We all know that one of the challenges of aging is maintaining joint health, so it’s clear that adding collagen to our diets is important. That said, it can be really hard to get enough collagen from natural sources (unless you really love your bone broths!). If you haven’t read it already, check out our article Collagen — What’s All The Hype About? and see why it should be included in your daily supplement regimen and what types of foods you can find it in (Hint: it’s not just bone broth).

 

Let’s face it, choosing which type of any given supplement you should take isn’t daunting enough, but what about all the different brands to choose from, all with slightly different descriptions of what they contain? One product has x amount of the ingredient, while another product has x amount — what’s better? Here is what you should know about collagen.

 

Things to consider when picking a collagen supplement

 

 

  • Not all collagen supplements are created equal.

 

 

Chicken, beef, or marine — these are all types of collagen powders you will see on the market. While the original source may be the same from brand to brand, the composition may not be. Collagen powders come from all sorts of different amino acid blends and peptides, as well as different forms of skin, tendons, or cartilage, so be mindful when choosing your powder. Look to find a product that is tailored to your specific needs.

 

Here are the three main types you’ll see:

 

  1. Unhydrolyzed collagen: This is the non-processed form of collagen where the amino acids are still fully bound to one another in full strands. Unhydrolyzed collagen is very strong and durable, but also very difficult for the body to digest. You won’t see it very often because it’s relatively ineffective to be taken as an oral supplement.
  2. Collagen peptides (also known as collagen hydrolysate):  this is the form you’ll see most often. The hydrolyzation process breaks down the amino acids into smaller chains making them more bioavailable to the body. As a result, they’re absorbed into the bloodstream faster and easier.
  3. Gelatin: Gelatin is collagen that has undergone only partial-hydrolyzation, leaving a powder or gel that will only dissolve in hot liquids. Since it has not undergone complete hydrolysis, the proteins are not entirely broken down making gelatin more difficult for the body to absorb.

 

Another thing to keep an eye on is the type of collagen you’re getting. There are more than 16 different types of collagen, but 80-90% of what’s found in the body is type 1, 2, or 3. Here’s where they’re found:

 

  1. Type 1: Most prevalent in skin, tendons, bones, ligaments, dentin, and interstitial tissues, type 1 collagen is touted for its beneficial effects on hair, skin, and nails.
  2. Type 2: Found mainly in cartilage and vitreous humour, type 2 is extremely beneficial for maintaining cartilage health and preventing age-related joint diseases. However, it shouldn’t be taken in conjunction with type 1 and 3.
  3. Type 3: Type 3 is found in skin, muscles, and blood vessels, and is often found alongside type 1. It’s also a major component of the extracellular matrix making up our organs and skin. You’ll usually find type 3 alongside type 1.

 

 

  • Choose a product that’s backed by science.

 

 

It should go without saying — if there hasn’t been research on the product and it’s not from a reputable brand, leave it on the shelf. Products backed by science ensure that the product was tested for safety and you’re getting what you pay for. When dealing with your health, never compromise quality to save a few dollars. Check for products that are certified by reputable organizations like NSF, UL, and USP.

 

 

  • Opt for grass-fed and organic or sustainably harvested products.

 

 

Just as the food you put into your body should be hormone- and antibiotic-free, and grass-fed when possible, so should the supplements you take.

 

 

  • Ensure the product you choose is pure.

 

 

Needless to say, pure, high-quality collagen powder is colourless and flavourless (for the most part) — unless it’s mixed with flavouring or extracts. If it’s yellow, brown, or any other visible colour and has an “off” taste, it probably isn’t high quality and shouldn’t be something you put into your body. Another way to determine whether it’s good quality is the number of ingredients — the less there is on the label, the better the product.

 

 

  • Skip the flavoured versions.

 

 

Like any other flavoured products, flavoured collagen supplements often contain artificial colours and flavours that not only destroy some of the beneficial properties of the product itself, but can upset your GI tract and add unnecessary calories. Go for the flavourless version and add your own sweetener if needed.

 

Now that we’ve covered what you should look for when buying a collagen supplement, here’s a few different brands to consider. We’ll give you the low-down on what’s good about them and where they fall a bit short to help guide you in your decision.

