Collagen supplements provide the collagen protein you need to maintain or restore healthy skin, strong bones, strong nails, and more.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and a foundational component of every type of tissue. Unfortunately, the body makes less and less collagen with each passing year leading to skin and joint issues over time. The good news is that collagen supplements can help fill the void.
We conducted long hours of research before determining that the following are the best collagen supplements of 2021.
1. Live Conscious Collagen Peptides
Live Conscious goes to great lengths to ensure the purity and potency of their Collagen Peptides. This collagen powder mixes effortlessly with your favorite non-carbonated beverage and provides 20 amino acids for bone, hair, skin, and nail health.
What we like: Live Conscious Collagen Peptides grass-fed collagen is completely free of hormones and many other unwanted residues from the feedlot. It also dissolves quickly and thoroughly into your favorite beverage.
Flaws: Not as widely available as some others, and does not contain type II collagen, a type of collagen that may yield additional benefits for those with osteoarthritis.
2. Essential Elements Collagen Peptides
Essential Elements provides one of the purest collagen peptide supplements on the market. With 19 different amino acids, you can be certain that you hair, skin, and nails will get the nutrition they need to stay healthy and strong.
What we like: Essential elements only uses type I and III grade A collagen that is free of hormones and GMO ingredients. It is also easier absorbed than other collagen supplements because it is enzymatically formulated for enhanced bioavailability. It’s keto and paleo-friendly.
Flaws: The taste is fairly bland and nothing to get excited about. It also does not contain type II and does not list the grams of peptides (only protein) or sodium.
3. Sports Research Collagen Peptides Powder
Sports Research has a truly international reach, sourcing their collagen from grass-fed, pasture-raised South American cattle and then processing and bottling in the US. Despite the lengthy supply chain, they never lose sight of quality.
What we like: SR’s Peptides Powder is pure and potent and ready to strengthen muscles, fortify bones and make your skin and hair shine. It’s pure, free of allergens, certified paleo and keto, and has a 90-day money-back guarantee.
Flaws: The container is large but not nearly full because they go by weight, not by volume. It does not contain type II.
4. Health Logics BioCell Collagen Capsules
Some people want nothing to do with a collagen shake. For them, there are Health Logics BioCell Collagen Capsules. These easy to swallow capsules address the heart of your stiff, aching joints with a potent collagen, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid triumvirate.
What we like: BioCell is specifically formulated to relieve joint pain and inflammation, containing type II collagen. They also include a bit of hyaluronic acid to add some lubrication to tired, stiff joints. That is something you will not find in most powders.
Flaws: Don’t expect overnight results.
5. Physician’s Choice Collagen Peptides Powder
Physician’s Choice gives you the collagen peptides you want for healthy, young-looking skin and none of the gluten, dairy, GMOs, heavy metals, or other things you do not want.
What we like: The double hydrolyzed collagen concentrate gets to work in a hurry. The digestive enzyme complex helps ensure maximum absorption. The powder is also free of allergens and contains no genetically modified organisms.
Flaws: Can sometimes leave an unpleasant aftertaste, and contains less protein than others, 6g per scoop.
6. Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
Some powders do not mix well with cold beverages. Some have a hard time with hot drinks. Vital Proteins handles hot or cold with equal aplomb. With hydrolyzed collagen from grass-fed cows, along with the antioxidants vitamin C and hyaluronic acid, it makes your skin, hair, and nails shine.
What we like: Vital Proteins serves up type 1 collagen to buttress your skin, bones, and muscles. There is also type 3 collagen to ensure healthy hair and nails. Vital Proteins is pure, paleo-friendly, grass-fed bovine collagen that’s free of GMOs. Each serving also contains vitamin C and hyaluronic acid for skin health.
Flaws: Does not mix as well as some other powders. Contains a fair amount of sodium, at 110mg per scoop.
7. Hum Collagen Love Type I & III Collagen
Hum has a habit of making well-considered dietary supplements. And they obviously put their collective nose to the grindstone here. With hyaluronic acid and chondroitin for inflammation, this is as well-rounded as a collagen capsule can get.
What we like: These little capsules from Hum contain two kinds of collagen for skin and hair, plus hyaluronic acid to keep your joints properly lubed, and chondroitin to reduce inflammation.
Flaws: Collagen concentration is low at 600mg per 3 capsules and may not be beneficial for applications other than skin.
8. Zint Collagen Peptides Powder
Mixing a collagen smoothie is usually no more fun than mixing a protein smoothie. Unless you are using Zint Collagen Peptides Powder. Zint mixes with water, juice, coffee, or other beverages without ever fighting back or lumping up.
