Smooth, strong, supple skin.
Anti-aging, gut-healing, joint-soothing.
If you’re like us, you’ve probably been inundated for years by influencers and nutrition gurus talking about collagen and how it’s a miracle supplement for your skin, your joints, your heart health, your gut health, your immune system…the list goes on.
You know you can get it in a cream, in a powder, in bone broth, in a gummy, but is collagen worth taking? What even is it? Do you need it?
Let’s get under the skin.
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What is collagen?
Collagen is a naturally produced protein, and it’s actually the main material in all the connective tissue in your body, your bones, and your skin.
In fact, collagen accounts for between 25 and 30 percent of ALL the protein inside us!
It’s made out of a number of different amino acids, primarily a couple of classics, glycine and proline, and a couple rarer aminos like hydroxylysine and hydroxyproline.
These aminos link together to give collagen a spiraling, kind of beautiful, triple helix shape called (surprise) the “collagen helix.”
Depending on the ways in which these aminos link up, the specific shape of the molecule can change, resulting in different “types” of collagen.
There are at least 16 different types of collagen! Maybe 26+! And because they all have different molecular structures & shapes, they intertwine with each other to create a ton of different tissues and building-blocks for your body, from soft and flexible, to rigid and hard.
that’s so many types!
Not to fear. There’s only a few types of collagen that do the heavy lifting, and these types are generally what people are talking about when it comes to collagen supplements.
- Collagen I is the major player, making up about 90% of the collagen in your body! It provides structure to your skin, bones, tendons, connective tissues, and even your teeth.
- Collagen II is a primary component of elastic cartilage, which cushions and provides support for your joints.
- Collagen III is involved with creating and supporting the structure of your muscles, organs, and arteries, and is often found intermingled with collagen I.
You might occasionally see a few other types out there in the supplement-verse, like collagen IV, V, VI, and X. But we’re just going to focus on the big types for now!
What does collagen do?
Well, as you might expect from such a ubiquitous and varied protein, it does a lot!
It binds our skin and bones and muscles together, it supports our joints, it builds and supports our cardiovascular system. There are other types of collagen that play roles in cellular health and functioning, etc.
Basically, it’s kind of a master molecule for a ton of structures and processes in your body.
Let’s break it down by collagen type a little more:
Collagen I forms long protein fibers, which weave together the scaffolding of our skin, our bones, and our connective tissues. Like we mentioned above, it’s by far the most prevalent type of collagen in our bodies, which makes sense, considering how big of a structural role it plays in us.
Supplementing collagen I is usually for the sake of your skin. In skin, collagen I is mostly concentrated in a layer called the dermis, where it provides the essential foundation for supple but strong skin. If you have less collagen I in your dermis, it results in thinner, fragile, wrinkled skin. No thanks.
Collagen II forms more flexible fibers, and it’s the main ingredient in cartilage and other connective tissues that surround & support your joints.
Collagen II intertwines with elastin and proteoglycan to absorb stress and shearing forces on our joints and bones, which means it’s critical to overall healthy joints. When it starts to break down, it can lead to joint pain and osteoarthritis.
Supplements with collagen II are therefore (surprise again) generally targeted at supporting and strengthening our cartilage and joints!
Interesting note: some suggest that if you’re taking both collagen I and II, you should take them at separate times throughout the day to maximize your body’s absorption of each type.
Collagen III is the second most prevalent type of collagen in your body, and is a crucial synergist with collagen I in a lot of places. In fact, the ratio between type I and III can be a major factor in skin aging.1
You’ll see collagen III often paired with collagen I in supplements for exactly this reason.
Where does collagen come from?
So collagen is only produced naturally by vertibrates, and collagen supplements are produced from a few different animal sources.
Types I and III usually come from cows, and sometimes fish or eggs. Type II usually comes from chickens.
Typically, collagen supplements contain “collagen peptides” or “hydrolyzed collagen.” They’re different names for the same thing, collagen molecules that have been chopped up into little pieces.
Your body takes these little pieces and weaves them back into new, longer collagen molecules.
Are there vegan collagen gummies?
Short answer: sort of? Longer answer: kinda, but not in quite the same way that there are animal-derived collagen gummies.
We’ve got a little deep-dive into vegan collagen gummies if you wanna know more!
The Benefits of Collagen Gummies
Do collagen gummies actually work?
Ok! Finally asking the important questions: will taking a collagen gummy actually do anything for me?
We can personally answer yes, absolutely, we’ve seen remarkable improvements from taking collagen gummies.
But you don’t have to take our word for it! Let’s dive a little deeper.
Collagen gummies for skin
You may have noticed a theme in our discussion of collagen thus far: skin!
The powers of collagen supplementation for anti-aging effects on skin have been the most studied, and those studies have produced very promising results.
There’s two factors primarily at play with aging skin. The first is genetics, which essentially determines at what point in your life your collagen production starts to lag (for most people this is around 25).
