Your complete Collagen Q&A Guide, referencing Scientific Studies
What is Collagen?
Collagen is essentially a structure of amino acids that makes up a type of protein. It’s made up of primarily proline, hydroxyproline, and glycine. These are amino acids that makeup 30% of all of the protein in your body.
Collagen makes up for around 75% of your skin, 95% of the organic compounds of your bones, and 90% of your gut lining, digestive tract, ligaments, tendons, connective tissue, fascia and spinal discs are made up of primarily collagen protein.
What are the best sources of collagen in our natural diet?
Bone broth, skins of fish, and skins of chickens
Is there enough collagen in bone broth?
Although bone broth does contain collagen, it’s hard to say how much of it as the collagen content depends on what bones you use to make the broth and how long you cook them. To find out exactly, you would have to test every batch you make. Furthermore, the collagen (gelatine) in bone broth has about 60% bioavailability, while collagen peptides (like we use in our bars) have over 90% bioavailability. For the best results, we recommend collagen peptides, as you know how much you're getting. Use your bone broth as a little extra boost.
Does it matter if I take bovine or marine collagen?
Marine collagen has a little bit less proline and hydroxyproline and slightly lower bioactivity when compared to bovine collagen so you will need a little bit more to achieve the same results.
Does it matter if bovine collagen is from a grass-fed animal?
While grass-fed meat is healthier for humans as it contains a better ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, whether or not the collagen is grass-fed shouldn’t matter, from a nutritional perspective. This is because there are no fatty acids in collagen peptides supplements, it doesn’t matter whether is grass- or grain-fed.
We prefer to source our collagen from grass-fed sources because grass-fed animals are, generally, much kinder to the planet. We are working on making this regeneratively farmed Aussie collagen.
When should I take collagen?
For tendons and ligaments, the research found the best results 30-60min prior to strength/rehabilitation training. For skin health, the best is to have it in the evening if you are a coffee drinker. Caffeine inhibits collagen synthesis in the human skin fibroblasts.
How much collagen do I need to take every day to get results?
Significant results in skin thickness, hydration and wrinkle reduction were achieved with 2.5g of bovine or 5g of marine collagen per day.
For bone density as well as for ligament and tendon strength and healing, there were significant results with 5-10g of bovine collagen per day.
What causes collagen damage?
Stress, tobacco smoking, high sugar diet and processed foods, alcohol, excessive UV rays.
How long does it take to see a difference when consuming collagen?
Science trials showed skin improvements after just 4 weeks of daily collagen supplementation.
It will take longer to feel noticeable results in ligaments and tendons, depending on many variables such as type and degree of injury, age, gender, genetics and level of activity just to name few. Some research reported results just after 6 weeks. But in many cases, it took 12 or more weeks to see significant changes in tendon strength and healing.
To see improvements in the bone density, you will have to persist with collagen supplementation for at least one year. When it comes to gut health, it depends on the current state of your gut health. Give it at least 12 weeks if you suffer from the so-called leaky gut.
Can I take collagen during pregnancy?
Most definitely. Collagen can be a benefit to your joints, recovery, inflammations, hair and skin…all the areas that suffer a little bit during pregnancy and postpartum. However, you should always double-check with your doctor before starting any supplements.
Can I cook and bake with collagen?
Yes, you can! It’s a great way to increase collagen in your diet without even noticing. Unlike gelatin, collagen hydrolysate dissolves in cold or hot liquids, so you can add it to almost anything! We love adding collagen to our smoothies and smoothie bowls, pancakes, homemade wraps, bread, granola, muffins and other baked goods. We are also obsessed with making collagen chocolate and collagen peanut butter cups.
Be aware that collagen hydrolysate won’t “gel” as gelatin does, so you can’t use in it in recipes that request gelatin-like marshmallows and puddings.
Is there vegan collagen?