What we like: Zint does not break any new nutrient ground with their Peptides Powder. The thing that separates it from its competitors is how easy it mixes with your favorite beverage. And when they say ‘flavor neutral’, they actually mean it.
Flaws: Not the cheapest collagen supplement around and does not differentiate between grams of protein and collagen. Does not contain type II.
9. Mav Extra Strength Collagen Gummies
Sometimes you want a collagen shake before heading to the gym. And sometimes you just don’t have time. Pop a Mave Extra Strength Collagen Gummy and get your daily dose of hydrolyzed collagen in a convenient, tasty snack.
What we like: We appreciate the convenience, the nutrient profile and that they include powerful antioxidants in the form of vitamins C and E. There is nothing to swallow, nothing to mix. But there is a bit of sugar, so beware.
Flaws: The taste could use a little work. The gummies do not contain type II collagen and the collagen concentration is low at 50mg per 2 gummies. Each dose also includes an excessive amount of biotin, 100,000% of daily needs.
10. NeoCell Super Collagen Powder
NeoCell keeps their focus squarely on delivering the high quality, hydrolyzed collagen people want. There are no superfluous additives here that could compromise the activity of the main ingredients: pure type 1 and type 3 bovine collagen.
What we like: This product is highly pure, with no allergens, no GMOs, and no artificial anything. We like that.
Flaws: The neutral taste is not really all that neutral. Each scoop is half the size and half the amount of peptides as other brands so you’ll have to double up if you want a comparable benefit.
11. Flamingo Collagen Gummies
These Flamingo Collagen Gummies were a pleasant surprise that turned out to be delicious, and right in most people’s financial wheelhouse. They are a great, affordable option you will actually want to eat.
What we like: These are the tastiest collagen gummies we tested. By chance, they also happen to be kosher, halal, GMO-free, and very affordable. This makes them an outstanding overall value.
Flaws: If you store them in a warm place they will wind up sticking together. These gummies do contain some sugar and artificial flavors. They also have a low concentration of collagen, at 96mg per 2 gummies.
Who Needs a Collagen Supplement?
One-third of all the protein in the human body is collagen. It is fundamental to the formation and maintenance of healthy bones, muscles, organs, skin, and much more. Without it, we would not last long.
And yet, our body’s natural ability to produce collagen begins to wane as we age. And this happens to everyone, from every walk of life. The results of collagen deficiency are many and may include brittle bones, arthritis pain and stiffness, sagging skin, poor nutrient absorption, heart disease, and myriad other diseases and conditions.
As such, most people could probably benefit to some degree from a collagen supplement. Collagen supplements are an affordable, common-sense response to the facts of life. But they can also be useful for athletes looking for a performance edge, bodybuilders looking to pack on muscle mass, and anyone who wants their skin, nails, and hair to look better.
How We Ranked
Collagen supplements are simple products. They provide the user with a dose of a fundamental nutrient either in powder, capsule or chewable form. That said, there are still numerous factors we needed to consider before determining if a collagen supplement was worthy of inclusion on our list.
Collagen peptides display a higher degree of bioavailability than other collagen products. This enables them to get to work faster, and it ensures very little of the collagen you ingest goes to waste. So, collagen peptides scored higher with us than non-peptides. If a supplement took capsule form, it had to provide enough collagen to make a difference and be easy to swallow. Gummies had to be at least reasonably tasty and have an agreeable texture.
With powdered supplements, we looked for powders that mixed well with a variety of non-carbonated beverages. If they settled quickly to the bottom like a lump of wet clay, they did not make our list. Powdered supplements also had to be 100% free of contaminants, and the weight indicated on the tub had to match the actual weight provided.
Lastly, we chose only manufacturers that enjoy solid reputations and who produce their collagen supplement in the US in a Good Manufacturing Practices facility under FDA supervision.
Collagen supplements make your skin look and feel better. As we age, our bodies ratchet back collagen production for reasons that are still not well understood. As a result, our skin becomes sallow and dry. Women often use collagen supplements to enhance the look and feel of their skin. And for good reason. There is plenty of science to support the idea that collagen supplements can reverse the effects of age-related collagen loss (1).
Collagen supplements may help prevent bone loss. Collagen is a foundational element in most types of tissue, including bone. Just as decreased collagen production has a negative effect on the skin, it also undermines the size, strength, and flexibility of our bones. This age-related bone loss is a major contributing factor to bone fractures in the elderly. Collagen supplements may help reverse this bone loss trend (2).
