What is Collagen?

What is Collagen?

Collagen is a protein molecule made up of amino acids. They are found in several connective tissues in the body, including cartilage, tendons, ligaments, skin, and muscles. It’s also the most abundant protein in mammals, which makes up 25% to 35% of the whole protein content in the body. Collagen serves several essential functions, including giving your skin structure and supporting your bones.

Amino acids are used to create proteins. It provides structural support to the extracellular space of connective tissues. Due to its rigidity and resistance to stretching, it is the perfect matrix for skin, tendons, bones, and ligaments.

The three major amino acids used to produce collagen are proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline. In a triple helix configuration, these amino acids band together to form protein fibrils. To create the triple helix, your body also needs the right amounts of vitamin C, zinc, copper, and manganese.

Types of Collagen

Your body naturally produces collagen, which you can also obtain from food sources such as fish and chicken. Collagen also comes in the following forms.

Natural Collagen

There are about 28 different kinds of collagen. They differ in the way the molecules are put together, the cell components that are added, and the locations in which the body uses collagen. There is at least one triple helix structure in every collagen fibril. 

The main five types of collagen and their functions are:

  • Type I. This type accounts for 90% of your body's collagen. Your skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments are structurally supported by type I, which is tightly packed. 
  • Type II. This type is present in elastic cartilage, which supports joints. 
  • Type III. This type is found in the muscles, arteries, and organs. 
  • Type IV. This type is present in the upper layers of your skin. 
  • Type V. This type is found in the cornea of your eyes, some layers of skin, hair, and placental tissue.

Collagen Supplements

  • Gelatin. Only a portion of the collagen in gelatin is converted into amino acids.
  • Raw. The collagen protein is unaltered in its raw form.
  • Hydrolysed collagen. These collagen peptides, known as collagen hydrolysate, are divided into amino acids.

Types of collagen supplements

The first thing to consider when choosing a collagen supplement, regardless of form, is its source. 

  • Bovine collagen. The most popular collagen supplement on the market today is derived from cattle hides and bones. However, not all bovine collagen comes from grass-fed cows, just like not all of the beef we consume does.
  • Marine collagen. This type of collagen comes from fish skin. The source of marine collagen peptides can be either aquaculture fish, which are produced from managed farm-raised fisheries, or wild-caught fish, which are caught in their natural habitat. 

When do collagen levels start to deplete?

Ageing naturally reduces collagen production and causes it to become more broken and distributed. These changes result in the classic signs of ageing, including wrinkles, sagging and dry skin. Additionally, ageing weakens the stability of the collagen found in the skeletal system, which impacts bone strength.

While collagen depletion is unavoidable as you age, some dietary and lifestyle variables can hasten the process.


Smoking is known to breakdown collagen and accelerate the ageing process of the skin. The number of elastin and collagen fibres in a smoker's skin is lower than that of a nonsmoker. When these fibres are depleted, the skin becomes tougher and less elastic.

Excessive drinking

Excessive drinking can hasten skin ageing by lowering collagen formation and causing skin healing mechanisms to malfunction. It’s because the vitamin levels in your body are reduced by alcohol, and vitamin deficiency reduces collagen synthesis. 

Too much sugar and refined carbohydrates

Consuming a diet rich in added sugar and highly processed foods can hasten ageing by promoting the glycation process. Glycation slows collagen turnover and interferes with collagen's capacity to interact with nearby cells and proteins.

Excessive sun exposure

Additionally, excessive sun exposure reduces collagen production. Sunlight emits UV rays and can hasten the breakdown of collagen and elastin, increase pigmentation, increase the risk of skin cancer, and quicken ageing. 

How do collagen supplements work?

According to some research, hydrolysed collagen may be the collagen supplement your body can absorb most easily. Having said that, all types of collagen are converted into amino acids during digestion, which is then ingested by the body and used to produce additional proteins that it requires, such as collagen. 

These amino acids are consumed and then absorbed by the small intestine. They circulate all over the body and assist the fibroblasts, which are responsible for your body's natural collagen creation.

Where does marine collagen come from?

Marine collagen, often known as fish collagen, is derived from fish skin. According to some research, marine collagen may be 1½ times more bioavailable than bovine collagen because marine collagen may be easily digested and has smaller protein particles. You may already be taking collagen supplements or using cosmetics containing collagen, but the collagen in most of these products comes from pig and cow skins. 

