The U.S. collagen market size was estimated at more than $2.11 billion in 2022 and is anticipated to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.2 percent from 2023 to 2030.1 Clearly, collagen is a happening dietary supplement category—and if you’ve been in the industry for a while, you’re likely aware that the primary uses of collagen are for skin and joint health. But all collagen materials aren’t created equal. They don’t all have the same sources, and their benefits, sources and dosage levels aren’t the same either. In this article, I’m going to discuss some of the differences between available collagen materials. Let’s start by defining collagen.
Collagen is the main structural protein found in the skin and other connective tissues. This protein is vital to our good health. It makes up 25 percent to 35 percent of the whole-body protein content. Along with a couple of other key structural proteins, collagen is responsible for skin strength and elasticity. When collagen degrades, it leads to the wrinkles that accompany aging, as well as a variety of other issues.
As with any protein, collagen is made of amino acids. In the case of collagen, there is a particularly high concentration of hydroxyproline. This high concentration does not tend to occur in substantial quantities in other proteins.2 At the same time, collagen has very little tryptophan. As a result, it is not considered to be a complete protein, and so cannot be counted as contributing to the percentage Daily Value for protein in the Supplement Facts panel of a dietary supplement. It should also be noted that collagen is found exclusively in humans and other animals. It is not found in plant proteins. Therefore, there is no “vegan collagen,” although I’m aware of some vegan amino acid blends that emulate the structure of collagen.
Collagen Sources and Types
There are different types of collagens in the body. This includes collagen type 1, type 2 and type 3. There are some other types as well, but they are not relevant in the context of this conversation. Type 1 is primarily the collagen found in skin, tendons, veins/arteries, and bone. Type 2 is primarily found in cartilage, although some is found in the skin. Type 3 is a fibrous form of collagen found alongside type 1.
Food sources of collagen include animal proteins such as beef, chicken, pork and fish (as long as you include the skin). In addition, broth made from beef bones is also a good source of collagen—although regular consumption of such beef broth may also yield a higher-than-average amount of lead since lead tends to deposit in the bones. The fact is, you’re better off getting your collagen from quality dietary supplements to assure proper amounts and to avoid undesirable amounts of lead.
Speaking of which, beef, chicken, pork and fish all serve as commercial sources of collagen materials used in dietary supplements. These forms are general present as collagen peptides—small chains of collagen protein that have been broken down (hydrolyzed) from larger collagen protein chains. These smaller collagen peptide chains are better absorbed. There is also an eggshell membrane source of collagen.
Bovine (Beef)-derived Collagen Peptides
Studies3,4 indicate that, compared to placebo, 2.5 g/day of a specific bovine-derived collagen peptide material (Verisol) significantly reduced eye wrinkle volume by 20 percent (p<0.05), increased content of procollagen type I (65 percent), elastin (18 percent) and fibrillin (6 percent), improved skin elasticity (p<0.05) and positively influenced skin moisture. Additional research5,6 showed that 2.5 g of Veriso led to a statistically significant decrease in the degree of cellulite and a reduced skin waviness on thighs (i.e., a measure of skin smoothness, or lack thereof) (p<0.05), and also significantly increased hair thickness (p<0.01) and increased hair cell proliferation rate by 31 percent (p<0.01). Verisol predominantly provides type 1 and 3 collagen. This material is suitable for use in powders since it dissolves nicely and has a neutral taste profile.
Chicken-derived Collagen Extract
Research7 indicated that 1 g/day of Biocell, a specific type 2 collagen extract (from chicken sternal cartilage), led to a significant reduction of skin dryness/scaling (76 percent, P = 0.002) and global lines/wrinkles (13.2 percent, P = 0.028), as well as a significant increase in the content of hemoglobin (15 percent, P = 0.008) in the skin dermis has been shown to reduce skin dryness, lines/wrinkles, and increased collagen with 1,000 mg/day, and support healthy joints with 2,000 mg/day.8 At study at 2 g/day demonstrated that, compared to placebo, Biocell led to a significant decrease in osteoarthritis pain on both days 35 (p = 0.017) and 70 (p < 0.001) as well as a significant improvement in physical activities. This material should be limited to tablets and capsules since it does not have a good taste profile.
Fish Collagen Peptides (i.e., “Marine Collagen”)
Research9 has demonstrated that 5 g/day of a specific fish collagen peptide from Wellnex, decreased the skin area of UV spots 11.67 percent by eight weeks after ingestion (p=0.034). Another study10 found that 5 g/day of fish collagen peptides increased hair shaft diameter (i.e., hair thickness) by 44 percent compared to placebo. A third study11 using 5 g/day of fish collagen peptides showed significant 200 percent increase (percentage difference) over placebo in facial skin moisture (p<0.005) and a significant 114 percent decrease (percentage difference) over placebo in roughness (p<0.005). This material is suitable for use in powders since it has a neutral taste profile.
