Collagen has been a popular buzzword in the beauty industry for a while now, but it offers more value than you think. Often touted as the key to youthful, glowing skin, collagen supplements have taken the market by storm. However, there are a lot of myths and misunderstandings about collagen, its benefits, and how it works. While collagen may play a supporting role in maintaining healthy skin, hair, and nails, its benefits go far beyond just a beauty treatment. If you’re an athlete or a regular gym-goer, strap in because we’re about to break down the common collagen myths and discuss what this protein powerhouse can really do for your goals.
What is collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body and plays a role in the development of your skin, muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues. It is also found in your organs, blood vessels, and intestinal lining and accounts for about 30% of the total protein in your body. Collagen protein is made out of the amino acids proline, glycine and hydroxyproline (Cleveland Clinic. 2022).
You’ve probably heard of some, but did you know there are actually 28 different known types of collagen? Don’t worry; most of your body’s collagen supply is made up of five main ones: Type I, Type II, Type III, Type IV, and Type V. The most abundant of these types are Type I and Type III, and if you’ve ever looked at the nutritional panel of a collagen powder supplement, you would likely see these two types listed. Basically, the different types of collagen refer to the different role or function they offer (Dose & Co. 2023).
Type I collagen is the most abundant type of collagen protein and is vital in skin, bone, and connective tissue health. Type III collagen plays a major structural role in your skin, large blood vessels, uterus, lungs, and bowels while also supporting wound healing and healthy blood clotting activity.
When it comes to the sources, your most common source of collagen is bovine collagen, which is derived from bovine animals such as cows. It is generally rich in Types I & III collagen and is common is most collagen powder supplements. Marine collagen is sourced from marine life, and is also rich in Types I & III collagen, and is known for offering higher bioavailability. Hydrolysed collagen is a form that involves breaking collagen down into smaller collagen peptides, making them easier for your body to absorb (Dose & Co. 2023).
Think Collagen Supplements are Just a Beauty Product? Think Again
Why shouldn’t you take it? While most collagen powders and collagen peptide supplements are marketed towards beauty, collagen can offer so much more. While collagen may support skin, hair, and nail health, it can also play an underrated and important role in how you condition yourself for training and physical activity.
While the collagen marketing promises ‘glowing skin’, we know otherwise. Let’s take a look at the best collagen benefits.
Collagen for skin health
When you think skin, you think beauty, but it’s so much more than that. Collagen plays a crucial role in maintaining skin elasticity, strength, and hydration. As we age, our natural collagen production declines. Incorporating collagen into your diet may help support skin health. Research has suggested that supplementing with collagen may support skin elasticity and hydration by improving collagen production (Van De Walle, G. 2023).
If you’re looking for the best collagen supplement for skin health, give ATP Science Beauty Collagen a try!
- May improve skin hydration & elasticity
- Boosts collagen production
- Harnesses Verisol Bovine Collagen Peptides
collagen for muscle growth
While often associated with skin and joint health, it can also play a role in muscle growth. Collagen can support muscle mass and strength and can help in maintaining healthy muscles. While you shouldn’t give up your usual protein powder, incorporating collagen into your diet (you can even stack a flavourless collagen powder with your normal protein powder to combine the benefits) supports muscle protein synthesis and supports your muscle growth goals. Collagen products containing Type I & III can promote glycine production, which supports lean muscle growth. In addition, collagen peptides promote a good balance of nitrogen, which helps you enter the anabolic state ideal for muscle growth. Protein powder is still better overall for muscle growth, but collagen can certainly be a valuable addition to your stack (Custom Collagen).
The best collagen formula for muscle growth is ATP Science Noway Collagen Protein.
- Diary-free & gut-friendly
- German-engineered Body Balance Collagen Peptides
- Contributes to muscle repair and growth
collagen for muscle recovery
Given the fact that collagen is a type of protein, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that collagen plays a role in muscle recovery. Supplementing with collagen powder can help support the body's ability to rebuild muscles by providing essential amino acids. Additionally, collagen can help reduce inflammation and soreness and may accelerate the healing process for injuries while supporting muscle recovery (Custom Collagen).
