It’s 2019 and we’re putting collagen in anything and everything. Not even our almond butter cups, a morning coffee, or casseroles have managed to escape being infused with this powerhouse superfood, which is praised for its skin-brightening, gut-healing, and join-supporting benefits.
If you’re toying with the idea of taking a collagen supplement for a spin, it’s important to know your facts. Should you take fish collagen or bovine collagen? Is is better in pill or powder form?
Read on to find out which type of collagen is the best for you.
What is collagen?
Collagen represents a large family of fibrous proteins that are found all over your body — including in your skin, cartilage, and even in your bones. There are more than 15 different types of collagen, which like all other proteins, are made up of amino acid building blocks.
Collagen is derived from the hides and connective tissue of animals; it can be sourced from cows (in which case it’s called bovine collagen), fish (also known as marine collagen), or even chicken (no nickname here, just chicken collagen). The good news is that these parts of the animals are often discarded, so it’s actually a sustainable choice to turn them into a collagen supplement.
Because it’s made from animals, there are no vegetarian or vegan sources of collagen. Vegans can, however, supplement with nutrients, like vitamin E, that support the body’s natural production of collagen.
If you’re in the market for a collagen supplement, there are a few things to know before you buy.
What do I need to know about collagen supplements?
As you might expect, collagen in its pure form isn’t exactly easily eaten and digested by humans. It has to go through a process called hydrolyzation where it’s broken down into smaller, more digestible pieces. The final product is called hydrolyzed collagen and it takes the form of the white powder you’ll find in powdered collagen supplements.
Once it’s hydrolyzed, collagen goes from inedible to one of the most versatile ingredients in our kitchen. The powder is virtually tasteless and dissolves completely in water; you can add it to any type of beverage, including your go-to morning coffee, smoothie, golden milk, or even just a glass of water.
Collagen supplements in pill-form vs powder
Collagen supplements that come in pill-form are just capsules filled with hydrolyzed collagen powder — yes, the same type of powder you’d find in a collagen powder supplement. The only real difference between the two is the type of delivery method you’re using.
Typically, capsules are made up of a plant protein called cellulose that easily disintegrates once the capsule reaches your stomach. Then, just like with a powdered supplement, the collagen is broken down further in the GI tract and absorbed into the bloodstream.
Which type of collagen supplement is right for me?
Choosing between collagen powders and pills is a matter of personal preference. If you like popping a supplement capsule and calling it a day, opt for a collagen supplement in pill-form. If you always start your day with a beverage like a green smoothie — and think it would be easy enough to just toss a scoop of collagen powder in with all that spinach and avocado — then a powder-form might be the easiest to add to your routine.
How do I add collagen to my routine?
If you opt for a collagen powder, you don’t have to limit yourself to beverages or smoothies, either. You can bake with collagen, infusing healthy muffins, granola bars, or banana bread with some addition skin- and joint-supporting health benefits. You can also add it to your overnight oats, soups, and even pasta sauces.