Many manufacturers of anti-ageing creams advertise collagen. However, superficial treatment with the connective tissue-beneficial substance cannot achieve the effect that collagen peptides can. These are absorbed through the mouth and thus reach directly the place where they are supposed to work.
Our collagen peptide test 2021 aims to give you all the information you need to decide whether taking collagen peptides, which are a dietary supplement, makes sense for you. We take a look at the research and list the advantages and disadvantages, as well as important information about collagen hydrolysate.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 The most important facts
- 3 The Best Collagen Peptides: Our Picks
- 4 Advice: Questions you should ask yourself before buying collagen peptides
- 4.1 What are collagen peptides?
- 4.2 How do collagen peptides work?
- 4.3 When and for whom does it make sense to take collagen peptides?
- 4.4 What are the possible side effects of taking collagen peptides?
- 4.5 What should be the daily dose of collagen peptides?
- 4.6 How can I measure my collagen peptide level in the body?
- 4.7 What are the alternatives to collagen peptides?
- 5 Decision: What types of collagen peptides are there and which is right for you?
- 6 Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate collagen peptides
- 7 Interesting facts about collagen peptides
The most important facts
- Collagen peptides are also called collagen hydrolysates. In principle, they are nothing other than the well-known collagen - only that they have been made water-soluble with the help of enzymes.
- There are three types of collagen peptides: powder, tablets and capsules or liquid, drinkable collagen hydrolysate.
- Collagen peptides work in a variety of ways, from arthritis-related conditions to skin wrinkles to sports injuries - the protein is effective in many ways. Numerous research teams have also been able to confirm this.
The Best Collagen Peptides: Our Picks
Advice: Questions you should ask yourself before buying collagen peptides
What are collagen peptides?
Unlike pure collagen, from which collagen peptides are obtained, the latter are water-soluble, which is achieved through hydrolisation, the dissolution of chemical compounds. In the case of collagen peptides, this is done via an enzyme that is added during production.
The solubility in water makes it possible to take collagen peptides orally, i.e. by mouth. This is different from collagen, which is contained in cosmetics and may only reach the upper layers of the skin for legal reasons. Collagen peptides can therefore act directly in the body.
That is why collagen peptides are contained in many foods and products of daily use in the fields of cosmetics and health.
A valuable advantage of collagen peptides is that they carry almost no allergy risk; it is very rare for people to have an allergic reaction to them.
This is why they are used in many protein bars, protein powders and other protein supplements. In these, collagen peptides work to rebuild and strengthen damaged or weak tissues and cells in the human body.
How do collagen peptides work?
However, collagen has different effects on specific injuries, symptoms and for different purposes.
The effects of collagen peptides have been investigated in many studies. These studies have shown a broad spectrum of effects. However, there are also critical voices and studies that question the apparently established effects.
In the following we have listed some keywords and descriptions of the scientific study results.
Please note: research is still far from certain about the effects of collagen, so that it could be said without reservation that collagen works and, above all, how exactly it works.
Osteoarthritis and osteoporosis
Collagen hydrolysates are recognised as safe by competent authorities, which is why it has been established for years that they are used in therapy with people affected by osteoarthritis and osteoporosis for a long time (1).
Collagen peptides stimulate the formation of cells of the extracellular matrix, a collagen-containing cartilage layer that is important for the pain-free functioning of joints (2).
However, a scientific review concluded that it has not been fully proven that collagen is helpful in osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. The reason for this conclusion is that there was a study in which some of the participants complained of gastrointestinal problems after collagen had been taken for a long time (3).
Taking collagen peptides can help people lose weight. Weight loss associated with the protein has been observed (4).
Nevertheless, researchers can currently only speculate that the effect of collagen is greater than that of an actually larger and therefore more comprehensive casein protein when taken over a longer period of time (5). Exactly how collagen helps with weight reduction is not yet clear. The research situation on this topic is far from satisfactory.
With meals like this recipe suggests, losing weight should be much easier:
Current research into hair growth and how and whether collagen peptides affect it is particularly controversial.
