Collagen Explained: A Complete Guide
We've all seen the beauty commercials. Gorgeous actresses routinely tout the glory of added collagen to their daily routine. With a little tap on their cheeks, they assure viewers that their product or cream is the reason for their plump and perky skin.
While we at AGN Roots have no skin in the game on this topic (see what we did there?), this article won't get into any support for one product on the market or another, we can simply say this. Collagen is known to keep skin looking fuller and more youthful. It's also known to keep both muscles and bones healthy.
The applications of collagen make up a myriad of possibilities, right? Skin, bones, and muscles?
Collagen is an essential element in the composition of the human body. But, as you start to read up on the wonders of this element, you may begin to come across various types of collagen.
And what does it all mean? Which one is right for you? Well, pour yourself a hot cup of peppermint tea and cozy up for a few minutes. We're about to answer, "What are the five types of collagen?" and help you see which one makes practical sense for you to focus on.
What Is Collagen?
Before we get into the five types of collagen, let's take a moment to discuss what, precisely, collagen is. The short answer is this: it's a protein. But, the reason it's in the limelight a lot is that it's one of the most abundant proteins in the body.
Let's also get a little academic and take collagen all the way back to its Greek roots. Collagen derives from the Greek word kólla, which means glue. So, what does collagen "glue" together?
Well, it supports the skin, bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and more. And, again, you can see why it's often touted alongside beauty products. If it gives the skin a little boost, then fewer wrinkles may abound.
You can also see why it's often sold as a supplement for people who love to work out. If it's strengthening bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, then there may be fewer sports injuries.
Collagen can also be found in our corneas, blood vessels, and teeth. So, it really makes the rounds throughout the entire body, making it a popular supplement.
As we age, however, the body slows its production of collagen. We can attribute this to less plump skin and weaker bones. So, what are the types of collagen? There's nothing too complex about it. They look like this: Type I, Type II, Type III, Type IV, and Type V.
Presently, there are 16 known types of collagen. But, there are five main types, and these are the ones you can keep an eye out for as you begin to see which collagen products will best suit your needs.
In terms of Collagen supplements, the typical types available for purchase include, Types I, II, & III.
How Much Collagen Should I Take?
We found the amount of collagen depends on the goal your body is looking to achieve. The following breakdown is a summary of various medical sources and publications.
Keep in mind; there isn't much data supporting the benefits of collagen-rich foods (including powdered supplements) as marketed everywhere versus consuming foods containing the elements to produce and boost your body's collagen levels naturally.
- Overall Health - Most research considers 2.5 to 15 grams per day as a safe, functional collagen dosage to reap collagen benefits.
- Skin Elasticity - To reap the benefits of collagen for anti-aging, a modest amount is adequate. A daily regiment of 3 to 6 grams daily, depending on the purity and sourcing, seems to be the consensus among the latest research.
- Plumping the Skin – 10 grams of collagen peptides (Combination of Types 1-3) will reduce the depth of existing wrinkles. Middle-aged men and women can benefit if starting early in life.
- Joint Cushion – This the most contentious application, and taking collagen alone is probably not the best solution. However, if collagen is to complement other supplements, many athletes swear by taking like clockwork 8-12 grams per day, and sometimes several dosages (up to 30 grams per day).
Tip: Consuming collagen with vitamin C gives your body the best shot at taking full advantage of the collagen you are consuming. Vitamin C will optimize your collagen supplement's bioavailability as it's essential for collagen synthesis to occur. How much Vitamin C should you take? Based on a 2000 calorie diet, a minimum dosage per day can range from 80 mg to 90 mg.
What’s the Best Collagen Supplement?
Like most supplements we research, this is a wildly unnecessary one. Consuming ground animal bones and connective tissues to assist your body’s collagen needs feeds only the marketing desires of big business looking to leverage the average consumer’s desperate yearning for low-cost non-addictive over the counter solutions to joint pains.
