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Collagen supplements may help support skin, hair, and joint health. A person can order collagen online in a few different forms. With regular use, these supplements may promote better skin and joint health.

This article describes what collagen supplements are in more detail, as well as their benefits and how to choose. It also reviews some products that a person may consider buying.

Learn more about collagen here.

Quick links

Collagen refers to a group of related proteins in the human body. The proteins make up a large portion of different connective tissue throughout the body, including the:

  • skin
  • joints
  • cartilage
  • tendons

Collagen supplements usually come in the form of oral pills, tablets, or capsules. Liquid varieties are also available.

Learn more about collagen supplements here.

When a person takes them orally, collagen supplements may help promote health and healing in the below areas of the body.

Skin health

In a 2019 study, researchers found that taking collagen helped improve skin elasticity, hydration, and density. It also aided in smoothing rough patches of skin. They also noted that people generally tolerated the supplements well.

The study included fewer than 80 participants who were all females and used only Elasten supplements. As a result, the findings may not be applicable across all collagen supplements or people.

This collagen supplement also included other ingredients, such as acerola fruit extract, vitamin C, zinc, vitamin E, and biotin. The placebo did not contain these nutrients. The additional ingredients in the collagen supplements may have led to the benefits that scientists discovered in the study, rather than the collagen alone being responsible.

Another 2019 review found similar results across multiple studies.

Joint health

Collagen supplements may help keep the joints healthy and improve their health over time.

A recent study published in 2018 showed similar results. Scientists found that regular use of collagen supplements helped improve symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plays a role in supplement safety and manufacturing claims, they do not directly regulate the quality or content of supplements.

With this in mind, a person should look for products with third-party testing. Companies, such as U.S. Pharmacopeia and NSF International, provide purity and quality control testing for different supplement brands.

People can also explore online reviews of both the company and the products they offer. However, these reviews are anecdotal, meaning they may not apply to everyone.

Before ordering any supplement, an individual should consult with their doctor to ensure the supplement will not interfere with their current medications or any underlying health conditions.

Vegan collagen

Most collagen comes from bovine hide, so it is unsuitable for people following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. While some vegetarian collagen supplements are available, those following a vegan lifestyle may want to check that the supplements do not use animal products.

Most of the supplements people think are vegan collagen are actually labeled as collagen boosters or collagen builders. They do not contain any collagen. Instead, they have nutrients that may support collagen synthesis, so they may not produce the same effects as supplements in the studies.

Further to that, scientists have discovered a way to produce vegan collagen using bacteria and the yeast strain Pichia pastoris, though there are currently no commercially available products on the market.

Learn more about vegan collagen.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and was correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best overall collagen supplement: Persona Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides

  • Form: powder
  • Source: bovine collagen
  • Types: I and III
  • Price: starting from $32.89

Two scoops of this product contain 20 grams (g) of collagen, and the company recommends taking 1–2 scoops per day.

It says that the supplement promotes hair, skin, and joint health, and it contains hyaluronic acid and vitamin C.

Learn more about Persona here.

Pros

  • contains two types of collagen
  • easy to use, in hot or cold water
  • flavored and unflavored options
  • free from dairy and gluten

Cons

  • can be hard to dissolve, according to reviews
  • not suitable for vegans
  • requires a subscription

Best collagen supplement for variety of flavors: Care/of Collagen Packs

  • Form: powder
  • Source: bovine collagen
  • Types: I and III
  • Price: starting from $24

Care/of sells collagen and other supplements online, and it offers online consultations. A person can fill out a form about what they are looking for, and Care/of gives product recommendations.

The company’s collagen packs are available in these flavors:

  • lemon passion fruit
  • matcha
  • vanilla oat creamer

A person can also choose an unflavored option.

The packs contain grass-fed bovine collagen. Care/of also sells vegetarian collagen made from eggshell membranes. This comes in capsules and is not vegan.

These products are not third-party tested.

Learn more about Care/of here.

Pros

  • free from dairy and gluten
  • multiple flavors
  • vegetarian option

Cons

  • not third-party tested
  • not vegan
  • requires a subscription

Best hypoallergenic collagen supplement: HUM Collagen

  • Form: capsules
  • Source: bovine collagen
  • Types: I and III
  • Price: $40 for 90 capsules

HUM says it produces sustainable, hypoallergenic collagen supplements that do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs), gluten, or artificial colors or flavors.

It adds that it tests the quality of all its products in-house and through independent labs.

These collagen capsules also contain vitamin C and other antioxidants to help promote skin elasticity and firmness.

HUM recommends taking 3 capsules a day with food.

