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Liquid Collagen: Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. It gives shape, strength, support, and elasticity to the skin, hair, nails, bones, joints, and other connective tissues throughout the body. Liquid collagen supplements have gained popularity due to the many potential health benefits they provide, their lack of adverse effects, and their convenient and easy use.

In this article, we will discuss the potential benefits, uses, and risks to be aware of when taking liquid collagen supplements.

What is liquid collagen?

Collagen is a protein that can be found in the skin, hair, nails, joints, bones, muscles, ligaments, and other connective tissues of mammals.

This protein gives shape and structure to the tissues of the body. It also contributes to the elasticity of the skin, the strength of the ligaments, and several other cellular functions in the body.

Additionally, collagen is also necessary for organ development, wound healing, and blood vessel and tissue repair.

Collagen is commercialized as a dietary supplement. Several presentations are available, including powder, capsules, tablets, gummies, and liquid.

Liquid collagen contains a type of collagen known as hydrolyzed collagen. Hydrolyzed means the collagen protein has been broken down into smaller, more easily absorbed fragments called peptides and amino acids.

How does liquid collagen work?

Currently, specific research on pure liquid collagen supplements has been limited. Most studies have been performed on powdered collagen or liquid collagen combined with other supplements.

Nevertheless, at present there is no reason to believe the mechanism of action can vary depending on whether the collagen is ingested in powder or liquid form. After all, liquid collagen is basically powder collagen already diluted in water or juice for convenient use.

After ingesting the supplements, the peptides from collagen hydrolysates are absorbed in the intestine, further degraded into smaller dipeptides, tripeptides, and amino acids, and then carried through the bloodstream to finally reach the skin and tissues of the body.

Although the exact mechanism of action of collagen has not yet been fully elucidated, researchers believe that collagen peptides and amino acids can exert their activities through several mechanisms:

  • Stimulation of fibroblasts. Fibroblasts are the cells responsible for producing collagen and elastin fibers in the skin, tendons, and other connective tissues. This helps repair and regenerate damaged skin, as well as improve skin elasticity, hydration, and overall appearance.
  • Stimulation of chondrocytes (cartilage cells) and osteoblasts (bone cells). These cells promote cartilage integrity and bone mineral density and are also involved in repairing and maintaining joints and bones.
  • Amino acids supply, especially glycine and proline, which play a key role in the synthesis of muscle proteins necessary for muscle repair and growth; they also aid in recovery after physical activity.

At present, research on the potential effects and mechanisms of action of collagen-based dietary supplements is ongoing.

Types of liquid collagen

There are 28 types of collagen, the most common types being I through V.

Most collagen supplements are obtained from collagen-rich animal tissues coming from land-based animals and fish byproducts, including bones, cartilage, skin, scales, and fins.

And, depending on the manufacturing process, several formulations of collagen can be obtained: insoluble undenatured native collagens, soluble native collagens, denatured collagens (gelatin), and hydrolyzed collagen comprising collagen hydrolysates and peptides.

Each of these collagen formulations can vary in terms of composition, structure, and properties.

However, hydrolyzed collagen is usually preferred in the field of dietary supplements because its small fragments are easier to use by the body, and it also has an increased solubility, meaning its bioavailability is higher when compared to other forms of collagen.

Sources of liquid collagen

Liquid collagen can be obtained from different sources:

  • Marine. Extracted from the skin, scales, bones, or tissues of fish, jellyfish, and sponges. It can be used as an alternative to porcine and bovine collagens.
  • Bovine. Derived from the bones, hides, tendons, lungs, and connective tissue of cows. Its use may be limited by religious causes or banned in some regions due to its potential association with cases of mad cow disease.
  • Porcine. Derived from the skin and bones of pigs. In some backgrounds, its use may be limited by religious reasons.
  • Chicken. Extracted from the skin and cartilage of chickens, including their feet. It can be used as an alternative to porcine and bovine collagens.

All these types of liquid collagen — marine, bovine, chicken, and porcine — each offer unique benefits that can be tailored to different health needs.

How does liquid collagen differ from other types of collagen?

Oral collagen supplements come in various presentations, including liquid, powder, capsules, tablets, and gummies. Each type has unique characteristics, benefits, and applications.

