We Put In The Work: Here Are The 16 Best Collagen Supplements
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April 17, 2021 — 12:03 PM
There is a flood of collagen supplements on the market—thanks in large part to their purported full-body benefits.* And with so many options available, you may be struck with a bout of decision fatigue—or be tempted to grab whatever reasonable-looking jar you find at your local health shop. But not so fast: There is actually a method for determining your best collagen fit, and it comes down to your goals and needs.
See, collagen formulas vary quite a bit—be it due to collagen type or additional ingredients—and these factors play a role in how effective it will be toward an intended outcome. Here, our best bets.
Best all-around collagen peptide powder
Here’s a high-quality powder that will give you optimal allover results and then some.* (Well, if we do say so ourselves.) The innovative blend is rooted in its high-potency collagen foundation, delivering 15 grams of pasture-raised, grass-fed bovine collagen peptides (so high in types I and III collagen) but then layers in several targeted ingredients, both nutrients and botanical bioactives, for holistic inside-out support.* There are vitamins C and E for enhanced collagen production and antioxidant support, hyaluronic acid for skin hydration, the protein building block L-glutamine, biotin for your beauty needs, and curcumin from turmeric extract and sulforaphane from broccoli seed extract for supporting detoxification and combating oxidative stress.* Last but definitely not least: This collagen product is free of GMOs, dairy, soy, and gluten and clearly breaks down the amino acid profile on its label.
Grass-Fed Collagen+, mindbodygreen ($70)
Best marine collagen
If you generally follow a pescatarian diet, marine collagen will be just right for you. Always look for peptides sourced from wild-caught sources, like this one here, which comes from sustainably sourced cod and nothing else. We also like how transparent this brand is: They break down the amino acid profile, are third-party tested, and a Certified B Corp.
Marine Collagen Peptides, Natural Force ($59.99)
Best vegan collagen support
Well, we must start off by saying: There is no vegan collagen source. Cows, fish, chicken—decidedly not vegan. But you don’t have to totally miss out if you’re vegan. You can find vegan supplements that bolster your natural, endogenous (within your body) collagen production with smart, curated formulas.* This particular supplement features a healthy dose of vitamin C, an antioxidant that’s essential in collagen synthesis, complemented by key amino acids (glycine, lysine, proline) and botanicals like bamboo extract.* As it turns out, bamboo is high in B vitamins and key minerals, as well as vitamins A and E.
Vegan Collagen Boost, rae ($14.99)
Best flavor variety
As far as taste varieties go, chocolate and unflavored reign supreme. That’s why we were pleasantly surprised by this refreshing matcha mint option. The base is 10 grams of pasture-raised, ethically sourced bovine collagen (they, too, list the amino acid profile). And thanks to the matcha, it even contains 6 milligrams of caffeine per serving for a little morning boost.*
Grass-Fed Collagen Peptides in Matcha Mint, Thrive Market ($19.99)
Best budget collagen peptide
Now, budget isn’t just about finding the cheapest option on the market—it’s about finding the most bang for your buck. And if you’re looking for an option that’s going to deliver the most collagen peptides at cost per value, here’s your best bet as it has a whopping 20 grams (bovine sourced).
Collagen Peptides, Orgain ($24.99)
Best collagen creamer
Since one of the more popular ways to take collagen is to blend it with your morning coffee, many people opt for a rich creamer. This dairy-free powder option offers 10 grams of bovine collagen (perhaps on the low side but perfectly suitable for a creamer) and then is blended with coconut milk powder for a dose of good fats and a splash of natural vanilla flavor for a smooth taste.
Dairy-Free Collagen Creamer Powder, Dose & Co ($29.99)
Best for on-the-go
Lugging around a huge jar of collagen powder isn’t always the easiest route. If you’re prone to blending your collagen powder while out and about (perhaps in your morning coffee order while en route to work), you may consider travel packets, like these. The individually portioned containers house Vital’s classic blend of 10 grams of collagen (bovine) that contains 18 amino acids.
Collagen Peptides Powder Supplement Travel Packs, Vital Proteins ($34)
This marine collagen supplement is sourced from wild-caught cod, and along with being GMO-free, this product is Halal and certified Kosher. It’s also third-party tested for purity, certified as hypoallergenic, and free of additives and synthetic ingredients. So you’re getting just what’s advertised and nothing else.
Premium Marine Collagen Powder, Shore Magic ($120)
Best for muscles
The ideal blend for athletes: This whey and collagen combo bumps the protein up to 25 grams (so about 10 grams of collagen and 15 grams of whey protein). This is important for muscle mass as collagen by itself is an incomplete protein.* It also folds in hyaluronic acid, which helps support healthy joints.*
Collagen Whey Protein, Vital Proteins ($44)
Best for hair
While the base contains a decent dose of types I and III collagen (12 grams of protein), the stars for the hair are the biotin, silica, and vitamin C. Biotin is a main component of keratin production, or the primary protein of hair. (In one small study, women with thinning hair reported significant regrowth when supplementing with biotin as compared to those given a placebo.*) It’s then layered with vitamin C to help neutralize free radicals (which can lead to aging hair) and silica (which may help strengthen hair and minimize thinning).*
Grass-Fed Collagen Beauty Powder, Garden of Life ($26)
Best for skin
This combo product blends together 10 active ingredients specifically chosen to support your skin. First up is 3 grams of marine collagen, then there are beauty favorites such as aloe vera for hydration, turmeric for anti-inflammatory properties, Siberian ginseng to soothe, astaxanthin for antioxidant benefits and to help defend against photodamage.*
Vitality X + Collagen Nourish + Glow, JS Health ($49)
Best for joints
Your joints primarily contain collagen type II, so if you’re looking for joint support, make sure to incorporate type II.* This supplement is sourced from chicken cartilage and delivers 10 milligrams of collagen, along with seaweed-derived minerals. And while 40 milligrams of the type II collagen ingredient (sourced from chicken cartilage) may sound quite small, this dose has joint-support clinical studies to back it up.*
UC-II, Now Foods ($15.99)
Dirtylemon’s blends of health drinks contain clean, smart formulas that offer a refreshing, wellness-focused sip midday. This blends together 4 grams of sustainably sourced marine collagen with the brand’s signature lemon juice (which contains a bit of naturally occurring sugar for a dash of sweetness).
