If you’ve spent any time on Instagram over the last few years, chances are you’ve seen collagen powder popping up like crazy. It’s added to coffee, smoothies, baked goods, and more.
Collagen is a type of protein that plays a crucial role in animals — holding together different body parts like our muscles, connective tissues (e.g. ligaments and tendons), and most notably, our skin.
While it is a popular supplement (and for good reason!), it is one that's produced by our body too. However, as we age, our body’s collagen production begins to decline. And this can start as early as 25 years old! Hence why collagen powders have become so popular.
But like most supplements, there are some things you should know before adding collagen powder to your diet — it’s all about the ingredients, babe.
What Is Collagen Powder?
Collagen powder is simply collagen that comes in powder form. If you’re interested in how the different types are made, here’s an overview: collagen powder is made from animal tissues such as that of cows, pigs, and fish.
Once the protein is collected from this tissue, it's turned into gelatin. From gelatin, it's broken down until it becomes powder. This powder helps create amino acids, aka the building blocks of protein. You need amino acids to support different functions like skin elasticity.
Unfortunately, that means that collagen is not vegan or vegetarian. But thankfully, scientists have our backs because they've created alternative types. More on that later.
Like typical powdered supplements (e.g., protein powders, superfood powders, etc.), you can take collagen powder by mixing it with liquids including smoothies, coffee, juice, or even plain water. If you want, you can also use collagen powder when cooking or baking. It’s versatile and, by nature, is flavorless, making it an easy way to add protein to your diet.
5 Benefits of Collagen Protein Powder
While countless benefits can come from using collagen products, some have more scientific research to support them than others. Let’s chat about a few of the evidence-based benefits of collagen:
1. Strengthens Our Skin
When we think of collagen, most of us think about skin, so let’s start with the skin!Collagen is famous for its binding effects. This is why collagen is sometimes referred to as our skin’s “glue.” Even the word “collagen” comes from a Greek word that means “glue.”
Aside from strengthening your skin, studies show collagen works as anti-aging support, which improves your skin’s hydration and elasticity while reducing fine lines.
Collagen can also have similar effects on our hair and nails, which are modified skin tissues.
2. Keeps Our Joints From Grinding
Cartilage is a smooth, rubber-like component of our joints — it keeps them from rubbing against one another. The soft texture of cartilage prevents our joints from grinding on each other roughly.
As we age, however, our cartilage begins to weaken. One of the reasons for that is the natural decline in our body’s collagen production. Once cartilage weakens, joints begin to grind each other roughly, causing joint pain or conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
Studies show that supplementing collagen can restore the structural integrity of cartilage. In turn, this can strengthen our joints and help prevent or avoid potential joint grinding.
And if you work out, then you know how important it is to support joint health.
3. Supports Our Muscles
As you can see, collagen is quite the teammate, supporting several different body parts, including our muscles. And if you’re anything like us, then keeping your muscles in tip-top shape is crucial.
Although only around 1-10% of our muscle tissue is composed of collagen, collagen is still essential to keep our muscles strong, robust, and functional. Some studies suggest that collagen supplementation can boost muscle mass for people with sarcopenia, a condition that’s characterized by age-related muscle wasting.
That being said, while collagen is good — even necessary — for your muscles, other types of protein, like whey protein, can help as well.
4. Supports The Heart
Some research leads suggest that collagen can also benefit your heart. This is because collagen provides structure to our arteries, making our arteries more robust and flexible, and allowing for efficient blood flow.
Efficient blood flow is essential for our cardiovascular health. If our vasculature is narrowed or dysfunctional, it can lead to high blood pressure and poor blood flow. In the worst cases, restricted blood flow can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
5. Supports Natural Aging
Finally, collagen supplementation is beneficial because it replaces our body’s natural collagen that we lose with aging.As we mentioned earlier, our body’s natural production of collagen begins to decline at 25 years old! To keep your collagen levels adequate, make an effort to get collagen through outside sources like food and dietary supplements.
Different Types of Collagen
When you're buying collagen powder, it’s important to know the different "types"and sources of collagen. Specifically, collagen supplements typically come in five types, conveniently called type I, II, III, IV, and V — they each work on one or more specific body parts.
Collagen also comes from different sources, including marine collagen peptides, grass-fed collagen, bovine collagen, and now, there's even vegan collagen. First, let's cover the different types of collagen, and then we'll look at the sources.
Types of Collagen
Each type of collagen plays a different role in the body. Here's a look at what each one does best:
- Type I: The most common type of collagen, type I works on our skin, bones, ligaments, teeth, tendons, and even our organs.
- Type II: Type II collagen mainly works on our cartilage. This is ideal if you have joint problems and you want to strengthen your joints.
- Type III: Similar to type I, type III also works on our skin. Aside from the skin, Type III is focused on our muscles and blood vessels.
- Type IV: Type IV collagen is centered in our body’s epithelial tissue — the tissue that lines the outer surfaces of our organs and blood vessels.
