Collagen and collagen protein powders seems to be the new buzzword supplement that is loved by celebrities, influencers and athletes alike. Many claim that it has a whole host of benefits with a specific emphasis on improving skin, hair and nails to improving muscle mass. But what exactly is collagen? How can you benefit from incorporating it into your diet and supplement plan to lose weight, gain muscle or get the most benefits? In this blog post we provide the ultimate guide to collagen to help you cut-through the confusion and help you decided if it is the right supplement for you.
Introduction to Collagen
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It is the major component of connective tissues that make up several body parts, including tendons, ligaments, skin, and muscles.
Collagen has many important functions, including providing structure and strengthening tissues as well as helping form the structure bones and teeth. There are at least 16 types of collagen, but almost 90 percent of the collagen in the body consists of types I, II, and III.
Type I: This is the most abundant type of collagen in the body. It is found in scar tissue, the end product when tissue heals following an injury, as well as tendons, ligaments, the endomysium of myofibrils, the organic part of bone, the dermis, and the sclera.
Type II: This type of collagen is found in cartilage and helps to provide structure and support.
Type III: This type is found alongside type I collagen in skin, muscles, and blood vessels, providing structure and strength.
Collagen production starts to decline with age with the precise age of decline still unclear. This can lead to various signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin. Therefore, collagen is vital for providing a youthful look. It is also important for joint and bone health. Supplementing with collagen protein powder may provide benefits related to aging and joint discomfort.
Benefits of Collagen Supplements
Collagen supplements have become increasingly popular due to their many health and beauty benefits. Here are some of the top benefits of taking a collagen supplement:
Improved Skin Health
Studies have shown that Collagen is essential for maintaining youthful, wrinkle-free skin. As we age, our bodies produce less collagen, leading to dry skin and the formation of wrinkles. Taking a collagen supplement can help improve skin elasticity and hydration. Studies show collagen supplements increase skin firmness and smoothness when taken on a daily basis for an extended period of time.
Collagen, a crucial part of cartilage, safeguards joints by forming connective tissue. Daily collagen supplements can enhance joint health and flexibility by repairing cartilage.. Some studies indicate collagen supplements reduce joint pain and stiffness related to arthritis.
Collagen supplements support intestinal health and integrity. The amino acids in collagen help repair connective tissue in the digestive tract lining to treat leaky gut syndrome. Collagen also promotes probiotic bacteria growth to support healthy digestion. Improved gut health has been linked to many positive benefits in the body including mental and physical benefits.
Strengthened Bones and Muscles
Collagen contains amino acids that play an important role in building bone mass. Supplementing with collagen improves bone mineral density to help prevent osteoporosis especially products that are high in protein . The protein in collagen is also crucial for building lean muscle mass and strength. Our blog post goes into more detail on collagen and muscle development: https://drink-vieve.co.uk/blogs/news/does-collagen-protein-build-muscle-the-truth-revealed
Many Other Benefits
Collagen offers additional benefits like strengthening hair and nails, boosting metabolism, improving liver health, and reducing cellulite. Realising the benefits depends on the individual, dosage and consistency over time in supplementing.
Types of Collagen Supplements
Collagen supplements come in different forms, but the most common are:
Collagen Peptides & Hydrolyzed Collagen
Collagen peptides also known as hydrolyzed collagen, collagen peptides are broken down into small chains of amino acids for better absorption into your body. They dissolve easily in hot or cold liquids and many everyday food & drink. Collagen peptides have gained popularity in recent years due to their versatility and high bioavailability. They are odorless and tasteless, making them easy to add to foods and beverages.
Gelatin is made by cooking collagen to extract the soluble proteins. It forms a gel-like substance when reconstituted with water. Gelatin contains larger proteins than collagen peptides or hydrolyzed collagen. While its bioavailability may be slightly reduced compared to other forms, it still offers similar benefits. Unflavored gelatin powders can be used in recipes to create collagen-rich foods and drinks.
The different supplemental forms provide flexibility in how you can add more collagen into your diet. Collagen peptides and hydrolyzed collagen dissolve seamlessly while gelatin works well for making homemade collagen gummies or adding to warm beverages but doesn't dissolve as well.
Sources of Collagen
Collagen can be sourced from a variety of animals as well as eggshell membranes. The main sources used in collagen supplements include bovine, marine, eggshell, and chicken collagen.
It should be noted there are vegan collagen protein powders on the market however these are synthesised around an amino acid profile and in effect are not real collagen proteins derived from nature. It is always preferred to get collagen proteins from a natural source.