Fish collagen not only has anti-ageing benefits but also provides an alternative for those who are hesitant to use other types of collagen.

These problems consist of the following.

  • Religion. Because of religious beliefs, some people can’t take or use collagen derived from pigs and cows. 
  • Illness. Some people are concerned that the proteins used in collagen products may be related to mad cow disease. 

According to a report published in September 2018 in Nutrition Research, 120 people who took a supplement containing hydrolysed fish collagen, vitamins, antioxidants, and substances like glucosamine experienced a 40% increase in skin elasticity compared to a placebo. Some also reported a 43% reduction in joint pain and 39% better joint mobility.

How are collagen capsules effective?

Your body can make collagen without the help of collagen supplements by using the amino acids found in the proteins you consume. However, some research indicates that consuming collagen supplements may increase collagen production and provide unique benefits.

Aside from encouraging your body to make collagen, collagen supplements may also assist in the creation of elastin and fibrillin, two other proteins that help in the structure of your skin.

Are collagen capsules safe?

Collagen supplements are safe for most people. However, there have been reports of minor side effects like nausea, upset stomach, rash and diarrhoea.

Although there are some exceptions, most collagen supplements are inappropriate for vegans or vegetarians because they are made using animal products. They may also contain allergens such as fish. Check the label before using any collagen from that source if you have an allergy.

Collagen capsules benefits

Collagen capsules have a wide range of health benefits.

Collagen capsules for the skin

Collagen accounts for 75% of your skin's dry weight. Your skin's inner layer loses collagen as you get older. When this occurs, it loses elasticity and is more vulnerable to injury. Collagen supplements can help your skin look more youthful, reduce the appearance of cellulite, and preserve texture and tone. Topical collagen solutions can also help encourage your skin's elasticity and natural collagen production.  

In a 2015 study, researchers investigated whether collagen supplementation may enhance skin tissue in a lab setting. The findings revealed that supplements might benefit the collagen network and moisture of the skin. Additionally, collagen showed the ability to rejuvenate ageing skin, minimising wrinkles.

In a 2014 study, women between the ages of 35 and 55 were given collagen supplements or a  placebo for eight weeks. Compared to the ladies who took the placebo, those who received the collagen had better skin elasticity after the trial.

Collagen capsules for the hair

Collagen supplements can increase the body's production of proteins that help hair grow longer and thicker. The main component of our hair is a protein called keratin, which comes from several amino acids. Collagen contains some amino acids needed for the development of keratin. 

Although we can produce these essential amino acids, it doesn’t mean we are making enough of them to form proteins like keratin. There is limited clinical evidence to support the claim that collagen promotes hair growth. However, research done so far shows promise. 

Research published in Food and Function on the ability of collagen suggested that collagen fights free radicals that can harm hair follicles. There isn’t much research on humans, though, that shows how well collagen supplements work for patients with hair follicle loss.

Collagen capsules for weight loss

Collagen capsules may increase the sensation of satiety or fullness because collagen is a protein. Collagen could help with weight loss and management by reducing appetite and, therefore, the number of calories consumed daily. 

According to a 2008 study, eating more protein may promote the anabolism of muscle protein, "favouring the retention of lean muscle mass while improving metabolic profile."

In addition, a small 2009 study indicated that gelatin reduced hunger 44% more than casein, the protein contained in milk. 

It's important to remember that collagen is an incomplete protein since it lacks all the essential amino acids. You cannot achieve your protein requirements just with gelatin or collagen supplements. However, supplements can boost your daily protein intake, which may help you feel fuller longer.

Collagen capsules for the joints

Collagen supplements may also help with joint pain relief.  It's rich in amino acids that play a role in the building of joint cartilage and it may have anti-inflammatory effects.  

According to a 2015 study, collagen peptides can help with osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis develops as the cartilage in your joints ages, resulting in stiffness and discomfort in the joints. 

In addition, collagen peptides were found to reduce knee joint pain associated with physical exercise in a 2017 study involving athletes. 

Collagen effects with various diseases

Also listed below are some diseases that collagen is known to help with.

Collagen supplements for Lyme disease

Lyme disease, commonly transmitted from a tick bite, is one of the most prevalent vector-borne illnesses brought on by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. Symptoms include headaches, fatigue, pains, and joint pain. There are a variety of potential causes for joint pain in Lyme disease, including molecular mimicry, in which the immune system produces antibodies against specific tissue amino acid sequences that resemble self-tissues. 

