Young woman holding collagen supplement

We’re all looking for some self-improvement. Supplements are a popular way of attempting to achieve better all-round health in small, everyday ways. Many people swear by them, and studies show they can make up for certain dietary deficiencies.

Collagen peptides are a popular choice of supplement. Collagen is one of the main structural proteins our bodies use to build and repair everything from skin and hair to bones and ligaments. As a supplement, people take collagen peptides hoping to improve their joint health, skin condition, and tap into a variety of other health benefits.

Collagen peptides come in a variety of forms and can be sourced in several different ways, so choosing the right supplement for you isn’t always straightforward. In this guide, we take a look at how collagen supplements work and how you can choose the right one for you. We’ll also give you our top picks for the best collagen supplements available.

Our Top Picks:

Best Overall: Sports Research Premium Collagen Peptides
Best Budget: Bulksupplements Hydrolyzed Collagen
Best Powder: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
Best Gummy: Flamingo Hydrolyzed Collagen Gummies
Best for Vegetarians: PlantFusion Complete Plant Collagen Builder

The Best Collagen Supplements: Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Sports Research Premium
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Sports Research Premium

Grass-fed collagen that packs a punch.

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$27.95 USD

Why We Picked It

Sports Research Premium Collagen Peptide is a combination type 1 and 3 powder, sourced from grass-fed cows. With these types of collagen, it may help to improve the health of your skin, tendons, hair, and bones.

This supplement comes in flavorless powder form, so you can add it to drinks, including coffee and smoothies. It’s not likely to trigger any taste-based aversion for consumers with sensitive palates.

We chose this as the best overall thanks to its popularity with consumers, who consistently rate this collagen supplement highly. As a flavorless powder, it’s versatile, and it also comes with a 90-day guarantee for anyone who doesn’t see the results they’re hoping for.

Keep in Mind

It can get pricey when used regularly, but it’s a premium supplement that seem to show positive results.

In a Nutshell

  • Type 1 and 3 collagen
  • Certified by Paleo & Keto Foundation
  • 11g serving
Best Budget: Bulksupplements Hydrolyzed Collagen
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Bulksupplements Hydrolyzed Collagen

A bulk option for frequent buyers.

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$21.96 USD

Why We Picked It

Bulksupplements Hydrolyzed Collagen is a type 1 and 3 collagen peptide derived from grass-fed bovine sources. This supplement doesn’t market itself as flavorless, confirmed by customer experiences. It has a subtle but distinctive taste that some describe as beefy.

We chose Bulksupplements Hydrolyzed Collagen as our best budget option because it’s tailored for buyers looking for a bulk purchase, which helps to keep the costs down. There are five purchase sizes available. Supplements are most effective when taken on a regular schedule, so buying in bulk can help with gaining the maximum potential benefits without breaking the bank.

Keep in Mind

Distinctive taste may not be for some but can be masked by stronger flavors or enjoyed as a flavored product.

In a Nutshell

  • Type 1 and 3
  • 2500mg serving
  • Available in 2.2 pound container
Best Powder: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
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Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides

A balance of cost and performance.

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$24.99 USD

Why We Picked It

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides is a bovine-sourced type 1 and 3 supplement that comes in 10oz bottles.

This supplement is unflavored, so it should work fine however you want to take it, whether that’s adding it to a drink or food. It contains no sugar, so it’s ideal for people wanting to limit their added sugars.

We chose this as the best powder for its ideal balance of cost and performance. It has nearly 2,000 reviews on Amazon at the time of writing and boasts almost 5-star feedback. It’s “No List” of gluten, allergens, sweeteners and the like will make it popular with customers who want their collagen as simple as possible.

Keep in Mind

There are some reports of excess flavor and clumping, but these are in the small minority.

In a Nutshell

  • Types 1 and 3
  • 20g per serving
  • No added sugar
Best Gummy: Flamingo Hydrolyzed Collagen Gummies
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Flamingo Hydrolyzed Collagen Gummies

Convenient gummies on the go.

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$16.99 USD

Why We Picked It

Flamingo Hydrolyzed Collagen Gummies are a fish-derived type 1 and 3 collagen supplement. While not suitable for vegetarians, they’ll work for anyone with a pescetarian diet. These gummies are available in orange and tropical fruit flavors and are free from gluten, egg, milk, soy, and gelatin.

