Different Types Of Collagen: An A-Z Guide
November 27, 2020
Cast your mind back to school and somewhere in between carving your crush’s initials on your desk and learning to use a Bunsen burner, you probably recall being taught that the human body is mainly made up of water. In fact, whether you were a student two years ago or twenty, it’s biology lesson 101, isn’t it?
However, water aside, are you aware that collagen is the most plentiful substance in our bodies? Indeed, it accounts for a third of the body’s protein and is often described as the building block for skin, tendons and bones. But there’s not just one single type of collagen at play here. Instead, collagen is a family of related molecules with different structures and functions. While the jury is still out as to precisely how many types of collagen exist (some scientists say 16 while others argue its 28) there are 5 in particular that have been identified as crucial to human health.
What are those 5 types of collagen, we hear you ask? Well, you’re in the right place to find out! Welcome to AC Academy, where you can expect to learn the A-Z of different types of collagen, including their location in the body and their key benefits. Let’s get stuck in, and remember, no talking at the back!
The 5 Common ‘Types’ of Collagen
Type 1 Collagen
The star ingredient in our very own Absolute Collagen, Type 1 collagen is the most abundant type in the body (it accounts for 90% of our collagen) and is most prevalent in the connective tissues. It is thought to help with wound healing and improving skin quality, especially suppleness, hydration, and general appearance of youthfulness, which is why it is commonly used in skin and beauty applications or supplements.
That said, Type 1 collagen is not just sought after for its beauty prowess. It’s also a major component of the tendons, ligaments and joints, as well as forming the building blocks of organs and bones - which makes Type 1 collagen a vital part of any wellness, diet or fitness routine.
In fact, think of Type 1 collagen a bit like the popular guy at school. It’s a great all rounder, good at most things and liked by everyone. It’s also incredibly resilient. Its strength means it can be stretched without being broken - something that is entirely unique to Type 1 collagen. Indeed, no other type of collagen can boast being stronger than steel, gram for gram.
So where does it come from? Well, apart from being naturally present in the human body, Type 1 is sourced from marine (fish) collagen but is also present in porcine (pig) and bovine (cow) collagen – more on that later!
Ready for the not-so-good news? Our levels of Type 1 collagen start to deplete significantly from around the age of 25. This results in sagging skin, fine lines, brittle nails and thinning hair.
This is why it’s important to start looking towards supplements to support this in your early 20s. We use exclusively Type 1 marine collagen in our product because it is absorbed up to 1.5 times more efficiently than other types. It also breaks down faster in the body. We want only the very best for our Absoluters!
Type 2 and 3 Collagen
Type 2 collagen is far less common in the human body. It’s primarily found in the joints, and is the main type of collagen in our cartilage. It may also help support digestive function.
Type 3 collagen, meanwhile, is generally found in our skin, organs and blood vessels. It is particularly abundant in our intestines and muscles, and is known as fibrillar collagen.
It is usually accompanied by Type 1 collagen in the body – so wherever you find Type 1, you’ll usually find Type 3. Some evidence suggests Type 3 collagen can enhance exercise performance. Any supplements that contain Type 3 collagen are typically used for building muscle or working towards weight loss, and often use collagen sourced from cows and eggs.
Type 5 and 6 Collagen
Type 5 and 6 collagen are much less abundant in the human body, and are unlikely to be found in supplements.
Type 5 collagen is a fibre-like collagen, found in some layers of the skin and hair. It also occurs in the placenta of an expectant mother. It supports neonatal development and may potentially support eye health and vision. It can be sourced in protein-rich foods like egg whites. Interestingly, a medical study has suggested that autoimmunity to Type 5 may be a major factor in whether or not lung transplants succeed!
Type 6 collagen, meanwhile, is thought to promote bone health and new bone growth and is described as a ‘network-forming’ collagen. This type of collagen is by no means in the same league as Type 1 though, as it’s more difficult to consume, and unlikely to be used in supplements. It is generally found in eggs, eggshells and chicken.
Other Types of Collagen
You may have noticed already that there are multiple animal collagen supplements available on the market. These aren’t a ‘type’ of collagen as such but, rather, the ‘source’ of where collagen originates from. However - and excuse the pun - we understand that this is often a source of confusion for our customers, so we’re going to clear up the confusion below.
Marine collagen comes from fish. As we mentioned previously, at Absolute Collagen we use Type 1 marine collagen (specifically, Type 1 collagen taken from tilapia and pangasius fish). Marine collagen has superior bioavailability over bovine or porcine collagen, which is why we’ve chosen to use it in our product. But there’s another reason we exclusively use Type 1 marine collagen, which is that it is protected from diseases and viruses that can affect other animal collagen, like bird viruses, or Foot and Mouth Disease.
Bovine collagen originates from cows. It typically contains Type 3 and some Type 1 collagen. It generally offers the same benefits as marine collagen except it is not considered as effective at raising overall body collagen levels for skin, hair and nails, nor is it thought to be as easily absorbed.
Porcine collagen is sourced from pigs. Like bovine collagen, porcine contains Type 3 and some Type 1 collagen. Again, it is generally not considered as effective as marine collagen peptides in terms of absorption and raising overall body collagen levels for skin, hair and nails.
This isn’t a source of collagen, but the result of a chemical process. Hydrolysed collagen has been through the process of hydrolysis, which involves altering the chemical structure of collagen to break the naturally quite large collagen molecules into peptides (smaller parts) in a laboratory setting. All forms of animal collagen can be hydrolysed. Find out more in our recent blog post which answers the often-asked question “what is hydrolysed collagen?”
What is the Best Type of Collagen to Take?
So now we’re all schooled on the different types of collagen, let’s talk about collagen supplements: which collagen is the best to take in supplement form? Well, while there are various supplements out there, there really is only one type of collagen that has been scientifically proven to work… and that’s Type 1!
Not only does Type 1 collagen have better absorption rates, (remember, it’s 1.5 times more efficient than any other type), but it breaks down faster in the body. Plus, as mentioned, Absolute Collagen uses only hydrolysed marine Type 1 collagen. This means it’s protected from diseases that commonly affect non-fish animal products, and being hydrolysed means our collagen has a low molecular weight. This means the body can better absorb it than other sources, letting each dose work its magic as efficiently as possible. But don’t just take our word for it - check out the reviews from our existing Absoluters to see the incredible difference it makes!
Still have questions about the best type of collagen to take? Send them our way! We love to hear from you and will happily answer your queries. Get in touch today!