On the one hand, regarding the effect of collagen on hair growth, it has been found that the absence or deficiency of collagen VI, a specific collagen that is deposited in the hair follicle and may also be present in collagen peptides, impairs or even prevents this growth (6).
On the other hand, when the skin is injured, collagen promotes hair follicle regrowth (6). Again, the exact mechanism of action of collagen is not yet understood.
Moreover, there is consensus among many researchers who, thanks to their studies, have been able to link hair growth to that of the skin: Hair follicles grow from the skin and this is only possible if the skin is intact.
Especially for mature women, the benefits of collagen peptides for the skin are often advertised.
Collagen peptides reduce signs of ageing and especially wrinkles in the skin, they positively influence the formation of the extracellular matrix (7). They are more effective than collagen, which is only applied to the skin as a cream, for example, because they act directly in the body and not only on its surface, the skin.
However, it is questionable whether there is an immediate effect of collagen when applying, for example, a cream that contains it (8).
Another area in which research is currently very active is sports injuries or problems that athletes have to deal with and for which it is hoped that collagen will have a positive effect.
In her master's thesis, a student from Switzerland dealt with the question of whether collagen hydrolysate can have positive effects on the functional stability of the ankle joint. A property that could be very helpful to athletes and prevent injuries. She was able to verify this assumption within her work (9).
Nevertheless, its use in sports is controversial and not really communicated by athletes and federations. In bodybuilding, for example, according to critics, collagen has now taken over. However, collagen is not yet on the World Anti-Doping Agency's doping list.
When and for whom does it make sense to take collagen peptides?
Young people under the age of 25 usually have no reason to take collagen peptides. A healthy, protein-rich diet does the rest to keep the collagen fibres elastic.
Collagen peptides should be taken as soon as signs of the following conditions are found and/or diagnosed:
- Wrinkled skin
- Hair loss
A dermatology expert says the following about taking collagen peptides:
What are the possible side effects of taking collagen peptides?
Interactions with drugs triggered by collagen peptides are not known (11). However, there are studies that show stomach and intestinal complaints as a side effect of taking collagen peptides.
Collagen peptides are considered safe to take during pregnancy (12). However, it is important to discuss this supplement use with your gynaecologist in advance.
What should be the daily dose of collagen peptides?
The collagen peptide drinking ampoules that you can buy are already dosed to the daily dose via the size of their packaging. Collagen peptide powder is also available in small sachets for daily use.
We strongly recommend that you read the instructions that come with or are printed on the packaging.
How can I measure my collagen peptide level in the body?
However, there are modern scientific methods that can be used to check the presence of collagen peptides. All methods require expert performance by doctors and other professionals.
Here is a list:
- Protein biochemistry methods: to measure protein density in the body
- PCR: also known as polymerase chain reaction, a method of examining DNA for certain characteristics
- Cryosections: very thin sections that can be examined microscopically
- Laser microdissection: removal of a defined area of cells from the body using laser technology
- Immunohistochemistry: collagen can be visualised with the help of labelled antibodies
- pQCT and microCT: methods of measuring bone density
If you would like to undergo such an examination, you should find out in advance from your health insurance company whether they will pay for the examination or whether you will have to pay for the costs yourself.
What are the alternatives to collagen peptides?
Although there are also creams containing collagen for external use, these often do not reach the area where they are supposed to work.
If you don't necessarily want to take extra collagen, you can also follow a collagen-rich diet. We have listed which foods contain particularly high amounts of collagen in the "Trivia" section.
Decision: What types of collagen peptides are there and which is right for you?
Similar to other dietary supplements, collagen hydrolysate comes in three different forms or states:
- Collagen peptides powder
- Collagen peptides tablets and capsules
- Liquid collagen peptides
Although all forms contain the same active ingredient, hydrologised collagen, they have different advantages and disadvantages. We will explain these to you in the following.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of collagen peptide powder?
Collagen peptides are available in powder form, usually in the form of a white substrate. You can mix this powder into protein shakes or sprinkle it over food in order to consume collagen peptides.
Collagen powder is a protein powder, but unlike the latter, it is not a mixture of different proteins and substances. Powdered collagen hydrolysate contains only collagen.
