January 27, 2020 8 min read

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    There’s no denying that the supplement market can be rather confusing at times. In a perfect world, all that would be expected from you is to recognize the supplements you want in order to optimize your nutrition. However, in a world of unlimited choices, there are plenty of factors for you to consider before clicking add to cart.When it comes to collagen, what is it exactly that makes the difference?

    Recently you may have heard a common question regarding collagen nutrition that concerns the difference between multi-collagen and “normal” collagen or collagen peptides. Is multi-collagen some kind of innovative product that’s going to revolutionize the nutrition world and take the supplement market by storm? Before making the final decision between team multi-collagenand team normal collagen, let’s set the record straight.

    Collagen Basics

    Collagen is the king of proteins - or queen ;-). Literally, it’s the most abundant protein in mammals, and the primary protein in connective tissues. How important is it? Well, given the fact that it accounts for 25% of the total amount of protein in the human body, we’d say it is vital for overall healthy functioning of our bodies. Although we always regard collagen as a single entity, it is important to note that there are nearly 28 collagen types identified thus far, the most prominent being Type I, found in skin, bones, teeth, organs, ligaments, and many other body parts.

    One of the primary roles of collagen concerns the mechanical stability of skeletal tissues, blood vessels, nerves, intestines, as well as skin. Have you ever wondered what is it that gives our skin that elasticity and plumpness? The answer is collagen, the protein responsible for the resilience and structure of not only the skin, but bones and cartilage as well.

    So, what happens when the rate of naturally produced collagen starts inevitably degrading? Each and every aspect of health we’ve mentioned before is affected by this change, and the most obvious consequences appear on the skin, in the form of wrinkles, fine lines, and texture. According to a study conducted by Zague V., supplementing with hydrolyzed collagen has been found to increase collagen levels, hence the recommendation of these supplements in balanced nutrition.

    Why hydrolyzed collagen? Basically, this type of collagen supplement has been found to provide larger collagen fibrils and more dense fibroblasts, which is a result that could not be replicated by any other source of amino acids, a study on the effects of collagen hydrolysate intake finds.

    What Is Multi-Collagen?

    Those advocating multi-collagen as a more beneficial variant rely on the variety of collagen sources as the primary factor in choosing your collagen supplement. Long story short, what multi-collagen offers is the nutrient obtained from multiple sources such as porcine skin, chicken feet, cartilage, and eggshell membrane, as opposed to single-sourced collagen. Brands manufacturing multi-collagen rely on a single hypothesis - more is more. Basically, they believe that customers should not be limited when it comes to collagen source, but enjoy the benefits of a mixture of different collagen types instead.

    Given that producing multi-collagen requires exploiting multiple sources and creating a balanced mixture, it is understandable that the price of this product is usually higher compared to single-sourced collagen. However, what we’ve decided to put to the test is the very concept of this product, in order to determine whether the price (and the hype) is justified.

    When it comes to the quality of a collagen supplement, can multiple sources really be considered a game-changing advantage?

    Quality of Ingredients

    Factors Determining the Quality of a Collagen Supplement


    The very first factor we should keep in mind when purchasing a collagen supplement is the absorption rate or the amount of nutrients our body is actually able to utilize. Why? Well, it doesn’t really matter if we keep up with our nutritional needs and choose adequate supplements if our body is unable to process the given form of the nutrient. In other words, if your body is wasting more of the nutrient than it is able to absorb, are you truly getting the desired benefits?

    What determines the bioavailability of a supplement is its molecular weight, and that’s precisely what the dominance of collagen hydrolysate stems from. According to a study on the effects of collagen hydrolysate, any form of hydrolyzed collagen with a molecular weight lower than 10kDa has an absorption rate of over 95%. What’s more, the authors of the aforementioned study go on to conclude that it is the molecular weight, rather than the source (or the variety of sources) of collagen, that dictates the absorption rate of a collagen supplement.

    What’s more, a study conducted by Ohara H. and colleagues further breaks down the collagen hydrolyzation process. Namely, collagen hydrolysate is digested in the form of free amino acids which are absorbed into the bloodstream. When it comes to various sources of collagen, it has been shown that all-natural marine collagen provides a larger quantity of these readily absorbed peptides, as opposed to other collagen sources.

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    Based on the mentioned studies, it is safe to conclude that it is the molecular weight, not the collagen source, that influences the absorption rate of the nutrient. Further, regardless of the collagen type, the nutrient is always broken down into amino acids in order to be absorbed. Therefore, the variety of collagen types that multi-collagen offers cannot be considered an advantage when it comes to the absorbance and overall bioavailability of the product.

    Collagen Nutrition


    Once hydrolyzed, collagen is broken down into amino acids that are further distributed into the bloodstream, as we’ve discussed before. What happens next is known as the distribution phase, as collagen peptides and free amino acids are distributed throughout the body, including the dermis, muscle, bones, cartilage, and internal organs (as long as the collagen peptides supplement consumed is hydrolyzed and of molecular weight lower than 10kDa).

    The role of collagen in the dermis encompasses multiple roles, including moisture level, wound healing, texture, as well as the epidermal barrier. Namely, it is the peptide known as Pro-Hyp peptide derived from collagen, which has been found to promote the proliferation of fibroblasts (connective tissue cells producing and organizing the collagen matrix), as well as the production of elastin and hyaluronic acid in the skin, a study by Yazaki M. et al. suggests. When it comes to beneficial effects of collagen in the skin, the bottom line is that these benefits can be obtained from any source of quality hydrolyzed collagen, given that all collagen types have been found to liberate the skin-loving Pro-Hyp peptide.