There’s no such a thing as vegan collagen. All collagen peptide powders are made from animal connective tissues such as skins, cartilages and fish scales. While you can replace your whey protein powder with vegan alternatives, you can’t replace collagen with vegetable proteins, as they don’t have enough glycine and proline, the collagen’s signature amino acids.
‘Vegan collagen’ supplements on the market contain co-factors of collagen synthesis, not the actual collagen. As we age, the less collagen we make and the more we break down, so taking collagen synthesis co-factors will not be as effective as taking collagen peptides according to the current research.
Is collagen dairy-free?
Yes, collagen is dairy-free as it’s made from connective tissues. Whey and casein proteins are never dairy free as they are made from milk.
Do women need more collagen than men?
Yes, women do need more collagen because they break down more of it during their menstrual cycle. Post-menopausal women need even more collagen to protect their bone density, which normally declines with age due to hormonal changes.
Can collagen supplementation help to prevent cellulite?
Yes, collagen can help to prevent cellulite! Age- and hormone-related declines in collagen production affects the connective tissue under the skin. As the tissue becomes weaker and less elastic, the fat protrudes into the skin layer and makes it look lumpy. Regular collagen supplementation will help to maintain your connective tissue strong, elastic and hydrated thus preventing the development of cellulite.
Can I replace my regular protein powder with collagen or use them interchangeably?
No, you can’t. Collagen does not contain all 9 essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are those our body can’t produce and we must obtain them from our diet by either eating animal protein, a combination of vegetable proteins or by taking a protein supplement. You also can’t do it the other way around and replace collagen supplement with a regular protein powder. In a nutshell, collagen peptides are being used for connective tissues (ligaments, tendons, myofascial, bones, skin, gut lining etc.) and other protein powders (whey, pea, soy etc.) are used to cover our essential amino acid needs and to build lean muscle mass.
How does collagen improve sports performance?
Myofascia, ligaments and tendons are all connective tissues made primarily from collagen. Around 30% of your power is generated in the connective tissues. Stronger ligaments and tendons generate more power, they also sustain more impact and are less prone to injury.
What are collagen peptides?
Collagen peptides are smaller and easily digestible particles of collagen fibres obtained via a process called hydrolysis. Hydrolysis breaks down protein fibrils into smaller and easily digestible amino acid chains called peptides. After ingestion, they are metabolised in the digestive tract, released into the blood stream and synthesised into collagen fibres in various tissues in the body. Studies have shown that age-dependent decline in collagen synthesis and rise in collagen degradation can be reversed by oral administration of these specific bioactive collagen peptides.
Smoking, a diet high in sugar and processed foods, regular alcohol drinking, excessive UV rays and ongoing stress will damage your collagen no matter how much supplement you take. You must address your diet and lifestyle first and only then a regular collagen intake will make a big difference.
Literature review on collagen benefits
Bone mineral density
Collagen supplementation for injury/athletes
Close GL, Sale C, Baar K, Bermon S. Nutrition for the Prevention and Treatment of Injuries in Track and Field Athletes. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 2019;29(2):189-97.
Shaw G, Lee-Barthel A, Ross ML, Wang B, Baar K. Vitamin C–enriched gelatin supplementation before intermittent activity augments collagen synthesis. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2017;105(1):136-43.
Lis DM, Baar K. Effects of Different Vitamin C-Enriched Collagen Derivatives on Collagen Synthesis. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2019;29(5):526-31.
McAlindon TE, Nuite M, Krishnan N, Ruthazer R, Price LL, Burstein D, et al. Change in knee osteoarthritis cartilage detected by delayed gadolinium enhanced magnetic resonance imaging following treatment with collagen hydrolysate: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage. 2011;19(4):399-405.
Clark KL, Sebastianelli W, Flechsenhar KR, Aukermann DF, Meza F, Millard RL, et al. 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Current Medical Research and Opinion. 2008;24(5):1485-96.
Dermatological applications including cellulite
Aging (skin and joints)
Body composition and connective tissue
Veronika Larisova, Co-founder
Nutritionist, Exercise Physiologist, Ultramarathon Runner