The Best Way to Take Collagen: Various Forms & Comparisons

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January 5, 2022

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Quick Summary

Finding the best way to take collagen begins with first understanding the different forms of collagen available. You can consume collagen by either eating it naturally through whole foods (e.g. bone broth, organ meats, etc.) or choosing hydrolyzed peptides in supplement form. Collagen has also been linked to skincare products and injections, but neither helps your body’s collagen production — collagen protein must be ingested. Collagen supplements come in powders, pills/capsules, drinks, bars, shots, and gummies. Each form brings a unique collagen experience and varies in how many grams of collagen protein you’ll get in each serving. You should first aim to eat collagen naturally in food, then supplement. Choose a collagen supplement form based upon access to mixing agents, travel restrictions, satiation, and overall personal preference.

Collagen is really important.

It’s the most abundant protein in our bodies and the main component of our connective tissue, many of our organs (including the heart, lungs, and digestive system), blood vessels, bones, and joints.

Collagen is produced naturally by our body (see What is Collagen?), but around the age of 25-30 (for reasons we don’t quite understand yet), we all start to see a decline in collagen production. This starts that wonderful phase of life we call the “aging process” (getting old y’all!)

What shall we do?

EAT MORE COLLAGEN.

Best Way to Ingest Collagen: it must be EATEN

The best way to take collagen is to eat it and ingest
Nom Nom Nom

Collagen must be ingested for our bodies to absorb and use to repair tendons, ligaments, joints, skin, hair, bones, digestive health (and more!) throughout your body. That is collagen’s superpower: connective tissue building.

No, you can’t rub in collagen via a cream for your body to use [insert eye-roll here] — more on that in the gimmicks section below. Also, injections are purely cosmetic — giving the appearance of plumper and smoother skin.

If you’re ready to give your body collagen that it can actually use, you only have 2 options here.

Best Way to Consume Collagen: you have 2 options!

You have only two options to consume collagen:

  1. Eat lots of foods that contain collagen (e.g. Bone Broth, Organ Meats, etc.)
  2. Supplement with collagen hydrolyzed peptides (e.g. powder, capsules, etc.)

We always recommend getting your nutrition from food first, then supplement. However, your options are limited here. Are you seeing why collagen supplements are all the rage? 🙂

Let’s explore these two ways to take collagen, starting with foods that our ancestors ate regularly and today we rarely eat, unfortunately.

Option #1: Whole Foods

Collagen through Whole Foods

Hate supplements? That’s OK. You can still take collagen without scooping collagen powder or swallowing capsules.

But, this option will require you to drink and eat foods that are abnormal to the Standard American Diet (SAD), or otherwise coined as the “Western Diet”. Let’s face it, drinking bone broth regularly or cooking up a cow’s heart is not necessarily at the top of our list — especially on Taco Tuesday.

If you want to take collagen naturally, start by eating these foods that are high in collagen. If you’re like many of us that come up short with our natural collagen intake via foods, supplementation is the next logical (and easy) step and can drastically improve many everyday functions and help restore overall health. Collagen can be taken at any age over 2, and since they’re so prevalent today, you now see why the collagen market is booming!

Let’s dive into collagen supplements.

Option #2: Collagen Hydrolyzed Peptides Supplements

Let’s frame this entire conversation by defining exactly what a collagen supplement is before we get into the various forms of collagen supplements.

The simple definition: A collagen supplement is a product (in various forms we’ll explore below) manufactured to provide the body with additional collagen protein. Here’s how collagen peptides are made.

Let’s first get into the various forms of collagen supplements that you may have seen out there.

6 Best Forms of Collagen Supplements

Forms of Collagen Supplements
You have 6 forms to choose from.

Just like many other supplements, collagen comes in a variety of vehicles to transport into your body. You can dissolve, eat, and drink your way to more collagen.

Here are the 6 most common forms of collagen supplements on the market today:

  1. Powder
  2. Pills
  3. Liquid Drinks
  4. Shots Drink
  5. Bars
  6. Gummies

note: we’ll continue to add to this list as new products are introduced

Let’s touch on each form, starting with the very popular (and what CB Supplements offers), collagen powder.