Lyme disease can activate metalloproteases and destroy soluble and insoluble ground materials in the extracellular matrix, which is essential for cell development. As a result, the collagen disintegrates, enabling Borrelia burgdorferi to colonise the collagen fibres. It can slow tissue repair because it prevents fibronectin from regenerating collagen. 

It’s essential to support a patient's collagen-rich body components, such as the skin, joints, blood vessels, and eyes, by taking collagen supplements. Patients who eat a nutrient-dense diet, manage their stress, get enough sleep, and avoid pollutants may benefit from additional collagen.

Collagen supplements for autoimmune diseases

Autoimmune illness occurs when the body's natural defence mechanism can’t distinguish between your cells and foreign cells, causing the body to attack healthy cells. An autoimmune condition frequently targets or harms a single organ or region of the body, such as the skin (scleroderma) or joints, which causes joint pain. Collagen can assist in slowing the damage being done to cells as it contributes to the strength and resiliency of human tissues.

Leaky Gut Syndrome, also known as LGS, can cause various autoimmune diseases, such as fatigue, obesity, and even mental illness. When the lining of your intestines thins, bacteria and other foreign objects can enter your microbiome, which makes up a significant portion of your immune system and is home to billions of tiny bacteria that keep your body healthy. 

According to a 2017 study, ingesting collagen peptides can lessen the harmful consequences of leaky gut syndrome.

Collagen supplements for cancer

According to a recent study by researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, cancer cells manufacture tiny amounts of their type of collagen, forming a distinctive extracellular matrix that influences the tumour microbiota and shields against immune responses. The differences between this defective collagen structure and the regular collagen produced by the human body make it a very selective target for treatment methods. 

The most prevalent protein in the body, type I collagen, is produced by fibroblasts and is present in bones, tendons, and skin. Collagen in tumours was said to encourage cancer growth, but scientists demonstrated that it likely performs a protective role in preventing the spread of pancreatic cancer. Additionally, they pointed out that collagen homotrimers are also present in other cancer types, such as lung and colon cancers, suggesting the possibility of a unifying principle with significant therapeutic implications. However, this is not the case for other types of cancers.

Collagen supplements for chronic kidney disease

The kidney works to eliminate wastes, poisons, and extra fluid. Additionally, it supports blood pressure management, promotes the generation of red blood cells, maintains bone health, and regulates vital blood molecules. When the kidneys are damaged, they can’t filter blood as effectively as they should. This condition is known as chronic kidney disease. Due to this, extra fluid and blood waste build up in the body and may result in various health issues like heart disease and stroke.

A 2019 study discovered that collagen from tilapia skin could improve kidneys and prevent age-related kidney problems due to its antioxidant activity.

On the other hand, patients with a history of calcium oxalate kidney stones should avoid taking too many collagen peptide supplements. An amino acid called hydroxyproline is present in collagen peptides. This amino acid carries potential risks and can lead to kidney stone development.

Collagen supplements for heart disease

Collagen is essential for the health and operation of your heart and circulatory system. The walls of your arteries, or the blood channels that transport blood from the heart throughout the body, are made of collagen. Without sufficient structural support, arteries weaken, stiffen, and become rigid, which is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and stroke. 

One study found that taking a collagen supplement at breakfast and dinner reduced arterial stiffness significantly. In another study, taking 2.5g of collagen daily was found to have comparable effects in reducing arterial stiffness. 

Collagen supplements for liver damage

The liver is crucial for food digestion and detoxifying your body of harmful toxins. Several causes, such as infections, alcohol consumption, and obesity, can harm the liver and result in liver disorders. It can sometimes be inherited. 

Infections and long-term alcohol consumption can also cause harm to the liver and can lead to liver cirrhosis, which can progress to liver failure, a potentially fatal condition. But early treatment can offer the liver some breathing room. 

According to research, collagen supplements may also benefit the liver since they are high in glycine, an amino acid with remarkable healing and detoxifying properties. As your liver processes toxins, glycine helps minimise damage. Additionally, glycine may lessen liver damage and provides long-term liver protective effects.

Collagen supplements evidence

Collagen capsules’ side effects

Collagen capsules can cause side effects, although they are usually not severe. Potential side effects include: 

  • Upset stomach 
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Skin rashes
  • Nausea 
  • Constipation 
  • Heartburn 
  • Headache

Anyone allergic to fish, shellfish, poultry, or eggs should refrain from taking them since many collagen supplements contain these substances. 