The second is environmental stress, primarily ultraviolet radiation from the sun, aka “photoaging,” which breaks down the collagen you do have faster.
Both of these factors ultimately lead to dry, wrinkled, thin skin. Losing your skin elasticity can also exacerbate the appearance of cellulite.
Fortunately, it seems like collagen can help.
These results suggest that [collagen] can be used as a health functional food ingredient to improve human skin hydration, elasticity, and wrinkling.2
There have been a number of studies that have shown that collagen is effective, especially for improving skin appearance, hydration, and elasticity.3, 4
Collagen gummies for nails (+ hair?)
Both your hair and nails are primarily made out of keratin and, you guessed it, collagen.
Keratin is another type of protein made by our bodies, and it shares some similar characteristics with collagen: they both form triple-helix shapes, and they have a lot of aminos in common, notably proline and arginine.
So it stands to reason that taking some collagen gummies can help you grow stronger, healthier hair and nails, right? Sure seems like it!
One study on nails, in which participants took collagen daily for 24 weeks, resulted in a “12% nail growth rate and a decrease of 42% in the frequency of broken nails.”5
It’s only one study, of course, but anecdotally, we have absolutely seen results taking collagen for our nails here at the Gummy Galaxy! It’s actually one of the main reasons we take it regularly.
† crystal magic has not been evaluated by the FDA
Unfortunately, no one’s run a study on the effect of collagen on hair, so we can’t make a concrete claim here, yet. We wish we could say it works for us, but we’re so enamored with Hair Sweet Hair that we’re not gonna run any experiments on ourselves. Sorry.
But stay tuned for future updates here, once the scientists finally get on it!
Collagen Gummies for Joints
Remember good ol’ collagen II and its role in cartilage and joint health? There’s also a number of studies that have explored collagen supplements for treating osteoarthritis 6 and joint pain in athletes7 with promising results.8
Are collagen gummies as effective as powder?
Yes! It doesn’t matter which form you’re taking your collagen in, all other things being equal.
The gummies we most recommend, Olly’s Collagen Gummy Rings, contain 2500mg, which is the same or more than the daily dose in the studies we’ve referenced, and comparable to powder or pills.
But we’ll go ahead and say gummies are superior to powder or pills for a number of reasons. Keep reading.
Are collagen gummies as effective as putting snails on your face?
Turns out, putting snails on your face is an actual therapy that people pay $250+ per session for. The claim is that snail mucus contains hyaluronic acid and other proteins that improve your skin much in the way collagen does. There’s no studies to back the claims.
So we’ll stick with delicious lil’ gummies, thanks.
That’s right, they’re delicious
Why would you want to be scooping spoonfuls of peptides into your coffee, when you could be eating sweet sweet collagen candy?
What’s that? Your chicken sternal cartilage extract powder flavored coffee doesn’t have any Siberian pineapple?
Peach Bellini? Plump Berry? Tropical Fruit?
Most importantly, gummies are always the perfect vessel for combining supplements with complementary ingredients.
Collagen gummies are the perfect way to make sure you’re getting your type I, II, III, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, sea buckthorn and/or your turmeric all in one sparkling bite.
The Best Collagen Gummies
Here’s our running list of the most effective and delicious collagen gummies that we’ve tried and can personally recommend. Be sure to check back, because we’re updating this list all the time!
(Did we mention our newsletter? You can sign up down there 👇)
Olly Collagen Gummy Rings
These gummy rings are about as close to candy as you can get. We’ve always been loyal to the Neocell collagen line (see #2) but their gummies are hard to find!
The Olly Gummy Rings have rightfully earned their place here as a true gummy that provides all the collagen you need in a delicious peach portal to beautiful skin.
And you can find them anywhere! We’re converts.
NeoCell Joint Bursts
If you’re looking for collagen II, here it is. Ok, ok, they’re not a true gummy, they’re a “chew,” but we’ll make an allowance here because these are our tried and true favorites. With hyaluronic acid + turmeric, these are complete joint support perfection.
Neocell does make a collagen gummy, the Gummy Glow, but we have yet to try these because they’ve proven hard to track down, at least for us. Maybe you’ll have more luck? Let us know if you do!
Also try their biotin Beauty Bursts for nails and hair, another of our perennial faves!
Olly Glowing Skin
Another Olly! These ones are a little low on the collagen, but we highly recommend them because they’ve got hyaluronic acid, which we haven’t discussed in this article but which is part of the holy trinity of skin supplements.
They’ve also got sea buckthorn, an amazing superfood with a number of skin supporting properties. You can check out our full review of these for more info!
So maybe don’t rely on these as your primary collagen gummy, but they’re def the perfect wingman.
Also, if you’re wondering what’s on my face in the photo at the top, they’re from skyn ICELAND‘s “Face Lift in a Bag” set. We love them. You can get ’em here.
We hope this was helpful in understanding the vastness of the collagen cosmos!
More blogs soon! In the meantime, sign up for our newsletter and follow us across the Gummy Galaxy!