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Collagen supplementation is ubiquitous worldwide, and as a result, it’s a topic of great interest. As a pharmacist, I get asked this question all the time: Which collagen supplement is the best for me? The short answer is – it depends.
Collagen is a source of functional peptides (protein building-blocks). Protein is important for our many physiological functions, and collagen has been shown to play an important and beneficial supplemental role. One key area of interest is hair growth.
While the data is not quite definitive, there is reason to believe that collagen plays a pivotal role in promoting healthy and strong hair growth. Our bodies make collagen, and to do so also require vitamin C, which in addition to helping us make collagen is also crucial for maintaining the integrity of our skin, connective tissue, bones, blood vessel walls, and teeth.
Collagen is typically sourced from either marine (undersized fish, jellyfish, sharks, sponges) or animal sources (cattle, chicken, pigs). The difference is that marine sources may present a safer and more environmentally conscious source of collagen.
Fish biomass has high collagen content and may provide a sustainable collagen source for future applications. As well, individuals may be prevented from consuming porcine (pig) or bovine (cattle)-derived collagen due to personal choices or religious reasons, making marine collagen an excellent alternative.
Hydrolyzed collagen is a term you will have no doubt seen littering the internet. Native collagen, which is typically much larger (a factor of 100x heavier than hydrolyzed collagen) and less bioavailable (your body can absorb less native collagen), is much harder for our bodies to absorb. By breaking down the collagen using hydrolysis, we can access a greater proportion of it, making it more compatible for our bodies.
There are several studies demonstrating its ability to improve skin health, recover lost cartilage, aid in joint pain, and may play a role in bone density (particularly in postmenopausal women). It’s also an essential building block of healthy hair, providing necessary protein components for the keratin structure which forms strong hair.
One type of collagen in particular, Collagen VI, is present in high amounts in the skin and scalp, and is deposited in hair follicles, and evidence suggests that collagen VI could be a potential therapeutic target for hair loss and other skin-related diseases.
There is also some discussion around whether collagen can increase the body’s hair building proteins, giving you longer, thicker hair, reducing the appearance of grey hairs, and treating brittle split ends. The evidence for this is less definitive however, but more work is currently being conducted.
With that being said, let’s look at the best collagen supplements for hair growth products on the market, and the ones that I typically recommend to my patients.
Coming in at number one is Amen Collagen from Codeage.
For about a buck a day, they provide high-quality, American manufactured collagen in a hydrolyzed capsule formulation.
This is great for those of us who hate mixing powders, or dry-scooping into our mouths.
Their facility is cGMP certified, meaning you can trust that what comes off the assembly line is what’s promised on the label: high quality affordable supplements.
I personally prefer this one because it also includes vitamin C, and hyaluronic acid. Vitamin C as previously mentioned is key for our bodies to synthesize collagen, and it’s something I always include in my supplement stack when taking collagen.
Hyaluronic acid is ubiquitous in our skin and plays a key role in moisture maintenance. Skin health and hair health are inextricably linked, and though there is limited evidence of the role of hyaluronic acid in hair growth, the literature is continually growing.
Their collagen also comes from grass-fed cows, and is hydrolyzed so that you can absorb more of the collagen.
For all of these reasons, Codeage Amen Collagen is our #1 choice.
This is a truly unique formulation from Neocell. This company is also cGMP certified and located in southern California, USA.
This marine collagen not only contains vitamin C and hyaluronic acid, but also includes magnesium and zinc, which have wide ranging health benefits, and have been implicated in hair growth.1, 2
It’s a great deal as well, with 30 servings for $13.86
Next is the Double Wood Supplements Collagen Peptides. This keto-safe, bovine-sourced collagen contains types I, II, and III collagen and provides great value from a truly reputable company. It also comes from grass-fed cows.
This product is also USA-made, and cGMP certified. It contains 38 days worth of collagen powder, which you can mix in water or juice of your choice.
$19.95, 38 scoops.
If you haven’t heard of iHerb, and you’re looking for a great deal, their California Gold Nutrition CollagenUP powder may be perfect for you.
At $47.03 for 90 servings, this marine-sourced collagen with hyaluronic acid and vitamin C is a great choice. And it’s sourced from a cGMP-certified facility.
This one has all the components I look for, and at a great price. It’s unflavoured, so just mix it in water or your favourite juice and enjoy. They also sell it in packets which I find useful for travel, but the powder has a better price point.
Coming up next is another great product from Codeage.
This is their Wild Caught Marine Collagen Peptides Powder. This keto-safe, meatless supplement is held to the same rigorous standards as their other products we’ve mentioned and may be just what you’re looking for if your dietary restrictions limit meat-sourced materials.
At $59.99, this product offers a 50-day supply of high-quality collagen.
This is for those of us who are really looking to buy in bulk.
From PureBulk, this is sold in packs up to 1kg for $39.25!
This is for those among us on a budget looking for a steal. However, because the manufacturer uses sulfur dioxide in the manufacturing process, this may have an unpleasant smell or taste, so you’ll have to mix it in something like a post-workout smoothie.
Rest assured, it’s safe to consume and is 3rd party accredited.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better budget deal.
Yes, we’ve ranked these products, but we also want you to make the best decisions for you, and that means understanding how we ranked them.
The supplement industry isn’t regulated by the FDA, so we choose products that originated from companies primarily with cGMP certifications, and with a preference for those also manufactured in America.
Even though collagen on its own is great, combining it with other key ingredients such as vitamin C can improve the value you receive per dose. That’s why you’ll see some of the options higher up on the scale typically include other components with demonstrated efficacy.
We’re all looking for a deal. I’ve done my due diligence to not only provide high-quality options, but also those with a solid price point.
Collagen is typically very well tolerated. I don’t often hear complaints from my patients, aside from gastrointestinal (stomach) upset. To reduce this, I’d recommend taking it with a meal if you notice that one of these formulations doesn’t quite sit well with you.
However, if you’re taking medications in addition to these supplements, I recommend you reach out to your pharmacist or health care provider to determine the best way for you to take these supplements and avoid any interactions with your medication regimen.
I’ve tried to vary the options to include both bovine and marine options. I listed most of the reasons above, but another important consideration is allergies.
If you have a shellfish allergy, it’s best to avoid the marine formulations and opt instead for a meat-sourced alternative if possible.
So, there you have it. These are the products I typically refer my clients to, and the ones that I personally prefer. Talk to your primary care provider to discuss which option might be best for you.
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