Types of Collagen

Collagen is the most abundant protein found in mammals. There are 28 different types of collagen found in the human body, but there are five types most commonly used in supplements. The five common types of collagen come in different forms and from varied sources. This results in different use cases and potential benefits.

Last Modified: August 18, 2022
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What Are the Different Types of Collagen?

While there are 28 types of collagen, the most common types used in supplements are Type I, Type II, Type III, Type V and Type X. These collagen types come in three different forms that are useful to the body. Hydrolyzed collagen (collagen peptides, collagen powder, collagen hydrolysate and hydrolyzed gelatin), gelatin and undenatured type II collagen (UC-II).

Hydrolyzed collagen is believed to be the easiest for the body to utilize as it is the most broken down form of the protein. Gelatin collagen is made by boiling collagen and is the most basic form of collagen. UC-II is the least broken-down form of collagen and is very difficult for the body to break down.

Collagen types vary by animal. Bovine collagen contains Types I & III. Bovine collagen is responsible for skin elasticity and hydration. Marine collagen contains Type I & II. Marine collagen is still not fully researched, but is thought to potentially improve skin and cartilage health. While more research around marine collagen is still needed, the benefits may include UV protection, youthful skin and healing. Chicken collagen contains Type II, which also includes eggshell membrane collagen containing Types I & V. Chicken collagen may support the body’s inflammatory response which can help with joint, cartilage and ligament health.

Collagen makes up nearly 30% of the body’s total protein mass and 60% of cartilage. At age 30, collagen production in the body slows down and begins depleting, resulting in thinner, drier and less elastic skin. Taking collagen supplements, depending on your desired outcome, may help ease the effects of collagen loss, though more research is needed.

Type I Collagen

Type I collagen is the most common type of collagen found naturally in the body. It accounts for 90% of the body’s collagen stores and is found just below the surface of the skin in the dermis. Type I collagen can be found in most supplement types because of its wide range of potential benefits.

Type I collagen is found in bovine, marine and eggshell membranes. Current research into the potential biomedical uses of Type I collagen suggests that it may be used to increase nucleation and development of bone mineral crystals. While more research is necessary, many consumers, after speaking with their doctors, choose to take collagen Type I as a supplement alongside their healthy lifestyle choices, seeking to support healthy hair, nails and skin.

Type II Collagen

Type II collagen is found in both marine and chicken products. Current research on the efficacy of Type II collagen is limited, but preliminary studies conducted on people with knee osteoarthritis found promising levels of pain reduction with the use of Type II collagen in conjunction with acetaminophen. Type II collagen is also less tightly packed than Type I collagen, potentially indicating that the body could more easily break down and absorb collagen in this form.

While Type II collagen may support pain reduction for common joint problems, there is still more research needed regarding benefits like healthy joint inflammation response, the rebuilding of damaged joint cartilage and increases in range of motion. People with allergies to fish or chicken should consult their doctor before taking supplements containing Type II collagen.

Type III Collagen

Type III collagen is the second most common type of collagen found naturally in the body. This type is different from the others because of its singular alpha chain. The other types of collagen have multiple alpha chains. In conjunction with Type I, Type III collagen is thought to support gut, muscles, blood vessels and the uterus. Bovine products are the most common source of Type III collagen.

While some studies show the body may utilize Type III collagen to help fight inflammatory diseases, the body will use amino acids in whatever way it needs, putting the role supplements can play in this process in question. Taking a specific collagen supplement to target specific areas of the body will not necessarily be successful.

Type V Collagen

Type V collagen is found naturally in the cornea where it helps control collagen fibril sizes in order to maximize transmission of light. This type of collagen works naturally in conjunction with Types I & III and is responsible for optimal fibrillary formation and tissue quality in the human body. Type V collagen is also known to support bone matrix, corneal stroma and the interstitial matrix of muscles, liver, lungs and placenta. Promising results of research on Type V collagen supplements include potential benefits to eye health, cell membranes and the tissue found in the placenta.

Although scientists understand how the body uses its natural stores of Type V collagen, more research is needed to determine whether the body can break down Type V collagen supplements and use them to support these areas.

Type X Collagen

Type X collagen is responsible for bone formation and can be found in joint cartilage. It is a network-forming collagen and may present an opportunity to identify serious conditions. Specifically, people with an elevated amount of Type X collagen have a higher propensity for rheumatological disorders affecting bone and cartilage.

Claims from collagen supplement companies suggest that Type X collagen can be used during recovery from limb damage and broken bones. This is not fully backed by current studies, which are only able to prove that Type X collagen naturally found in the body is responsible for bone formation and may be helpful in identifying underlying rheumatological disorders. There is no specific evidence that suggests taking supplements with Type X collagen will allow the body to directly heal an injured area.

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What Types of Collagen Do I Need?

When considering any type of collagen in supplement form, it is always important to remember that the body naturally has its own stores of collagen and can obtain more from a healthy diet. Studies currently underway may reveal direct benefits of collagen supplements, but the body will always use amino acids in the way it sees fit.

No matter the advertised outcome of specific collagen supplements, they will likely never replace the benefits of maintaining healthy eating and lifestyle habits. While some consumers may report positive results, for example the cosmetic benefits of some collagen products marketed to women, more quantitative data is needed.

Anyone considering collagen supplements to target a specific issue they’re facing should consult their doctor. Collagen supplements may interact poorly with certain medications, allergies and underlying medical conditions. Collagen must also be produced in a certain way that allows your body to properly break down and use. If it is not produced properly, your body will not be able to use it. Consumers can check the type of collagen, source and form by reading the label on consumer-available collagen supplements.

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