    When it comes to muscle mass, collagen supplements have been a rather popular choice among athletes for quite some time, as their beneficial effect is two-fold. Namely, collagen provides the amino acids, those being arginine and glycine, necessary for creatine synthesis, which is the staple of muscle mass and muscular function. Secondly, collagen has been shown to promote microcirculation, supporting amino acid delivery and enhancing muscle growth.

    If you’re looking to achieve some lean muscle gains, you should also know that the perfect timing to consume your post-workout collagen shake is 90-120 minutes after your workout, which is commonly known as the anabolic window. Nevertheless, collagen benefits regarding muscle growth cannot be attributed to an abundance of different collagen types offered in multi-collagen. What truly matters in this aspect is the amino acid composition - arginine and glycine rates, to be exact.

    Cartilage health is also one of the primary health aspects positively affected by consistent collagen supplementation. For instance, when it comes to osteoarthritis, affected individuals deal with a decrease in Type II collagen in the extracellular matrix, resulting in cartilage damage. A study on the effects of collagen peptides supplementation on the improvement of knee joint discomfort found supplementing with collagen to be quite effective. Namely, the participants of this study who took 10g of all-natural collagen powder a day experienced a significant improvement in mobility, as well as reduced pain, when compared with placebo.

    As far as relieving cartilage damage, hydrolyzed collagen supplements have been found to promote the biosynthesis of natural collagen present in the cartilage. According to the study conducted by S. Oesser and colleagues, what dictates the efficiency of a collagen supplement in this process of biosynthesis is the earlier discussed molecular weight, not collagen variety.

    The Final Verdict: Is Multi-Collagen Superior?

    Now that we’ve examined various roles of collagen supplements and concluded that the actual type of collagen makes no difference when it comes to these crucial factors, let’s take a moment to sum up the facts. Given that collagen is broken into short chains of amino acids in the process of hydrolyzation, it is almost impossible to tell the different types of collagen apart. Therefore, what can truly be considered the difference-maker is the amino acid composition, which ultimately depends upon the quality, not the variety of ingredients.

    Not all collagen is created equal, as we’ve discussed previously regarding the molecular weight, but the actual abundance of sources does not seem to make a world of a difference. What does matter when it comes to sources is the fact that many companies source the chicken for their multi-collagen from China or India, while the fish portion comes from farm-raised tilapia. Therefore, when choosing multi-collagen, a clean ingredient list is usually not a part of the deal, and the majority of companies fail at creating a flavorless formula.

    And since the type of collagen seems to be a matter of personal preference rather than a game-changer, make sure to check out our Collagen Nutrition for different variations (all clean-sourced!). Looking for more all-natural, non-GMO supplements? Head over to our online store.  

    Article References:

    1. Parvizi, J., & Kim, G. (2010). Collagen. High Yield Orthopaedics, 107-109. doi: 10.1016/b978-1-4160-0236-9.00064-x
    2. Silvipriya, K., Kumar, K., Bhat, A., Kumar, B., John, A., & Lakshmanan, P. (2015). Collagen: Animal Sources and Biomedical Application.Journal Of Applied Pharmaceutical Science, 123-127. doi: 10.7324/japs.2015.50322
    3. Zague, V. (2008). A new view concerning the effects of collagen hydrolysate intake on skin properties.Archives Of Dermatological Research, 300(9), 479-483. doi: 10.1007/s00403-008-0888-4
    4. Ohara, H., Matsumoto, H., Ito, K., Iwai, K., & Sato, K. (2007). Comparison of Quantity and Structures of Hydroxyproline-Containing Peptides in Human Blood after Oral Ingestion of Gelatin Hydrolysates from Different Sources.Journal Of Agricultural And Food Chemistry, 55(4), 1532-1535. doi: 10.1021/jf062834s
    5. Sibilla, S., Godfrey, M., Brewer, S., Budh-Raja, A., & Genovese, L. (2015). An Overview of the Beneficial Effects of Hydrolysed Collagen as a Nutraceutical on Skin Properties: Scientific Background and Clinical Studies.The Open Nutraceuticals Journal, 8(1), 29-42. doi: 10.2174/1876396001508010029
    6. Yazaki, M., Ito, Y., Yamada, M., Goulas, S., Teramoto, S., & Nakaya, M. et al. (2017). Oral Ingestion of Collagen Hydrolysate Leads to the Transportation of Highly Concentrated Gly-Pro-Hyp and Its Hydrolyzed Form of Pro-Hyp into the Bloodstream and Skin. Journal Of Agricultural And Food Chemistry, 65(11), 2315-2322. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.6b05679
    7. Zdzieblik, D., Oesser, S., Baumstark, M., Gollhofer, A., & König, D. (2015). Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomised controlled trial.British Journal Of Nutrition, 114(8), 1237-1245. doi: 10.1017/s0007114515002810
    8. Oesser, S., & Seifert, J. (2003). Stimulation of type II collagen biosynthesis and secretion in bovine chondrocytes cultured with degraded collagen.Cell And Tissue Research, 311(3), 393-399. doi: 10.1007/s00441-003-0702-8
    9. Zdzieblik, D., Oesser, S., Gollhofer, A., & König, D. (2017). Improvement of activity-related knee joint discomfort following supplementation of specific collagen peptides. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, And Metabolism, 42(6), 588-595. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2016-0390

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