If you’re looking to create healthier-looking hair and skin, you’ve probably come across collagen supplements at some point. These supplements are a popular (and buzzy way) to get some of the major nutrients you need for healthy hair, nails, skin, and joints.
Collagen supplements, which usually come in powder form, can help add the nutrient to your diet, which your body makes naturally but may be deficient in—especially as you get older. If you’re interested in taking a collagen supplement, it’s only natural to have questions about what, exactly, this is and what it can do for you. Nutritionists break it all down.
What is collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. It has a fiber-like structure that’s used to make connective tissue. That connective tissue is a big component of your strengthening your bones, skin, muscles, tendons, and cartilage, and allowing them to stretch.
“Collagen are types of proteins that make up the structure of everything from hair, skin, and nails to tendons, ligaments, and muscles,” says nutritionist Scott Keatley, R.D. and co-owner of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy.
Collagen is found naturally in animal flesh like meat and fish, and some plant foods have materials for collagen production that can happen in your body, explains Jessica Cording, R.D., C.D.N., a dietitian and health coach, and author of The Little Book of Game-Changers. As you get older, your body naturally makes less collagen.
What can collagen supplements do?
Collagen supplements “do exactly what they say—they supplement your diet to make sure you’re getting all 28 types of collagen,” Keatley says. If you’re deficient in collagen, supplements “may improve your skin, prevent bone loss, lessen joint pain, increase muscle mass, and protect your heart,” Keatley says.
There is some research to support this. “Studies show some benefit to skin elasticity and hair, joint, and nail health,” says Cording.
What should people look for in a collagen supplement?
While experts recommend trying to get your collagen from food sources like meat and bone broth, they suggest looking for the following if you need or want to try a collagen supplement:
- Hydrolyzed proteins. “Being hydrolyzed means that the collagen proteins are broken down into amino acids and are easier to absorb,” Keatley says.
- Vitamin C. “Vitamin C is important because it is a major player in collagen synthesis in the body,” Keatley says.
- Different classes of collagen. These are broken down into Type I, Type II, Type III, Type IV, and Type V, Keatley explains.
- Third-party testing. This ensures that an outside group has taken a look at the product and ensured it does what it claims to do, Cording explains.
Does it matter how you take a collagen supplement?
You can take collagen in a capsule form, but it’s most commonly sold as a powder. “When I have a patient who is interested in taking collagen, I tend to recommend the powder because you get more protein in that form,” Cording says. “Anecdotally for people that I’ve worked with, it’s more satiating and I’ve observed people responding to it better.”
These are the best collagen supplements out there.
Best Collagen Supplement Overall
Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Powder
The Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Powder is an Amazon bestseller for a reason. This unflavored powder offers up 20 grams of collagen per serving and features collagen from grass-fed, pasture-raised cattle. The powder contains skin-boosting
hyaluronic acid, too, along with vitamin C and can easily be blended into coffee or smoothies.
Best Flavored Collagen Supplement
Vanilla Collagen Powder Protein by Ancient Nutrition
Ancient Nutrition’s vanilla collagen powder is a hit with users, but the brand offers up a slew of other cool flavors, including chocolate, cold brew, strawberry lemonade, and cucumber lime. It features hydrolyzed bovine collagen, which is easier for your body to absorb. This powder is also made with ingredients from sources that are non-GMO, grass-fed, and cruelty-free.
Best Unflavored Collagen Supplement
NutraCollagen Collagen Maximizer Plus
This collagen supplement uses instantized collagen, so you don’t have to deal with a weird aftertaste—even with its unflavored version. It’s also easy to mix, dissolving quickly. This non-GMO powder delivers 22 grams of collagen.
Best Inexpensive Collagen Supplement
Thrive Market Grass-Fed Collagen Peptides
Thrive Market sells plenty of high-quality foods, supplements, snacks, and beauty products, including some under its own brand to cut back on costs. The company’s collagen peptides powder allows you to get hydrolyzed collagen that’s non-GMO, grass-fed, and 100% pure at a low cost.
Best Marine-Based Collagen Supplement
Indigo Marine Collagen Powder
Whether you’re a pescatarian or just prefer to get your collagen from the sea, Indigo’s marine collagen is a good choice. It’s sourced from wild fish and features hydrolyzed multi-collagen peptides. Enjoy 10 grams of collagen and zero sugar.
Best Vegan Collagen Supplement
Your Super Plant Collagen Powder
Since they’re often made from animal sources, collagen powder can be tricky for vegans. Your Super’s plant-based collagen powder is made from organic pea protein and tocotrienols (a nutrient similar to vitamin E) for a supplement everyone can enjoy. The powder is made without artificial sweeteners and has a delicious vanilla flavor.
Best Grass-Fed Collagen Supplement
Garden of Life Grass Fed Collagen Blueberry Acai
This Garden of Life collagen powder has a slew of additional ingredients to help support healthy skin, hair, and nails, including French melon and astaxanthin. It also contains 500 million CFU of probiotics to support good gut health. Made from grass-fed bovine sources, this powder comes in a delicious blueberry acai flavor that tastes great in smoothies.
Best Collagen Supplement for Beauty
Live Conscious Beyond Collagen Multi Collagen Powder
Live Conscious’ Beyond Collagen powder includes biotin—an ingredient that can boost hair growth—along with 20 amino acids. It’s non-GMO, dairy-free, shellfish-free, and gluten-free, making it compatible with most diets. And, because it’s unflavored, you can blend it into smoothies, soups, coffee, and more.
Best Capsule Collagen Supplement
Vital Proteins Collagen Pills Supplement
Not everyone wants to deal with collagen powder. Vital Proteins produces supplements that offer up 3,300 milligrams of collagen per serving. Each capsule features hydrolyzed collagen that is crafted from non-GMO, grass-fed, and pasture-raised sources.
Best Keto-Friendly Collagen Supplement
Bulletproof Unflavored Collagen Protein Powder
Some collagen supplements can contain additives and sweeteners that aren’t good for a keto diet. Bulletproof’s powder has no added sugar and 18 grams of protein for a serious nutrition punch. Because it’s unflavored, you can add it to just about anything.
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