Here Are Some of the Main Types of Collagen + Their Benefits
Walk into any natural health retailer and you’re sure to find loads of collagen supplements, powders, beverages, bars, tea, and more.
Indeed, health-minded consumers, looking for anti-aging benefits, have gone a little crazy for collagen. According to data from SPINS, collagen sales grew in the U.S. by 56% in 2021 to $241 million, and another 28% in 2022 to $309 million.
Yet, collagen is still a relatively new supplement to most people and can be confusing. For example, what does it mean when a collagen label says, “marine sourced?” Or when a collagen label says, “grass fed?”
Here’s what you need to know about the different types of collagen and their benefits.
Here Are the Main Types of Collagen and Their Benefits
The Greek root of the word collagen is “colla,” which means glue. It’s an apt term as collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and serves as the primary building block of your skin, muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues – the stuff that holds your body together.
The body synthesizes collagen from certain amino acids and a few other nutrients such as vitamin C, zinc, copper, and manganese. However, as we age, collagen synthesis isn’t as efficient. Our skin begins to wrinkle and sag, and our joints begin to hurt.
The promise of consuming collagen in all its various powder, supplement, and concentrated forms is that it will supply the body with the ample collagen it needs, helping to support healthy skin and joints. Some research, but not all (more is needed), has shown real anti-aging skin and joint benefits.
Types of Collagen
The human body has 28 known types of collagen. Of these types, there are five that are commonly used in supplements and powders usually as collagen peptides (also called hydrolyzed collagen), which are smaller broken down components of collagen that allow for easy absorption.
These five types of collagen are generally sourced from the skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments of animals and fish. They include collagen from cows (bovine – hence the supplement label term “grass fed”), fish (marine), chickens and chicken eggshells, and pigs (porcine).
Type I Collagen
This is the most common type of collagen found in your body and accounts for about 90% of your collagen stores. It’s found right below the surface of the dermis and provides structure to skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments.
By far, this is the most popular type of collagen you’ll find in supplements. It’s most commonly derived from bovine and marine sources, but it can come from porcine sources and chicken eggshell membranes as well.
Some research indicates that supplementing with type I collagen may help to support healthy skin and slow the signs of aging, and a 2019 review found that “oral collagen supplements also increase skin elasticity, hydration, and dermal collagen density.” It’s also thought to be beneficial to the gut lining. Early research suggests type I collagen supports healthy ligaments, cartilage, and joints.
Type II Collagen
Type II collagen is found in elastic cartilage in the body, which supports healthy joints.
Derived from both marine and chicken sources, there’s some limited research on type II collagen supplementation for knee joint issues, which showed some measure of pain reduction when used with acetaminophen.
Other potential benefits may include support for healthy joint inflammation levels, cartilage, and range of motion.
Type III Collagen
This is the second most common collagen naturally found in your body, particularly in muscles, arteries, and organs.
Supplements are derived from bovine and porcine sources. In conjunction with type I, type III is believed to promote the health of your gut, muscles, bloods vessels, and the uterus.
Type V Collagen
Type V Collagen is naturally found in your eyes, helping to let light pass through the corneas. It plays a role in regulating the formation of collagen fibers of connective tissue. Working with types I and III, it helps to create the framework for organs and tissues in your body.
Type V collagen, in supplement form, is derived from chicken eggshell membranes. Researchers are still exploring how the body utilizes supplemental type V collagen. That said, there have been promising indications that type V may benefit eye health, as well as cell membranes and, for pregnant women, tissue found in the placenta.
Type X Collagen
Type X collagen can be found naturally in joint cartilage and is responsible for bone formation.
Many consumers seek out type X collagen, which is derived from chicken and bovine sources, to support recovery from limb damage and broken bones. However, currently there’s no specific evidence that suggests taking supplements with type X collagen supports the direct healing of an injured area.
You might see powdered “gelatin” collagen offered in some stores. Gelatin is a protein product that’s formed when collagen gets degraded using heat such as when you boil animal skin and bones to create bone broth. Although it offers some of the same benefits as collagen, gelatin is most often used for culinary purposes (dessert, broths, soups, and sauces), rather than as a supplement.
Give Collagen A Try
If you decide to give collagen a try, be sure to read labels to determine what type of collagen is in a particular product. It’s common to see a few types of collagen blended together into one supplement.
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