It may also contain vitamins or flavourings. You can find more information on this in the section "Buying criteria".
What are the advantages and disadvantages of collagen peptide tablets and capsules?
Another way to take collagen hydrolysates are tablets and capsules containing collagen peptides. These are swallowed, where the collagen then becomes available in the body via absorption by the stomach lining.
Capsules have the advantage that their shell is usually only dissolved in the intestine. By taking collagen capsules, you can ensure that the collagen arrives exactly there, for example to regenerate the intestinal mucosa or other connective tissue.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of liquid collagen peptides?
In recent years, liquid collagen has become established as an alternative to the two types already presented. It does not cause swallowing difficulties and is already dosed, as it is sold in small ampoules, vials or tear-open portion packs.
The liquid with which the collagen is mixed often consists of agave syrup, blossom honey, royal jelly, acerola fruit extract or other syrup-like liquids.
Liquid collagen peptides are usually mixed with a flavour additive or vitamin to avoid an unpleasant aftertaste in the throat.
Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate collagen peptides
You should not only differentiate between tablets and capsules, powders and drinking ampoules when making your purchase. It also makes sense to pay attention to other aspects when you want to buy collagen peptides.
The most important buying criteria are:
Below you will find the most important information on the above criteria so that you can find and buy the right collagen hydrolysate product for you.
The question of the concentration of collagen in ampoules, tablets or collagen powder is probably one of the most important, as the amount of collagen contained determines the effect you can expect from the product. And how high the dosage of the preparation should be for the best success.
The concentration of collagen peptides means the amount of collagen peptides contained in a preparation. Especially in powders and drinkable vials, other substances can be added, so that the mixing ratio changes and the weight of the vial does not correspond to the weight of the collagen contained.
The lower the concentration, the more of the preparation you should and must take daily to reach the recommended daily dose.
It is not uncommon for collagen peptides to be packaged and sold with other substances to form a combination product.
By taking such a combination supplement, you can replenish your body's supply of collagen as well as one or more other important substances.
Collagen peptides are usually combined with the following substances in products for sale:
- Biotin: supports the metabolism and function of body cells
- Copper: co-responsible for the formation of haemoglobin in red blood cells, helps against orange peel skin
- Vitamin C: strengthens the immune system and contributes to the body's normal collagen formation
- Hyaluronic acid: as a water reservoir in the skin and to strengthen its elasticity
- Elastin: to improve the firmness of the skin
- Black pepper extract: stimulates digestion and metabolism
A study by London researchers has shown that there is a high benefit from combining vitamins with collagen and other bioavailable substances, especially against the effects of skin ageing (13).
The size of the pack plays a significant role in how often you need to buy collagen peptides. And, of course, it also shows up in your wallet.
We have researched the market for the three types of collagen peptides you can buy.
We were able to identify the following rough package sizes, for each of which we give you the number of daily doses so that you can estimate how long these packages could last.
|Type||Size range of packs||Range of daily doses (1 dose = 10 g)|
|Collagen peptide powder||200 g - 1 kg||20 - 100 daily doses|
|Collagen peptides tablets and capsules||approx. 120 - 450 tablets or capsules||60 - 220 daily doses|
|Liquid collagen peptides||approx. 600 ml - 800 ml||20 - 30 daily doses|
Note: Especially with tablets and capsules, several tablets or capsules often have to be taken for the daily dose.
This explains why the quantity of tablets is not the same as the range of daily doses. In the case of liquid collagen peptides, the vials are often filled with more than 10 g (converted), because of course the substance in which the collagen hydrolysate is dissolved also comes into play...
It is not uncommon for flavour additives to be added to the otherwise tasteless collagen peptides to give them a pleasant taste.
You can find the following flavours:
Especially with collagen powders, you can also find unflavoured variants to add to meals or drinks.
Interesting facts about collagen peptides
How are collagen peptides produced?
The production of collagen peptides is not vegan, as collagen occurs in nature exclusively in animals. Collagen extracts, i.e. products from plants, are also mistakenly called collagen, but this is factually incorrect.
There is no vegan collagen for oral intake, which is why vegans should make sure to eat a lot of foods that contain collagen.