Bovine collagen comes from bovine (cows) and is one of the most abundant sources available. It contains type I and type III collagen. Bovine collagen has a high bioavailability and absorption rate. Most popular collagen supplements use bovine collagen as their collagen source.
Marine collagen comes from fish skin and scales. It contains primarily type I collagen but also has a significant amount of type III. Marine collagen is absorbed quickly and contains small particles for easier digestion. Fish like cod, snapper, and salmon are common sources of marine collagen. This type of collagen often isn't as flavourless and tasteless as others but may be more suitable for those on a particular diet (e.g. pescatarian)
Egg Shell Membrane Collagen
Eggshell membrane collagen provides mostly type I collagen and is a good option for people with concerns about bovine diseases like mad cow disease. It may also be suitable for people following religious dietary restrictions. However, eggshell collagen has lower concentrations of collagen compared to bovine and marine sources thus it is not as frequent on the market.
Chicken collagen contains type II collagen and can be extracted from various parts like bone broth and sternum cartilage. It's considered more effective for joint and gut health. However, it's not as easily absorbed as bovine or marine collagen. Chicken collagen supplements are less common than bovine or marine, but are mostly sold in whole form as bone brother products which are a high source of collagen
How Collagen Powder is Made
Collagen powder starts as collagen from animal parts that are high in collagen, like bones, skin, scales and connective tissue. There are a few key steps to go from raw collagen to the powder form found in supplements:
Extraction - Collagen is first extracted from the raw animal parts. This is done by heating up the parts, which breaks down the collagen into gelatin. The collagen-rich gelatin can then be separated from the rest of the material to start the process of making a power.
Hydrolysis - Next, the extracted gelatin goes through a process called hydrolysis. This uses hot water and acids or enzymes to further break down the collagen into smaller particles. Hydrolysis reduces the large collagen molecules into smaller bits called peptides.
Drying - The hydrolyzed collagen then goes through a drying process, usually freeze drying or spray drying. Freeze drying involves freezing the hydrolyzed collagen and then removing the surrounding moisture by vacuum. This creates a fine powder from the collagen material. Spray drying pumps the hydrolyzed collagen through a nozzle to make small droplets that are dried with hot air. Both methods result in a fine, dry collagen powder.
Mixing - Finally, the collagen powder may be mixed with additional ingredients like vitamins, minerals or flavors. This produces the final collagen protein powder product that is packaged and sold.
The main steps - extraction, hydrolysis and drying - turn raw collagen materials into a soluble powder that is easily mixed into liquids or smoothies. This powdered form makes it convenient to add extra collagen into your diet.
How to Use Collagen Powder
Collagen powder is a versatile supplement that can be seamlessly incorporated into your daily diet and routine. Here are some tips for getting the most out of collagen powder:
Add it to Your Coffee or Tea
Stir 1-2 scoops of collagen peptides into your morning coffee, tea, or other beverages. If you rigorously stir the powder will dissolve, adding protein without changing the taste. This is an easy way to increase your daily collagen intake.
Include it in Smoothies
Blend collagen powder into your favorite smoothies. The neutral flavor won't alter the taste of your smoothie. Use 1-2 scoops per smoothie to get a protein boost with some sample smoothie recipes below including the popular Bulletproof coffee.
Mix into Soups & Sauces
Whisk a few scoops of collagen peptides into soups, sauces, oatmeal and more during cooking. The heat will help the powder dissolve fully. This allows you to add extra collagen to your diet without changing taste or texture.
Bake with Collagen
When baking cookies, breads, muffins and more, you can replace up to 25% of the flour in a recipe with collagen powder. This amps up the nutritional value without sacrificing taste or texture and can be heated up without impacting the taste of the product.
Make Homemade Jell-O
For a fun treat, mix collagen powder into boiling water or fruit juice to createflavorful DIY jello. Let it set in the fridge before enjoying. Kids will love these high protein snacks.
Add to Oats & Yogurt
Stir collagen peptides into overnight oats, yogurt, chia pudding or granola to give your breakfast a protein and collagen boost. The powder dissolves seamlessly into these items.
Collagen Protein Smoothies
Blending fruit, veggies, nut milk and scoops of collagen is an easy way to makea nutritious collagen smoothie. Customize the ingredients to your taste preferences.
Collagen Baking Recipes
From collagen energy bites to collagen protein muffins, there are endless baked goods you can make with collagen powder. Baking with collagen amps up the nutrition.
