The 7 Best Collagen Supplements, According to a Dietitian

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Best Collagen Supplements

Verywell / Sabrina Jiang

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.

The primary function of collagen is to help tissues withstand stretching. Although collagen loss starts between the ages of 18 and 29, after age 40, the body can lose around 1% per year; at around age 80, collagen production can decrease 75% overall in comparison to that of young adults. This is where supplements come in. By taking a supplement, it is thought you may be able to replenish some of the collagen your body has lost, and hopefully, see the real effects of adding this supplement to your diet. 

Collagen supplements are made by 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.

Below are the best collagen supplements.

Our Top Picks
Uses grass-fed and pasture-raised cows from Argentina and Brazil to make their collagen powder.
This powder adds vitamin C to increase collagen absorption.
Examined in multiple research studies for its efficacy in relieving joint pain.
Free from gluten, corn, dairy, preservatives, soy, sugar, and wheat.
A great way to boost shakes and meals with 10 grams of protein.
Perfect for those looking for a product with four ingredients and no flavorings or sweeteners.
Made from fish skin of wild-caught cod from the North Atlantic.

Best Overall: Great Lakes Gelatin Co Collagen Hydrolysate

Great Lakes Gelatin, Collagen Hydrolysate
Pros
  • Keto- and Paleo-friendly

  • High protein amount per serving

  • Tasteless and odorless

Cons
  • Potential gelatin allergens

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 bottle's claims match the actual ingredients. 

Form: Powder | Collagen Type: Type I & III | Source: Pasture-raised bovine | Potential Allergens: Gelatin

Best Powder: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Powder
Pros
  • Added vitamin C

  • Hyaluronic acid promotes collagen in the body

  • High animal welfare standards

Cons
  • Potential fish allergens

Vital Proteins puts extra care into the sourcing of their bovine collagen peptides. The cows used to produce 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. 

Form: Powder | Collagen Type: Type I & III Source: Pasture-raised bovine | Potential Allergens: Manufactured in a facility that contains fish

Best For Joints: Healthy Origins UC-II Veggie Caps

Healthy Origins UC-II Veggie Caps
Pros
  • Joint pain support

  • Good for increased mobility and flexibility

  • Vegetarian-friendly

Cons
  • Small amount of collagen per serving

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.

In a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition researchers examined the efficacy of UC-II 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.

Form: Capsule | Collagen Type: Type II | Source: Chicken | Potential Allergens: None

Best Pill: Reserveage Collagen Booster

Reserveage Collagen Booster
Pros
  • Supports body to produce collagen

  • Fruit and vegetable antioxidants for healthy skin

  • Free of most common allergens

Cons
  • Requires three capsules per day

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 free from gluten, corn, dairy, preservatives, soy, sugar, and wheat.

Form: Capsule | Collagen Type: Type II | Source: Chicken | Potential Allergens: None

Best Flavored: Thrive Market Chocolate Grass-Fed Collagen Peptides

thrive-chocolate-collagen
Pros
  • High amount of protein per serving

  • No added sugars

  • Free of preservatives

Cons
  • Limited flavors

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. 

Form: Powder | Collagen Type: Type I & III | Source: Bovine | Potential Allergens: None

Best for Gut Health: Ancient Nutrition Multi Collagen Peptides Protein Powder Pure

Ancient Nutrition Multi Collagen Peptides Protein Powder Pure
Pros
  • Includes vitamin C and probiotics

  • Five types of collagen

  • No flavorings or sweeteners

Cons
  • Potential egg and fish allergens

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. 

Form: Powder | Collagen Type: Type I, II, III, V & X | Source: Bovine, fish | Potential Allergens: Egg, haddock, cod, pollock

Best Marine Collagen: Further Food Premium Marine Collagen Peptides

Premium Marine Collagen Peptides from Further Food
Pros
  • Sourced from wild-caught fish

  • Collagen types I, II, and III

  • Eco-friendly packaging

Cons
  • Several potential allergens

Further Food Marine Collagen is made from the skin of wild North Atlantic cod. Collagen from fish skin is a 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 NSF and cGMP certified facilities, 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.