1. Collagen Powder

Best Way to Take Collagen - Powder form

Collagen powder is the king of collagen supplements.

Most collagen supplement brands will offer a powder because of its versatility with liquids and foods. You can also cook with it, check out our 50+ collagen recipes. If collagen powder went to high school, it’d be voted “Life of the Party” or “Most Likely to be Famous”.

Collagen per serving: 1 scoop collagen powder = 7 grams of collagen protein

Choose collagen powder if you:

2. Collagen Pills

Best Way to Take Collagen - Capsule form
Collagen pills are simply collagen powder in a capsule!

Collagen pills are used as an overarching term and include both capsules and tablets. This tiny form of collagen supplement will typically come via a semi-transparent soft-gel capsule because capsules act quicker than tablets with higher bioavailability.

Over 50% of Americans take at least 2 pills a day (i.e. over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and dietary supplements).

If you’re part of that half, collagen pills/capsules might be the best method to get your daily collagen protein since you’re already in the habit.

Yes, pills are much easier to travel with if you’re on the go and they’re quick to take. But, outside of that — we don’t see much appeal over other collagen supplement forms. The biggest difference is the number of pills you’d have to swallow daily to get 15-25 grams of collagen a day. Bounce down to our Collagen Powder vs. Collagen Pills section where we compare these two popular forms of collagen supplements.

Collagen per serving: 6 collagen pills = 3g of collagen protein

Choose collagen pills/capsules if you:

3. Collagen Liquid Drinks

Collagen Water Dumping on Head
Are collagen drinks cool? Yes. Would you pour it on your face? Probably not.

Get my H2O and my collagen intake?

You can see why collagen-infused beverages are hitting the market. Typically they’re served chilled, great for on-the-go, and flavored with a combo of juice, fruit concentrate, tea extracts, and monk fruit extract.

Since collagen drinks can come in all shapes and sizes, you’ll see a wide range of collagen per serving (we’ve found as low as 3g!) Many collagen drinks come in 12oz bottles or cans and refrigerated, such as collagen-infused lattes, fruit juices, and sparkling waters.

Bounce down to our Liquid Collagen vs. Powder Collagen for a deeper comparison.

Collagen per serving: 12 oz liquid collagen drink = 3g to 10g of collagen protein

4. Collagen Shots Drink

Meme Zoolander Collagen for Ants

Let’s stick with liquids here and focus on shots.

We’re not talking about needles, but rather those cute 2 oz containers of collagen that you can slam like those, ahem, college days. J/K. Maybe.

Collagen Shots are an interesting take on the collagen supplement world — it’s like the 5-Hour Energy Drink, but without all the bad side effects. Oh, and did we mention collagen is actually good for you?

Just like the aforementioned energy drink, a collagen shot drink typically comes with a few extra ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, biotin, juices, oils, and sometimes caffeine for an extra little boost. They’re yet another great portable option that can be taken any time of the day since they fit in your pocket.

Collagen per serving: 2 oz collagen shot drink = 7g of collagen protein

5. Collagen Bars

Best Way to Take Collagen - Collagen Bars
Collagen bars are becoming increasingly popular because we’re all familiar with the protein bar.

Nearly everyone has eaten a protein bar at one point in their lives. You know how this works and the benefits of protein bars are convenience and feeling full.

The difference with collagen bars is that their protein source is provided by collagen protein rather than dairy proteins (whey, casein), plant-based proteins (soy, pea, brown rice), egg whites, or nuts and seeds.

With that said, there are plenty of awful tasting collagen protein bars available today. I’ve tried many and gagged on a few dry, chalky ones. CB Supplements currently focuses on multi collagen powders, but I’d recommend Bulletproof’s Vanilla Shortbread — it’s incredibly delicious.

Collagen per serving: 1 collagen bar = 12g of collagen protein

Choose collagen bars if you:

  • need quick satiation. Great for a hearty snack!
  • looking for a few other ingredients (e.g. MCT Oil). I prefer this method over adding MCT oil to my coffee or occasional smoothie.
  • want a little sweetness fix. Many collagen bars will add 5g or less of sugar to make them tastier.

6. Collagen Gummies

Best Way to Take Collagen - Collagen Gummies

I mean, come on. Gummies? Who doesn’t love a gummy?

