It blends easy with most beverages and does not settle in your glass as quickly as some other powders. If there is a downside here it is this: in order to make their powder more palatable, they include a fairly significant dose of sodium. Some people will be okay with that, others may not be.
9. Doctor’s Best Collagen Types 1 & 3
Doctor’s Best provides 2000 mg of high quality bovine collagen in every capsule. This is Type I and III collagen, meaning it is ideal for strengthening muscles and bones, as well as underpinning healthy nails and hair. Doctor’s Best supplements are free of GMOs, free of food allergens such as soy and gluten, and rigorously tested for purity.
Just keep in mind that if you are looking for a collagen supplement for strengthening joints or relieving joint pain and stiffness, this is not it. You will want something with Type II collagen for that.
10. Health Logics BioCell Collagen
Those looking to alleviate arthritis pain and stiffness, or to treat sore achy joints after a long run will want to consider Healthy Logics BioCell Collagen. Healthy Logics Collagen is pure Type II collagen, the best possible type for bolstering joint health.
Each capsule contains 600 mg of Type II collagen, along with hyaluronic acid to improve the look and feel of your skin. Healthy Logics supplements are free of soy, gluten, dairy, peanuts and more. And contain no genetically modified organisms. They are produced in a GMP facility in the US.
What is Collagen?
Collagen (1) is a type of protein. In fact, it is the most abundant protein in the human body. There are three primary, (and a number of secondary), types of collagen found in the body. Type I is present in all body tissue except the cartilage in your joints.
That (the cartilage) is where you will find Type II collagen. Type III collagen is the less abundant of the main types. It is used by the body to create the walls of the arteries and some of the organs. Other types of collagen can be found in cell membranes and hair. In all there are 16 types of collagen. Although Types I, II, and III make up more than 90% of all the collagen in your body.
What Are the Benefits of Taking Collagen?
Collagen is good for bones and joints – Type I collagen is a major building block of healthy bones and Type II is essential for the production of healthy cartilage. So any collagen supplement that includes both of these types is going to be good for your bones and joints. If you are athletically inclined and find yourself nursing stiff, painful joints, there is evidence that supplemental collagen can help (2). There is also very encouraging evidence that supplemental collagen can help relieve the pain and stiffness associated with rheumatoid arthritis (3).
Collagen is good for your skin – The skin relies on collagen to retain its plump, moist, elastic quality. However, as people age their bodies begin to reduce the amount of collagen they produce. Researchers are not sure exactly why. All they are sure of is that this reduction in collagen production is real and quantifiable. Supplemental collagen can pick up the slack and help restore skin hydration and elasticity (4). It may take a few months of daily use to start seeing results, so be patient.
Collagen can help improve gut health – There is evidence that people with inflammatory bowel disease suffer from low levels of type I collagen (5). This makes sense, as collagen is a vital component in producing healthy organ tissue, and IBD is a manifestation of unhealthy gut tissue. In the light of this new awareness, many health professionals today advise using supplemental collagen to treat IBD. If you suffer from IBD ask your doctor if collagen supplements might help.
Collagen may help you sleep better – Many collagen powders contain the amino acid glycine (6). Glycine has demonstrated an ability to reduce the severity and frequency of insomnia, which makes it a valuable tool for those who typically lie awake in their beds. Getting enough sleep is crucial to maintaining physical and mental health regardless of your age (7).
Collagen is good for hair and nails – Hair and fingernails are far more complex than they appear. They are primarily composed of keratin (8), but they also require collagen to ensure the health of their root systems. However, as we mentioned earlier, collagen production undergoes a slow, steady decline as we age, and our hair and fingernails suffer as a result. Supplemental collagen may help you maintain healthier skin and nails as you age.
Collagen may alleviate some symptoms of arthritis – It is now estimated that as many as 91 million Americans may suffer from some form of arthritis (9). Arthritis attacks the joints, causing stiffness, pain and, in some cases, deformity. Collagen is one of the building blocks of our joints. Type I collagen builds strong bones, while Type II collagen bolsters the integrity of the cartilage in our joints. There is growing clinical evidence that supplemental collagen can alleviate some of the symptoms of arthritis (10).
Collagen can help boost metabolism – Protein forms the foundation of muscle tissue, and collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. So what does that have to do with metabolism? Everything. Muscle tissue is well vascularized, while fat tissue is not. As a result, the more muscle you have, the more blood is required and the faster your metabolism works to keep up with demand (11). Muscle tissue can actually burn calories while you are watching TV or sleeping.
Collagen may help prevent bone loss – As we age collagen production wanes. As a result, our bones get increasingly narrower and more brittle, a condition known as osteoporosis (12), which is particularly common in post-menopausal women. The result is an increased risk of life-altering bone fractures. There is clinical evidence that collagen supplementation may help strengthen bone composition (13) and help prevent destructive fractures.
Collagen may help reduce inflammation – Inflammation is a natural aspect of the body’s immune response. But in some cases, that response can go haywire, resulting in chronic inflammation that produces a cascade of negative health effects (14). Because of its ability to fortify the integrity of joints (which are the most common target of chronic inflammation), collagen may be effective in alleviating some symptoms of chronic inflammation.