- Type V: Type V collagen works on a cellular level. It's one of the main components of cell surfaces and the placenta, the organ that develops during pregnancy.
Sources of Collagen
As we mentioned earlier, collagen itself comes from animal products, whether it's a bovine (cow) or marine (fish) collagen.
Inherently, that makes it a non-vegan product. But in recent years, scientists have been able to create collagen with bacteria and genetically modified yeast instead of having to source it from animals. In particular, P. pastoris, a bacterium, is used for producing collagen.
Aside from that type of vegan collagen, marine collagen, grass-fed collagen, and bovine collagen are popular types to choose from.
Bovine collagen provides you with collagen type I and type III, and includes a range of amino acids. If it's grass-fed bovine, that means the collagen comes from grass-fed cows, making it higher-quality.
Marine collagen also includes type I collagen, the most abundant form of collagen in the human body. This collagen powder is created from the skin, scales, fins, and bones of fish and includes a range of non-essential and essential amino acids.
It’s genuinely up to you when it comes to which type is better and what kind of collagen you're looking for. But, let’s chat about that a little more.
How to Choose a Collagen Powder
When it comes to collagen powder, it’s essential to look for collagen peptides or hydrolyzed collagen. As with other types of supplements, not all collagen powders are created equal. We’ll give you a few tips to consider when choosing your next collagen powder.
1. Look for Collagen Peptides Powder or Collagen Hydrolysate
If you did some scanning of collagen powders on the market, you might see that some collagen powders have “collagen peptides” or “hydrolyzed collagen” on their label. These are essentially the same as “regular” collagen powders
What “collagen peptides” or “hydrolyzed collagen” means is that the collagen powder in question is easily digestible and more absorbable in your body. This can boost the effects of the collagen supplement.
2. Opt for One That Includes Vitamin C
You may know vitamin C as the vitamin that helps increase your immunity. But what you may not know is that vitamin C can also encourage our body’s natural collagen production and collagen synthesis. The best collagen powder often includes vitamin C as well.
While not necessary — you can get vitamin C from your diet — it will be an added bonus if the collagen you’re using also offers vitamin C in addition to being a collagen peptide or hydrolyzed collagen.
Collagen containing vitamin C will often contain other ingredients like hyaluronic acid, biotin, probiotics, other vitamins, or even MCT powder. While these ingredients are powerful skin health supplements, make sure that the main ingredient is still collagen.
3. Check the Collagen Type and Quality
We have already mentioned the importance of checking the collagen type — it lets you know which parts of your body the collagen supplement supports.
The higher the quality of ingredients used, the better a collagen powder will be because it's cleaner, safer, and potentially more effective.
For instance, you may see some collagen supplements that say their collagen is derived from “grass-fed,” “pasture-raised” cows. These supplements are better than products sourced from poor to average-quality ingredients.
While you are at it, look out for preservatives, sweeteners (especially added sugars), and additives. These ingredients are often added as fillers and are an easy way to recognize a low-quality product.
4. Buy From Reputable Companies
You may not care too much about a supplement company’s reputation, but in an industry where regulation is lackluster, trustworthiness means a lot.
Simply put, if a company can’t be trusted, don’t trust their product. Take the time to check the product and the background of the company that makes it. You can also look for third-party testing to see if their ingredients have been tested as well.
Side Effects of Collagen Powder
One of the best things about collagen powder is that it usually comes with few to no side effects. But there are two main side effects to look for: an allergic reaction and too much calcium in your blood, the latter of which is quite rare.
Too much calcium in the blood circulation can lead to a range of adverse effects, including fatigue, bone pain, kidney stones, vomiting, and more. An allergic reaction is a little more obvious with signs including itching, hives, swelling, and more.
As with adding any new supplement to your daily regime, make sure you keep a close watch on how you are feeling.
The Best Collagen Powder Supplement
Now that we've covered how to find a good, high-quality brand, we'll give you a tip. It's a slightly biased tip, but that's what you're here for anyway, right? ;)
Glow Getter Collagen
If you're trying to boost your skincare from the inside out, then adding hydrolyzed collagen powder to your daily health routine can be extremely beneficial.
Glow Getter Collagen is our collagen powder that comes with 10 grams of collagen per serving. It works to support healthy skin, nails, and hair while simultaneously improving joint health. Beyond this, it also helps improve your gut health.
We love adding the flavorless collagen and creamer to our morning coffee and having the piña colada or strawberry kiwi as a fun afternoon refresher.
If you’re looking to support your hair, nails, and skin, collagen peptides are a great addition to your daily regimen. Not only do they support collagen production in your body, but also provide you with a serving or two of protein. And if you’re trying to up your protein, this is a great perk.
Whether you decide to add an unflavored collagen to your morning coffee, or a flavored one to your afternoon smoothie, it dissolves easily and goes down easy.
So grab your blender bottle, add in some Glow Getter Collagen, and get after those skin goals!