Here, we compare the main characteristics of each form:

Collagen presentationAbsorptionConvenienceDosageFlavor
Liquid collagenTypically, it has a higher bioavailability due to its hydrolyzed form.Ready-to-drink and often flavored, making it convenient for on-the-go consumption.Comes in pre-measured doses.Available in various flavors.
Powdered collagenNeeds to be dissolved in a liquid but still offers good bioavailability.Requires mixing with water, juice, or other beverages.Flexible dosing. Consumers can adjust the amount of powder they mix.Flavorless or mildly flavored. It can be easily mixed with various beverages.
Collagen in tablets, capsules, or gummiesThese forms have to be broken down in the digestive system, which may result in slightly lower absorption rates.Easy to carry and consume. Water or other beverages might be required to swallow the supplement more easily.Fixed doses per serving. It might require taking several pills at a time.Tasteless in the case of tablets and capsules. Gummies are available in various flavors.

Collagen supplements may be effective regardless of their presentation, and the choice ultimately depends on personal preferences and lifestyle.

Why would you need liquid collagen?

The body synthesizes the collagen it needs. However, as part of the natural aging process, the rate at which the cells can produce collagen declines, and eventually, the effects of collagen deficiency may be noticeable.

Common signs of collagen deficiency include joint pain, skin wrinkling, skin sagging, and similar.

Furthermore, obese people and people who have had joint injuries may experience collagen alterations and have a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis due to the constant strain sustained by their joints and ligaments.

So, collagen supplements were developed to tackle these issues.

Potential liquid collagen benefits

Research on collagen has been extensive, and several studies have been carried out in vitro (in the lab) and in vivo with animals and humans. However, the exact mechanisms by which collagen exerts its functions have not been fully elucidated yet.

Moreover, the effects of collagen in the body may vary due to several reasons, including the type of collagen used, the source, the manufacturing process of the supplement, and the individual characteristics of the person taking it.

Nevertheless, to date, the main collagen supplement benefits may be:

Potential antioxidant activity

Research has found that collagen may have potential antioxidant properties that might help protect the body against free radicals.

Free radicals are molecules that cause harm to the cells and have been related to aging signs and several diseases and conditions like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.

So, collagen supplements may potentially be beneficial to aid in lowering the risk of or managing several chronic (long-term) ailments.

May have anti-aging properties

Collagen supplements may have the potential to improve the appearance of aging skin due to their antioxidant activity and the direct effect their molecules exert on the skin and other tissues.

A study done with aged mice found that collagen peptides may have neuroprotective effects and the potential to have a positive impact on memory.

Additionally, several studies show that oral collagen supplementation may increase the skin's hydration, elasticity, and firmness while also potentially reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles.

This happens because collagen peptides stimulate fibroblasts in the skin to produce more collagen and elastin, which are crucial for maintaining skin structure and moisture.

Furthermore, collagen supplements may also aid in protecting the skin against photoaging caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure and potentially improve skin roughness.

May promote joint, bone, and muscle health

Collagen provides amino acids that may aid in the repair and maintenance of bones, muscles, connective tissues, tendons, and ligaments, contributing to their strength and flexibility and enhancing overall musculoskeletal health.

Additionally, several studies have found collagen may be useful in managing osteoarthritis and joint pain. It may also improve bone mineral density by stimulating osteoblasts, the cells responsible for bone formation, which may potentially have a positive effect on osteoporosis in the future.

Furthermore, a study found that taking collagen supplements before and after exercise may help with muscle soreness.

However, research has been limited, and evidence on whether collagen supplements can be helpful in advanced cases of osteoarthritis or osteoporosis remains to be elucidated.

May show some antimicrobial activity

A study conducted in 2011 found that fish scale collagen peptides may improve wound healing due to their anti-bacterial properties.

Later, a study performed in 2016 identified an antibacterial peptide from fish collagen may have the potential to inhibit the growth of a bacterium known as Staphylococcus aureus.

However, while the antimicrobial activity of collagen supplements seems promising, currently, there is not enough data to conclude whether these supplements can serve as an aid for the management of infectious diseases.

May improve heart health

In vivo studies conducted in rats found that collagen may have antihypertensive properties. This happens because collagen peptides may have an impact on the inhibition of an enzyme known as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), which plays an important role in the regulation of blood pressure.

ACE inhibition can have a cardioprotective effect and may be beneficial for people who have hypertension (high blood pressure).

Furthermore, collagen supplements are reported to potentially affect the absorption and metabolism of blood lipids (fats) in rats and may also improve vascular function by activating an enzyme known as endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS).

All the mentioned effects can have a beneficial impact on the health of the heart and blood vessels and may be useful in the management of cardiovascular diseases.

May help regulate blood sugar

Collagen supplements may have a positive impact on the levels of fasting blood glucose (sugar) and sensitivity to insulin — the glucose-lowering hormone, as seen in a study with Chinese people with type 2 diabetes mellitus and primary hypertension.

