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: September 5, 2023
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What Are the Different Types of Collagen?

There are 28 types of collagen and the human body naturally produces its own collagen. Some consumers are interested in boosting their natural collagen levels with collagen supplements, though the health benefits of these products require more study in objective clinical trials to measure possible benefits.

The most common types of collagen used in supplements are:

  • Type I
  • Type II
  • Type III
  • Type V
  • Type X

These collagen types come in three different forms: Hydrolyzed collagen (collagen peptides, collagen powder, collagen hydrolysate and hydrolyzed gelatin), gelatin and undenatured type II collagen (UC-II).

It’s suggested that hydrolyzed collagen is easiest for the body to use because it’s the most broken down form. Boiling collagen produces gelatin collagen, the most basic form of collagen. UC-II is believed to be the most difficult for the body to break down.

Collagen supplement ingredients come from a variety of sources. Bovine collagen made from cows contains types I & III. Marine collagen made from fish contains type I & II. Poultry collagen made from chickens contains type II and eggshell membrane collagen contains types I & V.

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.

Supplements featuring type I collagen are sourced from cows, fish or eggshell membranes. Many studies indicating benefits of these products are industry funded and more objective research is required, however, consumer interest is high in possible support for the health of joints, hair, nails, skin, ligament and cartilage. 

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, could potentially help ease the effects of collagen loss, though more research is needed.

Type II Collagen

Type II collagen is found in both marine and chicken products. People with allergies to fish or chicken should consult their doctor before taking supplements containing type II collagen.

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 less tightly packed than type I collagen. This potentially indicates that the body could more easily break down and absorb collagen in this form. Other possible benefits may include healthy joint inflammation response, the rebuilding of damaged joint cartilage and increases in range of motion.

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 eye, helping light pass through the cornea. This type of collagen works naturally with types I & III to create the framework for tissues and organs in the body. Type V collagen is also known to support bones, muscles, the liver and lungs. 

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. Promising results of research on type V collagen supplements suggest possible benefits to eye health, cell membranes and the tissue found in the placenta.

Type X Collagen

Type X collagen naturally in the body can be found in joint cartilage and is responsible for bone formation. There is no specific evidence that suggests taking supplements with type X collagen will allow the body to directly heal an injured area.

Naturally occurring type X may be helpful in identifying underlying rheumatological disorders.  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. Currently available data to back this claim is not available.

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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.