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The best collagen supplements to take, as recommended by experts

Collagen is a key protein, so, how can supplementing help with hair, skin, nails and full body health?

Helen Wilson-Beevers
Friday 10 May 2024 17:47
We asked the experts to tell us which supplements they’d recommend and why
We asked the experts to tell us which supplements they’d recommend and why (The Independent)

A supplement buzzword, collagen is a protein found throughout the entire body, from skin, hair and nails to joints, bones, and other connective tissue. Known for its health and beauty benefits, this key structural protein “ensures the cohesion, elasticity and regeneration of all of our connective tissues, as well as supporting hair, skin and nails, which is especially important as collagen starts to naturally decline as we age, and levels start to drop as early as our 20s”, explains naturopathic nutritionist Jess Shand.

What we eat can help us produce collagen. Facialist Jude Jackson highlights: “Protein-rich foods like egg whites, meat, bone broth and chicken skin should be eaten alongside foods rich in vitamin C, like citrus, kiwis and leafy green vegetables, and zinc and copper, which come from nuts and shellfish.”

However, supplementation often optimises collagen intake for the improvement of skin elasticity, joint pain, and many other benefits. There are numerous types of collagen, and those categorised as types one and three are the most commonly found in supplements. As highlighted by nutritional therapist Maz Packham: “We know that over 90 per cent of the collagen found in the body is type one.”

Unsure which collagen supplements are best for your health and wellbeing needs? We’ve spoken to a selection of nutritional experts to find out which products they’d recommend. Keep reading for a comprehensive list of the top collagen supplements to take for hair, skin, nails, joints and more.

Read more: Experts recommend the magnesium supplements to take

Best collagen supplements for 2024

Hunter & Gather collagen peptides bovine protein powder: £28,

(Hunter & Gather)
  • Type of collagen: Type 1 and 3
  • Volume: 400g
  • How to take it: Mix into drinks and other

“Your main areas of concern should determine the type of hydrolysed collagen supplement you take,” Jackson explains, adding: “If you’re hoping to improve skin elasticity and hydration but are also concerned with longevity, future bone mineral density and joint health, and you are wanting to improve current strength and promote recovery after exercise, then bovine collagen peptides are for you.”

Jackson adds this unflavoured powder to her coffee every morning, “as it contains collagen types one and three, which makes it ideal for full body health”. Mix two tablespoons of this sugar-free, gluten-free and dairy-free collagen supplement into hot and cold drinks and dishes, from soups to smoothies. Plus, Jackson says: “According to a 2022 study, a collagen supplement can improve connective tissue recovery and pain, meaning it supports my current resistance training and will hopefully support my tissue as I age.”

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Hunter & Gather marine collagen peptides protein powder: £30,

(Hunter & Gather)
  • Type of collagen: Type 1
  • Volume: 300g
  • How to take it: Mix into food or drink

“If skin, hair and nail health are your primary concerns, Hunter & Gather also makes marine collagen,” Jackson shares. This is collagen type one, which is “the most abundant collagen type in the human body, making up between 80-90 per cent”.

The unflavoured, gluten-free, sugar-free and dairy-free powder can also be mixed in with soups, smoothies and stews, as well as hot and cold drinks. If you’re looking for further research, Jackson says “a 2021 study showed ingestion of hydrolysed collagen for 90 days was effective in reducing skin ageing, as it reduces wrinkles and improves skin elasticity”.

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Bare Biology pure marine collagen powder: £39.95,

(Bare Biology)
  • Type of collagen: Type 1
  • Volume: 300g
  • How to take it: Mix into drinks or use it while cooking

Shand recommends this collagen supplement to clients because “it easily dissolves into my morning matcha or coffee, it’s tasteless and doesn’t contain any other added ingredients”.

The powder is made from wild Norwegian cod, can be used during pregnancy and you only need to mix in one tablespoon a day. “It’s made from MSC-certified, sustainably sourced wild Norwegian cod skin, and Bare Biology is a quality family-run brand I trust,” Shand adds.

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Sixways marine collagen: £42,

  • Type of collagen: Type 1
  • Volume: 150g
  • How to take it: Mix into drinks, smoothies and more

“This high absorption, pure marine collagen blend by Sixways includes some powerful skin-supportive ingredients, for those looking for a collagen powder to help improve their skin,” says Shand. Sprinkle the fruity-flavoured collagen into smoothies, drinks and food dishes, or even just into a glass of water.

