Consumers need to learn about collagen types, said recent panel hosted by Bioiberica


During The Collagen Symposium event hosted by collagen ingredients supplier Bioiberica, panelists discussed the most pressing issues in the collagen market today.

Photo ©Анастасия Коровина

Photo ©Анастасия Коровина

The collagen industry will face key questions in the coming years, including which ingredients should be called collagen, whether vegetarian collagen will enter the market, and which are the best sources and types of collagen for health support. This was the takeaway from a recent event called The Collagen Symposium, hosted by collagen supplier Bioiberica (Barcelona, Spain), which brought together experts and yielded a report titled “Make a Meaningful Impact in the Collagen Market: Discover 5 Key Learnings from The Collagen Symposium.

The report starts by juxtaposing collagen’s popularity in the CPG market with growing confusion about the ingredient category. “Collagen is a unique and powerful supplement ingredient with widespread functions in the body and multiple benefits for human health,” states Antonio Vendrell, Bioiberica’s marketing director, in the report. “But the molecule’s promising potential in so many health areas, its multiple sources of origin, and the vast number of (very different) collagen ingredients available on the market are contributing to mounting confusion, too.”

Insights from the report came from The Collagen Symposium’s six panelists:

David Foreman, pharmacist and natural health expert; Caio Gonçalves de Souza, head of medical affairs, Apsen Farmacêutica; Daniel Martinez, head of R&D, human and animal health, Bioiberica; rheumatologist Ingrid Möller, MD, PhD, of the Instituto Poal de Reumatología; Len Monheit, executive director, Collagen Stewardship Alliance; and Elizabeth Thundow, vice president of consulting nutrition, Frost & Sullivan.

Different Collagen Types

The collagen market includes many different types of collagen ingredients, which tend to get grouped under the broad term collagen. “But,” the report asks, “should we be calling these molecules ‘collagen’ at all?”

The panel said that while collagen’s main feature is its “three-dimensional, triple-helix structure consisting of three polypeptide chains,” ingredients like hydrolyzed collagen have a different structure. The report explains: “Whereas collagen in its triple-helix form is a complete protein, hydrolyzed collagen is made up of fragments of that protein—a mixture of amino acids and peptides—made by breaking down animal collagen via enzymatic hydrolysis. The ‘native collagen helix’ has a very specific effect in the body. However, some collagen manufacturers ‘cut’ native collagen to obtain hydrolyzed collagen. The mechanism of action of this molecule is completely different to the complete protein, and the end benefit depends entirely on the peptide fractions present.”

The report further points out that there are 28 types of collagen in the body, each of which has a unique structural role. Furthermore, collagen sources vary and include bovine, fish, or pork (for Types I and III collagen), and chicken (for Type II collagen).

Vegetarian Collagen

Many consumers wonder whether vegetarian collagen ingredients exist, especially since a growing number of products claim to contain “veggie” or vegan collagen, the report says. However, it points out, these ingredients typically don’t include any collagen proteins or peptides; rather, they are a mix of ingredients that support collagen production in the body, or they are collagen analogues or synthetic amino acids that mimic collagen’s structure.

“Fundamentally, collagen only exists in the skin, tendons, bones, and connective tissues of animals. This means that, as it stands, it’s impossible to create a genuine plant-based collagen supplement,” the report states. In the future, it adds, bioengineering may yield vegan collagens, but consumers should also keep in mind the lack of scientific evidence showing that bioengineered collagens offer the same health benefits that animal-sourced collagens have been clinically shown to provide.

Educating the Market

Consumers need to be better educated about the different collagen types, which the report outlines as:


  • Denatured form of collagen
  • Easily digested in the body

Native collagen

  • Long-chain molecules
  • Undenatured
  • Triple-helix, full structure
  • Not readily absorbed in the body

Collagen peptides

  • Short-chain molecules
  • Hydrolyzed/denatured
  • Collagen that has been broken down into peptides and amino acids
  • Easily digested in the body

“It is not right to consider all collagen equal,” stated panelist Thundow in the report. “We, as an industry, have to become much clearer about what exactly collagen is and the benefits it delivers…We don’t currently see this level of transparency on products.”

The report adds: “In some cases, this has led to consumers using collagen products that don’t support the intended health area. The impact of this? Consumers think their collagen supplement isn’t working, the trust is broken, and they stop taking it.”

For more insights on the report, click here.

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