If you are a believer, we highly recommend choosing the brands that properly disclose the heavy-metal testing results. Remember, animal cartilage serves as a literal sponge for heavy metals and other contaminants.
A problem that continues to rear its ugly head; Collagen supplements are known for their high cadmium levels. When taking a supplement as part of a daily routine it is critical you are not slowly poisoning your body with heavy metals. No matter what a Dietary Supplement claims, in the United States any product that falls under the Dietary Supplement & Health Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994 is "post market" regulated only. This means, it may never be tested before its sold and market. This is a sad truth, which is why we at AGN Roots find it critical to support legislation like Proposition 65 out of California.
Learn More Here: Heavy Metals
Learn More Here: Why U.S.A. livestock is a Heavy Metal Nightmare?
Collagen Supplements Vs. Natural Food
Collagen supplement popularity continues to rise, and big business's associated marketing efforts are making out like bandits.
Although a supplement of collagen offers convenience in the hunt to increase your collagen intake, trusting these types of powders for effectiveness can be hit or miss. At AGN Roots, we believe there are better ways to improve your collagen synthesis naturally without having to trust a plastic tub.
An inability to trust supplement brands is a common sentiment within the health and wellness community; however, this isn't the only reason why a collegian supplement may not be possible.
Collagen supplements, unfortunately, are made from the skin, bones, and connective tissue of pigs and cows. If you happen to live an active vegan lifestyle, a collagen supplement would most likely be in direct conflict with your diet.
The same goes for many religions that detest in the consumption of pig. Between vegans, vegetarians, and religious groups, there exists a decent desire to master the ways of natural collagen production or collagen synthesis.
The good news is, many whole foods facilitate an efficient increase in your body's natural collagen production. As we already know, eating natural and healthy foods should always be the preferred option as safer and more beneficial than any supplement, no matter the marketing.
Where Do Most Collagen Peptide Powders Originate?
The most popular collagen peptide powders are ground-up animal parts such as:
- Bones (chicken, fish, bovine, pig)
- Nerve tissues
What are some Collagen-rich Foods?
- Bone Broth - Bone-broth is packed with calcium, phosphorous, amino acids, and magnesium
- Chicken - Loaded with dietary collagen and soft connective tissues. Both chicken and turkey necks serve as vast collagen sources.
- Fish - Oceanic wild-life gave birth to what we know today as "marine-collagen." Many publications cite "marine-collagen" as being the most bioavailable collagen source versus other sources. In several cultures, parts of the fish like the head, scales, and eyeballs are much more abundant in daily meals. These parts of the fish are known to contain the most concentrated quantities of bioavailable collagen.
What Foods Boost Collagen Production Naturally?
Many studies out there have all but proved that consuming collagen-rich foods and or collagen powders does very little to impact the body's collagen composition.
We know our stomachs are extremely powerful in breaking down nutrients from food using harsh acids. Extending this logic, we can also say the gut isn't very good at distinguishing fragile structural proteins like collagen that can be rendered worthless from those proteins that require chemical digestion to be broken down and utilized.
Rather than hoping some collagen-rich food or powder helps transform your skin, there exists another option that's more of a sure thing. By eating foods loaded with the components that fuel your body's ability to produce natural collagen, you are freeing yourself from a world of snake oil and influencer marketing. .
The components in summary that pay dividends for collagen production include:
- Vitamin C
To obtain the nutrients above, below are a few whole foods to containing exactly what is needed -
Egg Whites - Rich in proline, this amino acid is critical for your body's natural collagen production.
Citrus Fruit, Berries, & Tropical Fruits - This is not very common knowledge; however, the following fruits contain relatively high amounts of vitamin C, which serves as a precursor to the collagen production process –
Leafy Greens - The magic to leafy greens doesn't stop at general health. Green vegetables are known for their antioxidant properties due to high chlorophyll content, as it turns out, are significant catalysts and precursors to collagen targeting the skin. The following leafy greens are very healthy and offer an abundance of dietary chlorophyll -
- Collard Greens
- Mustard Greens
Tomatoes - Lycopene is an effective antioxidant found in high concentrations in tomatoes. Between the vitamin c and lycopene, the body is halfway there to producing collagen support.
