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Collagen is one of the top supplements in demand right now, and it’s touted as a pretty multiuse supplement that you can put in smoothies, food, and even your coffee.

While some claim it’ll keep the ol’ age clock from ticking away, there’s a lot that drinking collagen daily can and can’t do for you.

Here’s how to find the best collagen supplement to help you reap the real benefits.

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Collagen is a naturally occurring protein that acts as a building block for cells, tissues, and organs.

We actually produce collagen naturally, and in our youth it gives our skin it’s plump, wrinkle-free look and helps make our hair thicker, our nails stronger, and our bodies more agile.

As we age, we start to lose this natural collagen. According to a 2012 review, we lose about 1 percent of collagen “per unit area of the skin surface” a year! This can make hair and nails more brittle, cause our skin to sag and appear dull, and some of us may even notice joint stiffness.

While it’s easy to just think of collagen as the key to looking younger, it’s also super important in helping us repair damaged bone, muscle, and cartilage.

When we consume collagen, whether from food or supplements, it’s broken down into individual amino acids that are then put to work to repair and rebuild where needed.

Collagen supplements, in the form of pills, tonics, powders, or gummies, may have a leg up on the food form because it’s hydrolyzed into peptides first. That means part of the digestion has already been handled for us making what we consume much easier to absorb and use.

Studies that have looked at the absorption of collagen peptides found marine collagen tends to be absorbed better due to its low molecular weight. However, studies also show hydrolyzed collagen seems to be well absorbed in general, and can boost circulating levels of important amino acids.

Are there different kinds of collagen?

There are at least 16 types of collagen, but almost all the collagen in the body is type 1, 2, or 3.

Types 1 and 3 are found primarily in the skin, organs, and bones. Bovine collagen (from cows) contains types 1 and 3 and is the most common form. Collagen from fish also primarily contains type 1. These types are usually marketed for skin.

Type 2 is found mainly in cartilage, collagen sourced from chicken typically contains type 2. This type is usually marketed for joint health.

Supplements like collagen are regulated by the FDA. But, the FDA doesn’t review dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness before they’re on the market.

The manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements are responsible for making sure their products are safe BEFORE they go to market.

However, science is beginning to focus more attention on collagen supplements and their potential benefits. Here’s what we know so far:

Joint pain

There’s some promising evidence that taking a collagen supplement can help relieve joint pain. One review of hydrolyzed collagen supplementation found benefits to joint health and also helped to reduce joint pain in people with osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.

Hair, skin, and nails

Science is also looking into how consuming collagen can improve skin elasticity and even boost collagen production.

A 2015 study found improvements in both when participants took a collagen peptide supplement for 8 weeks. Collagen peptide supplementation may also help both hair and nails to grow stronger.

Muscle mass

Recent research has shown taking a collagen supplement may improve muscle mass.

In a small study of premenopausal women, researchers found taking 15 grams of collagen and exercising for 12 weeks helped them gain muscle mass. Another study of young men with the same parameters had similar findings.

Bone density

Strengthen those bones, while you sip on some collagen peptides. A small 2018 study of postmenopausal women found those taking collagen supplements daily during a 12-month period improved their bone density.

More protein

Collagen is protein! So if you’re concerned you may not get enough protein, adding some collagen to your diet isn’t the worst idea to help meet your daily quota.

But, take note: Although collagen is a great source of amino acids, it lacks the essential amino acid tryptophan. This means it’s not considered a complete protein source, but as long as you’re eating a well-rounded diet rich in other sources of protein, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Are there any ingredients that help collagen work even better?

There are plenty of claims around nutrients that boost collagen production. To date, there are two that have some published data to back them up: Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid.

Vitamin C is an essential cofactor for collagen synthesis and also a powerful antioxidant. So, in addition to nudging the collagen production process, it also helps keep inflammation levels low.

Hyaluronic acid helps skin retain its natural glow, heal wounds, and keeps joints nice and lubricated. But like collagen, this naturally decreases as we get older.

Unfortunately, you can’t choose where the collagen you consume will exert its efforts.

You may be drinking your collagen peptides for a brighter skin glow, but our bodies have this insane way of prioritizing. Those amino acids you just drank? They get allocated wherever the boss (your bod) decides they’re most needed.

Rumors also circulate about other benefits of collagen supplementation like helping with leaky gut syndrome and improving mood. Sadly none are backed by much, if any, science right now.

At the end of the day, collagen supplements are processed which means they’re not perfect (gasp!).

Our goal was to find the products with:

  • Good ingredients. These products have the highest quality ingredients we could find. And, products have a short list of ingredients.
  • Happy users. We looked for collagen that has the happiest users at a price that seemed more reasonable than an $8/day green juice habit.
  • Diverse amino acid profile. Collagen naturally contains 19 amino acids so we were sure to scan labels for these.
  • Sustainably sourced. The products on this list are non-GMO and sourced from grass-fed pasture raised animals or from sustainably sourced fish.
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or fillers. We chose products with no artificial ingredients.