Collagen in Drinks & Desserts
Get creative mixing collagen powder into various beverages like hot chocolate, milkshakes, protein shakes, lemonade, cakes and more. You can also use it in pudding, ice cream, popsicles and other desserts.
Here are two easy recipes to incorporate collagen powder:
- 1 cup pineapple chunks
- 1 banana
- 1 cup coconut water
- 2 scoops unflavored collagen powder
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- Ice cubes
Collagen Coffee (e.g. the Bulletproof Coffee)
- 1 cup hot coffee
- 1 scoop chocolate collagen powder
- 1 tbsp heavy cream or milk
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp coconut oil or MCT oil
The recommended daily collagen dosage is generally 10 grams. Start with 1-2 scoops per day. You can adjust the amount based on your individual needs and goals. It's best taken consistently and results tracked daily to see if it is working.
Side Effects and Safety
Collagen supplements are generally safe for most people. However, some individuals may experience mild side effects.
The most common side effects are:
- Stomach pain
These side effects are usually mild and go away on their own. If side effects persist, consider lowering the dose or stopping use.
Some people should avoid collagen supplements:
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women. There is not enough research on safety for these groups.
- People with food allergies. Collagen supplements may trigger allergic reactions in people allergic to fish, shellfish, eggs or chicken.
- People taking certain medications. Collagen supplements may interact with some medications like anticoagulants.
Overall, collagen protein powders have a good safety profile. But some pre-existing conditions may increase the risk of side effects. As always, consult you doctor before taking any new supplements especially if you have a pre-existing condition.
How to Choose a Collagen Powder
When selecting a collagen powder supplement, it's important to look for products that have undergone third-party testing and received certifications to ensure quality and safety. Here are some key things to look for:
Third Party Testing
Reputable collagen powder brands will provide certificates of analysis from independent labs to verify the ingredients and amounts listed on the label match what's actually in the product. This ensures there are no contaminants, heavy metals, or other impurities present. Testing confirms the collagen is pure and safe. Check with your manufacture if they batch test each product.
Quality collagen powders should have certifications like the following available on request:
NSF Certified for Sport - Ensures the product contains no banned substances for professional athletes.
USP Verified - Indicates the supplement meets quality and purity standards set by the U.S. Pharmacopeia.
cGMP Certified - Shows the facility follows Current Good Manufacturing Practices set by the FDA for dietary supplements.
The source of the collagen is also important. Marine collagen from fish is best absorbed, while pasture-raised bovine collagen is a good option for people avoiding shellfish. The country of origin matters too - collagen from places like the U.S., Canada, Norway is safest. You should also consider collagen from a local source to minimise the Co2 footprint of shipping collagen (e.g. avoid Brazil unless you are based in South America which is where many collagen are sourced).
Read the supplement facts panel to understand exactly what you're getting. Quality collagen should not have unnecessary fillers, additives or sugars. There should only be one ingredient and that is hydrolysed collagen peptides. This is the main active ingredient for maximum absorption.
By evaluating third party testing, certifications, source information and the nutritional panel, you can feel confident in choosing a pure, safe collagen powder. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement.
Effectiveness of Collagen Powders
Collagen powders have become incredibly popular in recent years due to their touted benefits for skin, hair, nails, joints and bones. But what does the research actually say about how effective these supplements are?
Multiple studies have found benefits of collagen supplementation for skin. A 2019 double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that women who took a collagen peptide supplement for 8 weeks showed significantly higher skin hydration and collagen density compared to a placebo group. The women taking collagen showed better texture, moisture and smoothness of skin.
A 2015 study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology had similar findings, showing increased skin hydration, collagen content and skin elasticity for women taking collagen hydrolysate supplements. Other studies show oral collagen can increase dermal collagen density, improve appearance of cellulite and support wound healing. The evidence indicates collagen supplements can have rejuvenating effects on skin.
Joint and Bone Health
Several clinical trials show benefits of collagen supplements for joint health. A 24-week study in athletes found collagen hydrolysate improved joint pain at rest, during activity and while walking. A meta-analysis of multiple trials found collagen effective at reducing joint pain. And a study in postmenopausal women with osteoarthritis found collagen supplements significantly reduced pain.
For bone health, a recent double-blind trial found collagen peptides increased bone mineral density in postmenopausal women with osteopenia. More research is still needed, but current evidence indicates supplemental collagen may help reduce joint pain and support stronger bones.
