What Are the Different Types of Collagen? Uses & Efficacy

Two powerful boxing athletes fueled by collagen peptide protein are battling inside a boxing ring


Knowing the differences between types of collagen - and how they interact with your body - is the best way to decide which collagen supplements are right for you. 

What is the difference between a vegetarian collagen supplement and a collagen peptide protein? 

Is there any difference between those and the types of collagen naturally occurring in the body? 

And is any one of these better than the others?

Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at collagen: what it is, what your body uses it for, and which types of collagen are best for your body. 

What are the different types of collagen in your body?

The human body contains at least 28 types of collagen. These are all found in different parts of the body and have slightly different jobs.

So where is collagen found, exactly? Nearly everywhere in your body. Collagen is a cornerstone of your bones, organs, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and skin. In each of these places, collagen provides structural and tensile support, as well as supporting vital cell processes. 

But collagen isn’t just found in humans! Many different animals use collagen in much the same way humans do. The collagen in animal bones, organs, skin, and meat is one of the strongest dietary sources of collagen available. And collagen supplements all use a combination of one or more of these substances. But what about vegan collagen supplements? 

Is collagen vegan? 

Let’s get this out in the open. There is no true source of vegan collagen. So how are there such things as vegan or vegetarian collagen supplements?

When these plant-based types of collagen supplements are produced, they act more like collagen boosters than an actual replacement or supplemental collagen source. 

Your body uses a combination of amino acids as a building block for collagen production. Vegan “collagen” supplements combine antioxidants and amino acid-rich foods to create collagen-boosting supplements. 

Some vegan “collagen” is made from genetically modified yeast and human genomes. When taking this replicated form of vegan collagen, it will act more similarly to types of collagen that are derived from animals. This means it should get you a little closer to your performance goals compared to other vegan “collagen” supplements.

What are the types of collagen that you can take? 

As you age, through a combination of genetics, lifestyle choices, and environmental factors, your collagen production begins to slow down. While there are various theories as to why exactly this happens, the one thing that we know for certain is that it does. 

One way to combat this is by adding different types of collagen to your diet. Your body can then synthesize that into its own unique type of collagen. 

You can also supplement with nutrients like Vitamin C, which increases your body’s ability to synthesize collagen. There are a few different ways to do this, so let’s take a look at your options.

Naturally occurring sources of collagen 

There are tons of different types of collagen in the foods you may already be eating. Foods like chicken, beef, and fish are naturally high in collagen. You can get even more specific by focusing on the parts of the animal highest in collagen, like bones, organs, and skin. 

Bone broth, for instance, is rich in collagen from bones. Sardines are eaten whole, so you get the collagen from the skin, organs, and bones. And skin-on chicken legs or wings can give you a boost of collagen, as well!

There is one slight problem with foods naturally high in collagen. Collagen is a large molecule, and this makes it hard for your body to digest. A large amount of the collagen you ingest can simply pass through your system, so you can’t access the benefits of it. 

That’s where collagen supplements come in. 

Female athlete drinking Frog Fuel collagen protein

Hydrolyzed collagen peptides

Collagen peptides are the most frequent type of collagen supplement you’ll see, but you also might see “hydrolyzed collagen” in some cases. 

Collagen peptides and hydrolyzed collagen aren’t different types of collagen. They’re two names for the same process, and you might even see “hydrolyzed collagen peptides” on a label from time to time. But what is hydrolyzed collagen

Remember, in its natural state, collagen is not an easy-to-digest protein. That’s because the dalton, or molecule size, is too large to pass through your stomach’s pores. 

So, while you may be getting some benefit from collagen in the whole form, your body will end up working overtime to break down the molecules. That means that when you ingest whole collagen peptides, you end up passing most of the nutrients out, and you don’t get the full benefits of your supplement. 

The process of hydrolyzation breaks those molecules down to a size you can absorb more easily. The result is collagen peptide proteins, broken-up collagen chains that hold all the benefits of collagen but are much easier for your body to use.

Our Frog Fuel Ultra is the only nano-hydrolyzed collagen on the market. In Frog Fuel collagen, the chains are broken down small enough to be fully digested in just 15 minutes. 

