7 Steps to Finding the Best Collagen Supplement

Step 1: Look for Collagen Peptides 

To make collagen peptides, collagen is put through a process called “hydrolysis” to make it easier to digest.

During hydrolysis, collagen peptides are enzymatically hydrolyzed. This just means collagen has been “pre-digested” with enzymes with the presence of water to provide a super easy way for you to absorb them.

The reason you’re looking for collagen peptides is that collagen is a massive protein and it’s difficult for your body to assimilate it quickly. It’s the difference between swallowing your food whole and chewing it.


Step 2: Locate the Best-Absorbing Collagen Supplement

Size is everything when it comes to collagen. The smaller the peptides, the better your body will be able to absorb them.

“Low molecular weight” takes peptides to the next level. Simply stated: it’s the gold standard for collagen supplements. It’s what you want to see on your label to ensure you can easily absorb the collagen peptides.


Step 3: Find the Best Collagen Source

The main four sources of collagen are marine (fish, usually), pig (porcine), cow (bovine), and chicken.

Though they all provide the key amino acids to help produce collagen, some sources are better than others.

  • Porcine: Pig collagen is the lowest quality source of collagen as it is less controlled compared to other sources like chicken and beef. The hide and feet of pigs offer the highest concentration of collagen.
  • Chicken: Once again, the feet are a significant source of collagen. Understandably, it’s a lot easier to feel comfortable taking a collagen supplement if the chickens are free-range.
  • Marine: Fish collagen is derived from their scales and skin—prime targets for potential contamination. You want to see wild-caught and sustainably fished or sustainably caught. “Sustainably” means the ecosystem won’t be upset by overfishing.
  • Bovine: The undisputed best source of bovine collagen is grass-fed and pasture-raised.

To sum it up, be sure to verify the quality of the source of your collagen before you put it in your mouth.


Step 4: Check the Label for Vitamin C

Vitamin C assists with collagen synthesis, so you want to see at least 50 mg on the label.

In a study, researchers used vitamin C (ascorbate) on skin fibroblasts (cells responsible for producing collagen) and noted a 3-4 fold increase in collagen synthesis. [21]

Your body can still produce collagen if you don’t supplement with vitamin C—as long as you have enough in your body. Since vitamin C is water soluble (meaning it won’t stick around in your body for long), it’s best to have collagen with vitamin already in it.

So can you get by without taking collagen with vitamin C? Yes. Should you? No.

In almost every case imaginable, you should take vitamin C along with collagen.


Step 5: Make Sure it Tastes Good (Hint: Check Reviews)

Taste may be more important than you think.

Many collagen supplements are flavorless because that’s the natural state of collagen peptides.

But many have flavors added so you don’t have to worry about buying something else to mix it in or because a great flavor can make everything better.

Obviously, you can’t look at a label and figure out how it tastes. However, you can look at reviews to see what other people are saying about it.

Most importantly, it should taste good enough that you look forward to drinking it every day. If it doesn’t satisfy your taste buds, you’re less likely to consistently take it. As with anything health-related, consistency is key.


Step 6: Avoid Artificial Sweeteners and Flavors

Sweeteners or flavor additives may be an attempt to mask the quality of the collagen. Plus, research shows many artificial sweeteners and flavors just aren’t good for you. [22]

Natural flavors are far better and can provide interesting taste options without the problems associated with artificial sweeteners and flavors. If you’re looking for a sweetened collagen supplement, look for stevia leaf extract and stay away from aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, and sugar alcohols like erythritol.


Step 7: Look for Superfoods

Sometimes, there’s more to a collagen supplement than just flavoring and peptides. In cases like these, it’s important to take a closer look at the ingredients to see what else is in the collagen supplement.

A superfood combo can provide benefits on top of the collagen supplement, though one with vitamin C would be best.

As mentioned previously, vitamin C would be a welcome addition to any collagen product since it can help the body synthesize collagen. If you’re eating a healthy diet and/or taking a multivitamin, it’s not necessary to have a high amount, but it should be present.

Superfoods like beets have naturally-occurring antioxidants that may be beneficial for a collagen supplement. Plus, beets may help support a healthy cardiovascular system.


Collagen Supplementation & Dosage:

  • Hydrolyzed collagen should be taken in doses of 10 grams or more per day.
  • Undenatured type II collagen (UC-II) generally should be taken in smaller doses between 20–40 milligrams daily.
  • Various collagen forms like gummies, creams, and face masks should be brought to your doctor so s/he can check the label and suggest the best dosage.
  • Look for “low molecular weight” because peptides are easily absorbable.
  • Get clean collagen sources:
    • Pasture-raised, grass-fed beef
    • Free-range chicken
    • Wild caught, sustainably fished
  • Take collagen with at least 50 mg of vitamin C to assist with collagen synthesis.
  • Look for great taste/flavor to ensure you’ll take it daily. Check online reviews.
  • Choose supplements with only natural flavors and sweeteners, such as stevia.

Note: Most popular collagen supplements (including peptides) are usually derived from animal tissues or fish (also known as marine collagen). If you’re practicing a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, look for products labeled as “plant-based.”

These plant-based collagen supplements work the same as their counterpart animal protein sources, even though they are not derived from animal sources.

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