Eggshell Membrane Collagen
Ovoderm is a nutraceutical obtained from eggshell membranes that contains naturally occurring collagen and glycosaminoglycans, such as hyaluronic acid. Research12-14 has demonstrated that 300 mg/day of Ovoderm led to a statistically significant improvement in skin elasticity (12 percent increase, p=0.0136), a tendency to reduce skin pigmentation (5 percent decrease), a 43 percent of decline in the transepidermal water loss, improved firmness and skin fatigue by 33 percent and 45 percent higher than in the placebo treatment. Likewise, 300 mg of Ovomet (egg membrane, aka Ovoderm) caused a gradual and statistically significant reduction in pain and stiffness intensity and improved the functional capacity in osteoarthritis patients.15,16 This material should be limited to tablets and capsules. Although it doesn’t have a bad taste, per se, it doesn’t really dissolve well.
For the sake of brevity, I’ve only listed one example each of collagen materials from bovine, chicken, fish and eggshell membrane sources. I decided not to discuss porcine (pork) sources of collagen since it is generally considered the least desirable of the aforementioned (although not from an efficacy standpoint). That being said, the materials I did discuss in this article are only the tip of the collagen iceberg. Each of these collagen materials have their own distinct advantages and dosage levels. Bovine collagen peptides are great for skin and hair at a 2.5 g dose. Collagen from chicken sternal cartilage is effective for skin and joints at 1 and 2 g doses, respectively. Fish collagen peptides are good for skin at a 5 g dose. Finally, the eggshell membrane material demonstrated benefits for skin and joints at a dose of 300 mg. In assessing the options for use in your dietary supplement brand, don’t forget to consider the dosage form (e.g., capsules, tablets, powders), and whether or not the collagen material you’re considering is suitable. VR
1 U.S. Collagen Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Source Type, By Product Type (Gelatin, Hydrolyzed, Native), By Application Type, And Segment Forecasts, 2023 – 2030. Grand View Research. Retrieved September 26, 2023 from www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/us-collagen-market-report#:~:text=The percent.
2 Eastoe JE. The amino acid composition of mammalian collagen and gelatin. Biochem J. 1955 Dec; 61(4): 589–600.
3 Proksch E, Schunck M, Zague V, Segger D, Degwert J, Oesser S. Oral intake of specific bioactive collagen peptides reduces skin wrinkles and increases dermal matrix synthesis. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2014;27(3):113-9.
4 Proksch E, Segger D, Degwert J, Schunck M, Zague V, Oesser S. Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2014;27(1):47-55.
5 Schunck M, Zague V, Oesser S, Proksch E. Dietary Supplementation with Specific Collagen Peptides Has a Body Mass Index-Dependent Beneficial Effect on Cellulite Morphology. J Med Food. 2015 Dec;18(12):1340-8.
6 Oesser S. The oral intake of specific Bioactive Collagen Peptides has a positive effect on hair thickness. Nutrafoods (2020) 1:134-138.
7 Schwartz SR, Park J. Ingestion of BioCell Collagen(®), a novel hydrolyzed chicken sternal cartilage extract; enhanced blood microcirculation and reduced facial aging signs. Clin Interv Aging. 2012;7:267-73.
8 Schwartz SR1, Park J. Ingestion of BioCell Collagen(®), a novel hydrolyzed chicken sternal cartilage extract; enhanced blood microcirculation and reduced facial aging signs. Clin Interv Aging. 2012;7:267-73.
9 Sugihara F, Inoue N. Clinical effects of collagen hydrolysates ingestion on UV-induced pigmented spots of human skin: A preliminary study. Health Sciences. 2012;28(2):153-156.
10 Saito N, Tamura T, Morikawa R, Kurihara K, Katsuoka K. Safety of Food Containing 5000mg of Collagen Peptide and Its Effect on Hair in Health Female Subjects. Aesthet Dermatol. 2008;18:311-320.
11 Koizumi S, Inouse N, Sugihara F. The effects of collagen hydrolysates derived from tilapia scales or skin on human facial skin. Japanese Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 2019; 47(1):57-63.
12 Aguirre A, Gil-Quintana E, Fenaux M, et al. Beneficial Effects of Oral Supplementation with Ovoderm on Human Skin Physiology: Two Pilot Studies, Journal of Dietary Supplements. 2017; DOI: 10.1080/19390211.2017.1310781.
13 Gil-Quintana E, La Nuez M, Aquirre A. Supplementation with Ovoderm Reduces the Clinical Signs of Skin Aging. A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Clin Res Dermatol Open Access. 2018; 5(2):1-8.
14 Aguirre A, Gil-Quintana E, La Nuez M. Ovoderm an effective treatment to improve skin condition in patients with altered skin barrier function. Skin. 2018;2(1):11-14.
15 Blasco JM-I, Aguirre A, Gil-Quintana E, Fenaux M. The effect of daily administration of 300 mg of ovomet for treatment of arthritis in elderly patients. Int J Clin Rheumatol. 2016; 11(5), 77-81.
16 Gil-Quintana E, Fenaux M, L Nuez M, et al. Short-Term Effects of Ovomet, Eggshell Membrane, in Joint Pain: A Double-Blind and Placebo Study. J Osteopor Phys Act. 2018; 6(1):211.
Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, Professor Emiritus of Nutraceutical Science, is a nutritionist, herbalist, writer and educator. For more than 40 years he has educated and trained natural product retailers and health care professionals, has researched and formulated natural products for dozens of dietary supplement companies, and has written articles on nutrition, herbal medicine, nutraceuticals and integrative health issues for trade, consumer magazines and peer-reviewed publications. He can be reached at email@example.com.