Health

Beyond Skin Deep—The Surprising Health Benefits of Collagen Powder

Turn back the clock.

By Edie Horstman
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In the pursuit of health (and glowing skin), there’s very little we’re not willing to try. From wellness shots to anti-aging treatments to eye-whitening drops, an investment in well-being is an investment in longevity. From basic to bizarre, there are serums and powders to fill a spectrum of aesthetic wants. But today, we’re focusing on one of the supplements du jour. For beauty devotees and wellness enthusiasts, the hype behind collagen powder isn’t new. But did you know there’s more to collagen than supple skin? Its merits are many. Let’s take a closer look at the science behind collagen powder benefits and why it’s worth adding to your routine.

Brunette woman wearing striped blue and white shirt holding glass cup of coffee.
Image by Belathée Photography
Edie Horstman
Edie Horstman

Edie is the founder of nutrition coaching business, Wellness with Edie. With her background and expertise, she specializes in women’s health, including fertility, hormone balance, and postpartum wellness.

What is collagen powder?

Collagen products are a dime a dozen. And they’ve become increasingly popular in recent years thanks to their ability to improve skin appearance. However, collagen’s benefits go deeper than aesthetics.

Before we chat perks, let’s back up. What is collagen powder? Collagen powder is a dietary supplement. It’s typically derived from animal sources, like bovine (cows) or marine (fish) collagen. For context, collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It’s present in bones, skin, tendons, cartilage, and other connective tissues.

Making collagen coffee in blender on black serving board.
Image by Michelle Nash

3 Main Types of Collagen

Most of us tend to think about collagen as a single entity. However, did you know there are 28 different types of collagen? That said, there are three main ones we tend to see in wellness products and supplements:

  • Type I is the most common type of collagen—found in skin, bone, teeth, tendon, ligaments, vascular ligature, and organs.
  • Type II is mainly found in cartilage.
  • Type III is present in the skin, muscle, and blood vessels.
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Image by Michelle Nash

The Best Way to Consume Collagen Powder

There are many ways to consume collagen powder. From frothy coffee to nourishing soups, it’s a versatile supplement—one that’s easy to incorporate into your daily routine. One of the best ways to consume collagen powder? Add it to your favorite bevvie: tea, smoothies, or a flavorful elixir. It’s often tasteless and odorless, making it convenient to mix with most liquids. Along with soups and stews, you can also toss collagen into keto chia pudding, oatmeal and baked goods. Last but not least, because collagen powder is designed to quickly dissolve, you can also add it into jellos and puddings. Let your creativity take the reins.

Overhead image of white tray of vegan banana muffins on marble countertop.
Image by Suruchi Avasthi

6 Health Benefits of Collagen Powder

So, what does the research show? There is a growing body of data on the potential health benefits of collagen powder. Some key studies include:

1. Skin Health. Incorporating collagen improves skin elasticity and hydration, thus reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.

2. Joint Health. Consuming collagen improves joint pain and stiffness in athletes with knee osteoarthritis, according to a 2017 study.

3. Gut Health. For those with IBS, collagen can improve gut health, thanks to its ability to reduce inflammation and increase levels of beneficial gut bacteria.

4. Bone Health. Collagen can improve bone density and reduce the risk of fractures in postmenopausal women.

5. Muscle Mass. Supplementing with collagen increases muscle mass and strength in older adults with sarcopenia.

6. Heart Health. In healthy adults, consuming collagen reduced artery stiffness and increased blood flow.

These promising studies show collagen’s range of positive effects on various aspects of health and well-being!

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Image by Michelle Nash

Is collagen powder the same as collagen peptides?

If you’re well-versed in all things collagen, you’ve probably heard of collagen peptides. In essence, both provide similar benefits. Collagen peptides and collagen powder are both forms of collagen supplements, but they differ in their molecular structure and how they are processed. Can you guess which one’s easier to digest?

Collagen peptides

Also known as hydrolyzed collagen, collagen peptides are made by breaking down long chains of collagen molecules. In turn, these are easier for your body to absorb! This process, called hydrolysis, results in a form of collagen that’s not only easier to digest but also has a higher bioavailability than regular collagen powder.

Collagen powder

Collagen powder, on the other hand, is made by grinding collagen-rich animal tissues—such as bones or skin. The resulting powder contains collagen in its intact form. Therefore, it may take longer for your body to break down collagen powder.

Moral of the story: if you’re looking for a more easily digestible form of collagen, opt for collagen peptides as opposed to collagen powder.

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Image by Michelle Nash

Is there a daily RDA for collagen powder?

Currently, no. However, some studies suggest that a daily dose of 2.5-15 grams of collagen peptides (hydrolyzed collagen) may be beneficial for improving skin, joint, and bone health. Ultimately, this varies based on a few factors (age, sex, weight, etc.). Furthermore, keep in mind that collagen powder is a dietary supplement—it’s not a substitute for a balanced diet. Foods like bone broth, poultry, fish, and egg whites all contain collagen, naturally. Aim to add these collagen-rich ingredients to your weekly meal planning repertoire.

Should you take liquid collagen?

Peruse the drinks section at your local health store, and you’re bound to find liquid collagen. Yes, liquid collagen. It’s typically sold in pre-made drinks or shots, designed to be consumed on its own. And it’s often marketed as a convenient way to get your daily dose of collagen. That said, liquid collagen tends to be more expensive than powder and usually contains added sugars. Depending on your lifestyle, you may prefer a ready-to-drink option! But if you value versatility and affordability, powdered collagen is probably be a better choice.

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Image by Michelle Nash

The Best Collagen Powders

Without further ado, we’re sharing the top five collagen powders we love. These are high-quality, unflavored, and can easily be stored in your pantry.

LiveConscious Collagen Peptides

LiveConscious labs uses hydrolyzed collagen peptides from grass-fed and pasture-raised bovine sources. These collagen peptides contain type I and type III collagen. 1-2 scoops dissolves beautifully in hot liquid.

Garden of Life Grass-Fed Collagen Super Beauty

Blueberry açaí collagen? Say no more. Support your skin’s elasticity and natural resistance to aging with Garden of Life’s collagen, organic açaí fruit, French melon, astaxanthin, and vitamin C—plus 500 Million CFU probiotics.

Sports Research Collagen Peptides

Support your body from the inside out with protein and amino acids from Sports Research. These amino acids support joint and bone health, and improve your body’s response to strenuous exercise, making this collagen powder a great post-workout supplement. It’s also so delicious as dairy-free coffee creamer!

Primal Harvest Primal Collagen

Give your skin, joints, and bones a boost with Primal Harvest’s collagen. Best of all, it’s tasteless, odorless, and textureless in your favorite warm beverage. Each serving contains nine essential amino acids along with almost 10 grams of protein.

Ora Organic Aloe Gorgeous Vegan Collagen-Boosting Powder

Aloe Gorgeous is an organic and vegan collagen-boosting powder—no animal collagen required! It’s an organic blend of aloe vera, protein, silica, and vitamins C and E to help boost your body’s natural production of collagen.