Collagen supplements are good for your heart. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and plays a fundamental role in the health and integrity of the heart and arteries. As we age and our bodies produce less and less collagen, the arteries often suffer from atherosclerosis (3). Atherosclerosis is a contributing factor in many heart attacks. Collagen supplements can both prevent and treat atherosclerosis (4).
Collagen supplements can reduce arthritis pain. Collagen is fundamentally linked to all manner of tissue health, including joint and bone health. As age-related reductions in collagen production set in, our cartilage, joints and bones become more susceptible to the ravages of arthritis. Collagen supplements can help reverse this trend, and in doing so, reduce the pain associated with arthritis as well (5).
Collagen supplements help you build stronger nails. Collagen is everywhere in your body, including your nails. One of the reasons fingernails become brittle as we age is because our bodies produce less collagen. Taking supplemental collagen can help you keep your nails looking and feeling great. Collagen has also demonstrated the ability to treat an array of finger and toenail issues that stem from collagen disorders (6).
Collagen supplements may promote hair growth. Though quality research is lacking, collagen has demonstrated an ability to produce thicker, more supple hair. This does not mean it is a cure for baldness, but it may help stop the natural thinning process some people experience as they age. It will take time, and it will not work for everyone, but considering collagen’s safety profile and its ability to improve the dermis where hair grows from, it’s worth a try.
Collagen supplements can help prevent stretch marks. Stretch marks have many possible causes but not a lot of known treatments aside from topical creams. More and more women are discovering that regular collagen supplementation can reduce the number and severity of their stretch marks. Though there have not been any large scientific studies on the topic to date, the anecdotal evidence is compelling.
Collagen supplements may help balance hormone levels. Amino acids are known to play a significant role in hormone regulation (7), and it just so happens collagen is rich in amino acids. But as we age and collagen production decreases hormone levels suffer and imbalances create a multitude of physical, mental, and emotional problems (8). Collagen supplements provide the amino acids necessary to right the hormonal ship.
Collagen supplements make for more effective workouts. Collagen is a protein, and proteins are the building blocks of muscle. Collagen supplements can help the athletically inclined enjoy more productive workouts and build larger, stronger muscles (9). Because of all the other benefits that can be derived from collagen supplements, a person may want to consider replacing their protein shake with a shake based on collagen powder.
Collagen supplements can boost metabolism. Fat tissue is inert and burns fewer calories than muscle tissue. Muscle tissue, on the other hand, is well-vascularized, and constantly in motion, so the metabolism picks up the pace to meet the demand. A faster metabolism is one that will use more of the food you eat right away, with less of it being stored as fat. Since protein intake is a well-documented strategy for weight management, collagen supplements can help you meet your needs.
Collagen supplements may help alleviate anxiety. Recent events have driven most people’s stress levels through the roof. And many are looking for safe and effective ways they can relieve that stress. Collagen supplements are rich in glycine, an important amino acid that has shown remarkable clinical versatility, including the ability to calm the nerves and help people achieve deep, restful sleep. One animal study also found reduced anxiety-type behavior and improved neurogenesis after collagen supplementation for 4 weeks (10).
Collagen supplements promote a healthy gut. Collagen plays a key role in strengthening the walls of the arteries, as we have seen. It is also instrumental in bolstering the integrity of the lining of the digestive tract. Collagen damage or deficiency leaves the lining of the digestive tract vulnerable to a range of troubling conditions, including leaky gut syndrome (11) and inflammatory bowel disease (12).
Collagen supplements can help promote wound healing. When you cut yourself, or suffer some other form of flesh injury, untold numbers of skin cells are lost and need to be replaced. Collagen plays a critical role in this process because skin contains more collagen than any other protein. How much or little collagen is available to facilitate the healing process will influence how fast a wound heals and whether you wind up with a nasty scar or a discreet blemish.
Collagen supplements may help regulate blood glucose levels. Collagen provides a wealth of benefits, but maybe the most surprising is its ability to regulate blood glucose levels by influencing insulin sensitivity (13). More research is needed to verify the early clinical results, but the data gleaned so far presents interesting treatment possibilities for diabetics going forward.
Collagen supplements may help reduce cellulite. Collagen is one of the things that gives youthful skin its smooth, firm character. Cellulite is caused when underlying layers of fat push against the outer layers of skin. Connective tissues in the skin pull on the fatty tissue and it becomes lumpy. The less collagen in the skin, the greater the lumpiness. Studies show that collagen supplements can improve the appearance of cellulite (14).
