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What is it? Collagen is a type of protein found in the skin (types I and III collagen), joints (type II collagen) and other parts of the body. It uniquely contains the amino acid hydroxyproline, along with other amino acids. Collagen in supplements is typically hydrolyzed, i.e., broken down to amino acids and/or chains of amino acids (peptides) to improve absorption as well as the ease with which it mixes into liquids (see What It Is).
Does it help? Collagen appears to modestly reduce wrinkles and slightly improve the appearance of cellulite. It may also modestly improve joint pain and flexibility in osteoarthritis. These effects can require two to six months of daily use (see What It Does).
What did CL find? ConsumerLab's tests showed that products contained their listed or expected amounts of collagen, ranging, per daily serving, from about 3 grams to 25 grams among powders and liquids, and from 0.01 grams (10 mg) to 6 grams for tablets, capsules, and chews. One product was Not Approved due to contamination with cadmium, a toxic heavy metal (see What CL Found).
How much to use? Typical daily dosage of hydrolyzed collagen is 1 to 10 grams. Dosing with UC-II, a cartilage-based product, is much lower. Collagen may be taken with or without food. For details see What to Consider When Buying and Using.
Cautions: Collagen supplements are generally well-tolerated, but mild side effects including gastrointestinal symptoms, headache, dizziness and rash can occur. People with allergies to specific sources of collagen (such as fish) should avoid collagen products derived from these sources (see Concerns and Cautions).
You must be a member to get the full test results along with ConsumerLab.com's recommendations and quality ratings for collagen supplements. You will get results for 11 collagen supplements selected for testing by ConsumerLab as well as for four others that passed the same testing in CL's voluntary Quality Certification Program.
In this comprehensive review of collagen supplements you'll learn:
Which collagen supplements failed testing, which passed, and which are CL's Top Picks
How collagen supplements compare on the amounts of collagen they contain, impurities, quality, price, and other ingredients
The clinical evidence for and against using collagen supplements for wrinkles and dryness in aging skin, joint pain and stiffness, and building muscle
The differences among types of collagen (types I, II and III), forms of collagen (collagen hydrolysate, collagen peptides, gelatin, and "raw" undenatured collagen), and branded ingredients (Verisol, NeoCell, BioCell, UC-II, and NT2)
Dosage for specific uses including wrinkles, joint pain, and building muscle