Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CNS, is a doctor of chiropractic, doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist and author with a passion to help people get well using food and nutrition. He operates leading natural health website DrAxe.com and is co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, a health supplement company. He’s also author of the books Eat Dirt, Essential Oils: Ancient Medicine, Keto Diet, Collagen Diet and the most recent Ancient Remedies.
By Dr. Josh Axe
Supplements aimed at improving the health and appearance of skin, hair and nails, as well as joint function and exercise recovery, are sought out by both aging adults and younger people alike.
Two popular nutrients found in skin, hair and joint supplements are collagen protein and biotin (also known as vitamin B7).
What’s the difference between biotin and collagen? While collagen is a type of structural protein (made up of amino acids) found in the body and also in supplement form, biotin is a vitamin involved in a wide range of metabolic processes.
Both collagen and biotin can contribute to firmer-looking skin and hair thickness, but some collagen products really shine when it comes to promoting joint comfort, exercise recovery, healthy gut function and other benefits.
Let’s look more closely at how these two nutrients compare, plus food sources and types of supplements that provide both.
Collagen vs. Biotin
What is collagen?
Collagen is a type of protein found inside the human body that serves as a major component of connective tissues, including the skin, joints, ligaments and tendons. It’s also present in animals, which is why it can be derived and made into supplements.
Collagen is especially plentiful within and around our joints in the form of cartilage; collagen makes up 95 percent of joint cartilage, which is the flexible connective tissue found in joints between bones that acts like a cushion. Cartilage (and therefore collagen) also helps form the rib cage, ears and nose.
According to experts, collagen is thought to be one of the most important components of joints, contributing to comfort, mobility, exercise recovery and more. Additionally, it helps form and support healthy ligaments, tendons, muscles and even bones.
Collagen has also been reported to have a number of beneficial biological functions for skin and hair, including promoting firmness, elasticity and overall health.
What is biotin?
Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a part in maintaining the health of our hair, nails and skin. It acts like a coenzyme, supporting the body’s agility to absorb other key micro and macronutrients.
In addition to aiding in our appearance, it’s important for a variety of metabolic, nerve, digestive and cardiovascular functions.
Low intake of biotin has been linked to weak hair and nails, hair breakage, and dry skin, so obtaining higher amounts may offer some benefits in these areas. However, deficiency is generally thought to be rare. Plus, getting enough of other nutrients such as zinc, selenium and iron may also contribute to skin and hair health.
While some beauty products contain biotin that is applied to the skin, it’s thought that it’s best absorbed and used by the body when it’s ingested, including when you eat biotin-rich foods (like organ meats, eggs, avocado, fish and legumes) and take biotin supplements.
Benefits of Collagen and Biotin
Improving exercise recovery
Providing relief for exercise-induced joint discomfort and stiffness, including immediately following exercise
Supporting healthy cartilage and preventing breakdown from normal wear and tear
Reducing knee stiffness and improving knee function
Supporting skin health, moisture and tone, including by improving the appearance of crow’s feet and supporting skin firmness and elasticity
Promoting healthy hair thickness, growth with a reduction in hair breakage
Helps joints recover faster from exercise-related joint stiffness
Supporting flexibility and reducing ROM (range of motion) associated discomfort
Biotin general benefits include:
Helping to convert and utilize other nutrients, including fatty acids, amino acids and glucose
Helping to build proteins, including keratin, needed to maintain healthy hair and skin
Potentially promoting hair growth and reducing hair breakage
Aiding in skin moisture retention and skin smoothness
Helping with growth and maintenance of bodily tissues
Supporting brain functions and nerve signaling
Synthesizing hormones that are related to positive outlook regulation
Potentially aiding in regulation of healthy, normal blood sugar levels
Supporting cardiovascular functions, including by promoting healthy cholesterol levels
Collagen Foods vs. Biotin Foods
Collagen is not widely featured in “modern Western diets” in which people don’t regularly drink real bone broth. Traditional bone broth, which our ancestors living around the world enjoyed regularly for thousands of years, is one of the best sources of collagen, since it’s made with collagen-rich animal parts including bones and connective tissues.
Bone broth is also available as a protein powder, and even in bar or capsule forms. These make it much more convenient to add bone broth and collagen to your everyday routine.