Ready for it? Type I collagen accounts for a whopping 90% of the body's collagen! The best way to describe this type is to imagine densely-packed fibers.
This collagen boosts the skin's firmness and strengthens the bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It also supports our blood vessels, connective tissues, and teeth.
What's also interesting is that type I collagen can be found in scar tissue. So, it may be advantageous to read up on whether this type will help heal a wound or assist in blood clotting.
Hopefully, a wound on your face can be avoided entirely. But, if so, you might be able to do double duty with Type I because it's also the collagen that plumps up the skin and may be able to reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
How to Increase Your Type I Collagen Intake
The best way to hone in on Type I collagen is through marine collagen. If you don't have anything against fish, then salmon and its other scaly companions can give you a little boost here. Egg whites up the ante, too.
Also, the next time you go to make your mama's homemade chicken noodle soup, opt for bone broth in place of chicken broth, and you may see an increase in your intake of this type, I wonder.
This one aims at the joints. It's not quite as densely-packed as Type I, making it more elastic and, therefore, helpful in places with cartilage. So, if it's not the wrinkles, you're worried about, but the joint pain, then you may want to take a look into Type II.
You won't be hard-pressed to find studies that claim Type II collagen brought some relief to people suffering from the pangs of rheumatoid arthritis. This can be attributed to Type II's ability to aid the body's production of collagen in our joints and cartilage.
If you notice either one of your parents consistently complaining about joint pain (or you work out pretty hard), you may want to consider reading about Type II.
You know what they say; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you start targeting and strengthening this area now, you never know how things might look up in the future.
How to Increase Your Type II Collagen Intake?
Here we have bone broth again. Bone broth is the primary contender in this category. If you think about it, what's almost always the first question when people meet a vegetarian? People inquire, "How do you manage to get your protein if you don't eat chicken or beef?"
Surely every vegetarian rolls their eyes when they're asked this question but, the fact remains, chicken packs a lot of protein punch. And this will also be a great supplement to your diet if you're looking to increase your Type II intake.
What Are Type II Collagen Supplements?
Type II collagens in terms of supplements represent most of the over-the-counter Joint complexes available today. These pills or powders typically contain chicken collagen with hyaluronic acid, Glucosamine, and chondroitin.
Is Type II Collagen the same as “Glucosamine”?
No, Collagen and Glucosamine are not the same. Collagen is an abundant protein found within all of our connective tissue. Around the body, Collagen makes up:
- 90% of our sclera (the white portion of your eyeball)
- 80% of all your tendons
- 75-85% of your skin
- 60% of all your cartilage
- 30% of all your bones
- Up to 10% of your muscle mass
In terms of application, Collagen is used to treat the following -
- Skin damage and wound care
- Gut health (can reseal a “leaky-gut” and Immune system support)
- General Skin Maintenance (reduces dryness and elevates elasticity)
- Joint health
- Blood sugar dampening (minimizes the severity of blood sugar spikes)
Whereas Glucosamine, is a compound element often categorized as an amino acid within the bone cartilage itself.
The most popular application is joint protection as Glucosamine Hydrochloride is used by the body to support your joint cushions. The less known applications of Glucosamine include:
- Stomach, Interstitial, and bladder issues associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and ulcerative colitis
- Pain management including – back, Jaw, joint, hip & knee pains related to stiffness and or swelling due to conditions like osteoarthritis
Type III is a heavy-hitter, supporting significant organs, arteries, and muscle groups. Type I, by far, represent the most abundant collagen form (comprising 90%), but Type III is second-in-line. These fibers are less dense, appearing to be a bit more meshy-looking.
Type III also roams around freely in the intestines. Although research is highly inconclusive in this area, some folks are trying to determine if Type III aids in intestinal health at all. Still, this is one of the main places in the body where Type III lives.
