What Is Collagen and Should You Be Taking It? [Guide for 2023]

Beauty + Style, Dietary Trends, Food, Healthy Living, Lifestyle, Menopause, Nutrition, Skin Care, Supplements, Women's Health

By: // January 18, 2023

Collagen is a protein. In fact, collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, making up 30% of the body’s proteins. Its responsibility is to hold everything together, literally and is found in the bones, muscles, tendons, skin, hair, and nails. It provides structural support and elasticity and is vital for cell renewal, cartilage, and bones.

So, why do we care about it so much? In layman’s terms? It’ll keep you looking young on the outside and feeling young on the inside. We like the sound of that! Collagen is the key to smooth, young-looking skin and healthy joints.

How Many Types of Collagen Are There?

You may not have known this, but there are three types of collagen: Types 1, 2, and 3. Many people ask us, “Which types do you take together? Can you take all three at the same time? What does each type do?” Great questions!

Types 1, 2 & 3 

According to Vital Proteins, “all types of collagen will benefit your hair, skin, nails, bones, and joints, primarily because all collagen types are made up of beneficial amino acids.” However, you’ll typically see types 1 + 3 packaged together in one bottle, focusing on your skin, bones, hair, and nails. Types 1 and 3 make up 90% of the collagen in your body, can minimize wrinkles, improve skin elasticity, support bones, correct damaged nail beds, thicken fine hair and improve your body’s circulation. Typically, when you see supplements, what you’ll see is types 1+3.

Type 2 collagen, on the other hand, supports your joint/cartilage health and function. Type 2 benefits the fluids and functions in your cartilage and joints. It helps reduce popping knees and helps support your jaw, back, and joints. A lot of people don’t realize that joint pain, popping knees, and weakened cartilage is a result of lacking type 2 collagen, and assume it is an unavoidable part of the aging process. Well, it isn’t, and you can fight back with a Type 2 collagen supplement!

What Causes Collagen Production To Slow Down?

Even though it is naturally occurring in the human body, it’s essential to supplement it as we age because collagen production slows down significantly as we get older. Actually, after age 30, collagen production begins to decline significantly. By age 45, collagen production decreases 25%, and by age 60 it decreases by more than 50%.  As our body’s collagen production slows down, we begin to notice saggy, aging skin, fine lines, wrinkles, and weakened joint cartilage.

Aging is the #1 cause of diminished collagen production. Even though you can’t stop the aging process altogether, there ARE things that damage your level of collagen production that you’re totally able to control! Avoiding the following things will keep your collagen production levels higher:

Can I Boost My Collagen Production?

Yes, there IS a bright side! You can stimulate your body’s natural collagen production to help keep these aging side effects at bay. There are nutritional, procedural, and supplemental methods to promote collagen production.

Nutritional Ways to Boost Collagen Production

As we always say at Get Healthy U: Nutrition before supplements! There are certain nutrients (that you may not know much about yet) found in common, delicious foods that promote collagen production.

  • Proline (an amino acid found in meat, cheese, soy, cabbage, and eggs)
  • Copper (found in fish, red meat, and nuts)
  • Vitamin A (found in meat and beta-carotenes like sweet potatoes)
  • Vitamin C (found in oranges, leafy greens, red and green veggies)
  • Anthocyanidins (found in berries, and cherries)

Procedural Ways To Boost Collagen Production

There are also external things you can do to control your collagen production! There are both procedures and products (typically prescribed by a dermatologist) that can help, too.

  • Laser Therapy- Laser treatments are a great, non-surgical way to stimulate collagen production and use laser and light energy to reduce the appearance of fine lines and skin elasticity.
  • Retinoic Acid (Vitamin A)- This member of the retinoid family helps kick cells into gear and promotes cell production in the skin, and stimulates both collagen and elastin production.
  • Skin Fillers- Collagen injections are a common cosmetic procedure that helps remove fine lines and wrinkles from the face and can help with scarring from acne.
Photo of a woman getting laser therapy to promote collagen production.


  • Drinks: For a long time, collagen drinks have existed and promised to make your skin, hair and nails look better than ever, but experts have doubted this claim because they thought it was unlikely that the body would actually absorb the collagen. Recently, however, the results have been considerably more promising. Many studies have cited women who consumed collagen drinks showed significant improvement in the thickness and elasticity of their skin!
  • Collagen Supplements: These supplements have been around forever. Now you don’t just see them in the aisles of specialty vitamin stores but in your local drugstores! But do they work? There was a large study in early 2014 conducted by the University of Kiel’s Department of Dermatology that showed 65% of women had significantly elevated levels of collagen and reduction in wrinkles after 8 weeks of taking a collagen supplement.

