5 collagen types

by Tom Russell February 04, 2021

Collagen Types

Collagen is a structural protein found in your connective tissues, skin, bones, muscles and ligaments. There are at least 28 different types, each with a slightly altered shape.

The basic structure of all collagen is a three-stranded helix. The difference between the types depends on how each section attaches to the next. Each type displays different folds that change the overall 3D appearance. The shape they form determines how each type is used and the jobs it can do in your body.

The types of collagen

Some of the known collagen types are more common than others. These are the five most abundant and also the ones that you are most likely to find in a collagen supplement:

Type I

Collagen Type I exercise

Type I collagen plays a critical structural role throughout your body and is found in bone, skin, and tendons. It's the most common type and makes up about 90% of the collagen in your body.

Each collagen strand is arranged with others to form fibrils that are cross-linked together. This makes them extra strong and ideal for stabilising important body structures and anchoring bones, organs and muscles together.

This collagen is found in the skin, bones and connective tissue of animals and fish too, so any food or products containing those parts in tact are more likely to be good dietary sources. This includes fish with the skin left on, bone broth (beef bone broth is a rich source of type I), marine collagen supplements and bovine collagen supplements.

Type II

Collagen Type II broth

Type II collagen is the main component of cartilage and is essential for strong, healthy joints. Its fibres are tightly packed together to form a crisscrossing network that isn't as tight as that of type I.

This collagen structure provides strength and elasticity that allows for shock absorption, strong connections, and the ability for joints to move without any friction. It can take a long time for any type II collagen to be replaced or repaired because no blood supply reaches into the cartilage. The nutrients needed diffuse across the joints, which takes a lot longer than for areas that can be accessed by blood vessels.

Similar to type I, foods that provide a useful source of type II collagen include animal products. Particularly those containing cartilage, such as tinned salmon and chicken or turkey bone broth. It's found in all types of bone broth, but poultry broths generally contain higher levels of type II, whereas beef bone broth has a higher level of type I. Collagen powders from beef, chicken or pork also contain a good proportion of these collagens.

Type III

Collagen Type III couple happy

Type III collagen fibres also crisscross each other, but they form a looser fine mesh of reticular fibres. These crossing strands give internal strength and elasticity to soft tissues like organs, skin and muscles. Recent research also discovered that the matrix of type III fibres is necessary to create those that make up type I collagen. These collagen structures are also formed during wound healing and inflammation.

Meat such as chicken, pork and beef are excellent sources of type III collagen along with bone broth and animal-sourced collagen supplements. Another way to boost your type III collagen production is to eat a broad range of protein-rich foods, vitamins and minerals. These will provide amino acids and other components necessary for healthy collagen production. Some great choices include chicken, fish, shellfish, egg whites, beans, fruits, berries, leafy greens and nuts.

Type IV

Collagen Type IV body

Type IV collagen forms a thin membrane of connective tissue called the basal lamina. It's found in the cells surrounding organs, muscles and fat where it acts as a barrier between compartments of tissue and collections of cells. It's essential to providing extra strength and cushioning, as well as allowing them to stick to each other when necessary.

Meat, broth and protein-rich foods are the best way to consume type 4 collagen and its component amino acids. Very few collagen supplements contain type IV collagen and those that do only have it in small amounts. As with type III, the best way to boost your type IV levels is to eat a varied diet of protein, vitamins and minerals.

Type V

Collagen Type V eye

Type V collagen is a fibrous protein that contributes to the elastic quality of healthy tissues. It's also found in structures like the bone matrix and corneas. As well as providing structure and elasticity, it plays a crucial role in allowing collagen types I and III to form thicker fibres. Because it can be found throughout the body, meat and bone broths will provide small amounts. A diet rich in amino acids such as glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline is a great way to support type V collagen production.


Collagen is a multifunctional protein that provides many essential structures throughout our bodies. It can produce the correct shapes for different functions depending on which amino acids it contains and how it's formed. The best way to support these collagens' production is to eat a variety of protein sources, fruits and vegetables. This will provide you with many of the various components necessary for healthy collagen production and repair.

Need helping choosing your collagen? Send us a message or read our article on the best collagen powders in the UK.

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Tom Russell
Tom Russell


Tom Russell writes extensively about CBD oil and other groundbreaking food supplements. He and his wife share their home with two daughters and a lifetime’s collection of books.

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