The extraction of collagen peptides proceeds in the following steps:
- Extraction: Natural collagen strands are extracted.
- Separation ofthe strands: water is used to separate the intertwined collagen strands from each other - collagen is not soluble in water at this stage.
- Adding enzymes: by adding enzymes, the collagen becomes water-soluble. Water-soluble collagen is called collagen peptides.
Which foods contain particularly high amounts of collagen peptides?
If you would rather not consume collagen peptides, it makes sense to consume foods that are particularly rich in collagen instead. We have listed these for you.
- Red fruits and vegetables
- Oatmeal (collagen-like substances)
- Sweet potatoes
What is the shelf life of collagen peptides?
The shelf life of collagen peptides depends on the individual preparation and the combination with other substances.
The shelf life of collagen peptide products is indicated using best-before dates, as they are food supplements.
Drinking ampoules should generally be stored in a cool place, while powder and tablets or capsules should be stored in a dry place.
Are collagen peptides available for dogs?
Yes, collagen hydrolysate can also be bought for dogs. In animals, the same problem with the decreasing ability of the body to produce collagen arises with increasing age as it does in humans.
Collagen can also be helpful for dogs with osteoporosis or arthritis and other diagnoses.
It is advisable to discuss collagen supplementation with the treating veterinarian.
Image source: Microgen/ 123rf.com
Moskowitz, RW (2000): Role of collagen hydrolysate in bone and joint disease.
Case Western Reserve University, Division of Rheumatic Diseases, University Hospitals of Cleveland, OH.
Bello, AE; Oesser, S (2006): Collagen hydrolysate for the treatment of osteoarthritis and other joint disorders: a review of the literature.
University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago, Chicago, USA.
Vivien, JP et al (2012): Symptomatic and chondroprotective treatment with collagen derivatives in osteoarthritis: a systematic review.
Tak, J. Y. et al (2019): Effect of Oral Ingestion of Low-Molecular Collagen Peptides Derived from Skate (Raja Kenojei) Skin on Body Fat in Overweight Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Department of Family Medicine, Pusan National University School of Medicine, Busandaehak-ro, Mulgeum-eup, Yangsan-si, Südkorea.
Hochstenbach-Waelen, A. et al (2009): Single-protein casein and gelatin diets affect energy expenditure similarly but substrate balance and appetite differently in adults. Department of Human Biology, Nutrition and Toxicology, Research Institute Maastricht, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.
Chen, P. et al (2015): Lack of Collagen VI Promotes Wound-Induced Hair Growth. Department of Molecular Medicine, University of Padova, Padova, Italy.
Proksch, E. et al (2014): Oral intake of specific bioactive collagen peptides reduces skin wrinkles and increases dermal matrix synthesis. Dermatologische Abteilung der Universität Kiel.
Ito, N. et al (2018): Effects of Composite Supplement Containing Collagen Peptide and Ornithine on Skin Conditions and Plasma IGF-1 Levels—A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Research Laboratories, Research and Development Management Headquarters, FUJIFILM Corporation, Ushijima, Kaisei-machi, Ashigarakami-gun, Kanagawa, Japan.
Giulia, L. (2016): Einfluss von Kollagenpeptiden auf die mechanischen und funktionellen Kenngrößen des oberen Sprunggelenkes und die hiervon abhängige Verletzungsanfälligkeit. Universität Fribourg, Schweiz.
Varani, J. et al (2006): Decreased Collagen Production in Chronologically Aged Skin
Roles of Age-Dependent Alteration in Fibroblast Function and Defective Mechanical Stimulation. Departments of Pathology and Dermatology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA.
Ärztezeitung (2004): Arthrose. Kollagen-Hydrolysat stimuliert den Aufbau von Knorpel.
Baginski, L. (2016): Response to Hydrolysed Collagen Protein Supplementation in a Cohort of Pregnant and Postpartum Women.
Czaika, A. et al (2018): Daily oral supplementation with collagen peptides combined with vitamins and other bioactive compounds improves skin elasticity and has a beneficial effect on joint and general well.
Research and Development Department, MINERVA Research Labs, London, Vereinigtes Königreich.