The Five Types of Collagen: What Are They and What Do They Do?

As collagen supplements are becoming more and more popular, it’s probably important that the nutrition information regarding collagen become equally as popular.

You may already know that collagen is the most abundant protein in your body.

It’s one of the major building blocks of bones, skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It can also be found in many other parts of the body like teeth, corneas, and blood vessels.

But you may not know that there are actually five different types of collagen. (There are technically 28 different types of collagen, but these five are the most important!)

In short, the different types of collagen are essentially representative of the area of the body from which the collagen was sourced.

Keep reading if you want to know more about each type of collagen!

Type I Collagen

Type I collagen is the most prevalent type of collagen in your body and the most prevalent type of collagen on the shelves in health stores.

This is the type of collagen that preserves the levels of collagen in your hair, skin, and nails.

Type I collagen isn’t just beauty-related. It’s also a major component of tendons, organs and bones.

The most thoroughly researched of the different types of collagen, type I collagen has been found to be useful for:

  • Preventing and removing wrinkles
  • Hydrating your skin
  • Healing wounds
  • Reducing cellulite and stretch marks
  • Losing weight, but a moderate amount and especially in non-obese people

The best sources for type I collagen are fish collagen or marine collagen, egg whites, bovine collagen peptides, protein-rich foods such as fish and beef, and bone broth.

In terms of supplements, the well-known “Collagen Peptides” are primarily composed of type I collagen.

Type II Collagen

Type II collagen is also commonly found in collagen supplements.

Though somewhat less prevalent in the body than type I collagen, type II collagen is still extremely important. It is the main component of cartilage and is extremely healthy for the skeletal system.

A man jogs down the street of a neighborhood.
Type II collagen has been known to effectively treat joint pain. If you are an active person who relies on their joints, you may want to consider adding type II collagen to your diet.

This type of collagen has also been known to effectively treat joint pain. So if you have joint pain or even if you are just an active person who relies on their joints, you may want to consider adding type II collagen to your diet.

The next most thoroughly researched of the different types of collagen, type II collagen has been found to be useful for:

  • Bone health
  • Joint health
  • Effectively alleviating arthritis

The best sources of type II collagen are bone broth, chicken collagen, protein-rich foods like chicken, and multi-collagen protein powder.

Type III Collagen

Type III collagen is the second most prevalent type of collagen in your body after type I.

It is generally found in reticular fibers, such as in the bone marrow. Type III collagen is usually found alongside type I collagen in the body.

It is a major structural component in hollow organs such as large blood vessels, the uterus, and the bowel. Other functions of type III collagen include interacting with platelets in the blood clotting cascade and working as an important signalling molecule in wound healing.

The best sources of type III collagen are bovine collagen peptides, protein-rich foods like beef and fish, bone broth, collagen protein powder, and egg whites.

Type IV Collagen

Type IV collagen is a less common type of collagen, however it is still essential.

Type IV collagen aids in the filtration of the kidneys and other organs.

It also exists naturally as building blocks in different layers of the skin. These layers of skin often surround our muscles, organs, and fat cells.

This type of collagen is also thought to be important for wound healing and the forming of an embryo.

The best sources of type IV collagen are egg whites and other protein-rich foods. Type IV collagen is very difficult to find in supplement form, so you should make sure to get it from your diet.

Type V Collagen

Type V collagen is the last of the five most important types of collagen.

Like some other types of collagen, type V can be found in collagen fibrils — meaning long, very thin collagen fibers.

This fiber-like collagen is found in some layers of skin, hair, and most importantly the tissue of the placenta. Since the placenta is vital to providing growing embryos with nutrients and oxygen, type V collagen is considered a crucial protein to neonatal development.

A close up of a young woman's blue eye.
Type V collagen is found in the cornea of the eye. Deficiency of type V collagen can impact your vision as well as your overall eye health.

Type V collagen is also found in the cornea of the eye. Deficiency of type V collagen has been associated with decreased transparency in the cornea, which means impacted vision and decreased overall eye health.

The best sources of type V collagen are multi-collagen protein powder and protein-rich foods like egg whites.

If you're eating a healthy diet and feeding your body all the nutrients it needs to make collagen, you probably don't need a collagen supplement.

However, there's nothing wrong with taking one. You can find collagen supplements in the form of flavored or unflavored powder and capsules.

If you opt to take supplements for whatever reason, be sure that when looking at bovine-, pork- or poultry-sourced collagen, you see the words "pasture-raised" or "grass-fed" to guarantee that it’s from a good source.

Types I, II, and III are arguably the best types of collagen and the most common types of collagen you’ll find in supplements. But remember that all types of collagen are essential to the human body. They each work in unique ways to help your body function.

Main image courtesy of Good Housekeeping.

@dremilnutrition