Collagen Powder

Collagen powder is a supplement made from very small pieces of protein found in animal collagen. Collagen powder has recently seen increased use for skin, bones and joint health. Studies as early as 1991 have revealed developmental and physiological properties of collagen.

Last Modified: April 27, 2022
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What Is Collagen Powder?

Collagen is an essential building block of the skin. Found throughout the body in skin, tendons, ligaments and muscles, collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. As you age, collagen is harder for your body to produce and existing collagen begins to break down.

Collagen powder, a hydrolyzed version of collagen taken from animal tissues, is a broken down version of collagen that is easier for the body to absorb. It is often advertised in one of two forms: Collagen peptides or collagen hydrolysate. Both are forms of collagen powder that can be added to your morning smoothie or coffee to help replace natural collagen loss.

The powder primarily offers benefits to skin health and bone strength but may also have applications in joint pain reduction, injury prevention and muscle mass gain. Research on collagen powder and collagen use as a regular dietary supplement is fairly new, with most research covering the application of collagen for wound healing and diseases that affect the joints.

Pros and Cons of Collagen Powder

Collagen is found naturally in our bodies and helps with a wide range of functions such as repairing skin, strengthening bones, increasing muscle mass and relieving joint pain. Our bodies naturally produce collagen from the proteins and nutrients in the food we eat.

Aside from skin, joint, bone and muscle benefits, most research claiming alternative benefits, such as collagen for hair growth or nail health, tends to be anecdotal in nature. Reputable studies do show promising signs for skin, joint, bone and muscle benefits, but there are also some cons to be aware of.

Pros of Collagen Powder
  • Collagen powders contain amino acids, which are needed for everyday functions.
  • Some scientific evidence suggests that collagen powder can be useful for wound healing, skin aging and arthritis symptoms.
  • Evidence suggests oral collagen supplements may reduce skin aging.
  • Collagen supplements may help with joint pain.
  • Some studies suggest collagen can help prevent bone deterioration.
  • Some evidence suggests collagen powder may reduce achilles heel pain.
  • Increases strength for those who actively exercise and use collagen in conjunction with their workouts and diet.
  • Acts as a signal to the body to produce more collagen, resulting in increased skin health.
Cons of Collagen Powder
  • Research in this area is limited and the sample sizes are small.
  • Evidence of benefits tends to be anecdotal and not directly attributable to the collagen powder itself.
  • Collagen is not a complete protein and should not be used in place of standard protein sources.
  • The body uses amino acids where it needs them, meaning that once collagen is broken down, the body isn’t necessarily going to use them for cosmetic benefit.
  • Collagen supplements will not replace or substitute the body’s natural ability to build collagen on its own from a healthy diet.
  • Collagen powder may contain heavy metals and toxins that can be harmful to the body.
  • Potential gastrointestinal issues as well as reduction in appetite.
  • Collagen can’t be absorbed by the body in its natural form.

The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate collagen powder as with other supplements, so there is no guarantee of the consistency of its active ingredient. Consuming collagen powder can be beneficial when used in conjunction with healthy lifestyle choices, but should not be used as a substitute for natural protein. Using collagen products will also vary by type of collagen.

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Types of Collagen Powder

There are five types of collagen, and each type helps body tissues maintain shape, elasticity and strength. There are also different sources and forms of collagen — collagen powders, for example, can come from cattle products, marine products or chicken products.

Each of these different sources of collagen can be categorized by the different types of collagen. Each type of collagen promotes different benefits for the body, so it’s important to review what source the collagen powder comes from. The five types of collagen are as follows:

  • Type I: Type I collagen is the most common type and accounts for 90% of the body’s collagen makeup. This collagen is found in the dermis layer of the skin and is responsible for the tough yet flexible nature of our skin. Present in cattle, marine and eggshell membrane collagen products.
  • Type II: Type II collagen is less tightly packed than type I and specifically produces a substance found to support healthy inflammatory response in joints. Type II contains chondroitin and glucosamine which are known for repairing cartilage after joint damage. Present in marine and chicken collagen products.
  • Type III: Type III collagen works in tandem with type I and is the second most common type. It helps support the gut, muscles, blood vessels and the uterus in women. Present in cattle collagen products.
  • Type V: Type V collagen helps form cell membranes and placenta tissue which supports embryo development. Present in eggshell membrane collagen products.
  • Type X: Type X collagen is purely responsible for bone formation and is commonly found in the joints.

The variation of collagen types and forms puts the burden on consumers and practitioners to understand collagen supplements better. When considering using a collagen powder, check what source the collagen comes from and whether that type of collagen will support the goals for your body.

How to Choose the Best Collagen Powder for You

Before you choose to use collagen powder as part of your nutrition routine, speak with your doctor to make sure that any underlying medical conditions, food allergies, drug interactions or health effects will not lead to a more serious medical situation. Once you speak with your doctor and determine whether or not collagen powder is right for you, do some additional research.

Not all collagen powders work the same. Ensure that the outcomes you want match the intended uses for the collagen powder you are considering. Try to use hydrolyzed collagen powder from natural sources — this broken down version of collagen is most likely to be absorbed by the body. To limit your exposure to harmful toxins, choose grass-fed, antibiotic-free, organic animal sources.

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.