What’s The Difference Between Collagen & Whey Protein?

It’s a question we get asked often and what is really comes down to is the difference between the amino acid profile. Take a look at the examples below (remember that 1,000mg is the same as 1 gram).

Vital Protein Collagen vs. garden of life whey protein and their amino acid profiles.

So, looking at Vital Proteins Collagen, you can see that it contains a high value of glutamic acid (2.2 grams), hydroxyproline (2 grams), and proline (2 grams). These particular amino acids primarily benefit your hair, skin, and nails.

On the flip side, Garden of Life Whey Protein contains a high value of isoleucine (1.33 grams), leucine (2.24 grams), and valine (1.14 grams) which are really good for muscle recovery.

Collagen also, contains only 8 out of the 9 essential amino acids, whereas whey has all the essential amino acids

Thus, you can see that they both have incredible benefits; they just focus on slightly different objectives. And yes, you can take both on the same day!

Table showing vital proteins collagen versus organic whey protein from garden of life.

Vegan Collagen

You might be wondering what to do if you are vegan or follow a plant-based diet. Is there vegan collagen? While true vegan collagen doesn’t exist, there are many plants with collagen-boosting superpowers. Though collagen by its nature is animal-based, there are many collagen-like options for vegans and those following a plant-based lifestyle.

Plants have the amazing ability to amplify our body’s own natural collagen production, which is why we always advocate eating your fruits and veggies daily. Plants, herbs, flowers, and even algae have the ingredients to improve your natural production of collagen, improve your hair and skin, and even nourish your connective tissues.

Plant-Based and Vegan Collagen Supplements

It’s always best to try to boost your collagen naturally through whole foods. Some of the most effective plant-based collagen-boosting herbs and foods are:

There are so many supplements on the market, it can be completely overwhelming. The most important thing to look for when choosing a vegan collagen supplement or powder is plant-based ingredients that promote collagen production. These are some vegan collagen options we recommend.

Vegan Collagen Builder

When looking to use vegan collagen options, make sure to look for no added sugars and a little extra Vitamin C.

Vitamin C is a powerhouse of anti-aging benefits and has been shown to encourage collagen production. So when seeking vegan collagen options, look for Vitamin C as a dominant ingredient.

This Purity Vegan Collagen Builder promotes healthy skin, hair, and nails with Biotin, Lutein, and an array of antioxidants.

Vegan Collagen Powder

Having your collagen in powder form is convenient and has its benefits. This vegan powder is a great source of Vitamin C, bamboo extract, and other plant collagen boosters.

This highly rated Rae Vegan Collagen Boost powder supports natural collagen production for healthy hair, skin and nails! Mix it up with 8 oz of water or your favorite milk (Coconut milk, rice milk, almond milk, or oat milk); it’s that easy to mix up and drink on the go!

Ab Exercise FAQs

What is Collagen?

Collagen is a protein. In fact, collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, making up 30% of the body’s proteins.

What Does Collagen Do?

Its responsibility is to hold everything together, literally and is found in the bones, muscles, tendons, skin, hair, and nails. It provides structural support and elasticity and is vital for cell renewal, cartilage, and bones.

Can You Restore Your Own Body’s Collagen?

Yes. Your body never stops producing collagen, but it decreases dramatically as we age. The production probably can’t be impacted by topical application of creams and lotions (though those may help to fill and fix fine lines and wrinkles), but rather can only be impacted by active ingredients (in foods and supplements).

Can Lotions & Creams With Collagen Help Wrinkles?

Unfortunately, probably not. Leading dermatologists say that it’s nearly impossible for the skin to absorb collagen topically and that any results seen from these products are likely because of their moisturizing qualities, not their ability to rebuild the collagen proteins in your skin. You’re better off consciously increasing your water intake and purchasing a great, all-natural moisturizer, and beginning a religious moisturizing routine!

Do Collagen Supplements Work?

We’re the first to say that pills and potions aren’t the best way to fix any problem. But this time, we think they’re worth your time. Studies have shown (and our own personal experiences!) that collagen supplements and a diet rich in nutrients that support collagen production DO benefit the health of your skin, nails, hair, joints, and bones!

When is the best time to take collagen?

There’s no definitive evidence proving there is a perfect time to take collagen. I suggest you take it when you will be most consistent. Some people like to put it in their morning coffee or smoothie. I like to take the Neocell pills at night because I keep them on my bathroom sink counter. It’s not about when it’s about how often.

