Skin health is in. You may have heard some buzz around collagen lately - and much of it centers around fighting wrinkles and its anti-aging properties. Both of these attributes are great, to be sure, but there's so much more to collagen and its benefits than what meets the eye.
Can Men Take Collagen Peptides?
The short answer is: yes. Anyone can take, and benefit from, collagen peptide supplements. Although they've been marketed heavily to women for their anti-aging properties, the benefits of collagen are greater than simply skin deep.
Collagen is the most abundant, naturally occurring protein in our bodies, and is imperative for the health of your skin, nails, hair, joints and bones. We lose collagen as we age, which can lead to stiff joints and brittle bones, as well as more aesthetic concerns like sagging skin and wrinkles. You may not be concerned with aging, but think about this for a quick second: Your skin is your body's largest organ. Optimal skin health supports your entire well-being, not just the look of your skin.
According to Jenna Stangland MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN, CLT, a sports dietitian and director of nutrition for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Wild, collagen isn't just beneficial for skin health. "We have our skeletal system, and our muscular system, and then we have the connective tissues that hold everything together, and those connective tissues are made of collagen," she explains. "Our bodies can make collagen on their own, but by age 30, our ability to make collagen slows down, and we rely more on what we can get from our diet, and from supplementation."
Stangland notes that collagen supplementation isn't just crucial for the professional athletes she advises — it's vital for everyone. "Supplementation after age 30 becomes important for any activity, like picking up the kids, putting away laundry," she says. "Everyday activities require us to be flexible and limber, so that we don't pull anything."
Collagen comes in many forms: powder, capsules, gummies, liquids, tablets and more. It's a wide range that can leave the uninitiated feeling overwhelmed with options. Stangland says her top supplements contain vitamin C. "Vitamin C increases collagen absorption," she points out. "So if you can get a product that already contains it, then you don't have to worry about taking your collagen with orange juice, or strawberries, or any other food item that contains vitamin C."
Beyond that, Stangland advises opting for bovine collagen when possible, as well as hydrolyzed supplements. And of course, always look for collagen peptides specifically, because that means the supplement is already broken into a smaller molecule, which increases bioavailability.
If you're curious about collagen peptides and want to try them out, see below for our top recommendations.
You may not have heard of collagen peptides before, but you've most likely heard of Vital Proteins. The well-known brand's collagen peptides powder contains not only the skin health powerhouse, but also hyaluronic acid and vitamin C, both well-established in boosting skin health. This powder contains 20 grams of bioavailable collagen, and is Whole 30, paleo and vegan friendly, as well as gluten-free.
Want to upgrade your daily scoop? Reach for Alaya's Multi Collagen powder. Dissolve a scoop in your favorite beverage, and enjoy the benefits of the multi-source collagen peptide blend of types I, II, III, V and X, made from high-quality chicken, fish, bovine and egg collagen.
Alaya's blend also includes MSM, glucosamine and chondroitin, each of which have been shown to positively affect joint, skin, nail and hair health. And like many brands on this list, Alaya offers multiple flavors plus an unflavored variety, which you'll be less likely to notice it in your coffee, smoothie, yogurt or daily snack.
Note: while this is technically our Step Up option, due to its high-quality ingredients, Alaya's collagen peptide powder is surprisingly affordable. Based on cost per serving — a whopping 40 in the container shown above — you're getting a lot of bang for your buck here.
Best Budget-Friendly Option
For those looking for an affordable and effective collagen option, check out this powder. According to Naturenetics, their optimized collagen is produced with Verisol, which clinical studies have shown stimulates collagen synthesis, improves skin structure and elasticity, and decreases the appearance of wrinkles. Optimized Collagen is flavorless, odorless, and dissolves in both cold and hot drinks. And at $25.46 for 60 servings, it's the best deal on this list.
Best Fast-Working Formula
Ancient Nutrition debuted its newest collagen peptide supplement this October, and it's a great option for anyone looking to experiment with collagen, without having to wait for results. The unflavored, hydrolyzed powder comes with 14 servings, and Ancient Nutrition says that their clinically studied Collagen Peptides are backed by human trials to show results in as little as one day — so you can start to see benefits almost immediately.
Best Clean Ingredients
For those of you that are ardent label-readers and who consider clean ingredients to be the deciding factor in whether or not you'll try a new supplement, consider trying Live Conscious: the brand's hydrolyzed types I & III collagen peptides are sourced from grass-fed, pasture-raised, Grade A bovine that is certified hormone-free and 100 percent non-GMO. LC's collagen peptide powder checks all the boxes, provides all the benefits, and is easy to add to your favorite beverage.
Capsules are easy to pack, simple to take, and for those of us that are picky eaters, don't taste like anything. This option from Rae is vegan, and utilizes plant proteins, vitamin C and bamboo to revitalize cells and support collagen production. The capsules are an easy addition to your daily routine, and the price won't break the bank.
Give your inner child the gift of a daily gummy. Each serving of Olly's Collagen Gummy Rings (two gummies) contains a clinically-tested dose of 2.5 grams of collagen per serving, and within four weeks, you'll start to see visible improvement in skin elasticity and firmness — and that's just what's happening on the outside.
Best Vegan Supplement
Vegans, rejoice! Collagen is not just for the meat-eaters of the world: there are also plenty of supplements that cater to plant enthusiasts, so you can support your skin, bone and hair health without compromising your values. Mary Ruth's products are formulated with vegan ingredients to assist the body’s natural production of collagen, and are free from, well, everything: gluten and wheat, gelatin, nuts, soy, nightshades, sugar, and GMOs. For anyone with dietary restrictions, this one is for you.
Best On the Go Powder
In this modern world, some of us are too busy to measure scoops of collagen to add to our smoothies, acai bowls, hot teas and snacks on a day-to-day basis. And while that perpetual busy-ness is a whole different topic, we do have a solution for the chronically occupied: Primal Kitchen's Collagen Peptide Packets. Stash some in your carry-on, kitchen drawer, tote bag and bedside table, so you're never far from skin health. Each convenient packet contains 10 grams of unflavored bovine collagen peptides — keto-certified and paleo-friendly.
Tastiest Peptide Supplement
Who doesn't love chocolate? And now that you've reached the end of this story, who doesn't love collagen? For those looking for a side of flavor with their supplements, check out Thrive Market's Grass-Fed Collagen Peptides: responsibly sourced, preservative-free, and tasty, to boot. Each serving contains 11.1 grams of bovine hide collagen peptides, and can be added into your favorite baked goods, hot drinks and cold beverages.