The best collagen supplement for muscle recovery is Body Science Collagen Repair & Recover.
Collagen for join, tendon and ligament health
One of the underrated benefits of collagen is that it supports the health and strength of your joints, tendons, and ligaments. Supplementing with collagen peptides can support cartilage maintenance, helping to support the overall health of connective tissues while alleviating joint soreness. Collagen can be effective for anybody looking to reduce injury risk in training and Team Sports by providing support to joint function, tendon health and structure, and ligament health (Khatri, M et al. 2021).
The best collagen supplement for joint, tendon and ligament health is Evolve Collagen.
- Supports bone, muscle & cartilage health
- Contains hydrolysed grass-fed Bovine Collagen Peptides
- Full amino acid spectrum
Collagen for Bone Health
Did you know that your bones are mainly built up of collagen? Collagen is what provides the structure and strength of your bones and is important in preventing bone loss and supporting bone density. As you know, your collagen levels begin to decline as you age, which leads to bone breakdown and low bone density. This may explain why as we age we become less nimble and more prone to bone fractures. Collagen peptides can also support bone mineralisation, which is a process that may help to strengthen and harden bones (Van De Walle, G et al. 2023).
The best collagen supplement for bone health is Switch Nutrition Collagen Switch.
Collagen Myths Vs Science
Like most things in today's digital age, there tends to be a lot of misinformation around supplements like collagen. Whether it’s that online influencer you follow telling you that it’s purely a beauty product or the macho PT telling you that you’re better off with whey protein, the value of collagen is often a polarising subject. Let’s bust a few common myths about collagen!
Collagen Is Only for Beauty
I mean, sure, every little bit helps, right? But to call it a mere beauty supplement is insulting. If you judge the smartest person in the room on their looks, they’re going to be offended. Don’t offend collagen.
Collagen plays a role in numerous parts of your body. Collagen supports the integrity of your cartilage, helping to relieve joint pain and stiffness. Your bones are made of collagen, which plays a role in their structure and strength, and more importantly, collagen plays a role in heart health by supporting the structure of your arteries. While those benefits to your skin, hair, and nails may sound most appealing, collagen is vital in the function of the rest of your body, from flexibility to strength (Van De Walle, G. 2023).
Marine Collagen Is Better Than Bovine Collagen
When it comes to buying collagen, we’re always looking for the best option, but there isn’t always a hierarchy. It is often said that marine collagen is superior to bovine collagen, but there is little difference in efficacy as long as you’re consuming a high-quality source. The choice between marine and bovine collagen ultimately comes down to dietary preference and specific goals. Marine collagen offers a marginally better absorption rate, but bovine collagen still offers an excellent absorption rate, with over 90% of peptides being absorbed within a few hours. When shopping for marine or bovine collagen derived from grass-fed and ethically pasture-raised cows (The healthy Chef).
You Only Need Collagen When You Are Older
Quite often, in our youthful ignorance, we assume that we don’t need any of these supplements because ‘we’re too young’ and ‘only old people need to worry about collagen production’. Yeah, we hate to burst your bubble, but your collagen production in your dermis layer tends to start dropping by 1% per year when you hit your twenties. Additionally, your skin’s exfoliation process decreases by about 28%. It’s not just the process of time that can impact your skin health, but your lifestyle choices and factors. Smoking is one of the biggest causes of perceived skin aging, while sun exposure also plays a role (Rejuvenation Clinics of Australia. 2021).
So, do you still think you don’t need collagen? Since you’re on a nutrition website reading a blog about collagen, it’s probably safe to assume you’re not a smoker, but I bet you spend most weekends on the beach, and you probably have a pretty intimidating skincare routine. If that’s the case, don’t ignore the benefits of collagen.