Collagen can restore lost muscle mass – Collagen comprises about 2% of the volume of all muscle tissue, and some 6% of the weight of the average muscle. It follows, then, that age-related loss of collagen would cause a loss of muscle mass. Recent studies have demonstrated that collagen supplementation, combined with resistance training, can restore that lost muscle mass and then some (15). Collagen can also be useful for young people in search of a stronger, leaner physique.
Collagen is good for your heart – The heart is the most important muscle in the body. Collagen is fundamental to the health of muscle tissue. As such, supplemental collagen is good for your heart. It may indeed help stave off various conditions like atherosclerosis. With atherosclerosis (16), plaque accumulates on artery walls, causing them to stiffen and raising the chance of a heart attack. Research indicates that supplemental collagen may help reduce the risk of developing this dangerous condition (17).
Collagen may help alleviate anxiety – Glycine is found in large quantities in collagen. Glycine is an amino acid that plays many important roles in the body. It has also shown promise in clinical trials for being able to reduce symptoms in people suffering from specific anxiety disorders (18). That is good news for those folks. But it also suggests that collagen may have a role to play in reducing other, more general types of anxiety.
Collagen may help in wound healing – Collagen is fundamental to the creation and maintenance of healthy tissue. That means, bones, organs, muscles and skin. When you cut or otherwise damage your skin, the body responds by closing the wound, attacking any invasive microbes and rebuilding the tissue. Having more collagen available during the rebuilding process can likely increase both the speed and quality of recovery.
Collagen can aid in digestion – ‘Leaky gut syndrome’ (19) is a blanket term for a vexing condition characterized by gaps in the walls of the intestines. When this occurs toxins from the intestines leak out into the surrounding tissue and cause inflammation and a rash of associated problems. Because collagen has a direct impact on the health of the stomach and intestinal linings, it is thought that collagen supplementation may help fend off development of a leaky gut, or treat it should it appear.
Who Can Benefit From Taking Collagen?
Older adults – As we mentioned earlier, collagen production wanes as we age. That leads to a reduction in skin quality, weaker bones and an increased risk of devastating fractures. So anyone over 30 would do well to consider using supplemental collagen. And the earlier you start using it the better.
Athletes and bodybuilders – Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. You cannot build muscles without it. If you are a weightlifter trying to sculpt the perfect physique, or an athlete trying to gain a competitive edge, collagen supplementation should be on your radar (20).
People with arthritis – Arthritis is characterized by stiff, painful joints. Collagen is a vital component of the bones and cartilage that make up joints. Adding supplemental collagen to your diet can bolster the overall health and strength of your joints. This is especially true if you are an older adult whose body is producing less and less collagen.
Those with, or in danger of developing, osteoporosis – Osteoporosis is the gradual wasting away of bone tissue as we age. Women tend to suffer this dangerous condition more so than men. But everyone is a candidate (21). Supplemental collagen has been shown to be an effective treatment for both osteoporosis and osteoarthritis (22).
Does Collagen Have any Side Effects?
Collagen supplements are mostly free of potentially adverse side effects. Collagen is something your body needs at a very fundamental level, and so taking supplemental collagen is not like taking a pharmaceutical concoction dreamed up in a laboratory somewhere. As always, however, too much of anything is likely to produce negative side effects.
Excessive amounts of collagen may cause diarrhea, constipation or heartburn. In addition, it is extremely rare, but still possible, that a person may be allergic to bovine or fish-derived collagen products (23). Also, you need to read supplement labels thoroughly because you can never be sure what other ingredients the manufacturer may have included that might be problematic for you.
Keep in mind too, that collagen supplements are almost all derived from animal sources. Therefore, if you are vegan you will need to find another source for the nutrients you are trying to obtain. For the overwhelming majority of people, however, collagen supplements are both safe and effective when taken as directed.
How do I Know Collagen is Safe?
The FDA considers collagen to be a pretty benign substance and does not regulate its production, distribution or use in any significant way. Millions of people use collagen supplements each and every day without problems. So the FDA’s faith in collagen would seem well-founded and you can be reasonably certain that the product is safe. If it was not, the FDA would yank it from shelves quickly and totally the way it recently did with the heartburn medicine Zantac (24).
So there is no reason to be overly concerned about the safety of collagen supplements. The most important thing is to take the supplement only as directed and make sure there are no secondary ingredients in the supplement that may be problematic for you.
The Bottom Line
Collagen is one of the building blocks of the human body and is present in every type of tissue from the skin to the heart. However, as we age our bodies produce less and less collagen for reasons that are not entirely clear. Fortunately, we have collagen supplements to pick up the slack.
Collagen supplements can help strengthen bones and joints, enhance the health of your hair and nails, enable you to sleep better and help you build bigger, stronger muscles. But that’s not all. Collagen can also alleviate the pain and stiffness of arthritis, help in wound healing and digestion, and boost your metabolism, making it easier for you to maintain a healthy weight.
Collagen supplements are affordable, easy to obtain, do not require a prescription and are available in capsule or powder form, which can be mixed with your favorite beverage. Use the above information to make an informed decision regarding which collagen supplement is right for you.