- What is collagen? 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).
- Health benefits of collagen: 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's tests of collagen supplements 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).
- Best collagen supplements? Among the products Approved in testing, ConsumerLab selected a Top Pick for skin (wrinkles) and a Top Pick for joint pain.
- How much collagen to take: 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. There is no "vegan collagen," as plants do not produce collagen. However, there are some supplements that contain certain vitamins, amino acids, and other ingredients used in building collagen. For details see What to Consider When Buying and Using.
- Collagen supplements safety and side effects: 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).