Collagen supplements may help you lose weight. As we mentioned earlier, collagen supplements can help you have more effective workouts and boost your metabolism through increased muscle mass. That faster metabolism will manifest itself in numerous ways. For one, all that well-vascularized muscle tissue will burn calories even while you are watching TV or working at your desk. As a result, you will have an easier time losing weight and keeping it off. The added protein intake will also help you manage your calorie intake and improve satiety, both of which significantly influence weight (15).
Collagen supplements may reduce inflammation. While the research is still in its infancy, there is enough data available now to suggest that collagen supplements may be able to reduce inflammation (16) and lessen the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis and joint injuries. Besides reducing inflammation, it can also strengthen the bones and cartilage of the joints, further reducing pain while promoting flexibility.
Collagen supplements can help you sleep better. Collagen powder typically contains generous amounts of glycine. Glycine is an amino acid that has an important role to play in maintaining a healthy nervous system. Studies have demonstrated that glycine can help people get to sleep quicker and sleep longer and better (17). Best of all, there are no adverse effects from collagen.
Collagen supplements can help slow down the aging process. Perhaps not literally, since nothing can stop the passage of time, but in other ways. Studies show that when people look and feel older, they act older (18). Collagen supplements can help restore tone and luster to your skin, thicken your hair and strengthen your nails; all telltale signs of youth. And with stronger bones and less painful joints, you will feel younger too.
Q: What is collagen?
A: Collagen is the most common protein in the human body. Approximately 1/3 of all protein in the body is collagen. There are five different types of collagen, and they play fundamental roles in the composition and health of bones, muscles, skin, tendons, ligaments, organs, blood vessels, fingernails, hair, and more. Collagen is the glue that holds tissue together. And indeed, the name comes from the Greek word ‘kólla’, which means glue or adhesive.
Q: Can collagen supplements help with osteoporosis?
A: As we mentioned, collagen plays a foundational role in the health and strength of most body tissue, including bones. Osteoporosis (19) may be caused by one or more reasons, like a low calcium diet and a loss of collagen. Osteoporosis leads to brittle, weak bones, and an untold number of fractures in the elderly. Collagen supplements cannot cure osteoporosis, but may help in its prevention and treatment.
Q: How should I take collagen powder?
A: The two primary ways of taking supplemental collagen are in tablet or powder form, with powder being the more popular of the two. That is probably because it provides more delivery options. You can sprinkle some on your cereal, mix some into your morning coffee, mix some into your yogurt or your favorite non-carbonated beverage, or use it to make a shake. Many exercise fanatics prefer collagen shakes over standard protein shakes.
Q: What is the best time to take collagen?
A: The best time to take a collagen supplement is whenever you remember it. But it will undoubtedly be easier to remember it if you take it at the same time every day. Some people mix it with their morning coffee so that it is available to help power them through their day. Others wait to have a collagen shake prior to working out. And still others prefer to take a capsule or two with dinner. Try different methods and see what works best for you.
Q: Will collagen supplement powders make me gain weight?
A: Collagen powder is not like standard protein powder bodybuilders use. You typically use much less collagen powder at any one time. Because of that, the danger of putting on weight from using collagen powder is minimal. In fact, if you combine your collagen powder supplement with exercise, you will likely lose weight and have an easier time keeping it off.
Q: What are the different types of collagen?
A: In all, there are five different types of collagen. The body uses them for different purposes. By far, the most common type is type 1 collagen, which is found in abundance in the muscles, skin, bones, and organs. Type 2 is found mostly in cartilage and other connective tissue. Type 4 collagen is mostly found in the basement membrane (20) between the outer and inner layers of skin. And Type 5 collagen is found in hair and cell membranes.
Q: What are collagen peptides?
A: You are bound to see the terms ‘collagen peptides’ and ‘hydrolyzed collagen’ quite a bit when researching collagen supplements. They are actually different terms for the exact same thing: a type of collagen that has been broken down to make it more easily absorbed and fully bioavailable. This is the preferred type of collagen for supplements because it enables you to enjoy optimal benefits while consuming the least amount of collagen.
Q: Can I take collagen supplements on an empty stomach?
A: Yes, you can take collagen supplements on an empty stomach. In fact, many avid exercisers prefer their collagen supplements this way. Why? Because it means the collagen will be broken down and absorbed more efficiently than if it were eaten on a full stomach. That said, you will enjoy the same benefits whenever you take your collagen. Taking it on a full stomach just means the benefits will be delayed a bit.
Q: How long before collagen supplements show results?
A: Most people who take collagen are not doing so to build big muscles. They want their skin, nails and hair to look better. Those benefits will take some time to manifest. You are likely to see changes to your skin first. Perhaps in just a couple of weeks. After that, there will be a couple of months to wait to see what happens with hair and nails, just because they grow so slowly.
