We all know that collagen can plump your pout, but different types of collagen can also strengthen your bones, improve your joints and even maintain your vision. But what are the different kinds of collagen and what do they do?
In this guide
- What is collagen?
- What are the different types of collagen?
- What does each kind do and why do you need them?
- Where can I find the right collagen I need?
What is collagen?
Collagen is a protein – and is the most abundant protein in humans and makes up around 30% of our body’s entire protein content. Like all proteins, it’s comprised of long-chain amino acids, but collagen is one of the few to contain all nine essential aminos. Most collagen is secreted by fibroblasts, which are found in our connective tissue.
Collagen is a structural protein, meaning it provides strength and support to the body’s cells and also allows ease of motion. It is perfectly suited to this role as its own structure is dense and made up of long, thin fibrils that make it incredibly strong. Collagen’s fibrils also anchor cells to each other to create elasticity. Essentially, collagen forms a scaffold to provide strength and structure to all areas of our bodies.
This sturdy protein is found throughout the body but has especially high concentrations in your skin, bones and connective tissues. Different types of collagen perform different functions, with some maintaining skin cells while others cushion your joints. The amount of collagen in the body, however, decreases as we age, leading to a loss of skin elasticity and thickness, along with stiff joints.
If you feel in need of a collagen boost, it’s important to know what the different kinds are. In this guide, we look at the different kinds, explore what they do and where you can find the best one for you.
What are the different types of collagen?
While the total number of collagen types is pushing 20, there are three main forms that together make up around 80% of our collagen content. These are Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3. These multiple collagens tend to work in conjunction with one other and each have specific roles in keeping us in fine fettle.
What is collagen type 1, 2 and 3?
Type 1 collagen
This is the most common form of collagen found in humans and is made of densely packed fibres. Gram-for-gram, these fibres have a stronger tensile strength than steel and the resulting collagen is quite rigid. Collagen in this form is found mainly in the skin, bones, tendons, cartilage, connective tissues and teeth.
Type 2 collagen
Collagen Type 2 is more pliable than Type 1 as it is made of more loosely packed fibrils. Found mostly in the body’s elastic cartilage, it consists of identical chains of amino acids that form a strong fibre network.
Type 3 collagen
After Type 1, this is the second most abundant form of collagen and is generally found in reticular fibres such as the bone marrow. It is structurally different to the other two main players as it is made of only one kind of amino acid chain.
Various other types of collagen in our bodies tend to work as intracellular proteins. They are every bit as important as the three listed collagens, but as they are found in much smaller amounts you are much less likely to be deficient in them.
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What do the different types of collagen do?
Type 1 collagen – skin, hair and nails
This is the main collagen involved in maintaining smooth, plump skin and fighting off signs of ageing such as thinning hair or brittle nails. Because of its rigid structure, Type 1 collagen creates volume in our various tissues, which is especially noticeable in our skin.
From the age of 25, our collagen production decreases by 1.5% each year and we notice changes in the fullness of our faces and tightness of our skin. Most collagen supplements, particularly those related to skincare will contain Type 1 collagen.
Increase your collagen Type 1 if you want fresher, tighter skin, thicker hair and harder nails.
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Type 2 collagen – joints
This flexible collagen is essential for maintaining our skeletal system and gives our cartilage its strength and elasticity. Cartilage is the connective tissue that covers our bone joints and acts as a shock absorber during impact activities such as running. Without enough collagen Type 2, our cartilage is compromised, leading to less flexibility and increased wear on our joints.
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Type 3 collagen – blood and muscle
Collagen Type 3 supports the structure of your body’s muscles, blood vessels and organs such as the kidneys, liver and uterus. It has a key role in fighting inflammatory conditions and swollen joints and also works in conjunction with Type 1 to maintain gut health.
Where can I find the type of collagen I want?
Once you’ve identified your collagen needs and decided on the best one for meeting them, it’s time to pick your collagen source.
Commercial collagen comes in the form of collagen peptides, which are simplified components of the protein’s long amino acid chains. This is a form of hydrolysed collagen, meaning it has been broken down into peptides through enzymic hydrolysis. Because peptides are smaller structures than collagen in its natural state, they are more readily absorbed into the bloodstream where they can get on with performing their essential functions.
There is a multitude of products on the market and even foods you can eat to increase certain collagen types. With such an array to choose from, we’ve sped up your selection process by outlining the main contenders for getting your collagen fix.
Where to find collagen Type 1 – fish
The best source of this skin-plumping collagen is in fact marine collagen, which is sourced from the skin, bones and scales of fish. Fish flesh is not particularly high in collagen, which is why it is more effective to take a marine collagen supplement than to simply up your seafood intake. Studies show that marine collagen is absorbed 1.5 times faster than other forms. Another excellent source of Type 1 collagen is bovine collagen taken from cattle specifically bred for the purpose.
Where to find collagen Type 2 – poultry
This cartilage supporting collagen is most abundant in chicken collagen as it is sourced from the connective tissue, bones and muscles of the poultry. It is also found in high concentrations in bovine collagen.
Where to find collagen Type 3 – bovine
To improve your gut health, bovine collagen is the best route to increasing your Type 3 collagen. For easy addition into your daily routine, bovine collagen is often taken in the form of bone broth or coffee creamer.
Every body is different, so make sure you do your research and find the type of collagen that best suits your needs and makes you feel your best.