Pricing guide

$ = under $30
$$ = $30–$40
$$$ = $40–$50
$$$$ = over $50

Note: Be sure to read labels when shopping for supplements to see what’s considered 1 serving and how many servings are per container. One serving from brand A may contain 18 grams of protein while one serving from brand B may only contain half that amount. And, if you intend to get a full month’s worth, you may be doubling the monthly cost if it’s a 15-day supply.

Best overall

1. Vital Proteins Grass-Fed Collagen Peptides

NutritionAmount per 20 grams (1 serving)
calories70
protein18 grams
hydrolyzed collagen 20 grams

Probably one of the most recognizable names in the collagen game, this powder is great to add to your morning coffee or your overnight oats. It dissolves fast with no added flavor so your taste buds won’t even notice the nutrition upgrade.

It’s highly bioavailable and produced from grass-fed cows which means no hormones or pesticides. It also boasts 18 grams of protein per serving, plus vitamin C and hyaluronic acid to help give collagen production an added boost.

Price: $$$

Buy Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides.

Best budget

2. Orgain Collagen Peptides

NutritionAmount per 20 grams (1 serving)
calories70
protein18 grams
bovine collagen peptides20 grams

The ingredients? Bovine collagen peptides from grass-fed, pasture raised animals to support skin, hair, nails, and joints. Literally, that’s it. It’s free of sugar, gluten, soy, and dairy. Plus, it offers zero in the odor and flavor department which means, yes, add it to a-n-y-thing.

Price: $

Buy Orgain Collagen Peptides.

Best for skin

3. LiveWell Collagen Peptides

NutritionAmount per 11 grams (1 serving)
calories40
protein10 grams
bovine collagen peptides11 grams

LiveWell Collagen Peptides contains types 1 and 3 collagen to help skin, plus 20 amino acids, including all 9 essential amino acids to support tissue building and repair.

Made from cows who are pasture-raised and grass-fed these products are non-GMO, and free of additives and fillers. They also undergo third party testing to make sure the product contains what it says.

Price: $$

Buy LiveWell Collagen Peptides.

Best for joints

4. CodeAge Multi Collagen Peptide Powder

NutritionAmount per 9 grams (1 serving)
calories43
protein9 grams
multi-collagen complex9 grams

Multi is an understatement here. This flavorless powder checks all the collagen boxes and even includes five different types to help up the benefits for your joints and beyond.

It’s got hydrolyzed collagen peptides from grass-fed cows, wild caught cod and snapper, organic beef bone broth, organic chicken bone broth, and egg shell membrane.

Price: $$

Buy CodeAge Multi Collagen Peptide Powder.

Best for coffee

5. Bulletproof Unflavored Collagen Protein

NutritionAmount per 20 grams (1 serving)
calories70
protein18 grams
bovine collagen peptides20 grams

Containing only hydrolyzed collagen peptides made from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows, this powder is up there with Vital Proteins for quality and taste. With no odor or flavor, add it wherever your heart desires. But, it works great in that morning cup of joe or matcha latte.

Price: $$

Buy Bulletproof Unflavored Collagen Protein.

Best capsule

6. Reserveage Ultra Collagen Booster

NutritionAmount per 3 Capsules (1 serving)
caloriesN/A
proteinN/A
biocell collagen 1,000 milligrams

These pills pack in some serious nutrient power. Three capsules contain the brand’s BioCell Collagen, a type 2 collagen protein blend of hydrolyzed collagen, hyaluronic acid, and chondroitin sulfate.

Plus it includes a blend of powerful fruit and vegetable extracts, including asparagus, acerola cherry, and red grapes. All together this may help provide anti-inflammatory muscle and skin elasticity support. It’s also free of gluten, soy, dairy and preservatives. Unfortunately, a hefty price tag is included.

Price: $$$

Buy Reserveage Ultra Collagen Booster.

Best for gut health

7. Havasu Nutrition Collagen Peptides + Probiotics

NutritionAmount per 7 grams (1 serving)
calories25
protein7 grams
bovine collagen peptides7 grams

Made from hydrolyzed grass-fed bovine collagen, this flavorless powder also boasts a patented probiotic strain combo offering 15 billion CFU to support a healthy gut.

Users rave about the lack of flavor and how easy it is to mix into just about anything. The serving size is about half that of some of the competitor brands so if you’re looking for a bigger protein and collagen bang for your buck, double the serving.

Price: $

Buy Havasu Nutrition Collagen Peptides + Probiotics.

Best flavored

8. Vital Proteins Collagen Beauty Glow in Strawberry Lemon

NutritionAmount per 15 grams (1 serving)
calories50
protein9 grams
marine collagen peptides10 grams

Comprised of marine collagen peptides from snapper scales, this powder is bursting with citrus flavor and bound to perk up any morning (if citrus is your thing of course).