Hair, Nails and Other Benefits
Limited evidence suggests collagen supplements may support hair and nail growth and strength. One study found collagen intake increased nail growth and decreased broken nails. More research is still needed to confirm effects on hair and nails. There is also some preliminary evidence collagen may support heart health, improve mood and help maintain muscle mass as we age. But more clinical trials are needed on these potential benefits.
So in summary, collagen powders do seem effective for improving measures of skin health, and they show promise for joint, bone and connective tissue support. More research is still emerging, but the current evidence indicates taking a quality collagen supplement can provide real benefits.
Collagen Powder vs. Other Supplements
Collagen supplements have become increasingly popular in recent years as a way to support skin, joint, gut, and overall health. But how does collagen powder compare to other common supplements that target these areas?
Joint Health Supplements
For joint health, collagen competes with traditional supplements like glucosamine, chondroitin, turmeric, and omega-3s. Research indicates collagen can be just as effective as glucosamine and chondroitin for improving joint pain and flexibility. Some studies even show collagen works better than glucosamine alone for osteoarthritis symptoms.
Collagen powder may have some advantages over these other joint supplements:
Collagen provides the actual building blocks for cartilage, tendons, and ligaments, while glucosamine is a precursor. Consuming collagen directly may be more effective.
Collagen powder dissolves easily and is tasteless, making it simpler to take than large pills.
Collagen works through slightly different mechanisms than traditional joint supplements, so it may complement others taken.
Skin Health Supplements
For skin health, collagen supplements can be compared to vitamins C, E, biotin, zinc, and hyaluronic acid. Clinical studies show collagen boosts skin elasticity, hydration, and dermal collagen density as effectively as key nutrients. The amino acids in collagen also protect against UV damage and oxidative stress.
Collagen has some potential advantages for the skin:
It provides the fundamental building blocks for maintaining youthful skin structure better than individual vitamins.
The amino acid glycine helps regulate metabolism and inflammation involved in skin aging.
Collagen can improve skin from the inside out, while topical products like hyaluronic acid serums only work on the surface.
Gut Health Supplements
For gut and digestive health, collagen competes with supplements like probiotics, glutamine, zinc, licorice root, and Aloe vera. The glycine in collagen powder can help repair a leaky gut lining and reduce inflammation. The amino acids may also stimulate growth of beneficial gut bacteria but the data is not 100% conclusive on this.
Some possible advantages of collagen for the gut include:
The amino acids directly strengthen and heal intestinal barrier cells. Probiotics only modulate gut bacteria.
Collagen improves gut motility and function better than supplements that solely treat symptoms like diarrhea.
The anti-inflammatory effects of collagen may complement gut soothing herbs like licorice.
After reviewing the benefits and types of collagen protein powders, it's clear that adding a collagen supplement may be advantageous for many people. Collagen has been shown to improve skin hydration and elasticity, joint health, bone density, hair and nail growth, and even sleep quality. Taking a collagen powder daily can help increase collagen production in the body, which tends to decline with age but this needs to be done consistently.
The major benefits of collagen supplementation include:
- Improved skin hydration, smoothness, elasticity, and dermal collagen density
- Reduced visible signs of aging like wrinkles, dryness and sagging skin
- Increased muscle mass and strength
- Relief of joint pain and inflammation
- Reduced bone loss associated with osteoporosis and arthritis
- Healthier hair and nails with less breakage
- Better gut lining integrity and relief of leaky gut syndrome
With so many upsides, it's smart to consider adding a collagen powder supplement to your daily routine. Focus on finding a high-quality powder sourced from grass-fed, pasture-raised bovine or marine sources. Look for the relevant certifications and start with collagen powders that are sourced locally to minis the environmental impact. Start with the recommended serving size and adjust based on your individual needs and goals.
Drinking a collagen protein drink daily or shake can support whole-body wellness with a variety of benefits. Give it a try and see improvements in your skin, joints, bones, muscles, hair, nails, and more!
Why Vieve Protein Water Drinks & Collagen Powders Is the Ultimate Collagen Supplement
Vieve is the world's first high-protein drink and protein water to use collagen as its primary protein source, offering a true non-dairy alternative to whey and milk based drinks. Each bottle contains 20,000mg of hydrolysed collagen. It's the ultimate collagen drink!
Our collagen powder mixes easily into everyday food & drink with just a tablespoon to give you an instant 10g collagen-based protein boost.
Head over to our shop to check out our selection of protein drinks and protein waters. Find out more about Vieve here. Vieve Protein Water is also available to buy from Amazon or Ocado.