Aside from bone broth, collagen is found in foods including:
- Spirulina, a type of algae that can be found in dried form at health food stores
- Fish such as cod
- Dried gelatin, which is derived from collagen and can be added to things like desserts or smoothies
You can also add collagen-boosting foods to your diet, such as leafy greens, berries and other foods high in vitamin C and protein, to help your body make and retain more of its own collagen.
Compared to getting biotin from supplements, it’s best to get it from eating biotin-rich foods, which contain the type of biotin that the body uses most easily.
Foods high in biotin include:
- Liver and other organs meats
- Eggs (specifically yolks)
- Salmon and other fish
- Raspberries and other berries
- Veggies like cauliflower and mushrooms
- Whole grains
How Much Biotin and Collagen Should I Take?
Can I take collagen and biotin together?
Yes, you can. Collagen can be taken with most other supplements, including B vitamins. These two nutrients can be consumed at the same time, with or without a meal. As always, you should consult your healthcare professional prior to beginning any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, including supplementation.
Biotin intake recommendations:
Biotin can be found as part of B-complex supplements (Ancient Nutrition's Vitamin B Complex includes 300 micrograms of biotin, which is 1,000% Daily Value), which include a full spectrum of B vitamins, which all work together. You’ll also find biotin in most high-quality multivitamins; ideally choose one made from real food sources that doesn’t contain fillers or toxins in order to get the most benefits.
There isn’t a recommended daily amount of biotin; however the “adequate intake” amount (generally enough to defend against deficiency) is 30 micrograms for male and female adults over 19 years old.
For the best hair and skin health results, a general recommendation is to aim for higher amounts from your diet plus supplements, depending upon what your healthcare professional recommends. Most people need to take biotin for 3 to 6 months consistently to see improvements in their appearance (if they experience any).
Collagen intake recommendations:
There isn’t a standard dietary recommendation for collagen protein; however, a general suggestion is for adults to get between 10 and 30 grams of collagen per day, which is typically 1 to 3 servings of collagen powder. Always read and follow label directions for suggested use.
Drinking bone broth is a great start, but the simplest and most convenient way to consume collagen on a daily basis is to use collagen supplements, which there are now many types of.
Best Collagen Supplements
Multi Collagen Protein
Ancient Nutrition’s Multi Collagen Protein powder is made from real food ingredients (like grass-fed beef, chicken, wild-caught fish and eggshell membrane collagen) and is made without chemicals, artificial ingredients and added sugar.
Our formula is also fermented and hydrolyzed, meaning the collagen has already been partially broken down, so the critical amino acids are typically easier to absorb.
Add a scoop of Multi Collagen Protein powder to smoothies, baked goods, oatmeal, sauces, soups or broths to quickly boost your intake. It comes in several flavors including vanilla, chocolate and strawberry lemonade, plus formulas specified for different needs, including our Beauty Within formula and Immune formula.
Vegetarian Collagen Peptides
Ancient Nutrition’s new Vegetarian Collagen Peptides feature a blend of fermented eggshell membrane collagen, plus a prebiotic and probiotic blend (featuring 2 billion CFUs* of Bacillus coagulans probiotics plus acacia gum).
Bacillus coagulans is a tough and prolific probiotic that can survive the harsh stomach environment in order to make it to parts of the gut where it confers benefits. It’s featured in our Vegetarian Collagen Peptides to help support healthy digestion and healthy microbial balance in the gut; reduce occasional constipation, gas and bloating; and promote healthy elimination.
Acacia gum is a beneficial fiber that comes from the sap of the acacia tree. It acts as a prebiotic fiber that is non-digestible. Prebiotics such as acacia fiber help your gut microbiota thrive, acting as fuel for friendly bacteria.
Our Collagen Peptides, whether in powder or capsule form, feature hydrolyzed and fermented eggshell membrane and bovine collagen, which provides support for healthy hair, skin, nails, joints and gut.
You can choose to either take Collagen Peptides tablets daily, or take 2 scoops with 12 ounces of your favorite hot or cold beverage each day. This formula comes in unflavored, vanilla and orange (Immune) flavors and seamlessly blends into your daily coffee, smoothie, oatmeal, pancakes or other baked goods.
*at time of manufacture