They look like candy. They don’t quite taste like candy. But, my heart flutters a little every time I hold one. Maybe it’s because I ate too many sour patch kids back in the day? Maybe.

Collagen gummies are beloved by kids (so we’ve heard), and remember, collagen has awesome benefits for kids too.

Other supplements (e.g. vitamins) rule the gummy market. But, from our research, a quality collagen gummy is a little harder to find and purchase. Many top collagen brands don’t even offer gummies (yet). Until they’re more available, make your own! Try this collagen gummy recipe from Primal Kitchen.

Collagen per serving: 4 collagen gummies = 3g of collagen protein

Choose collagen gummies if you:

  • have kids. Show me a child that doesn’t light up when they see a gummy.
  • like candy. But, don’t want to eat candy. Though significantly less sweet, collagen gummies could satisfy that fix.
  • are OK with less collagen per serving. It takes 10 gummies to equal 1 scoop of collagen powder. Get your floss ready!

Collagen Powder vs Collagen Pills

Collagen Powder vs Collagen Pills Comparison

Of the 6 forms listed above, powders and pills get most of the attention. Why? Well, most collagen brands will offer either powder or pills since they’re the simplest way to take collagen supplements. Drinks, bars, shots, and gummies add extra ingredients and calories.

Let’s compare the key similarities and differences between collagen powder and collagen pills.

Key Similarities of Collagen Powder & Pills

  1. Effectiveness. Both capsules and powders will be effective. One isn’t superior over the other. Pills are simply collagen powder wrapped in gelatin.
  2. Absorption. Speaking of that gelatin, which is made from collagen, capsules have nominal absorption impact once ingested. “Capsules break down in a few minutes, there’s not much of a difference”, says Dr. Cate, M.D.
  3. Taste. Both pills and powders (if using an unflavored collagen powder) will be flavorless.

Key Differences of Collagen Powder & Pills

  1. Collagen protein per serving. This is the biggest difference between powder and pills. 7g of collagen protein can be achieved through 1 scoop of collagen powder or 12 collagen pills. If you’re shooting for 20-30g of collagen a day, that’s A LOT of pills.
  2. Price per serving. The difference in serving size can hurt your wallet too. Let’s say you want 20g of collagen/daily and have a budget of $40. A bottle of 360 capsules will last you ~10 days. A container of collagen powder will last you ~30 days. That’s 3x as long!
  3. Consumption experience. 40% of adults in the US struggle to swallow pills. There’s a reason for that: swallowing pills suck! On the other hand, there are plenty of ways to ingest collagen powder easily.
Powder Pills
Serving Size 1 scoop 6 pills
Collagen Protein per serving 7g 3g
Absorption Same
Consumption Add to liquids or food, then drink/eat Swallow pills with liquid
Preparation Stirring, Shaking, Blending, Cooking None needed
Portability Requires placing powder in plastic bag or container or buying separate single serve travel packs Small, easily portable in a variety of containers

Liquid Collagen vs Powder Collagen

Liquid Collagen vs Powder Collagen
Is there a difference between liquid and powder collagen?

Sorry collagen-infused drinks in fancy cans and bottles, but you’re not special.

You’re awesome, cause collagen is awesome, but the collagen peptides found in collagen drinks (explored above) are handled by the body the same way as powders, pills, bars, drinks, and gummies.

There’s no reason to worry about collagen, in liquid or powder or pill form, being digested. Collagen is one of the most easily absorbed things you can consume.Dr. Cate, M.D.

Is liquid collagen more effective than other forms? (pills, powders, etc.)

Let’s debunk this idea that liquid collagen is more bioavailable and possesses superior absorption.

There’s no science saying liquid collagen bottled up in water, juice, latte, or whatever absorbs better and/or more effective than simply adding collagen powder to a drink/food, swallowing collagen pills, throwing down a collagen bar, or snacking on some collagen gummies. These claims are just bogus. Why would it be better?

“The idea that your body has to “work harder” to digest nutrients from one food versus another is a strange claim to make, physiologically”, says Dr. Cate. “The digestive system has a job to do, and it does that job.”

