What are the different types of collagen?

Collagen is big news at the moment, and it can be found contained within a number of supplements, due to the number of important roles that it plays within the body.

Most of us are aware of the role that collagen plays in our skin, but did you know that collagen is responsible for much more than that?

What is collagen?

The most abundant protein in the body, collagen is the main component of our bone, skin, muscle and ligament structure.1

We tend to think about collagen as a single entity.

However, there are in fact actually 28 different types of collagen!2 But it is the four main ones that we tend to concern ourselves with most.

Many of these types of collagen come from healthy proteins and you can add them to your diet by consuming cartilage directly from the body, boned fish and organ meats.

As this is not a typical diet for the majority of people, a collagen supplement is proving to be a popular alternative.

Where does collagen in supplements come from?

To add collagen to a supplement, it is generally derived from either bovine or marine sources.

These are both effective forms, but need to be good quality, so look out for grass-fed or pasture-raised types.

Fish collagen proteins are usually found in the skin and scales and are a source of type I and type II collagen. You can read more about this in our article ‘What is marine collagen?

Bovine collagen comes from the bones and hides of cows and is a source of type I and type III collagen.

The smell and taste of both is barely discernible within a supplement, so it can easily be taken on its own or mixed into drinks, smoothies and food.

Find out more on ‘Collagen: benefits, dosage, side-effects’ via our Health Hub.

Collagen Type I

The majority of the body’s collagen is type I.

As much of 90% of your collagen is type I and it is made of very densely packed fibres.3

It is this type of collagen that provides structure to so many different elements of the body, including the skin, bones, tendons, cartilage, connective tissue and teeth.

This is the type of collagen that you have probably heard of when it comes skin, hair and nail health, and the natural levels of type I collagen found in the body starts to decline in our twenties.

Due to its prevalence in connective tissue, its decline may result in less firm skin, brittle nails, thinning hair and fine lines and wrinkles.

The fact that it is such a huge part of the tendons, organs and bones makes it essential in remaining active as you age.

Any collagen peptides that you might take are primarily composed of type I collagen.

Collagen Type II

Collagen type II takes the form of more loosely packed fibres which tend to be found in elastic cartilage.4

This cushions your joints, supporting movement and function and is often found within supplements in order to help to support the skeletal system.

This type of collagen is made up of long identical chains of amino acids forming a tight network of fibres.

It gives cartilage its strength and elasticity, which is vital when it comes to allowing tissue to bear mechanical stress and shock absorption.

Therefore, adding type II collagen to your body can help to deal with the wear and tear that we all put our joints through.

Collagen Type III

Collagen type III supports the structure of the muscles, organs and arteries within the body.5

It is the second most abundant collagen type and is generally found in reticular fibres such as the bone marrow.

Other types of collagen

Collagen type IV is found in the layers of your skin. It forms in a sheet and is the main collagen component of the basement membrane.

The best collagen supplements?

Collagen supplements come in a variety of different forms, so it is important to find one that works for you.

There are powders available which can be mixed into food and drink, or tablets which can be taken daily.

There are also liquids which are taken in small doses each day, on their own or as part of another drink.

You might also like to read more about ‘What is hydrolysed collagen?

As with any supplement, you should always research what you intend to take and ensure that it meets your own individual needs.

If you have any concerns about your suitability for a collagen supplement, you should consult your doctor or pharmacist first.

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Last updated: 18 December 2020

Related Topics

CollagenSupplementsVitamins & Supplements
Bhupesh Panchal

Bhupesh Panchal,
Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate

Joined Holland & Barrett: Apr 2019

Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry

Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.

After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.