Gummies are a great option for getting collagen on the go or for those with no interest in making up their own smoothies or food.

We’ve chosen these as our best gummies thanks to their inexpensiveness and accessibility. They’re convenient, and you’ll get enough in a package to keep you going for over a month.

Keep in Mind

Gummies can’t be blended or mixed into food like powders can, but some may find them more accessible or convenient.

In a Nutshell

  • Type 1 and 3
  • Over 1 month supply
  • Kosher and halal
Best for Vegetarians: PlantFusion Complete
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PlantFusion Complete

The perfect collagen choice for vegetarians looking to support their skin and joints.

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$34.30 USD

Why We Picked It

PlantFusion Complete Plant Collagen Builder is a plant-based collagen supplement, using amla fruit extract, amino acids and plant proteins in place of the usual collagen sources such as beef, chicken, or fish. The supplement is non-GMO certified. It’s also free of dairy, soy, rice, eggs, nuts, fish, tree nuts, shellfish, artificial flavors, sweeteners and colors

It comes in a choice of flavors, including chocolate and vanilla, but you can also buy it in unflavored form. It’s a powder, so you can add it to your food and drinks.

Finding quality plant-based collagen sources isn’t easy. We’ve chosen PlantFusion Complete Plant Collagen Builder for its quality collagen sourcing, which it achieves without sacrificing its vegetarian and non-GMO makeup.

Keep in Mind

The smaller container size comes with a cost and won’t last long for frequent users, but it’s one of the better all-vegetarian options available.

In a Nutshell

  • Vegetarian
  • Non-GMO
  • Multiple choice of flavors

How We Chose the Best Collagen Supplements

People shopping for collagen supplements usually have particular goals in mind. They may aim to improve their joint health or skin and hair condition, for example. Each will have slightly different considerations when choosing a collagen supplement. We chose our picks by looking at several distinct categories to weigh up the benefits of each.

Type

Type is one of the primary considerations when choosing collagen supplements, as different types are taken for different reasons. We take a look at each supplement’s type to determine whom it may be most suitable for, and what health benefits it may potentially offer. The type determines what kind of effect the collagen will have on the body, so choosing the right type for your health objectives is a key consideration. More on that below.

Source

Collagen supplements typically come from animal cells, so it may be important for some consumers to know the ultimate source of their collagen. If you have a sensitivity to certain animal products, for instance, you may need to know where it comes from. This is also true for anyone concerned with animal welfare or with vegetarian dietary habits. Most collagen isn’t vegetarian, but supplements derived from chicken eggs may be. Piscetarians will be comfortable with fish-derived supplements but not those derived from beef or chicken. We take a look at the source of each supplement to give you an idea where it comes from and how that may affect your purchase.

Taste

There’s no objective measure of what tastes good or not, which can make this a tough category to evaluate. Some supplement users will care more or less about how a given supplement will taste. We look at whether the supplement has a strong flavor and, if so, what kind of flavor it is. This should give you the information you’ll need to make a decision. Some collagen supplements can taste quite strongly of their source, while many are completely tasteless.

Cost

The benefits of doing anything related to diet are inseparable from frequency. As supplements would have little if any effect taken just once or twice, we assume that supplement shoppers are looking at the long-term. That’s why cost forms one of our metrics. If you buy supplements regularly, their cost can add up quickly. That may be okay if you’re paying extra to meet your specific needs, but typically you’ll want to choose a cost that suits your budget. Buying in bulk can help keep the cost of collagen supplements down, and some manufacturers offer specific bulk deals for this purpose.

Why Take Collagen Supplements

People take supplements as a way to fortify their health or make up for deficiencies in their intake. Collagen supplements, in particular, are used by people who want to strengthen joints, muscles, and promote good muscle, skin, and hair health. Here’s a closer look at some of these:

Joint Health

Collagen is one of the biological building blocks for the bone, muscles, and ligaments that make up our joints. Many supplement users will use collagen to strengthen their joints, particularly if they suffer from conditions like arthritis. The predominant type for this is type 1, but type 2 collagen, which makes up our cartilage, is also a popular method for strengthening the joints.