We challenge you to fact-check when a collagen brand, that specifically offers liquid collagen supplements, floats these claims.

How liquid collagen actually stacks up

Man looking at ingredients of liquid collagen
What are you paying for with that fancy liquid collagen drink?

Now that you know liquid collagen isn’t the bee’s knees in the collagen supplement world, here’s what else you should know:

  1. Bone broth: the OG of liquid collagen. There isn’t better liquid collagen than bone broth.
  2. Powdered collagen turns into liquid collagen. Guess what happens when you put a scoop of collagen powder in your hot drink? It turns into liquid collagen! I know, I know — super-scientific stuff. 🙂
  3. Pre-made collagen drinks typically have less collagen than powders. These products add all kinds of things (e.g. vitamins/minerals, herbs, sugar, fruit concentrates, etc.). Check the labels, some will only give you ~3g of collagen peptides per 12 oz — half the collagen protein of a scoop of powder.
  4. You’re paying for convenience + other stuff. Ready-made collagen liquids are super convenient to grab and sip, but you’re paying for much more than just collagen. Buy these drinks because you want lots of things + collagen. Don’t buy these drinks if you want to maximize your collagen consumption.

Collagen Gimmicks

Collagen Creams are Gimmicks
Don’t be fooled by cosmetics. It’ll cost you.

If you’re looking for the best way to take collagen, stay away from the gimmicky marketing and cosmetic products. Your wallet will thank you.

If you want to replenish your body’s collagen in the most effective way possible, avoid:

  1. Collagen Powder w/ Vitamin C added. The body needs Vitamin C (and many other enzymes) to manufacture collagen. However, only 1 in 20 of us is Vitamin C deficient. A collagen powder with Vitamin C doesn’t improve collagen powder absorption. It instead could backfire and lead to harmful oxidation.
  2. Topical Collagen Creams. Since collagen needs to be taken orally and ingested (as we explored above), collagen creams do not work. They are hype. “Your skin’s primary job is to keep stuff out — you can’t rub collagen on your skin to increase your collagen”, explains Dr. Matthew Knight, M.D.
  3. Collagen injections. These are gimmicky if you believe that injected collagen does more than temporarily improve your skin or plump your lips. Injections don’t stimulate the production of collagen, therefore we wouldn’t consider them as a way to take collagen to get all of collagen’s life-giving benefits.

What is the Best Way to take Collagen?

As a quick review, you have two ways to take collagen:

  1. Whole Foods
  2. Collagen Supplements (up to 6 forms to choose from)

Our recommendation here hasn’t waivered — we always recommend getting your nutrition from food FIRST. Then supplement. Therefore, our answer to the best way to take collagen is through whole foods.

I would much rather someone drink bone broth every day than take our supplement.Charlie, Founder

Drink 8-12 oz of bone broth a day, eat tripe, devour chicken with the skin, etc. — this is by far the best way to take collagen. Real food, without going through any processing, will always outweigh any supplement.

What form of collagen supplement is best for you?

Collagen Powder
We may be partial to powders. Can you blame us?

If you choose to supplement, there’s technically no best way to take a collagen supplement. All forms listed above are terrific for supplementing your collagen.

This is about personal preference, people. The real question is, what collagen form is best for you?

If you’re aiming for 20-30 grams of collagen protein daily, keep things interesting by using a few different forms during the day. Obviously, we love collagen powder, here’s how to use collagen powder (16+ ideas!)

As more collagen supplements hit the market, you’ll have more options. But, maybe that’s not a good thing? We hope this has been helpful and you’re motivated to experiment with all the various forms of collagen.

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This Collagen College™ article created by:

Author

Eric Sharp CMO

Eric Sharp

Eric discovered collagen back in 2019 (thanks to Charlie) and been a believer since. He brings 20+ years of digital marketing experience to the CB Supplements team. As CMO, he's directly responsible for crafting the CB Supplements positioning, content, branding, and overall marketing direction.

Contributors

dr-cate-shanahan-avatar-square-color

Dr. Cate

Dr. Cate Shanahan is our Medical & Scientific Advisor. She is a Board-certified Family Physician, biochemist trained at Cornell University, and New York Times Bestseller.

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