Searching for the perfect collagen supplement can be a chore for shoppers. Which delivery format is most efficacious? And what are the merits of marine vs. bovine collagen? Why don't we all just drink bone broth and call it day? Can plant-based folks partake in the fun?
To start with, let's go over some of the basics about collagen.
According to Healthline, collagen makes up roughly a third of the protein in human bodies. It supports the structure of skin, tendons, ligaments and even our blood vessels and teeth.
There are several types of collagen, but the most plentiful are type I, type II and type III. Some other important types include type V, often derived from eggshell membranes, and type X, which is typically sourced from the connective tissues of chicken and cows. Products that contain a variety of types are recommended for consumers looking to experience the benefits of collagen firsthand.
Beef collagen is largely made up of type I and type III collagen, while eco-friendlier fish collagen is mostly type I and naturally contains smaller, and therefore more bioavailable, peptides than the bovine variety.
This is also the reason that hydrolyzed collagen, which breaks down the large collagen protein into more digestible "peptides," is gaining in popularity among consumers. Bone broth, which contains collagen as well as several other key nutrients, has also become a staple for low-carb dieters for its appealing whole-food status.
And yes, plant-based collagen support is also increasingly available for vegans and vegetarians. Ingredients such as biotin, amla, tremella mushroom and silica can promote similar beautifying and joint-supporting effects, although scientists have yet to exactly replicate collagen in an animal-free way.
Nutrition Business Journal estimates that collagen supplement sales will hit $300 million this year after seeing 33% growth in 2019–over five times the growth of the supplement industry as a whole.
The products below are shining examples of innovation in this category:
Vital Proteins Vital Performance PreWAVE
Not your average pre-workout supplement, this blend of collagen peptides, amino acids, creatine nitrate and coffee fruit-derived caffeine gives physically active consumers a much-needed protein boost. It comes in a variety of unique flavors, including Yuzu Clementine and Guava Lime. SRP: $49
Primal Kitchen Chai Tea Collagen Keto Latte Drink Mix
Primal Kitchen now offers keto and paleo consumers a dairy-free way to continue enjoying chai tea lattes with an added collagen boost. 10 grams of types I and III collagen, to be more specific, and only 1 gram of sugar.
LÜME Glow Collagen Granola
Hydrolyzed marine collagen peptides, pearl and biotin come together in this delicious and portable pouch of granola mix that offers the benefits of collagen in a millennial-friendly pink package. Notably, the pearl and collagen are from sustainable sources and just one pouch per day is enough to replace other collagen supplements.
Reneva Collagen Protein Drink
Another on-the-go option for busy consumers, Reneva's Collagen Protein Drink comes in Fresh and Fit flavors. The latter targets muscle gain and fat loss and the former implements collagen peptides formulated for skin metabolism health.
DNX Grass Fed Beef and Uncured Bacon Jalapeno Bar
DNX uses grass-fed beef and free-range turkey and chicken as collagen sources for its meat-based nutrition bars. With no antibiotics, added hormones, sugar, nitrates or grains, these bars get a boost of added protein from powdered egg whites and sacha inchi powder, making this brand a contender in the growing meat bar category.