You Don’t Need Collagen If You Already Take Protein Powder
Often, people hear the word ‘protein’ and assume you can chop and change between collagen protein and standard protein powder. While all forms of protein are made up of amino acids, collagen protein contains a different amino acid blueprint than a standard whey protein or plant-based protein powder. The benefits of collagen don’t just come from the protein itself but from the unique peptides that support different functions. Collagen still does support muscle growth and recovery, but not to the same degree as a traditional protein powder (Macciochi, J).
Collagen Molecules Are Too Big To Absorb
Look, we’ll level with you: raw collagen is too big for absorption and digestion, but you’re not consuming raw collagen. Raw molecules are so large that they’re often referred to as ‘super molecules’, but then collagen peptides were developed in Japan, and they changed the game.
Collagen peptides, also known as hydrolysed collagen, are extremely bioavailable and can be immediately absorbed and utilised by the body. Collagen peptides are micro-size and can be easily absorbed in the intestines (Imbibe. 2022).
The Bottom Line
Don’t overlook the value of collagen peptides when it comes to your health and performance. This dynamic form of protein supports the health of your connective tissue, skin, bones, cartilage, tendons, and joints. And yes, it supports your hair and nail health. Incorporating collagen into your routine is easy and could make a substantial difference in how your body responds to exercise, supporting recovery, reducing soreness, and lowering the risk of injury.
If you need more education on the benefits of collagen or want a further hand in finding the best collagen supplements to support your goals, we’ve got you covered. Simply head in-store or reach out online, and our friendly team will gladly steer you in the right direction.
Cleveland Clinic. 2022, ‘Collagen’, Cleveland Clinic, accessed November 2023, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/23089-collagen
Dose & Co. 2023, ‘What Are the Different Types of Collagen and Their Benefits?’ Dose & Co, accessed November 2023, https://au.doseandco.com/blogs/science/what-are-the-different-types-of-collagen-and-their-benefits
The Healthy Chef. ‘Marine Collagen Vs Bovine Collagen - What’s The Difference’, Healthy Chef, accessed November 2023, https://thehealthychef.com/blogs/wellbeing/marine-collagen-vs-bovine-collagen-whats-the-difference#:~:text=Marine%20Collagen%20are%20broken%20down,few%20hours%20after%20consuming%20it.
Van De Walle, G. 2023, ‘Top 6 Benefits of Taking Collagen Supplements’, Healthline, accessed November 2023, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/collagen-benefits
Rejuvenation Clinics of Australia. 2021, ‘Why Does Collagen Production Decrease After We Turn 20?’ RCA, accessed November 2023, https://rejuvaustralia.com.au/blog/collagen-production-decrease/
Macciochi, J. ‘Debunking the Top 10 Myths about Collagen Supplementation: Separating Fact from Fiction’, Ancient + Brave, accessed November 2023, https://ancientandbrave.earth/blogs/news/debunking-the-top-10-myths-about-collagen-supplementation-separating-fact-from-fiction#:~:text=Myth%204%3A%20Marine%20collagen%20is,marine%20or%20bovine%20collagen%20supplements.
Imbibe. 2022, ‘You’ve Got It Wrong: The 3 Biggest Myths About Collagen’, Imbibe, accessed November 2023, https://imbibeliving.com/blogs/wellness/youve-got-it-wrong-the-3-biggest-myths-about-collagen
Custom Collagen. ‘Collagen for muscle repair: how collagen aids in workout recovery’, Custom Collagen, accessed November 2023, https://customcollagen.com/collagen-for-muscle-repair-how-collagen-aids-in-workout-recovery/#:~:text=An%20added%20benefit%20of%20collagen,consume%20collagen%20for%20muscle%20repair.
Khatri, M et al. 2021, ‘The effects of collagen peptide supplementation on body composition, collagen synthesis, and recovery from joint injury and exercise: a systematic review’, National Library of Medicine, accessed November 2023, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8521576/
Van De Walle, G et al. 2023, ‘Top 6 Benefits of Taking Collagen Supplements’, Healthline, accessed November 2023, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/collagen-benefits#basics