Researchers believe this is possible because collagen may inhibit the activity of dipeptidyl peptidase-IV (DPP-IV), a protein that plays an important role in glucose metabolism.

However, research is ongoing, and human trials on this subject have been scarce, so more studies need to be performed to elucidate these mechanisms and how collagen supplements can be involved in diabetes management.

Possible risks of taking liquid collagen

Collagen supplementation is generally safe and well tolerated. To date, no adverse events have been reported.

However, since these supplements are often derived from animal sources such as bovine, porcine, marine, and chicken, individuals with allergies to these animals or seafood should avoid collagen derived from those sources to lower the risk of allergic reactions.

Additionally, liquid collagen supplements might contain additional calories from sweeteners and flavoring agents, which could contribute to unwanted weight gain if not accounted for in the overall daily caloric intake.

Furthermore, some liquid collagens may also contain other additives and supplements to boost the health benefits that can be achieved. Common additives include compounds like vitamins, minerals, hyaluronic acid, chondroitin, and L-carnitine.

Currently, there is limited long-term research on the safety and efficacy of collagen supplementation. More research is needed to fully understand the long-term impacts.

So, always consult a healthcare provider before taking collagen supplements or any new supplements.

Regulation of liquid collagen supplements

Collagen supplements, like other dietary supplements, are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as medications.

Instead, they are regulated under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994.

Unlike drugs, dietary supplements do not require FDA approval before they are marketed. However, manufacturers are responsible for complying with specific manufacturing requirements, ensuring their products are properly labeled and are safe for human consumption.

Unfortunately, the FDA does not require dietary supplements to have a standardized dosage recommendation. Therefore, each manufacturer is responsible for establishing the recommended dosage and frequency of intake of their supplements.

To ensure safety and quality, always look for supplements from reputable manufacturers that follow good manufacturing practices and consider third-party testing.

Is liquid collagen effective?

The effectiveness of liquid collagen supplements depends on various factors, including individual health conditions, the intended health benefits, the source of the collagen, the presence of additional beneficial ingredients, and the manufacturing process of the supplement.

Overall, research into collagen supplements has shown that the form of collagen used to manufacture liquid collagen has a high bioavailability and is more readily absorbed and utilized by the body than other forms of collagen.

Therefore, liquid collagen supplements may potentially be useful for achieving several health and cosmetic benefits, such as improving skin health, joint function, and bone density.

Nevertheless, individual results may vary, and it is important to choose high-quality supplements and use them consistently according to the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Remember to always consult with your healthcare provider before starting or modifying any supplement regimen.

Other collagen sources and alternatives

Collagen can be obtained from different natural sources, including fish, oysters, mussels, octopus, seaweed, beef, chicken skin, pork skin, bone broth, and animal-derived products like gelatin.

Although not a direct source of collagen, vitamin C may help promote the synthesis of collagen in the body.

Therefore, eating foods rich in vitamin C may help increase the production of collagen and boost some of its health effects. Foods with a high content of vitamin C include citrus fruits (e.g., oranges, lemons), strawberries, peppers, and broccoli, among others.

How to choose the best liquid collagen product?

With numerous products on the market, there are several criteria you can consider when picking the best product for your goals and preferences.

Collagen type

There are 5 types of collagen.

  • Type 1. This type of collagen is the most abundant in the human body, providing structure and support for skin, bones, tendons, ligaments, and teeth.
  • Type 2. This collagen type is mainly found in flexible tissues and may be best for supporting joint health.
  • Type 3. This type of collagen is often found together with Type 1. It is involved in wound healing and contributes to immune organ structural support.
  • Type 4. Another type of collagen that is present in cell membranes, helping them anchor to surrounding tissues and help facilitate cell signaling.
  • Type 5. The last type of collagen is found in the skin, eye cornea, and the placenta. Type 5 collagen is also necessary for the fibrillation of type 1 and type 3 collagen.

Type 1 collagen, in combination with type 3 and 5, is most often marketed as having the most skin health benefits.

Collagen form

Collagen supplements come from different sources and are available in various forms. Although there is a lack of scientific evidence, marine collagen is most commonly marketed as skin boosting, whilst bovine collagen is usually promoted for joint health. Vegetarian and vegan collagen is not true collagen but may contain ingredients that are believed to stimulate collagen production or certain amino acids that may act as the building blocks of collagen. Hydrolyzed collagen or collagen peptides are the most bioavailable and the easiest to absorb for the human body.

