The Best Collagen Supplements: Liquid vs. Powder
Collagen supplements are an increasingly popular dietary and beauty supplement that many aging celebrities credit for their youthful glow. Seeing Kourtney Kardashian’s radiant skin at forty-something years old is enough to make anyone want to try what she uses. With so many ways to take it, a budding dispute between experts is: liquid collagen vs. powder—what’s better?
What is Collagen?
The first thing to discuss when debating the liquid collagen vs. powder argument is what collagen is. Collagen a form of protein. It’s the most abundant protein in the human body, making up connective tissues like tendons, ligaments, skin, and muscles. Think of collagen as the glue that holds these tissues together—it’s often referred to as the body’s scaffolding.
There are four main types of collagen and at least twelve others.
- Type I—approximately 90% of the collagen in your body is densely packed fibres that come together to form skin, bones, tendons, cartilage, and teeth
- Type II—looser than type I, this type creates the flexible cartilage that cushions joints
- Type III—provides the structure of muscles, organs, and blood vessels
- Type IV—found within the layers of the skin
As we age, our bodies break down collagen faster than we can produce it. We lose approximately 1% of collagen per year beginning in our mid-twenties, then women lose about 30% during the first five years of menopause. This loss is to blame for sagging skin, fine lines and wrinkles, and painful joints.
What are Collagen Supplements?
It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about liquid collagen vs. powder; collagen supplements are made from the collagen in other animals’ tissues like:
- skin, bones, hooves, and nerve tissues from chickens, cows, or pigs
- fish scales
Supplement companies process and break down the complex triple helix structure of the molecules and then heat it, essentially turning it into gelatin. The gelatin goes through more processing and turns into the finished collagen supplement product.
Collagen Supplement Benefits
This is a relatively new dietary supplement in terms of science, and more research is needed to validate claims. Still, preliminary research is promising and leading many medical and nutrition professionals to recommend the supplements to their patients.
Check out these top benefits:
- Slows skin’s aging and improves its appearance.
- Relieves joint pain.
- Prevents bone loss.
- Boosts muscle mass.
- Promotes health in the heart, hair, nails, gut, and brain.
Collagen-Rich Food Sources
Collagen exists in animals’ connective tissues, so foods like chicken or pork skin, beef, and fish are all sources of collagen. Most times, we’re the first to suggest that foods should be your first choice when looking to increase your consumption of certain macro or micronutrients. We should use supplements if it is not possible or convenient to consume enough of the foods. That’s not the case with collagen. There are no studies to support that food sources provide the same benefits as collagen supplements.
Supplements are hydrolyzed or broken down before consumption. This makes it easier for the body to absorb the collagen and create its own.
Alternatively, instead of eating foods that contain collagen, you can include foods like egg whites, citrus fruits, berries, leafy greens, red and yellow vegetables, white tea, beans, avocados, and soy products. These foods help stimulate the body’s natural collagen production.
Types of Collagen Supplements
Of course, because we’re talking about the liquid collagen vs. powder argument, we should talk about the many ways you can take a collagen supplement. Choose from topical creams, injections, pills, gummies, powders, liquids, and coffee creamers.
Topical creams are ineffective because collagen molecules are so large that they can’t be absorbed through the skin. Pricey creams that list collagen as an active ingredient are a waste of money because those molecules sit on the skin until you wash your face. Injectable collagen fillers aren’t as popular as they once were because they don’t last very long, and they don’t stimulate the body’s natural production.
Some scientists have concerns over collagen supplements that double as coffee creamers because molecules fall apart at temperatures any higher than the human body, diminishing their usefulness.
Lastly, pills, tablets, and gummies aren’t ideal because the stomach must breakdown the capsule or tablet before it receives the collagen. When it’s all said and done, we can only absorb about 40-45% of the dose. Now that we’ve narrowed it down, the debate is liquid collagen vs. powder.
Liquid Collagen vs. Powder Collagen: What’s Better?
After narrowing all the forms of collagen supplements down to powders and liquids, there are a couple of factors that might help you decide which is best for you. Both supplements are anywhere from 90-95% absorbable.
Liquid Collagen Supplements are ready-to-drink supplements typically in an individual shot, sleeve, or a beverage like a sports drink.
Powder Collagen Supplements are like protein powders. They come in a tub and are easily mixed into shakes and smoothies.
Liquid Collagen vs. Powder: Convenience
Liquid supplements win this one. The supplement is ready to drink and easily portable wherever you go. Sports style beverages are pleasantly flavoured, and individual packets are slightly thicker than water and quick to consume. Carrying around a tub of anything is not always convenient nor possible.
Another factor that lengthens liquid’s win for convenience: powders are made of different size collagen molecules. The larger molecules often sink to the bottom of the tub, meaning that you should stir or shake the tub before each use.
Liquid Collagen vs. Powder: Taste
Liquid might win this one, but powder isn’t far behind. Powder is the most popular way to take collagen. It is easily added to smoothies though you can add a liquid supplement one, too. Powders are flavoured or unflavoured, and some people are bothered by a slightly bitter taste.
Liquid Collagen vs. Powder Collagen Consensus
It’s not as clear cut as you might be hoping. The liquid collagen vs. powder debate ultimately comes down to personal preference. Some might find the convenience and flavours of liquid collagen supplements ideal. Others might like to keep a tub of collagen by their blender and add it to their daily smoothies. Whatever you decide, your joints, skin, and hair are sure to love your choice!