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How To Take Collagen for the Best Results

Young woman showing how to take collagen in a protein shaker bottle

Collagen is surrounded by conflicting information. Even when you’ve decided to take collagen, the question of how to take collagen remains. For every one source telling you the “right way” to take collagen, there are a dozen that argue there’s a different way that produces better results. 

So how can we solve the problems around taking collagen? What can we do to simplify access to this powerhouse of nutrition? 

Let’s go from the ground up. If we start off by learning what collagen is, its place in the body, and how the body processes it, we’ll be much closer to making the right choices about collagen supplementation.

What is collagen?

Collagen is a protein. To be more specific, it’s a family of proteins that all share a similar job. Collagen is the glue that holds the body together. And it’s not just humans – collagen is key to the structural integrity of all animals.

Collagen, like all proteins, is made of amino acids – tiny molecular structures that bind together to form the protein. 

There are 20 amino acids in existence, and 9 of them are essential, meaning the body can’t form them. Essential amino acids must enter the body through food or the body can’t heal itself or carry out basic vital functions.

Collagen contains 8 of the 9 essential amino acids, making it a versatile protein. The body uses collagen in skin, bones, blood vessels, and organs to provide strength and elasticity, and each type of collagen is slightly different. 

Making an effective plan for how to take collagen to achieve the results you want means you also need to know about the different types of collagen.

How many types of collagen are there?

Remember, collagen is a versatile protein found throughout the body. Since its initial discovery, we’ve determined there are 28 types of collagen. These are split into three smaller groups: fibril-forming, fibril-associated, and network-forming. 

Types I, II, III, V, and XI are fibril-forming collagens. Fibrils are strong, stretchy chains of proteins. Fibril-forming collagens make these chains, which are the framework for bone and muscle throughout the body. 

Types IX, XII, XIV, and XV are all fibril-associated. Unlike fibril-forming collagens, fibril-associated collagens don’t form chains on their own. Instead, they link to and strengthen existing fibrils made of collagen types I, II, and III.

Lastly are the network-forming collagens, types IV, VI, VIII, and X. These form crystal-like networks that strengthen and support fibril-forming collagens. 

This list isn’t comprehensive, and the types of collagen are still being studied. All 28 types work together, and some types can play more than one role, being fibril-forming in some cases but network-forming in others, for instance. 

This leads us to the next question in how to take collagen: which type is most important in a supplement?

Which type of collagen should you take?

You won’t be able to find a supplement containing all 28 types of collagen on the market. Collagen contains so many nuances that separating it into its types for a supplement would be impossible. 

Mostly, when you look at collagen supplements, you’ll find some combination of types I, II, III, V, and X.

When it comes to whether one type of collagen is better than the other, there is absolutely no research to support choosing one or the other. When it comes to how to take collagen supplements, the most important thing is using a supplement with hydrolyzed collagen peptides.

Collagen is a very large molecule. This makes it good for providing structural support in the body, but bad for absorption when you consume it. Basically, if your collagen isn’t hydrolyzed, your body can’t even absorb it. 

The process of hydrolyzation breaks collagen molecules down, making them bioavailable. When it comes to how to take collagen for the best results, don’t worry about whether the collagen is type I, type III, or any other combination. Instead, focus on making sure your body can use the collagen in your supplement by looking for hydrolyzed or nano-hydrolyzed collagen.

Once your body absorbs the amino acids in your collagen supplement, it will be able to rearrange them into the type of collagen it needs most. 

So, since the question isn’t about the type of collagen, let’s learn how to take collagen for the best results. 

How should you take collagen for the best results?

Most people don’t just wake up and decide to take collagen one day. They’re looking for collagen to help boost their health in one way or another. So how long does it take for collagen supplements to work? Is there anything you can do to help the process along? 

There are two big things that impact how to take collagen if you’re looking to get the best results possible. First, as we’ve already discussed, is making sure your collagen is bioavailable. This means you’ll want to use high-quality hydrolyzed or nano-hydrolyzed supplements. 

Once your body has absorbed the collagen, it still needs to be synthesized to become part of your cells. So the next tip on how to take collagen is to make sure you’re getting plenty of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and zinc. 

Your body needs these nutrients to synthesize and store collagen, so your supplements don’t go to waste. But there are also many ways to supplement with collagen, so is one form of supplement better than the rest? 


The first type of collagen supplement you’re likely to run into is topical collagen. Topical collagen can be found in creams, lotions, soaps, and even makeup. This type of collagen is typically used as an antiaging agent to reduce wrinkles or as a stimulant for hair or nail growth. 

There have been a few small studies that suggest topical collagen can reduce fine lines on the face. Topical collagen has a couple of big problems, though. Remember how collagen is a large molecule? The pores of your skin are not large enough to allow the collagen to get through. 

Rather than be absorbed, topical collagen sits on top of the skin or hair. This might improve surface-level dryness or lines, but it doesn’t solve the issue. When it comes to how to take collagen, topical collagen is definitely the least effective.