Summary: Expert Suggestions On Collagen

“In my mid 40’s my skin started changing and I had no idea what was going on.  My current skin care regime wouldn’t help.  I was getting white pustules and bumps on my skin.  I read about taking Collagen type 1 + 3 and thought – why not?  I started and literally my skin cleared over night.  I started with the recommended 6 pills a day and after 6 months went down to 3 pills a day .  I also take the Hylauronic acid with it – it’s an accelerator and has worked for me.  I take the Type 2 collagen for my joints also.” – Chris Freytag

I take the NeoCell collagen supplement in pill form, because that’s what is easiest for me. Some people find the pills a bit too big to take, so I suggest getting a pill cutter or using the powder instead. When I do use powder, I put Vital Proteins Collagen Powder in my morning smoothie.

Another tip is to pair your collagen with Hyaluronic Acid. Hyaluronic Acid is an accelerator and helps hasten the effects of any supplement you may be taking. I take the NeoCell pills with Hyaluronic Acid and has seen great results! Give it a try, and let me know about your experience!


Printed from GetHealthyU.com


on February 26, 2023 at 2:19 PM Reply

What one of the pills or powder do you take for collagen 2? My joints pop a lot… I’m also interested in 1&3 but it that just too much to take? It said 1&3 are typically in the same powder so that makes it easier. When I clicked on the links of what Chris takes they all appeared to be 1&3. Thank you for and clarification.

    on March 13, 2023 at 2:46 PM Reply

    Hi there - hoping to answer some of your questions about the type of collagen that I like and take! Type 2 from the brand I like: https://amzn.to/408sAlr There are some complex powders that have all the types of collagen in them - this one is well reviewed: https://amzn.to/3ldTOs0

on June 28, 2022 at 6:28 PM Reply

Hi I have joint pains and will start having collagen . If i wish to take 1 and 3 too can i have both 2 and 1 n 3?

    on July 29, 2022 at 8:59 AM Reply

    You can absolutely take Collagen 1,2 and 3 … And also remember to move your body – I always say “motion is lotion” – if your joints are stiff and sore – motion / movement will lubricate your joints naturally!!! SO do some yoga, stretching, etc.

on March 15, 2022 at 2:50 AM Reply

Good Luck with the upcoming update. This article is really very interesting and effective.

on March 15, 2022 at 2:49 AM Reply

This article is really very interesting and effective.

on August 10, 2018 at 9:52 AM Reply

I understand 1,2 and 3 collagen and what each does , but can u take all three at the same timep

    on August 28, 2018 at 11:35 AM Reply

    Hi Pam - we've heard some people suggest taking 1 & 3 separately from type 2 and you'll most often see types 1 & 3 grouped together, however there are also products that contain all three (Vital Protein Bone Broth Collagen) so there's no harm in taking all three at the same time depending on your goals.

on March 28, 2018 at 8:38 AM Reply

I read on the internet that taking over 8 grams of collagen, might lead to breast cancer. Is that true?

    on March 29, 2018 at 1:22 PM Reply

    Hi Rita - I have never heard of this nor done research on it myself. If you heard it from a valid source, it may be worth asking your doctor, however there are lots of things on the internet that aren't always true so you may want to dig deeper!

on March 14, 2018 at 4:59 AM Reply

Hi, How do i take collagen type 1&3???How many tablets do i take Thanks

    on March 16, 2018 at 9:49 AM Reply

    Hi Joanne - you can take it in pill or powder form. Whatever type/brand you choose will have instructions on how much to take. Thanks!

on February 15, 2018 at 4:56 PM Reply

Interesting article! When does Chris take them in the course of the day? All of the bottles say to take on an empty stomach (including the powder), but you can't take types 1&3 with type 2. Does she take one type in the morning before breakfasts (on an empty stomach) and the other type before dinner (on an empty stomach)? And when do you take the Hylauronic acid? Thanks!

    on February 16, 2018 at 10:39 AM Reply

    Hi Lisa - I actually take the 1 and 2 in the morning when I remember and type 3 with Hylauronic acid before bed - that has worked for me!

on October 3, 2017 at 10:05 AM Reply

I am new to collagen information, but I am quite interested. Can you explain why Chris takes all four of the above collagen supplements? Does she take these everyday or are some only used when she makes the smoothies? Are they good for both men and women? How much collagen is a healthy amount to take daily? Thank you for the article. It was very informative.

    on October 5, 2017 at 1:39 PM Reply

    Hi Terri - if you look back at the article, collagen types 1 + 3 have a different purpose than type 2 collagen. And Hylauronic acid accelerates the absorption of vitamins in the body. I take collagen every day and it's typically recommended to take between 5,000mg-15,000mg depending on your age and needs.

on September 8, 2017 at 12:12 AM Reply

Yes!! I have been taking collagen for a year now. Actually been using the powder form shown above too. I am 35, and have noticed a huge difference in skin, hair, nails and even joints. My skin heals faster too.

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