By Rachael Link, RD, MS
If you're trying to decide between the various types of collagen supplements, it's very helpful to know that there are actually many different types of collagen to choose from.
Which collagen is considered best? Collagen is an amazing health supporter in general, but the collagen that is "best" for you can depend on your health goals since different types of collagen can support different areas.
At least 28 types of collagen have been identified so far, but there are certain types of collagen that you'll most often find in supplements due to their desirable benefits.
As more and more collagen products come on the market, it's important to know the difference between types of collagen, collagen sources and specific collagen benefits by type.
Common Types of Collagen
What are the different types of collagen? There are many different types of collagen (at least 28 as just mentioned), but five types are considered to be among the most common.
What are the main types of collagen? The five most common varieties include type l collagen, type ll collagen, type lll collagen, type V collagen and type X collagen. These types of collagen are an absolutely essential part of our physical makeup and can be found all over the body.
What is type 1 collagen? Without a doubt, type I collagen is the most abundant protein found in humans (and in all vertebrates).
Type I or type 1 collagen is the strongest type of collagen. If you're looking for a collagen for supporting skin health, type 1 is a top choice since it's literally a building block of the skin. Generally speaking, our collagen production naturally decreases as we age, which is why many people are turning to collagen supplements featuring type 1 collagen to support healthy skin.
Type 1 collagen, for example, can be found in supplements featuring bovine or fish collagen. These also generally feature certain amino acids, including proline, glycine and hydroxyproline.
Fish or marine collagen generally demonstrates increased absorption rates and bioavailability due to the smaller particle size of fish collagen peptides. Egg collagen, which is located in the whites and shells of eggs, contains mostly type I collagen, but also can feature other types of collagen, including collagen type X.
Critically, collagen types I and III are the major components of skin, hair, nails, muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, gums, teeth, eyes and blood vessels. Together, these two types of collagen constitute more than 90 percent of the collagen found in the body.
They are composed of amino acids that support growth, maintenance and repair of the body with typically high amounts of the amino acids glycine and proline plus hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine, all of which are found in muscle and skin.
What is collagen type ll? Type 2 collagen is the major collagen found in cartilage. Cartilage is connective tissue that protects the ends of long bones at the joints. It's also a structural component of the ear, the nose, the bronchial tubes, the rib cage and more.
Since type ll collagen helps to form the cartilage that protects our joints, it's no wonder that this variety of collagen is often known for supporting healthy joints.
Supplements featuring chicken collagen, such as chicken bone broth protein powder, can be great supplements featuring type II collagen. Chicken collagen also inherently features chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate, which are both popular for supporting healthy joints.
Chicken collagen also contains hyaluronic acid, a gel-like substance that hydrates the skin and hair, fills the eyes, surrounds tissues around our nerves and is contained in the synovial fluid between our joints. It lubricates and cushions joints, while serving as a shock absorber in the joints.
Type II collagen can also support healthy, normal chondrocytes — small cells found within the cartilage of joints.
Type III is a fibrillar collagen and is a major component of our skin and organs. In the body, type collagen is often found in the same locations as type l.
Like type l, it is often in supplements designed to support healthy skin. Bovine collagen, which is derived from the muscles, bones and skin of cows is another collagen supplement option that features mainly types l and lll collagen. These are two of the most abundant types of collagen in the human body.
Type III collagen frequently works in tandem with type I collagen and is in bone, cartilage, bone marrow and connective tissue.
Type V collagen is one of the minor collagen components, forming interstitial collagen fibers — along with type I collagen — and plays a significant role in regulating the development of collagen fibers of connective tissue. Type V collagen co-exists with type II collagen in joint cartilage, while supporting healthy collagen fibers of type II collagen.
Type V collagen also functions to create the cells of a pregnant women's placenta, which is the organ that attaches to the lining of the womb. Type V collagen also helps to form cell surfaces and hair.
Collagen type X (which is generally found in eggshell membrane collagen) is a protein typically present in normal joint cartilage. Overall, type X collagen is described as a “network-forming collagen.”
Ancient Nutrition's eggshell membrane collagen is the only type of collagen backed by human clinical studies, and it can deliver proven results for the body. For example, it reduces joint discomfort rapidly (7 days), continuously (30 days) and persistently (90 days). It improves the appearance of crow’s feet after 4 weeks and skin tone after 8 weeks. It promotes healthy hair thickness and growth with a reduction in hair breakage
How to Get These Types of Collagen
You can obtain many types of collagen from your diet as well as supplements. When you read collagen supplement labels, you'll often find one, some or all of these collagen sources in one product.
Ancient Nutrition's Multi Collagen Protein is our premium collagen formula that provides 10 types of collagen from four food-based sources. It offers profound benefits for the skin, joints and gut. This collagen powder is also sourced from non-GMO, pasture-raised, cage-free and cruelty-free sources.
The new Collagen Peptides products — now including Vegetarian Collagen — also has several types of collagen, from two sources of collagen (eggshell membrane and bovine). It brings head-to-toe results in as little as one day.
You may also notice that the collagens are hydrolyzed. This is a good thing! Hydrolyzed collagen is broken down into collagen peptides, but the process of hydrolysis makes the collagen more easy to absorb. Hydrolyzed collagen readily dissolves in hot or cold water. Start reaping the benefits today!
Rachael Link, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian based in New York City. She completed her undergraduate degree in Dietetics at the University of Central Missouri and later received her Master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. Rachael is passionate about plant-based nutrition and enjoys providing easy-to-understand information to readers looking to support their health.