Collagen can be found in food, and there are many different foods high in collagen. Beef, fish, chicken, eggs, bone broth, organ meats, pigs feet, and oysters are all excellent sources of collagen.

So could solving the problem of how to take collagen be as simple as changing your diet? 

Yes and no. 

Incorporating foods that are high in collagen can definitely benefit your health. They often contain other nutrients that a collagen supplement can’t provide. However, most foods that are high in collagen still don’t contain enough concentrated collagen to produce visible benefits. 

And remember, collagen isn’t naturally easy for your body to absorb. This means that much of the dietary collagen you get through food isn’t absorbed. If it isn’t absorbed, your body can’t use it.

Regularly consuming foods high in collagen is enough for many people to have a healthy amount of collagen. For people who are looking to boost their health, though, dietary collagen simply can’t be absorbed well enough to make much of a difference.

Pill, powder, and liquid collagen supplements

There are supplements of every shape and size, so many people find themselves wondering how to take collagen supplements. Are pills better than powders? Is liquid collagen better than both? 

There haven’t been any studies on whether one type of supplement is better than the rest. Many use liquid collagen, but some use pills and others use powdered collagen. Mostly, studies focus on how much collagen to take per day to achieve the results you’re looking for and whether the outcomes are what was expected.

The one thing to watch out for in any supplement is added ingredients. Many powdered collagen supplements contain added sugar, for instance. Additional ingredients that are there to fortify the supplement are a plus, but lots of extra “padding” can negatively impact how effective collagen is. 

In addition, while pills are convenient, they are harder for your body to break down and absorb. So, if you have a sensitive stomach or are hoping to make the most of your results, you may prefer a powder or liquid supplement. 

FAQs about how to take collagen

When used effectively, the benefits of collagen supplementation can make a huge impact in your daily life. To reap those benefits, you have to know how to take collagen effectively, as well as how it impacts you, specifically.

There aren’t many medications that interact badly with collagen, but before you add any supplement to your routine, it’s important to review with your healthcare team. They can help you ensure you aren’t taking supplements or medications that cause adverse side effects.

If you have a bad reaction to any supplement, it’s best to stop taking it immediately. Knowing how to take collagen includes understanding that some collagen is sourced from shellfish, so if you have any allergies, look up where your collagen is sourced from before you take it. 

High-quality collagen shouldn’t cause any side effects, but if you’re concerned, look for medical-grade supplements. These supplements are held to higher standards and much more strict quality control processes.

But when it comes to how to take collagen, most people have a few more questions. Here are some of the most common questions people ask about collagen supplements.

How much collagen should I take per day?

When you’re first adding collagen to your daily routine, you’ll probably wonder, “How much collagen should I take each day?” The package instructions are the best place to start, but how much collagen to take per day depends on what you’re looking for help with. 

You can find suggestions on everything from 2 grams to 40 grams of collagen, so for the most accurate dosage, it’s best to look at the research. 

If you’re taking collagen for skin health, 2.5 grams of collagen daily has been shown to improve skin hydration, elasticity, and density.

Taking collagen for osteoarthritis pain? 10 grams of collagen daily can ease symptoms and increase positive markers in cartilage. 

And for weight loss, 20 grams of collagen can help speed weight loss without negative side effects. 

These are just a few of the tips on how to take collagen dosages, but you and your healthcare team can also adjust dosages as needed.

When should I take collagen?

There isn’t one specific time of day to take collagen, so start by trying collagen at different times of the day for a couple of days to learn how it makes your body feel. 

For some people, collagen can make them feel full and tired, like a hearty meal. It is protein, after all! If collagen affects you in this way, it’s best to avoid taking it before a workout or at the beginning of the day. 

For others, collagen protein can give them an energy boost, making before a workout or first thing in the morning a great time to take collagen!

As far as how to take collagen, you can take it alone or with a meal. Pay attention to how you feel in both cases and adjust your routine as needed. The most important thing is to take it consistently!

How should I choose a collagen supplement?

You’ll notice bits and pieces of advice on how to choose a collagen supplement throughout this article. Which supplement you choose is one of the most pivotal aspects of how to take collagen, so the tips for choosing a good one all bear repeating.

You’ll want to look for a collagen supplement that is hydrolyzed or nano-hydrolyzed, for maximum digestibility. Make sure that it’s also high-quality and doesn’t contain extra sugar or other added ingredients. 

An easy way to do this is by looking for medical-grade collagen. This is the kind used by doctors and hospitals to treat a variety of symptoms.

Unlocking the healing power of collagen

There’s a lot of advice out there on how to take collagen, how much collagen to take per day, and how collagen can support your health. Some of it is well-meaning, but completely baseless. This can be misleading and disheartening, especially when you’re looking to collagen for help.

To truly understand collagen’s role in health and wellness, you have to look at the science. You have to dig into the studies and expertise of nutritionists and doctors from all over the world. 

That’s what we do at OP2 Labs, and it’s why our medical-grade collagen is so powerful – it’s made with the highest-quality processes and founded on science.