Topical collagen supplements

You may also have noticed different types of collagen creams, shampoos, conditioners, or other serums. These are topical collagen supplements, and they typically won’t be of much use to athletes. 

Collagen doesn’t cross through your skin, so it isn’t absorbed into the bloodstream and put to use the way oral collagen supplements are. Some topical collagen may help with wrinkles, but even then, oral collagen can have a much stronger effect.

Types of collagen and athletic performance 

So how do you choose between adding collagen-rich foods to your diet, taking a hydrolyzed collagen supplement, or taking a vegan collagen-boosting supplement? 

If you are vegetarian or vegan, the answer is pretty clear. However, you will want to consult with your healthcare professional and coach to make sure all your nutritional needs are being met, since athletes typically have higher protein needs. 

For the two different types of collagen, the good news is that you don’t have to choose! Foods that are naturally high in collagen are also typically high in other nutrients. So what does a collagen-booster or collagen supplement do for your athletic performance?

Vegan collagen boosters

There is a common misconception that vegan or vegetarian diets equal weaker athletes and a less than satisfactory gym session. With the right diet and collagen boosters, this isn’t the case. As mentioned before, collagen boosters still help your body produce collagen. 

Most plant-based collagen supplements use the same amino acids found in animal-derived types of collagen protein. That way, your body can recognize and utilize those amino acids to make collagen. 

This works well if you are planning to take a collagen-boosting supplement daily. Instead of providing collagen directly to your body, a collagen booster simply provides your body with all the building blocks to make your collagen. 

If you provide enough of the right tools, like amino acids and vitamin C, your body can distribute them to the necessary areas and use them to produce more collagen each day. The antioxidants in the foods then help by fighting off free radicals that can slow down collagen production even more. 

There hasn’t been much research on vegan collagen-boosting supplements. Collagen appears to be the most effective protein supplement for athletes, but vegan options may be helpful in larger quantities compared to collagen.

Two athletes holding Frog Fuel collagen protein

Hydrolyzed collagen peptide proteins

Hydrolyzed collagen works with your body to strengthen tissues, repair damage, and quicken recovery. Unlike collagen-boosting supplements, collagen peptides replace and supplement your natural collagen production. 

Collagen proteins contain three amino acids: proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline.  By providing your body with a more concentrated level of the exact collagen-building amino acids needed, you should be better able to supplement collagen production. 

The stronger all of these connective tissues are in your body, the less likely you are to experience a sports-related injury. When you do get injured, though, collagen is one of the most effective tools for wound healing. While this could be as severe as a surgical wound, collagen can also help heal sports injuries like a torn ACL, damaged cartilage, or muscle tear. 

The best collagen for joints can even be used as a way to prevent injury, not just as a treatment option. 

When you take collagen also influences how it interacts with your body. Taking collagen as a pre-workout supplement is more effective for connective tissue repair, and taking it after a workout is more effective for muscle-building. 

This has to do with the stress that your body undergoes during exercise. However, as long as you are consuming around 10-15 g of collagen daily and you exercise regularly, you’re bound to see results, no matter when you take the supplements. 

Just as with a collagen booster, adding extra vitamin C to your diet can help collagen synthesis. 

Which type of collagen is right for you? 

Knowing the types of collagen, and understanding your own health goals, can be great stepping stones to choosing the right collagen supplement for your lifestyle. 

If you are vegan or vegetarian, looking into collagen-boosting supplements can be a great way to give your body the tools it needs to synthesize its own collagen. While vegan collagen will interact with your body in a slightly different way, it will still provide you with some of the necessary nutrients you need to produce collagen naturally. 

Hunter holding a Frog Fuel liquid protein shot packet

Collagen peptide protein is also an excellent choice for those who choose to consume types of collagen from animal products. Hydrolyzed collagen has strong scientific backing for its ability to help you make gains in the gym or heal up after an injury. 

Whichever types of collagen you choose for your daily routine, make sure that they are actively and efficiently helping you achieve your health and fitness goals.

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