Pros

  • contain vitamin C and hyaluronic acid
  • free from gluten and dairy
  • no artificial sweeteners

Cons

  • no flavors
  • not vegan
  • not suitable for anyone with a rice bran allergy

Best vegetarian collagen supplement alternative: Ritual

  • Form: capsules
  • Source: vitamin C
  • Price: starting from $30

Ritual sells a range of vegan supplements and vitamins online.

The company does not sell collagen supplements. However, many of its products contain vitamin C and other nutrients that may help the body make collagen.

Still, there is no evidence that taking vitamin C has the same effect as taking collagen supplements, particularly if a person has no vitamin C deficiency.

Read our Ritual vitamins review here.

Pros

  • vegan
  • options for different ages and genders
  • non-GMO

Cons

  • not stated as gluten-free
  • no evidence that this is an effective collagen substitute
  • more expensive than other vitamin C supplements

Best collagen supplement for different ages: Dose & Co collagen creamer

  • Form: powder
  • Source: bovine collagen
  • Types: I and III
  • Price: starting from $24.99

A person adds this creamer to hot or cold drinks. Each serving contains 10 g of collagen.

The creamer is made with coconut milk, and various flavors are available.

Pros

  • free from dairy and gluten
  • dairy options available
  • free from soy and GMOs
  • available in different flavors

Cons

  • not vegan or vegetarian
  • not suitable for anyone with a coconut allergy

Best collagen supplement for keto and paleo diets: Reserveage Nutrition Collagen Booster

  • Form: capsules
  • Source: biocell collagen
  • Types: II
  • Price: $46.99 for 60 capsules

This contains biocell collagen, hyaluronic acid, and Reserveage’s Pro-Longevity Factos blend, which includes organic red grape.

The manufacturer claims that this supplement supports skin hydration and healthy joints.

It suggests taking 1–2 capsules per day, with or without food.

Pros

  • suitable for people with various allergies, including dairy, gluten, shellfish, and soy
  • suitable for people with keto and paleo diets
  • suitable for vegetarians

Cons

  • purported benefits not backed up by the FDA
  • not vegan
  • more expensive than other capsules

Side effects of collagen supplements are not common. However, anyone with sensitivities or allergies should check labeling carefully.

Some additional ingredients can include:

  • eggs
  • gelatin
  • shellfish
  • dairy

If a person consumes something that they have a sensitivity to, it can cause digestive side effects, such as bloating.

Overall, it is best to consult a physician before taking any collagen supplement. And it is important to note that these are not replacements for healthy meals.

Collagen may not be the right or best choice for everyone. It also should not take the place of treatment or recommendations from a doctor or other qualified healthcare professional.

Alternatives for collagen may depend on a person’s reasons for its use. An individual wishing to improve their skin care may want to look at moisturizing creams and other products that promote skin health.

Those looking to promote joint health may want to talk to their doctor about their concerns, as they may find other supplements that support the joints.

Learn how to boost collagen levels in the skin.

In a 2019 study, researchers identified several common sources of collagen in the American diet. They include:

  • beef
  • bone broth
  • fish
  • chicken
  • pork
  • prepared meats

This 2017 article explains that vitamins and minerals can also promote collagen production in the body. Vitamin C is one of the most important vitamins for collagen and is present in many collagen supplements.

Learn about how to get collagen from food.

Below are answers to common questions about collagen supplements:

Do collagen supplements really work?

Randomized trials, such as this study from 2015, found that supplemental collagen may help improve skin elasticity and hydration and support joint health.

Confirming these benefits and exploring the full effects require further research.

How long does it take for collagen supplements to work?

One 2014 study suggested that people may notice skin effects at about 8 weeks and improved joint health at around 10 weeks.

Collagen supplements may be safe in the long term, but confirming this requires further research. It is best to seek advice from a doctor before taking this type of supplement.

Does collagen make a person gain weight?

While the evidence is limited, weight gain is not a known effect.

A 2019 study found that people who combine collagen supplementation with resistance training may develop more muscle mass than those who simply exercise.

And a 2020 study noted that an increase in dietary protein can reduce levels of the appetite-enhancing hormone ghrelin. It also increases ketogenisis, the process of breaking down fatty and amino acids to provide energy.

Collagen supplements may help promote skin and joint health. They may also offer other health effects, but there is not enough evidence that supports their use.

These products come in capsule or powdered forms, and they usually contain collagen from bovine or other animal or fish sources. Vegetarian and vegan alternatives are available in the form of collagen boosters or builders. However, these do not contain collagen but their ingredients may help support collagen production.

Also before starting any new supplement, a person should talk to their doctor, as they may recommend alternative solutions to help address their health concerns.