Amount of collagen per serving

There is no one scientifically proven dose for collagen supplementation. In most studies, the amount ranges between 2.5 and 12 grams per day. Generally, skin health benefits were seen at 10 g of hydrolyzed collagen a day, while joint benefits were seen when using 5–10 g of hydrolyzed collagen a day. However, more research is needed to establish precise doses.

Additional ingredients

It is common for collagen supplements to have ingredients that may offer additional benefits. Collagen formulations for skin often have added biotin or vitamin C, while formulations for joint support usually have calcium or vitamin D. If you are already taking supplements, you can opt for pure collagen products to avoid overconsumption of vitamins and minerals.

📝Healthnews editor's top picks

We have a dedicated article going into detail about the best liquid collagen supplements. Below, you can find our top picks.

SpoiledChild E27 Extra Strength Liquid Collagen comm bl
  • 5,000 mg of type 1 and 3 bovine collagen peptides per 1 tablespoon serving
  • Boosted with vitamin C and hyaluronic acid
  • Mango or pineapple flavor
  • 60-day money-back guarantee

Most customers liked the refreshing taste of the SpoiledChild collagen. The supplement formulation is palatable compared to other formulations (those without flavoring or sugar coating on tablets, etc.), which may help improve supplementation adherence. Due to the type of collagen used and the additional ingredients, the formula is designed to support skin health and reduce wrinkles. However, it might be hard to take precise doses (1–2 tbsp/day).

Isagenix Collagen Elixir™
  • 5,000 mg marine collagen per serving
  • Boosted with Vitamin C, biotin, zinc, and proposed skin health-supporting superfoods
  • Wild berry taste
  • No added sugar and only 50 calories
  • Individually dosed

We really like the individual bottles of Collagen Elixir, making it easy to dose or take on the go. We also like the addition of potentially skin health-boosting ingredients. Unfortunately, some users report an unpleasant aftertaste.

Gold Collagen Pure
  • 5,000 mg of hydrolyzed marine collagen
  • Boosted with vitamin C, E, hyaluronic acid, zinc, copper, and other minerals
  • Formulated to support aging skin
  • Peach flavored

We liked that this marine collagen is hydrolyzed and has additional ingredients that may promote skin hydration. We also like that Pure Collagen is a recognised product and has been used in a scientific study. The logistics and customer service may not be the best thought, according to some reviews.

Neocell Collagen Pomegranate Liquid
  • 5,000 mg of hydrolyzed bovine collagen per serving
  • Sweet pomegranate taste
  • Cheaper compared to competitors
  • Includes green tea leaf extract

We liked how affordable this collagen is. We also liked that this is an option without any added vitamins and minerals, which may be ideal for those already taking other supplements. However, this product does have 2 g of added sugar per serving, which may be unpreferable by some.

Heivy Stior Liquid Collagen Drink for Joint & Bone Strength
  • 5,000 mg of type 1 and 2 collagen
  • Boosted with vitamin D, calcium, and glucosamine
  • Single dose bottles
  • Free delivery in the U.S.

We liked that Heivy is a women-owned business and that this product focuses on helping support joint health by using type 1 and 2 collagen and glucosamine, a compound found in cartilage. However, we did not appreciate the lack of customer reviews and a clear ingredient dose list.

Further reading

Research on collagen supplements and their potential health benefits has been extensive. Numerous studies have demonstrated several potential effects of collagen in the body, and more are still ongoing to confirm these results.

For instance, a study performed in 2017 found that collagen supplements may be useful for improving nail growth and brittle nails and also may decrease the frequency of broken nails.

Later, a study done in 2019 determined that the intake of collagen peptides may be useful in helping decrease body fat in overweight adults.

Additionally, two studies conducted in 2022 and 2024 determined that collagen supplements may be effective in promoting hair health and growth and may have a potentially positive impact on the course of hair loss.

However, more studies are necessary to confirm these results and understand the mechanisms of action by which collagen can carry out these effects.

While, as for the proven benefits of collagen supplements, recent research has supported previous findings on potential skin anti-aging and health, including increased hydration and elasticity, reduced desquamation and wrinkling, and overall improved appearance.

Liquid collagen stands out for its high bioavailability, convenience, and ease of use, making it an excellent choice for those seeking quick and efficient collagen supplementation.

However, even though these supplements may provide potential health benefits, more research is necessary to understand their exact mechanism of action and the full impact they may have on the body.

And, since individual results may vary, it is important to choose high-quality supplements and use them consistently. Talk to your healthcare provider to ensure liquid collagen supplements are adequate for you.

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