Since Type III is directly linked to the organs, arteries, and blood vessels, we know it's an aid for blood clotting. So, you never know. If this is something your body struggles with, you might consider speaking to your doctor about it.
Finally, let's discuss our friends who like to work out again. This type of collagen is often found in protein powders because it lives in our muscle groups. So, it's often thought that adding this supplement to your daily diet can help you build muscle mass.
How to Increase Your Intake of Type III Collagen?
Perhaps the most popular method of intake here is protein powder. You might consider looking for sustainably-sourced, grass-fed nutrition when you start going down this route. Meat and dairy sourced from grass-fed cows are significantly higher in nutritional value than grain-fed cows.
You'll also always have your friend, bone broth, to lean on in this category. Egg whites, beef, and chicken will all also help you increase your Type III intake.
Type IV keeps things moving, aiding in the body's filtration system. It, too, can be found in the skin. But, the reason Type IV steps typically into the spotlight is that it helps the kidneys filter out the bad stuff.
Type IV also helps to keep the layers of the skin that surround our muscles and organs healthy. What's interesting here is that Type IV can be described more as a sheet than a tight band of fibers.
This helps form a solid picture in the mind when you imagine Type IV aids in the building of some of our deep layers of skin.
How to Increase Your Intake of Type IV Collagen?
Actually, Type IV is quite challenging to find in supplement form. To utilize the benefits of type IV, you'll want to leverage specific types of food such as egg-whites, chicken, fish, beef, and, of course, bone broth.
Type V plays an essential role in the placenta. It can also be found in specific layers of the skin and hair, but we often hear of Type V as it relates to childbirth.
This makes Type V collagen a vital protein during neonatal development. The placenta provides a growing baby with oxygen and nutrients, so an OB/GYN will want to see healthy levels of this collagen in an expectant mother.
How to Increase Your Intake of Type V Collagen?
If you're a mom-to-be, hopefully, eggs become one of the things you crave. Egg whites will serve you well, and your doctor may even recommend a multi-collagen protein powder to aid in all areas, from the placenta to the soon-to-be aching joints.
Side Effects Taking Collagen Supplements?
If the body naturally produces collagen, you might be wondering why there's a need to start taking it as a supplement. Well, the answer there is simple. If the body is struggling to produce enough collagen in any of the areas mentioned above, then there's no harm in giving it a little alley-oop.
So, if this kind of supplement becomes a part of your daily routine, you may be wondering if there are any side effects. To date, scientists and researchers aren't coming up with a lot of side effects. But, here are some points for consideration.
One thing that may happen, initially, is that people experience a bit of stomach discomfort. But, the reports often indicate that this subsides after the first few doses.
For many of us with hyper sensitive gastrointestinal tracts, similar statements can be said for a variety of protein powders. Initially, it may take the stomach a moment to get used to this form of a supplement.
We've mentioned eggs and fish a lot here. So, if you have any food allergy, you'll want to be careful to note what your collagen powder is made of.
Some supplements are made from these potential allergens, and, if you have any of these food-based allergies, you'll want to avoid collagen supplements made with these ingredients.
Still, the folks over at Healthline felt confident in saying, "These supplements appear safe for most people."
Aside from the stomach's adjustment period and any potential allergies, you may be safe to go ahead and have a conversation with your doctor about adding some collagen powder into your daily diet.
Types of Collagen for You
And there you have it! We hope this mini Biology lesson has proven beneficial for you. These five types of collagen conduct a multitude of daily tasks within the body. Can you believe there are still eleven other types?
Still, these five (particularly type I) are the great forms, and, if you think your body can benefit from any of these supplements, now you know which direction to take. At the very least, a collagen boost may provide benefits to your skin, hair, and nails.
As you do your research, if whey protein comes to your attention, we hope you'll come on over and visit our site. Here at AGN Roots, we sell grass-fed whey protein sourced the right way!