Form: Powder | Collagen Type: Type I, II, & III | Source: Marine | Potential Allergens: Made in a facility that also processes milk, tree nuts, gluten, peanuts, soy, egg

Final Verdict

If you're looking for a collagen powder that accommodates all food sensitivities, Great Lakes' Collagen Hydrolysate (view at Amazon) is a no-brainer. It's gluten-free, non-GMO, and kosher, and is flavorless so you can add it to any smoothie or drink without taking away from the taste. That being said, if you're looking for a flavored drink, Thrive Market's chocolate-flavored Collagen Peptides (view at Thrive Market) are tasty enough to mix into oatmeal, smoothies, and other drinks.

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 in many different forms and types, and there’s no one-size-fits-all way to ingest your collagen. It comes from various sources such as bovine (cow or beef), chicken, fish, or eggshells. Unfortunately, there is no vegan source of collagen that’s available.

To ensure you’re getting a high-quality product, look for collagen that’s grass-fed, pasture-raised bovine, or made from wild-caught marine sources.

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?

Form

The key differences between a collagen powder and a collagen supplement are the delivery method and dose. Collagen supplements that come in a pill form are simply capsules filled with powdered collagen.

However, the serving size in capsule form is often less than that of its powdered counterpart; it generally takes multiple servings of the capsule form to equal the dose of one serving of powdered collagen. This may be problematic or undesirable for some. If you are someone who has trouble swallowing capsules or who desires a larger dose of collagen at once, then opt for the powdered form. It is also easy to incorporate the powdered form into your morning routine such as to your coffee or morning smoothie.

However, if you are someone who prefers the convenience of simply taking a capsule with a glass of water and calling it a day, and do not feel a need larger doses of collagen, then the pill form may better suit your needs

Potential Allergies

Those with a fish, shellfish, or egg allergy should avoid collagen supplements as many of them are made from these ingredients. Make sure to check the full ingredients list, including any notes that indicate that the product was processed in a facility that processes other ingredients you may be allergic to.

There are some reports that collagen supplements may cause mild digestive symptoms or a bad taste in the mouth. It’s important to go over the labels of supplements you’re using with your physician because the FDA does not regulate dietary supplements, including collagen

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does "hydrolyzed" mean?

    If a product is “hydrolyzed," that means that it has been broken down to a size that makes it easy for your body to absorb. Collagen products that are used mainly for beauty purposes may contain hydrolyzed collagen

  • Why does my collagen powder include vitamin C and hyaluronic acid?

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

  • Which is better, marine-based or bovine-based collagen?

    Choosing marine-based collagen or bovine-based collagen really boils down to your preference. If you follow a pescatarian diet, then marine collagen would be a better fit.

  • Is grass-fed or wild-caught collagen worth the price?

    Collagen products made from non-grass-fed cows or farmed fish may be cheaper, but it also comes with the knowledge that you won’t know the history or entirety of what you’re putting into your body. Most collagen products range from $20 to $70 for 10 ounces and can go up depending on the number of ounces in the product. If clean eating is important to you, you may want to opt for a higher-priced collagen supplement that clearly states where it gets the collagen in its products.

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

Why Trust Verywell Health?

As a Registered Dietitian, Sydney Greene takes supplement recommendations seriously. Every product has been researched and vetted by her against clinical research, product reviews, and third-party testing websites. These are products she would not only feel comfortable recommending to her clients, but she would take them herself if needed.

Brittany Leitner contributed to the buying advice for collagen supplements, highlighting key features and answering frequently asked questions.

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3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Varani J, Dame MK, Rittie L, et al. Decreased collagen production in chronologically aged skin: roles of age-dependent alteration in fibroblast function and defective mechanical stimulation. Am J Pathol. 2006;168(6):1861-1868. doi:10.2353/ajpath.2006.051302

  2. 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

  3. Moskowitz RW. Role of collagen hydrolysate in bone and joint disease. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2000;30(2):87-99. doi:10.1053/sarh.2000.9622

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