 

Great Lakes Gelatin Collagen Hydrolysate, Unflavoured

 

Great Lakes offers an outstanding collagen powder sourced from grass-fed cows that is verified non-GMO, glyphosate free, contains no MSG, and is gluten and dairy free.

 

It has a unique combination of 20 amino acids and delivers 12 grams of collagen protein per 2 tablespoon serving. Offering a whopping 2,785 mg of glycine, it’s also great for supporting joint and digestive health

 

It dissolves quick and easy into both hot and cold liquids with little flavour, making it an ideal addition to your morning coffee or smoothie.

 

Although on the higher end of the price scale, Great Lakes collagen offers superior quality and we highly recommend it as a collagen supplement.

 

Key features:

  • Sourced from grass-fed cows (bovine hide)
  • Easy to absorb
  • Powdered form
  • Bio-active and contains 90% protein
  • Readily dissolves in both hot and cold liquids
  • 12g of collagen per serving – 12g (2 tbsp.)
  • Unique combination of 20 amino acids
  • Contains no fillers or additives
  • Verified non-GMO, glyphosate free, contains no MSG, gluten and dairy free

 

Downsides:

  • Minor smell and taste
  • Expensive

 

What customers say:

  • Improves sleep
  • Reduces joint pain
  • Increases energy
  • Increases hair growth
  • Improves appearance of skin and nails
  • Mixes well in both hot and cold liquids
  • Prevents hair loss

 

Youtheory Mens Collagen 

 

Youtheory offers a great quality product that with all three types of collagen for health and maintenance of hair, skin, nails, bones, joints, and cartilage.

 

Sourced from bovine and chicken, it contains no dairy, soy, or gluten. As it is hydrolyzed collagen in tablet form, it’s easy to swallow, well absorbed by the body, and you don’t have to worry about mixing it into liquids.

 

Supplying 18 amino acids in addition to biotin and L-cysteine, Youtheory mens collagen is a great choice for maintaining health.

 

Key features:

  • Type 1, 2, and 3 collagen
  • Tablet form
  • Bovine and chicken sourced
  • 5g of collagen per serving (6 tablets)
  • Supplies 18 amino acids
  • Contains Fo-Ti root extract, biotin, and L-Cysteine
  • Hydrolyzed collagen

 

Downsides:

  • High dosage (6 tablets)
  • Filler ingredients
  • Less collagen per serving than other brands
  • Designed specifically for men
  • Not certified from grass-fed or pasture-raised sources
  • Type 2 collagen should be taken separate from type 1 and 3 for increased absorption

 

What customers say:

  • Less collagen per serving than other brands
  • Improved joints and muscles
  • Improves elasticity of skin
  • Reduces pain
  • Increases hair and nail growth

 

NeoCell Super Collagen Powder

 

NeoCell offers an excellent quality collagen powder that is sourced from grass-fed and pastured raised cows, and contains no soy, wheat, lactose, starch, corn or yeast, and is also free from GMOs and artificial flavours.

 

Containing both type 1 and 3 hydrolyzed collagen, it’s great for hair, skin, nail, and bone health and is bioavailable and easily absorbed by the body.

 

Key features:

  • Type 1 and 3 collagen
  • Sourced from grass-fed and pasture-raised cows
  • Powdered form
  • 6.6g collagen per serving (1 scoop)
  • Bioavailable and bioactiv
  • Non-GMO
  • Contains no fillers or additives
  • Readily dissolves in both hot and cold liquids
  • Inexpensive

 

Downsides:

  • Less collagen per serving than other brands

 

What customers say:

  • Great for hair and nail growth
  • Hydrates skin well
  • Increases elasticity of skin
  • Helps to reduce dark spots
  • Combine with vitamin C for increased absorption
  • Minimizes wrinkles
  • Causes some stomach discomfort

 

There are a lot of collagen supplements on the market, so do your research and watch out for low-quality products. Look for supplements that contain 100% collagen sourced from grass-fed or pastured sources, and avoid products containing artificial ingredients, flavours, colours, or any additional additives or fillers. To increase absorbability, opt for collagen hydrolysate over other forms.

 

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