When we hear the word collagen, we often think it means one specific protein, but, in reality, there are many different types of collagen, each with its own unique function. Collagen is by far the most abundant protein in your body. As a critical component of connective tissue, collagen gives structure to bones, muscles, ligaments, skin, and joints. It’s even found in your organs.
Many animal products are natural food sources of collagen. Chicken and pork skin, bone broths, and some fish provide collagen from the animal’s connective tissue. However, the concentration can vary widely, and it can be hard to get as much collagen as you need through diet alone. Supplementing with collagen has many potential health benefits, and anyone can put extra collagen to use.
While there are 28 known types of collagen, five are most beneficial for supplementing. When choosing a supplement, you want to find one that contains all five of these critical types of collagen. There’s a reason we put all five in our Full Spectrum Collagen.
The Five Types of Collagen And Why You Need Them
Type I Collagen
Type 1 is the most abundant type of collagen found in the body. It makes up skin, tendons, bones, and blood vessels, and even plays a significant role in maintaining the strength and integrity of the digestive tract.
As one of the most widely studied types of collagen, a wealth of research supports the numerous health benefits of type 1 collagen. It has many applications in wound healing and connective tissue repair. Supplementing with this type of collagen provides the necessary building blocks to build and repair healthy tissue.
Type I collagen may also repair GI tissue, showing promise as a safe, well-tolerated supplement for use with issues like ulcerative colitis and leaky gut. Anyone who struggles with digestive issues may find a collagen supplement worthwhile.
This type of collagen is a good starting point when looking at a supplement, but it shouldn’t be the last.
Type II collagen
Type II collagen is found in high concentrations in cartilage, bone, and other connective tissue. If you’ve ever heard of someone taking collagen for their joints, this is why.
A healthy joint requires a thick layer of cartilage to cushion and protect the joint space. For a variety of reasons, cartilage can degrade with age, injury, or other factors. Supplementing with type II collagen may reduce the pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, a joint condition that becomes more common as we age.
Protecting the health of your joints is critical to protecting your ability to move with joy and ease. No collagen supplement is complete without type II collagen.
Type III collagen
Type III collagen is the second most abundant collagen in the body. It’s found in the highest concentrations in hollow organs such as blood vessels, the GI tract, and the uterus. Think of any organ or body part that needs to be stretchy, and type III collagen is probably at work.
Due to the way type III collagen promotes the elasticity of blood vessels, it may be beneficial for heart health. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Atherosclerosis and Thrombosis found participants who supplemented daily with collagen experienced reduced stiffness in their arteries.
This type of collagen is also an essential component of reticular fibers, a kind of connective tissue that provides support for skin and organs. Additionally, type III collagen is beneficial to maintaining skin elasticity as you age and in the early stages of wound healing.
Type V collagen
This type of collagen is found on cell surfaces, hair, bone, the cornea, and connective tissue. Type V collagen plays a major role in the integrity of skin cells and is necessary for healthy wound healing.
This collagen type is unique in how it interacts with type I and III collagen to create strong connective tissue structures. For the better function of type I and type III, you need type V. Choosing a supplement that provides all three together ensure you can use all the types of collagen to their fullest potential.
Type X collagen
Type X collagen plays a very specific role in forming articular cartilage, the white tissue that covers the ends of bones. Articular cartilage allows for the smooth movement of the bones that form a joint and prevents them from grinding on one another.
Damage to articular cartilage causes joint injury and pain. Type X collagen is critical for repairing this special joint cartilage and may speed healing in the case of fractures.
In addition, maintaining the overall health of articular cartilage allows joints to function pain-free. For healthy aging, this is a huge benefit.
Five Is Better Than One
While muscles and bones get a lot of press, the connective tissue is what actually makes them functional. Without healthy, collagen-filled connective tissue to hold it all together, you’d be more of a pile and less of a robust and elastic structure that allows movement, grace, and fluidity.
Each of these types of collagen provides unique and often synergistic benefits. Any one of them on their own lacks the complex profile of collagen your body needs.
When supplementing with collagen, look for a product containing all five collagen types. Our Full Spectrum Collagen supplement is a great example. Simply put, the more complete your collagen supplement, the better your results. If you want all the benefits, you need all five types!