The 7 Best Collagen Supplements, According to a Dietitian

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First Look

Best Overall: Great Lakes at thrivemarket.com

"Uses grass-fed and pasture-raised cows from Argentina and Brazil to make their collagen powder."

Best Powder: Vital Proteins at Amazon

"Adds Vitamin C to their powder to increase collagen absorption."

Best For Joints: Healthy Origins at Amazon

"Examined in multiple research studies for its efficacy in relieving joint pain."

Best Pill: Reserveage at thrivemarket.com

"This product is gluten-free, corn-free, dairy-free, preservative-free, soy-free, sugar-free, and wheat-free."

Best Flavored: Thrive Market Chocolate at thrivemarket.com

"In addition to providing a dose of collagen, this powder is a great way to boost shakes and meals with 10 grams of protein."

Best for Gut Health: Ancient Nutrition at Amazon

"Great for those looking for a product with four ingredients and no flavorings or sweeteners."

Best Marine Collagen: Further Food at Amazon

"Made in facilities that are NSF cGMP certified and their product is paleo and keto-friendly."

Collagen is the main structural protein of connective tissues such as bone, skin, cartilage, and tendons. Collagen peptides are the broken down elements of the longer protein chain and are more bioavailable and absorbable by humans in this form. It has been hypothesized that if humans ingest collagen from outside sources it will support and optimize our health and address physiological needs posed by aging and exercise.

Collagen supplements are made from extracting the collagen from connective tissues of animals such as cows, fish, and chickens. These supplements can be taken in powder and capsule form as well as added to foods such as protein bars. Since collagen makes up 80% of our skin, collagen supplements have been regarded as a tool to improve and maintain skin health as well as joint, gastrointestinal, and bone health.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Great Lakes

great-lakes-collagen

Courtesy of Thrive Market

Great Lakes Gelatin Company uses grass-fed and pasture-raised cows from Argentina and Brazil to make their collagen powder. This product is pareve, gluten-free, non-GMO, keto-certified, Paleo-friendly, verified Glyphosate free, USP/NF Compliant, and contains no MSG. Consumer Labs, a third-party testing company has also given this product its stamp of approval and has verified that the claims on the bottle match the actual ingredients. 

Best Powder: Vital Proteins

Vital Proteins puts extra care into the sourcing of their bovine collagen peptides. The cows used for the production of their collagen peptides were raised in alignment with the Global Animal Partnership 5-step animal welfare rating standards, an important quality to look for when purchasing protein powders sourced from animal ingredients. In addition to grass-fed bovine collagen, Vital Proteins adds Vitamin C to their powder to increase collagen absorption as well as hyaluronic acid, a substance the body makes naturally that contributes to the promotion of collagen. 

Best For Joints: Healthy Origins

Consumer Labs Research ranks Healthy Origins UC-II Collagen the best for joint pain. UC-II contains a patented form of undenatured type II collagen derived from chicken sternum. UC-II has been examined in multiple research studies for its efficacy in relieving joint pain. A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study published in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition tested the use of UC-II in individuals reporting knee discomfort when exercising. Researchers examined the efficacy of the supplement based on participants’ ability to extend their knees. After 120 days of supplementation, subjects in the UC-II group exhibited a statistically significant improvement in average knee extension compared to placebo.

Best Pill: Reserveage

reserveage-collagen

Courtesy of Thrive Market

Reserveage Ultra Collagen Booster uses BioCell Collagen® as its main ingredient. BioCell Collagen® is a patented hydrolyzed chicken sternal cartilage extract that contains a naturally-occurring matrix of hydrolyzed collagen type II, as well as chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid, both naturally occurring substances in the body that promote healthy tissues. In addition to BioCell Collagen®, Reserveage adds a specific blend of fruit and vegetable extracts such as Acerola Cherry, Asparagus, and Pomegranate to each capsule as these extracts have been researched for their ability to help retain skin elasticity. This product is gluten-free, corn-free, dairy-free, preservative-free, soy-free, sugar-free, and wheat-free.

Best Flavored: Thrive Market Chocolate

thrive-chocolate-collagen

Courtesy of Thrive Market

Thrive Market prides itself on using quality ingredients and their chocolate-flavored Collagen Peptides is no exception. This supplement offers collagen from grass-fed and pasture-raised cows and uses organic cacao powder, organic vanilla flavor, and monk fruit extract to provide a rich, satisfying flavor.

Customers recommend adding it to smoothies, coffee, and overnight oats. In addition to providing a dose of collagen, this powder is a great way to boost shakes and meals with 10 grams of protein. 

Best for Gut Health: Ancient Nutrition

Ancient Nutrition’s Multi Collagen Protein offers a diverse blend of collagen types from multiple food sources. Using collagen from beef, chicken, fish, and eggshell membrane, this product is designed to benefit skin, gut, and joint health. Stick to the original Multi Collagen Protein if you are looking for a product with four ingredients and no flavorings or sweeteners. 

Best Marine Collagen: Further Food

Further Food Marine Collagen is made from fish skin of wild-caught cod from the North Atlantic. Collagen from fish skin is the preferred choice as it is easier to extract the collagen from the soft skin as opposed to hard scales. Further Food does not use harsh enzymes or heat to extract the collagen, keeping all of the beneficial properties intact. Further Food’s marine collagen peptides are made in facilities that are NSF cGMP certified and their product is paleo and keto-friendly. As an added bonus, consumers can feel good about packaging as the collagen is packaged in 100% Post-Consumer Recycled jars.

What Experts Say

"Collagen supplements are a great way to boost protein intake while promoting skin, hair, and nail health. Typical protein powders made from whey, casein, or pea may be hard on sensitive stomachs. I find that collagen powder is better tolerated and can easily be implemented into the daily diet. I recommend mixing it into your coffee or tea, blending it into a smoothie or soup, or adding it to your overnight oats." Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN

What to Look for in a Collagen Supplement

Type

There are many types of collagen; however there are three that are generally used. Type 1 and type 3 are generally used for skin health and elasticity, whereas type 2 is used for cartilage and joint health. Choose a type that aligns with your needs.

Source

Collagen comes from various sources such as bovine (cow or beef), chicken, fish, or egg shells. When selecting a source, consider quality such as grass-fed, pasture-raised beef collagen or sustainably-sourced fish collagen.

Flavor

Some collagen supplements are flavorless, whereas others come in a variety of flavors. When choosing a flavor, consider how you will use the supplement, for example, are you baking with it, mixing it into a smoothie, or simply drinking it mixed with warm water.

Additional Ingredients

Some collagen supplements include complementary ingredients such as vitamin C, which stimulates collagen synthesis, and hyaluronic acid which promotes optimal skin moisture.

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  1. Lugo JP, Saiyed ZM, Lau FC, et al. Undenatured type II collagen (UC-II®) for joint support: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in healthy volunteers. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013;10(1):48. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-10-48

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