“It includes hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, retinol and zinc for healthier skin, and tastes like raspberry, so it can be enjoyed as a refreshing drink. I like to add ice to it,” Shand says.

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Planet Paleo organic bone broth pure, unflavoured powder: £25.99,

(Planet Paleo)
  • Type of collagen: Unspecified
  • Volume: 225g
  • How to take it: Add to hot or cold drinks or stir into food

“I love bone broths but they are time-consuming to make, which is why I rate Planet Paleo organic bone broth pure unflavoured powder,” Shand says, adding: “I like how versatile this collagen-rich powder is because it adds collagen as well as protein and bone broth nutrients to cooking. As it’s unflavoured, that means the powder is really versatile and an easy way to boost meals or add collagen to your breakfast smoothie.”

Simply add seven teaspoons to a hot or cold drink or dish, with each sachet containing 25 servings. “What’s really impressive is that each serving equals 1.5 cups of homemade collagen-rich bone broth,” Shand continues, highlighting: “This organic powder is a great option for someone who wants the added benefits of bone broth, as well as knowing they’re topping up collagen levels, too.”

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Ingenious Beauty ultimate collagen+: From £60,

(Ingenious Beauty)
  • Type of collagen: Type 1
  • Volume: 30 day pouch, 60 day pouch, 90 day pouch
  • How to make: Take three capsules daily

Facialist Fiona Brackenbury shares: “Having spent years with scientists in labs, formulating products, I understand how difficult it is to get collagen to influence the condition of our skin, let alone if you ingest collagen.” However, after doing her own research, Brackenbury found that: “Ingenious Beauty ultimate collagen has protected the collagen, so it survives the low PH and is able to reach the small intestine where we absorb all our nutrition and can absorb the collagen peptides.”

These capsules are created to be taken once a day, and contain marine collagen peptide, alongside hydration-promoting hyaluronic acid and antioxidant astaxanthin. With use, Brackenbury has noticed: “I ache less and my skin is hydrated, so I now take them every evening, as part of my routine.”

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Revive Collagen enhanced plus premium liquid marine collagen drink: £44.99,

(Revive Collagen)
  • Type of collagen: Type 1
  • Volume: 14 x 22g sachets
  • How to make: Mix into water

“Revive Collagen enhanced plus is rich in nutrients and marine collagen type one, which is important for the firmness of the skin structure,” Brackenbury explains, adding: “The level of this collagen declines as we age, and can also stretch up to 25 per cent of its original size, so it’s important to keep the collagen type one coming.” This drink contains hydrolysed marine collagen, as well as vitamins B16, B12, C and D.

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Skinade better skin from within: From £128,

  • Type of collagen: Type 1
  • Volume: 30 days, 60 days, 90 days worth
  • How to make: Add sachet to water

“If you’re looking for a premium collagen product, try Skinade,” Jackson says. “It’s a collagen and hyaluronic acid drink that a few of my clients have tried.”

The peach and mango-flavoured drink contains active ingredients focused on helping to support healthier skin, hair and nails. Its marine collagen formula includes vitamin C, vitamin B and omegas three and six. This liquid comes in both bottles and travel-sized sachets.

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Vida Glow marine collagen: £39,

(Vida Glow)
  • Type: Type 1
  • Volume: 90g
  • How to make: Mix with water

This original, unflavoured powder also comes in fruity versions, including mango, blueberry, and peach. Packham is a fan, as they “come in sachets per serving that are handy for travel and make it easy to take the right amount.” The collagen is derived from marine sources, which have been hydrolysed to boost their absorption in the body. As Packham explains: “Some studies have suggested marine collagen can be absorbed 1.5 times more efficiently than other collagen, as, once hydrolysed, the peptides are much smaller than bovine peptides, for example.”

If you’re at all unsure which to take, “hydrolysed type one marine collagen is a great choice for supporting skin, hair, nails and joints, while bovine collagen peptides have more type three as well as type one, which is needed for vessel and organ health,” Packham highlights.

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Ancient & Brave true collagen: £29,

(True collagen)
  • Type: Type 1
  • Volume: 200g
  • How to make: Add to hot or cold drinks and smoothies, or sprinkle on food

“This is a tasteless and odourless pure bovine collagen that has been hydrolysed into the smallest molecular peptides that can be absorbed across the gut wall and into the bloodstream,” says Packham, adding: “Always choose hydrolysed collagen peptides, as this form is more bioavailable and easier for the body to absorb.”

