Liquid and powder collagen supplements are everywhere nowadays. And it’s no wonder; collagen holds our tissues together and supports the structure of our skin, bones, and other tissues. As we age, the collagen our body produces not only has less integrity than the kind we produce when we are young, but it also is produced in far less quantity. In fact, our bodies start to lose collagen in our 20’s. By age 40, we are losing 1% of it per year. By age 50, we are down to 50% of our original collagen we had at 21, on average (American Journal of Pathology, 2006); by 80, we will have lost 75% of the original collagen we had at age 21 (American Journal of Pathology, 2006).
But these decreases aren’t something that we have to just sit back and idly accept as a side effect of aging. Many studies show that collagen supplementation (in powder form) can do the following:
- Skin elasticity: Studies show that women who take collagen daily report improved skin elasticity, increased hydration and elasticity, and reductions in roughness (Molecules, 2019; Nutrients, 2019).
- Wrinkle reduction: Studies in women between the ages of 35 and 65 have found that taking a daily collagen supplement over 12 weeks improved skin thickness and firmness, making wrinkles less visible (Molecules, 2019).
- Joint health: Taking collagen daily may help to protect the cartilage around the joints, slow down the effects of arthritis, and reduce joint pain (Source, 2016; Current Medical Research Opinions, 2008).
- Bone loss prevention: A 2016 study found that taking a collagen supplement daily can improve bone mineral density and help relieve pain in women with osteoporosis and osteoarthritis (Source, 2016; PLo).
- Building muscle mass: A study found that the combination of strength training exercises and a daily collagen supplement helped to build and keep muscle mass over time (Nutrients, 2019).
- Strong nails and teeth: Collagen helps to build and strengthen our teeth and nails. A 2017 study found that when women with brittle nail syndrome took a daily collagen supplement, they experienced a 12% increase in nail growth and a 42% decrease in nail breakage (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 2017).
Is a Collagen Supplement (Liquid or Powder) Necessary?
Let’s face it, most of the time, whenever a supplement becomes popular, numerous medical experts get on the record and say it’s best to obtain the nutrient from a nutritious, whole-food diet.
Collagen is one of those areas where this isn’t the case.
Because of the lack of scientific studies looking specifically at liquid collagen, we cannot be certain if it is more effective than powder collagen. Collagen is usually pretty hard to obtain from the diet, as it is found in the rather non-frequently eaten connective tissue (think joints) of animals like cows, pigs, fish, and chickens. In addition, the small amount consumed is often considerably less than the amount demonstrated in human studies to offer benefits. In fact, it’s pretty hard to get collagen into your diet unless you drink a lot of bone broth from a reputable and consistent source, or you use a liquid or powder collagen supplement.
In fact, according to dietitian Dana Schaub, “I’m a big fan of whole foods over supplements, so I would recommend bone broth if it’s an option…however, the small amount of promising research there is on collagen shows that you need to consume it daily for an extended period of time to see any potential benefits.” (source)
Even with collagen supplements, manufacturers recommend taking them consistently for weeks to months to start noticing a difference. Personally, I wouldn’t want to drink bone broth every single day for weeks to months, so a supplement makes sense to me also.
3 Essential Components to Any Collagen Supplement
Whether you choose a liquid or powder-based collagen supplement, it’s vital to choose a supplement with:
- 1.) Hydrolyzed peptides, which means the collagen has been broken down into smaller, easier-to-absorb pieces by hydrolysis. Collagen molecules found in many powder supplements are 300,000 Daltons in size – which means they are far too large to digest easily (your stomach pores can only fully absorb up to 4,000 Daltons at a time). Yes, your digestive tract can break down larger molecules over time – but smaller is better and more easily absorbed.
- 2.) Vitamin C. Regardless of liquid or powder, the supplement must also contain vitamin C. It is believed to help your body absorb collagen (VeryWellHealth).
- 3.) Pasture-raised, grass-fed bovine collagen. The source of the collagen matters, because sourcing impacts the type of collagen in the product (more on that later). According to Native Path medical advisor Heather Hanks, “When picking a collagen supplement, I would be more concerned about sourcing rather than texture. Collagen from pasture-raised, grass-fed bovine tends to be top-shelf because it contains types 1 and 3 collagen.” (Source)
Once you’ve chosen a product that is hydrolyzed, includes vitamin C, and guarantees that it includes pasture-raised, grass-fed bovine collagen, the next step is to decide if you want a liquid supplement or a powder-based supplement.
Reasons to Choose a Liquid Supplement
- 1.) Convenient. It works well for people who don’t want to fuss with scooping or mixing powder. Liquid supplements typically enable you to open the bottle and take a dose, regardless of whether you have water or a smoothie (or food) readily available. It also tastes OK, typically, without having to mix other flavors in.
- 2.) It’s guaranteed to be hydrolyzed. Liquid collagen is made up of collagen peptides, meaning that it has been broken down into smaller elements that make it more easily absorbed and utilized in the body. Some powder-based supplements are made up of hydrolyzed collagen and some aren’t – with powder, you have to check the label.
Reasons to Choose a Powder Supplement
- 1.) Powder-based supplements tends to contain fewer preservatives and flavors to maintain freshness and to create texture and flavor than liquid supplements.
- 2.) Powder-based collagen tends to be more inexpensive than liquid collagen – and once it hits the water, it turns into “liquid collagen” anyway. As stated by NativePath:
- The average serving size for a single scoop of collagen powder ranges from 10 to 20 grams (because that’s the most effective dose).
- However, the serving size for liquid collagen is anywhere from 4.3 to 7 grams.
- So, in order to obtain the same results you would with powder, you’d have to take 2 to 3 times the amount of the liquid supplement. Which equates to 2 to 3 times the cost.
When it comes to liquid vs. powder supplements, I recommend looking at your preferences when it comes to convenience, price, and purity:
- If you want convenience – choose liquid collagen. There’s no mixing, measuring, or need to have a smoothie, water, or food readily available to mix powder in. Just open the lid, take a dose, and go on with your day.
- If you want a lower price – choose powder collagen. Powder supplements are 2-3 times cheaper per serving, on average, than liquid supplements. At least for now, when liquid collagen is relatively new, and there aren’t as many competitors for it. Expect that to change in the future.
- If you want purity – choose powder collagen. Are you a vegan? Try to stay away from processed food? Want to avoid unnatural ingredients? Well, most liquid supplements contain preservatives and artificial flavoring, while most powdered supplements do not.
When shopping for a collagen supplement, regardless of whether you choose a liquid or a powder supplement, the most important three factors to look for are:
- 1.) Hydrolyzed peptides
- 2.) Vitamin C
- 3.) Pasture-raised, grass-fed bovine collagen
But, with peer-reviewed research documenting that collagen production decreases by as much as 50% between ages 21 and 50, and that daily supplementation can help support collagen maintenance in the skin, joints, bones, muscles, nails, and teeth, I do recommend taking a daily collagen supplement. Right now, I am using the 30-Day Individual Packet Collagen Peptides from Amandean because it contains types 1 and 3 bovine collagen and hydrolyzed peptides – and I’m supplementing with vitamin C in my multivitamin while I take it.
Do you have any questions for me? I’m actively researching your questions not only in skincare, like I did at FutureDerm until 2020, but am also involved in health, wellness, nutrition, fitness, and personal development. What would you like to see on the blog? Let me know at nicki[dot]benvenuti at [researchingeverything.com], or in the comments below!