Do collagen pills work as well as powders? Which one is best, collagen powder or a tablet? If these questions have been swirling in your head, this guide is the perfect place to answer them once and for all.
Tons of collagen supplements saturate the market, from collagen powders to pills, tablets, and capsules. It’s easy to see how the average person can feel a little overwhelmed by the myriad choices.
To help you out, we detail the key differences between collagen powder vs. pills below
What Is Collagen?
Collagen is often touted as one of the key building blocks for ongoing health as we age. But what exactly does that mean?
Let’s put it this way, collagen is essential to your body’s development and maintenance, the way scaffolding is used to construct a new building. From the external (i.e., your skin) to the internal (i.e., major organs like the bones, tendons, and blood vessels), collagen is the primary structural protein for the human body.
On the whole, there are as many as 28 different types of collagen. The three most common ones are:
- Type I collagen: Found in the skin, bone, teeth, tendon, ligaments, vascular ligature, and organs
- Type II collagen: Found in the cartilage
- Type III collagen: Found in the skin, muscle, and blood vessels
The good news is, your body is capable of producing the various types of collagen needed for optimal health and wellness. Unfortunately, your natural collagen-producing capabilities diminish with age. Science shows that after you hit your 20s, your skin’s collagen levels start to decrease by 1% each year.
While you can get the collagen your body needs through your diet, many of us are guilty of poor nutritional patterns — not all of us have the time (or energy) to make bone broth from scratch.
And data-driven research backs it up: instead of eating collagen-rich foods, (think whole meats, nuts and legumes, and fresh fish), we excessively consume processed meats and sugars. The latter two are notorious for speeding up your body’s collagen breakdown, further worsening the problem of insufficient collagen levels.
Thankfully, there is a simple solution that works for everyone — collagen supplements. The question is, should you choose collagen powder or its pill-form counterparts?
The Differences Between Collagen Powder vs. Pills
Before deciding on either form of collagen, you first need to understand the key differences between collagen powder vs. pills.
In terms of nutritional composition, both collagen powders and pills are largely similar. Either type of collagen supplement contains the three most common collagen types. For example, Zen Principle’s Beef Collagen Peptides Peptides Powder features a proprietary collagen peptide blend of pure type 1 and 3 collagen as well as essential amino acids.
The only structural difference between collagen powder and pills is that the latter are typically encased in an enteric coating. This coating serves to protect the collagen pill from disintegrating and losing its potency before it reaches the small intestine where it’s digested and absorbed into the body.
Before you assume pill-form has a digestive edge over collagen powders, take note that not all capsules and tablets are fully broken down within the body. To illustrate, a 2020 review from ConsumerLab.com tested vitamin supplements from two brands. It found that these pills and caplets did not break down even after 30-60 minutes, longer than the expected time for absorption. When a supplement isn’t completely digested, your body isn’t able to fully take in its health benefits, rendering it ineffective.
On top of that, collagen powders also come in the form of hydrolyzed collagen peptides, aka the gold standard for efficient digestion in the human body. Unlike collagen proteins, hydrolyzed peptides are short-chain amino acids with relatively small molecular sizes. They effortlessly pass through the intestinal walls for optimal absorption, making it easier on your digestive system.
Collagen Powder vs. Pills: Which Form of Collagen Is Most Effective?
Between collagen powder and pills, which form of collagen is most effective? Well, it depends on your personal preferences. Are you averse to swallowing pills? Do you prefer to consume your collagen supplements on the go?
Let’s look at some common case scenarios to determine which form of collagen supplement is most effective.
Versatility in Food Preparation: Collagen Powder
If you’re someone who’s creative in the kitchen or doesn't feel like sticking to the same boring collagen pill every day, then collagen powder is for you. Collagen, in its fine-grained form, is easy to mix and match in a variety of dishes and drinks.
You can add a spoonful of collagen powder to your morning cuppa or post-workout smoothie — hydrolyzed collagen easily dissolves in hot and cold liquids. Or you can incorporate it into your favorite bakes, such as banana bread and protein brownies. You can even sprinkle some into your breakfast yogurt, pancakes, soups, and stews!
Because the list of collagen-infused meals is endless, you’re never spoilt for choices (and inspiration) for delicious ways to supplement with collagen every day.
Convenience on the Go: Collagen Pills
For those who want something travel-friendly, collagen pills trump collagen powder in this scenario. It’s easy to pop a few pellets into a pill organizer and stash it in your personal belongings for convenience on the go.
However, science warns against doing this often. The original packaging that houses the collagen pills is designed to protect them from environmental factors that can affect their stability and safeness. Relocating them into a pill organizer removes that layer of protection.
So, the bottom line is, it’s a bit of a trade-off — portability at the expense of potency. One possible workaround is to whip up a collagen drink (with the powdered version) and store it in a tumbler or travel mug.
Not a Fan of Swallowing Pills: Collagen Powder
Not all of us are fans of swallowing pills, adults included. This is one of those situations in which collagen powder is a popular alternative to capsules and tablets.
As mentioned earlier, you can easily add collagen powder to almost any recipe in your culinary repertoire. And if you want to enhance the texture of your meals, try collagen gelatin powder, like Zen Principle’s Beef Gelatin Powder. Compared to the usual thickening agents, like cornstarch or all-purpose flour, gelatin is a natural thickener that provides a healthy protein boost in your cooking.
Particular About Taste and Textures: Collagen Pills
If you’re particular about the taste and texture of your collagen supplement, then consider collagen pills instead. Washing down a tablet or capsule with water means your taste buds won’t be bothered at all.
But what if you want an odorless supplement without having to swallow it? Luckily for you, there is such a thing as unflavored collagen powders. On their own, these collagen supplements don’t leave behind a weird aftertaste. But if you want to mask their taste completely, add them to your drinks and meals.
Customize Your Dosage to Your Dietary Needs: Collagen Powder
One thing to note with collagen supplements is that you shouldn’t exceed the recommended dosage. If you haven’t heard, there is such a thing as consuming too much collagen.
So, when you consume a collagen supplement, you need to be mindful of the amount of dietary collagen you get on a daily basis. In which case, if you plan to have baked salmon for lunch with a side of bone broth, you may want to dial back your collagen supplement’s dosage.
The beauty of collagen powders is that you can customize them to your dietary needs as and when you see fit. Unlike collagen pills, which are pretty much fixed in dosage per pellet, you can pick and choose how much collagen powder to take. For example, if you already ingested a significant amount of collagen from your meals today, you may want to use a small teaspoon of collagen powder rather than the bigger tablespoon.
If you need help deciding how much collagen powder you should take every day, speak with a licensed medical provider such as your primary doctor or dietitian.
Collagen Powder vs. Pills: You’re the Best Judge
As you can see, the question of “collagen powder vs. pills” depends on your personal needs. Of course, to make the best decision, you first have to familiarize yourself with the differences between the two types of supplements.
For many, collagen powder is their preferred choice as it ticks multiple boxes: it’s easy and versatile to use without having to swallow pills or deal with peculiar aftertastes.
If that sounds like you, check out the range of collagen powders at Zen Principle. With our Beef Collagen Peptides Peptides Powder, Beef Gelatin Powder, and Marine Collagen Peptides Powder, you’ll be sure to find one that meets your unique dietary needs!