It also comes with added hyaluronic acid, over 100 percent of the recommended daily intake for both vitamin C and biotin, and some probiotic action. The downside is it’s super pricey.

Price: $$$$

Buy Vital Proteins Beauty Glow in Strawberry Lemon.

Best marine collagen

9. Nordic Naturals Marine Collagen Powder

NutritionAmount per 5 grams (1 serving)
calories20
protein4 grams
hydrolyzed marine collagen peptides4,200 milligrams

Nordic Naturals is a leader in sustainably sourced products, and known for their high quality fish oil. This strawberry flavored powder contains type 1 collagen from wild caught arctic cod plus vitamin C from acerola fruit for an antioxidant and collagen inducing boost.

It’s also non-GMO and free of gluten, dairy, artificial colors, and flavors. But, don’t let the price fool you, you’ll spend more money to get a month’s supply.

Price: $$

Buy Nordic Naturals Marine Collagen Powder.

Best collagen drink

10. DIRTYLEMON + Collagen Beauty Elixir

NutritionAmount per 1 bottle (1 serving)
calories28
protein4 grams
hydrolyzed marine collagen peptides4 grams

While DIRTYLEMON contains way less protein and collagen than the pills and powders out there, this tonic has great ingredients. Made from hydrolyzed marine collagen peptides and lemon juice (plus a blend of cayenne and red clover), it has no added sugar and 34 milligrams of vitamin C to help promote collagen production.

It’s also non-GMO. However, you’ll have to shell out some big bucks to keep up with this tonic, it typically comes with only six servings.

Price: $$$$

Buy DIRTYLEMON + Collagen Beauty Elixir.

Best vegan

11. mykind Organics Organic Plant Collagen Builder

NutritionAmount per 2 tablets (1 serving)
caloriesN/A
proteinN/A
collagen peptidesN/A

Real talk: Naturally sourced collagen really only comes from animals. Vegan collagen can only be produced in the chemistry lab. Many vegan collagen products on the market are collagen booster which means they’re filled with naturally occurring nutrients that promote collagen production.

Mykind Organics Organic Plant Collagen Builder supports strong, healthy hair, skin, and nails through its rich plant food ingredients. This includes B vitamins, vitamin C, silica, biotin, and antioxidant packed pomegranate, turmeric, green, and rooibos tea. It’s certified organic, gluten-free and kosher.

Price: $

Buy mykind Organics Organic Plant Collagen Builder.

Best bovine

12. Great Lakes Gelatin Co. Collagen Hydrolysate

NutritionAmount per 12 grams (1 serving)
calories45
protein11 grams
bovine collagen hydrolysate12 grams

Grass-fed, pasture-raised, and flavorless this was a solid contender for best overall. Add this powder to just about anything — coffee, smoothies, yogurt, bake with it, you get the drift. While it does come in a number of flavors, our vote is for the OG versatile unflavored.

Price: $

Buy Great Lakes Gelatin Co. Collagen Hydrolysate.

Best bone broth collagen

13. Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Collagen – Pure

NutritionAmount per 15 grams (1 serving)
calories50
protein14 grams
bone broth collagen blend15 grams

Paleo and keto followers, this one’s for you. This powder contains three types of collagen, plus hyaluronic acid, glucosamine and chondroitin for extra joint support. I’s also non-GMO, gluten, dairy-and nut free.

One thing to note is the flavor is “noticeable.” It might be best mixed into soups and stews, unless you enjoy a little savory broth in your oatmeal. Some users also noted it doesn’t alway dissolve well in liquid and tends to clump.

Price: $$

Buy Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Collagen – Pure.

Type

While many types of collagen exist in the market, type 1 and 3 are targeted to help keep skin healthy and improve elasticity while type 2, found in cartilage, is recommended to support joint health.

Source

Because collagen comes from animal sources, including bovine (cow), chicken, fish, and egg shells, it’s important to consider how these animals were raised. Quality and sustainability is key. You want to look for products from grass-fed or pasture-raised animals and sustainably sourced fish.

Flavor

You can buy collagen supplements flavored or not. The most important thing to think about here is how you’ll be taking it. If it’s going to be mixed in water, a smoothie or your morning acai bowl, flavor may matter and you should purchase with that thought in mind.

Use

Consider how you’d like to take your collagen. Do you want it to dissolve unnoticed into liquids, or is it going in your smoothie or overnight oats? Maybe you want to bypass powders entirely and just take a pill, a gummy, or purchase a premade collagen beverage to sip on throughout the day.

Ingredients

You want a list of ingredients that’s as small as possible. Ideally no sugar or unnecessary additives. Keep an eye out for added goodies like vitamin C and hyaluronic acid, which both help to stimulate collagen production.

Third-party certification

Since the FDA doesn’t have to evaluate safety and quality up front, third party testing can be helpful. Third party testing certification means a product contains what it says it does, and more importantly, contains nothing harmful. Look for seals from USP, NSF, or UL when purchasing products.