Collagen: The Important Differences Between Types I, II, and III

pretty woman looking down at her hands holding a mug with the natural force logo with a container of natural force collagen peptides in the background

The beauty benefits of collagen peptides have definitely put this supplement on the map. From smoothing skin and hair, to strengthening nails and healing the gut, the perks of this flavorless powder go on and on. As more collagen powders and pills pop up on the market, you might be wondering: Are there different types of collagen? And which type of collagen is right for you?

It turns out that there are at least 16 different types of collagen, but 80-90% of the collagen in your body is made up types I, II, and III. Read on to get the scoop on the benefits of types I, II, and III collagen, and which sources are best for your skin, your gut, and your joints.

In this article you’ll learn:

How Collagen is Different from Other Proteins

Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body, making up about 30% of your body’s total protein molecules. This makes sense – collagen is a connective tissue, meaning it makes up the things that hold your parts in place – bones, tendons, ligaments, and skin.

Your body makes its own collagen molecules, but this production starts to slow down as you age, resulting in the breakdown in tissues we associate with getting older – wrinkled, sagging skin and weaker, painful joints.

The good news is, you can maintain and replenish collagen with certain foods and supplementation.

How to Make New Collagen

Your body makes collagen proteins from the amino acids proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline. All of these amino acids come from food, but some are harder to come by than others. Hydroxyproline, for instance, is found almost exclusively in collagen from animal sources. In other words, if you want to make new collagen, you have to make sure you’re getting these specific amino acids from food or supplements.

Each type of collagen has a slightly different job in the body and may come from slightly different sources. Read on to find out exactly how to supplement with collagen to maximize its benefits.

Type I Collagen Benefits and Where to Find It

Type I collagen is the most abundant in the human body. You can find type I collagen in your eyes, skin, tendons, bone, and teeth. Even though it’s great for rebuilding your muscles, eyes, bones, and spine, it’s famous for minimizing fine lines and wrinkles and improving skin elasticity and hydration. It’s also good for strengthening your nails and helping you grow stronger, thicker hair.

There’s a lot of overlap when it comes to the benefits of type I and III collagen so you’ll often find products that contain both. However, Natural Force Marine Collagen, which is sourced from wild-caught red snapper, is particularly rich in type I collagen making it the best choice for those specifically seeking the benefits of type I.

Types I and III are best for healing the gut lining; and type I collagen from marine sources is especially good for healing the tight junctions of your intestinal tract.

The best sources for types I collagen:

Check out the detailed difference between marine collagen and bovine collagen here.

Type II Collagen Benefits and Where to Find It

Type II collagen makes up a majority of the protein molecules in your cartilage – the connective tissue that protects your bones at the joints. You also find type II collagen in high amounts in your spinal disks and your eyes.

Cartilage deterioration causes a lot of joint pain, so this is the collagen type known for helping with joint health.

Don’t wait until your joints hurt! Type II collagen may help with activity-related joint pain and inflammation. 

The best source for type II collagen:

Type III Collagen Benefits and Where to Find It

Type III collagen is the second most abundant type in your body. You can find it in large quantities in your intestines, muscles, blood vessels, and the uterus. It’s most often used with type I collagen for gut healing and to improve skin elasticity and hydration.

Which Type of Collagen is Right For You?

The first step to choosing the right collagen for your body is to determine your specific goals.

  • To maintain skin elasticity and hydration and for healthy eyes, bones, and wound healing: Try 1-2 servings daily of Marine Collagen, which is high in type I collagen or Bovine Collagen for high amounts of both types I and II.
  • For joint pain and inflammation: Add 1-2 servings daily of type II collagen from Organic Bone Broth Protein or Bovine Collagen.
  • For gut health: Aim for 1-3 servings daily of Organic Bone Broth Protein.

The second step to choosing the best collagen is all about sourcing. Sourcing the highest-quality grass-fed (or in the case of marine collagen – wild-caught) is the key to using collagen to build stronger hair, skin, nails, bones, and joints. We recommend using a variety of sources regularly to make sure you’re getting types I, II, and II on a regular basis.

For more information on exactly how much collagen to take for your goals, check out our article Collagen Peptides: How Much Should I Take?