+ collagen The Beauty Blend, Dirtylemon ($35)
While we believe that powder is usually the best way to ingest a meaningful amount of collagen, some people love the ease of a capsule. If that’s you, there’s no better option than this blend of bovine collagen, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, chondroitin, and phytonutrient antioxidants from red wine and grapeseed extracts.
Collagen Love, Hum ($40)
Best for keto
If you follow a keto diet, this has everything you’ll need to start your day off right. The creamer contains 9 grams of premium bovine collagen, 100% organic MCT oil from coconut (medium-chain triglycerides, which can be converted into ketones), and lightly sweetened with organic vanilla and monk fruit.* Just blend with coffee and you’re ready to go.
Keto Collagen + MCT, Great Lakes Gelatin Co. ($37.99)
Best high potency
Nothing but collagen here. This is made with high-grade bovine hydrolyzed collagen sourced from pasture-raised cows with no added hormones—and there are 20 grams of it per serving, which makes this an excellent source of collagen. If you’re looking to add collagen—and truly nothing else—this one’s for you.
Collagen Protein, Bulletproof ($39.95)
While we’ve vetted the above products and can recommend them wholeheartedly, we also want to give you the tools to look for your own collagen supplements—or at least help you understand our process.
There is no official daily recommendation for collagen supplementation. For healthy adults, the recommendation for overall protein needs is about 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. If you’re physically active, your needs may be higher. Collagen is a protein made of peptides, but it’s not a complete protein—it doesn’t have all nine of the essential amino acids (it’s missing tryptophan and is on the lower side on a few others)—but can contribute to your overall protein goals.* For a collagen supplement, we recommend looking in the 10- to 20-gram range.
Look for brands that describe in detail where their collagen is sourced from, be it on the packaging or website. Look for keywords like “grass-fed, pasture-raised bovine collagen,” or “sustainably, wild-caught cod.” Ideally, they’ll note what collagen types (type I, II, or III) as well. Bonus points if they list the amino acid profile.
Powders are the best, as they are able to deliver the most potent amount of collagen. Powders are also a convenient way to add a meaningful dose of collagen to your nutrition routine, whether blending into a sweet smoothie with colorful fruits or mixed into your morning coffee or latte. If you prefer other delivery methods—drinks, tonics, capsules, gummies—that’s fine; just know that you’re likely not getting as much collagen in these products.
If there are added ingredients—such as additional vitamins and minerals or botanical bioactives—they can help create a more holistic product to achieve your desired effects (or if you want just collagen, that’s great too!).* Look for research backing up why the ingredients were added and thoughtful explanations of the overall formulas. On the other end, make sure the formula is clean. Less is more here: Skip artificial colors, flavors, gluten, GMOs, soy, gluten, and known allergens. If your collagen product has flavors, look for natural varieties (such as organic cocoa, organic vanilla). If there’s a sweetener, we recommend things like organic monk fruit extract or organic coconut sugar.
This is less about decoding an ingredient label and more about finding brands that are open and honest about their product. If they make any benefit claims, there should be science to support them. They should be open about where the ingredients come from, and they should explain the packaging it comes in (i.e., is it environmentally friendly?).
Here, some of the top health areas you can expect high-quality collagen supplementation will help support:*
- Skin and hair: Studies have shown that taking collagen peptides will support skin elasticity and hydration levels and promote youthful texture.* Collagen supplements also provide many of the amino acids and nutrients needed for hair growth. *
- Gut: Research shows that collagen can help support your gut health.* As gut health specialist Vincent Pedre, M.D., told mbg, “For the same reasons collagen helps repair and grow muscle tissue, it serves as an excellent nutrient source for supporting the rapidly dividing cells that line the interior of the gut.”*
- Joints: Based on growing research, collagen has also been found to help support joint health and comfort.* Collagen is found in all connective tissues that make up our joints (including ligaments and tendons), and collagen supplements provide almost 20 unique essential and nonessential amino acids to support natural levels throughout the body.* Healthy connective tissue structure helps support joint health and function.*
- Muscles: Parts of our muscles are made up of…you guessed it, collagen. One study demonstrated that hydrolyzed collagen supplementation supported muscle strength and body composition.* In fact, according to Nour Zibdeh, M.S., RDN, CLT, “Collagen can also support lean muscle and help improve body composition.”* While this is an emerging area of research, the science has shown that collagen supplements can support skeletal muscle mass and strength.*
Finding your perfect collagen fit really boils down to figuring out what your goals and priorities are. Once you narrow down the why, then you can start looking into the what. But we went ahead and made the latter part easy for you—these 16 options are the best out there.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.
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