Younger-Looking Skin

It’s widely accepted that skin condition is a good indicator of overall health. A body well-provided with the right vitamins and minerals will usually have the skin to match. Making sure your diet is meeting all your needs can also help reduce the intensity of existing skin conditions. Healthy skin is hydrated and can repair itself efficiently. This all means that supplements like collagen can help toward younger-looking skin by ensuring that you’re providing your skin with everything it needs to repair and replenish. As collagen makes up 75% of your skin’s dry weight, it’s easy to see the connection between the two, and studies back up its potential benefits for skin health.

Gut Health

In many ways, health starts in the gut. If your body can’t extract nutrients efficiently, then the rest of your body will suffer, whether that’s your bones, muscles, skin, or hair. Some people report success in using collagen supplements to manage conditions like leaky gut syndrome.

What to Look for in a Collagen Supplement

Below are the main points you need to consider. You can use this as a quick reference list for choosing the right collagen supplement for you:

Types

Not all collagen is the same. Our body needs different collagen types for different purposes. If you’re taking collagen, it’s usually with a particular health objective in mind. Pay careful attention to your collagen type to be sure you’re getting the right one. The most common is type 1, which performs a wide variety of roles in the body so offers the best potential for all-round health benefits.

Format

Like many supplements, collagen can come in a variety of formats. They may be powders, gummies, or liquids, for example. Powders are popular for mixing with other substances, such as making smoothies, while gummies offer the convenience of taking on the go. Liquids may be the format of choice for people who don’t want to mix their own drinks. You’ll want to take your own preferences into account, but also your own needs.

Taste

If you have a sensitive palate or some strong dislikes, then you’ll need to be careful when choosing collagen supplements. Some supplements can taste quite strongly of their source. For instance, bovine-sourced collagen may have a beefy flavor somewhat like beef stock. If that’s likely to be a problem for you, then you may need to shop for flavorless supplements or mix flavored supplements in with stronger tastes. One popular option is to use strong coffee to mask the flavor.

Source

If you have dietary needs or you’re a vegetarian, vegan, or pescetarian, then you’ll need to pay attention to the collagen source. Pescetarians can opt for fish-derived sources of collagen, while vegetarians can choose from egg-derived collagens. However, there are fewer vegan options for collagen supplements and many vegans will find it easier to get more collagen with dietary changes instead, so you may need to evaluate your intake of various food groups.

Hydrolyzed vs. Peptides

You may have seen both of these terms used to describe collagen supplements. In fact, they both describe the same thing. Full collagen molecules are broken down by industrial processes into peptides, which consist of shorter amino acid chains. The purpose of this is to make the collagen more bioavailable, which describes your ability to absorb and uptake the collagen. This means less of the collagen passes through the body without being used. Hydrolysis is the method of breaking down these chains, so peptides can also be described as hydrolyzed.

What are the Different Types of Collagen?

Each type of collagen plays a different biological role, and so is taken as a supplement to meet particular health objectives. This also means that people who buy collagen supplements fall into different categories — a pregnant woman and an athlete would typically be looking for different types of collagen, for example.

Here are the types of collagen and what they’re usually used for:

Types 1 and 3 Collagen

Types 1 and 3 typically come together, so your collagen source will likely contain both of these if it contains either. Type 1 is the most abundant collagen type in the human body, so it plays a role in many different areas of our biology. Our joints, skin, bones, tendons, and vasculature. Type 3, meanwhile, is common in reticular fibers, which is the connective tissue of the body. Type 1 (and 3 by extension) is the most sought-after form of collagen. It offers the biggest all-round health boost, so it’s the go-to for most buyers of collagen supplements.

Type 2 Collagen

Type 2 collagen is the main building block of cartilage, which makes up many of the solid structures in our body. It also protects the ends of long bones, so healthy cartilage can mean healthier joints. In collagen supplements, type 2 collagen may help with joint conditions such as arthritis. It’s also popular with people who play sports or enjoy other athletic hobbies, as it may protect the joints against the kind of wear and tear these activities generate.

Types 4 and 5 Collagen

Type 4 and 5 aren’t all that common in supplements, as they have a niche role in the body that pales in comparison to other collagen types. Type 4 is the main component of the basement membrane and may help to promote liver health. Type 5, meanwhile, may provide some benefits to the placenta and to hair. Pregnant women may look for type 5 for its potential benefits.

Related Resources

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Daniel James