Q: Should people with arthritis take collagen?
A: Arthritis affects the bones and cartilage of the joints. Over time, both degrade, leading to extreme pain and discomfort. Type 1 collagen bolsters the strength of your bones, while type 2 collagen enhances the integrity of cartilage. The evidence to support the idea of collagen supplements as a treatment for arthritis is inconclusive (21). Some studies suggest it is. Others suggest it is not. At the end of the day, collagen has an excellent safety profile, so it may be worth a try, but the decision is yours.
Q: Can collagen supplements help repair scars?
A: Collagen plays a fundamental role in skin health. In a very real way, it is the glue that holds the skin together. When the skin is cut or otherwise damaged, collagen is necessary to help restore the damaged area of skin to its former state. Scars however are more noticeable than your normal skin layer because collagen may overaccumulate in the scar tissue, causing it to appear raised, shiny or rough. There is no research that suggests collagen supplementation can help repair unsightly scars.
Q: Do I need to take collagen every day?
A: The benefits of collagen supplements are cumulative benefits. So, if you want to enjoy the healthier skin, stronger nails, more lustrous hair, a healthier heart, and more, you will need to make a collagen supplement part of your regular diet.
Q: Is it safe to take collagen every day?
A: There is no clinical evidence that suggests taking collagen supplements as directed for an extended period of time is dangerous. Collagen supplements are not regulated by the FDA the way pharmaceuticals or narcotics are. But rest assured, if the FDA were aware that people were experiencing dangerous side effects from taking collagen supplements, they would have pulled them from the shelves years ago.
Q: What is meant by ‘grass-fed collagen’?
A: Like ‘collagen peptides’, ‘grass-fed collagen’ is another term you will hear a lot when shopping for a collagen supplement. All it means is that the cows from whom the collagen is taken were raised in pastures in the traditional method and allowed to graze naturally. By contrast, cows raised in feedlots are force-fed a diet of genetically modified foods (mostly corn), antibiotics, and hormones.
Q: Can I overdose on collagen?
A: Collagen is not a narcotic. It is a protein. As such, the chance of overdosing on collagen is extremely remote. Remote, but not impossible. Keep in mind that an overdose of collagen would not be like an overdose of heroin. While scleroderma (22) is a condition of excess collagen production, there is no research to suggest that ingesting collagen, even in higher amounts than normal, can cause scleroderma. That said, enjoy collagen in moderation.
Q: Will collagen supplements help make bigger muscles?
A: The collagen supplement itself will not. But, if you combine collagen supplementation with resistance training and a healthy diet, then yes, collagen supplements can help make bigger muscles. Remember, collagen is a protein, the most abundant protein in your body. And protein plays a key role in muscle formation and maintenance. So, if you are looking for a safe, effective way to build muscle, try collagen supplements.
Q: Can pregnant women use collagen supplements?
A: Collagen supplements are considered generally safe for pregnant women. Some women take collagen during pregnancy to ward off stretch marks. And others take it to strengthen their bones and joints. There are exceptions to every rule, however. So out of an abundance of caution, pregnant women should discuss the matter with their doctor before they begin taking collagen supplements.
Q: Should men take collagen?
A: There are a number of good reasons why men should take collagen. First of all, if they work outdoors, collagen can help protect their skin from environmental damage and keep it young-looking. In addition, it can help build bigger, more powerful muscles for those who engage in resistance training. Also, while it is not a cure for male pattern baldness (23), collagen may help some men slow their hair loss.
Q: Does collagen have a taste?
A: That depends on who you ask. Some people will say it has a neutral taste, meaning it does not activate your taste buds in any way. While others say it tastes like collagen, just like chocolate tastes like chocolate and broccoli tastes like broccoli. Some manufacturers add flavoring to their collagen powder to make them more palatable. But this may cause the powder to interfere with the taste of whatever you are mixing it with.
Collagen supplements can help build stronger bones and nails, reduce the pain and stiffness of arthritis, relieve anxiety, build bigger muscles, improve satiety, increase metabolism, and much more. They can be obtained without a prescription, are non-addictive, and virtually free of side effects.
Collagen supplements are some of the most popular on the market for any number of good reasons. Whether you suffer from arthritis, are an athlete looking to enhance your conditioning, or simply want healthier-looking skin and fingernails, collagen supplements can help.
All of the above collagen supplements have been thoroughly vetted by our product experts and the court of public opinion. Regardless of whether you prefer a powder, capsule, or chewable tablet, you are bound to find one among them that will serve you well.
For cpoe.org’s #1 recommended collagen supplement, click here.