You can add this heat-stable collagen powder to your morning cuppa or pop it into a smoothie. While this supplement contains bovine collagen, Ancient & Brave also offers marine-based and vegan collagen, too.

“There is 5,000mg of collagen per 5g serving, and you can safely take up to three servings a day if you have increased requirements. I always look at getting around 10,000mg of collagen per day from supplementation, however, individual needs do vary,” Packham explains.

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Bare Biology marine collagen plus vitamin C, strawberry flavour: £45,

(Bare Biology)
  • Type: Type 1
  • Volume: 300g
  • How to make: Mix into smoothies, shakes, juice or water

If you’re seeking a tasty collagen drink with added nutrients, this strawberry-flavoured supplement contains type one collagen peptides found in sustainably sourced Norwegian cod, plus 50 mg of vitamin C. As Packham outlines: “Vitamin C is needed for collagen synthesis in the body, it’s involved in cross-linking of the collagen molecules, which contribute to the strength of collagen fibres in tissues such as the skin. If you don’t have enough vitamin C available, collagen synthesis can become impaired.”

“You can also get vitamin C through foods such as strawberries, kiwi and red pepper,” Packham says, but this is a useful product for combining both elements in one.

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Zenii fusion: £65,

  • Type: Type 1
  • Volume: 500ml
  • How to make: Drink as a shot

For a liquid option, this drink contains 10,000mg of type one marine collagen per serving, so, “it’s like taking a small shot”, says Packham. Additional ingredients include hydration-promoting hyaluronic acid and MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) for supporting healthy joints and bones.

Packham explains: “There is supporting evidence for the absorbability of type one collagen peptides, which are the predominant type of collagen found in marine collagen, suggesting they can be beneficial in supplement form, as well as evidence connecting oral supplementation of collagen peptides and improved skin elasticity and hydration.”

While some research recommends taking around 10mg daily to see results, as with all supplements, Packham highlights that “consistency is key”.

Buy now

Collagen supplement FAQs

What is collagen?

Collagen is a structural protein found in our hair, skin, nails, cartilage and bones.

How do collagen supplements work?

Collagen supplements work to help support the health of the connective tissues where this protein is found in our body and can be used to improve the look of fine lines, help with joint pain and make nails and hair healthier and stronger.

What types of collagen are there and which should I take?

There are several types of collagen to take, with type one specifically for skin, hair and nails; type two for joints; and type three for muscles, organs and arteries.

How long do collagen supplements take to have an effect?

How long it takes for collagen supplements to have an effect varies from person to person. Generally speaking, it should take between one and three months for the supplements to start working.

How much collagen should you take per day?

Experts suggest adults can consume between 2.5g and 15g of collagen a day (make sure to read the label on your supplement to see how much it contains).

Bovine, marine or vegan collagen – what are the differences?

The only difference between bovine and marine is the amino acid profile. Bovine boasts a higher content of glycine and hydroxyproline (both are important for skin, muscle tissue and the brain), while marine has more alanine for immune function and recovery.

Naturally occurring collagen comes from animals, but scientists have developed techniques to use genetically engineered microorganisms, such as yeast, to make artificial collagen that is suitable for vegans.

Can you increase collagen naturally?

As outlined by Packham: “You can give the body the raw materials it needs for collagen production, by eating protein-rich foods like meat, fish and bone broth, as our bodies naturally create collagen using the amino acids from these foods – especially glycine, proline and hydroxyproline.” However, with the best sources of collagen coming from animal skin and organ meat, modern diets (such as vegan lifestyles) can lack this protein. While plant-based foods such as legumes, nuts and seeds do contain key amino acids, Packham explains they might not be in as high concentrations, compared with animal sources. “Also, with age, the quality of collagen produced isn’t as good, so supplementation can be a good support,” Packham highlights.

Are there any negative side effects of taking collagen?

In general, most people can tolerate collagen supplements. However, Packham recommends being careful if you have any allergies or sensitivities to bovine or marine sources. She explains: “If someone has a histamine intolerance or sensitivity, they should use collagen with caution, as they may react to it. Meanwhile, marine-based collagen is usually lower in histamine than bovine, and levels of tolerance vary from person to person.” As always, if you are at all unsure, seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional or nutritional expert.

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