Can collagen supplements cause weight gain?

No, collagen won't make you gain weight. 

Aside from helping in muscle building, a collagen supplement won't make you gain weight.  Collagen aids in the development of muscular mass, which raises your body's potential for efficient calorie burning and speeds up metabolism.

Additionally, because collagen is an abundant protein, it can help you feel fuller for extended periods and prevent overeating. They could also help in decreasing hunger-inducing chemicals like ghrelin.

Can collagen supplements cause acne?

Not often, but in some circumstances, it can. 

Sulfites are frequently present in collagen supplements, which clog the skin and may eventually cause acne. It has a significant potential to make acne worse which can be riskier for those with acne-prone skin. Additionally, they can cause hormonal acne in those susceptible to it. 

Can collagen supplements cause breast growth?

No, collagen supplements aren't known to provide significant breast enlargement. Since collagen allows the skin to have elasticity, taking collagen supplements can make them look firmer, plumper, and more youthful. However, there are currently no studies to support this claim.

Can collagen supplements cause constipation?

Constipation is occasionally an adverse effect of taking collagen and protein supplements together. In some cases, the high calcium content in the supplement itself can result in constipation. 

It's important to know that not all collagen supplements have the same amount of calcium. The highest quantities of calcium are typically found in collagen supplements manufactured from animal sources like shellfish, shark cartilage, or other marine sources.

Can collagen supplements cause diarrhoea?

Yes. If you take collagen, your bowel movements will become more frequent, especially when you first incorporate collagen into your diet because your body strives to process high amounts of collagen proteins. 

Although adverse effects are uncommon, you may experience nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea as a result of an excess of protein and calcium. Food allergies may also cause some people to suffer similar negative symptoms. Before using collagen, make sure to check the product to see if you have any allergies to any of the ingredients.

Collagen capsules ingredients

Our 550mg collagen capsule bottles contain 30mg of Hyaluronic acid + vitamins. 

What is the best time to take collagen capsules?

There is no proof to support the idea that taking collagen at a particular time of day makes any difference. Whether you take collagen with food or not, your stomach can still absorb it. It's important to take collagen on a schedule that works for you, whether in the morning or at night.

How many collagen capsules per day

There are no set guidelines for how much collagen to consume daily. Your recommended daily collagen intake will vary depending on the type and the intended use. For collagen capsules, you can take 1 to 2 capsules each day to meet your collagen needs.

Collage capsule dosage

Each collagen supplement has a different collagen content. In general, ingesting 2.5g to 15g of collagen peptides daily is safe and beneficial. 

Please see your doctor if you have a specific medical condition because your daily protein requirements may be much higher due to the body's increased protein turnover and healing needs.

How long do collagen capsules take to work?

Many studies indicate that regular collagen supplementation can result in noticeable skin elasticity, hydration, and density anywhere between 6 and 12 weeks.

The time it takes for collagen to start working depends on your body's current collagen levels. When you start taking it, you can see a more noticeable difference if your collagen levels are low. On the other hand, if your collagen level is high, you might not experience a major change. You’ll probably see a difference faster if your collagen levels are lower.

Collagen supplements during breastfeeding

Consuming collagen during breastfeeding is safe and has no impact on the breast milk produced for the baby. However, more study is required to determine the safety of collagen for women and their infants.

Mothers should also consult a doctor before taking oral collagen supplements to avoid an allergic reaction to collagen or to be advised on an appropriate and safe amount during nursing.

Collagen supplements during pregnancy

The most prevalent protein in your body is collagen. It is a fundamental component of your bones, skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Since collagen plays such an important part in your body, it must also play this role in your unborn child. 

A study in 2016 found that pregnant and postpartum women demonstrated improved protein levels and quality of life after collagen supplementation. Although collagen supplements are typically considered safe during pregnancy, you should consult your doctor before beginning any new supplement. 

Which collagen capsules are best

Here are some of the best collage capsules in the UK.

  1. Nature One
  2. Advanced Nutrition Programme Skin Collagen Support (60 capsules): £33.99
  3. Myvitamins Coconut & Collagen Capsules (60 capsules): £14.99
  4. The Nue Co Skin Hydrator (30 capsules): £27.00
  5. HUM Nutrition Collagen Love (90 capsules): £44.00
Back to blog