Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, serving as the main structural protein of skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones.
Although milk-based protein, specifically whey, dominates the global protein market, in part because it is inexpensive to manufacture compared with other protein sources and offers high bioavailability, collagen supplements are increasing in popularity.
This article provides an overview on the benefits, types, and market of collagen.
Collagen is a structural protein composed primarily of glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. The primary amino acid sequence of collagen is glycine-proline-X or glycine-X-hydroxyproline. X represents any of the other 17 amino acids.
There are four structural levels of collagen:
- Primary (amino acid triplet)
- Secondary (the α-helix)
- Tertiary structure (triple helix)
- Quaternary structure (fibrils)
The structures collagen form determines its type. There are 28 types of collagen, but by far, the most common are types I through V, with type 1 comprising over 90% of the collagen in the human body. Here’s a look at the five most common types of collagen, their application, and the tissue or organ in which they are present.
|Collagen||Function or Application||Tissue or Organ|
|Type I||Cell-bone matrix, bone regeneration||Skin, bone, teeth, tendons, ligament, vascular ligature|
|Type II||Cartilage repair, arthritis treatment||Cartilage|
|Type lll||Reticular fibers (supporting mesh of soft tissues)||Muscle, blood vessels|
|Type IV||Basal lamina component, cell attachment surface treatment, marker of nephropathy||Basal lamina|
|Type V||Corneal regeneration treatment||Hair, cell surfaces, placenta|
Table 1 adapted from Wang H1
Collagen can be extracted from natural animal and plant sources or be obtained from protein production systems using bacteria, yeast, insects, mammalian cells, or artificial fibrils.1 The most common animal collagen sources include bovine (cow), porcine (pig), and marine organisms.
A hydrolysis extraction process can be used, depending on the origin of the raw materials. Hydrolyzed collagen (collagen peptides) has a higher solubility in water compared with native collagen and is generally more bioavailable.
Collagen types I, II, and III are most commonly used for dietary supplements and cosmetics. Type I is mainly derived from marine collagen, type ll from chicken and bovine collagen, and type lll from porcine and bovine collagen.
These supplements may offer therapeutic benefits for1:
- bone health
- muscle function and strength
- wound healing
- joint health
- skin aging
Other promising research suggests collagen treatments like injections and medical and dental scaffolds may be useful for managing bone defects, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), and periodontal disease.
According to a 2021 analysis by Grand View Research, the global collagen market is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 5.5% over the next seven years to reach $2.88 billion by 2028. Driving this growth is an increase in consumers’ knowledge and awareness surrounding collagen’s benefits, especially as they relate to healthy aging.
Pills and gummies accounted for more than half of the global market revenue in 2021; however, collagen powder is expected to experience the highest growth through 2028 according to the analysis.
Bovine-derived collagen is likely to exhibit major growth, owing to its therapeutic role for joint and skin health. Though, depending on the source from which its derived, some people may have sensitivities or allergies to collagen supplements.
An increased adoption of vegetarian diets are expected to limit market growth. As an alternative, some brands offer products known as collagen builders or boosters.
Collagen builders don’t contain collagen but contain building blocks for collagen production such as biotin and vitamin C, other cartilage forming-molecules like hyaluronic acid, and plant-based ingredients rich in the amino acids necessary for its synthesis.
The bottom line
Collagen is the body’s most abundant protein and provides structure to hair, skin, nails, ligaments, tendons, and bones. Of the 28 types of collagen, types I through V are the most abundant in the body, with type I comprising 90% of the body’s collagen.
The global market for collagen supplements is expected to stay strong in the coming years, driven by consumers seeking targeted health solutions, especially in relation to healthy aging.
- Wang H. A review of the effects of collagen treatment in clinical studies. Polymers (Basel). November 2021;13(22):3868.
- Collagen supplements market size, share & trend analysis report by form (pills & gummies, powder, liquid/drinks), by distribution channel (pharmacy, online store, specialty store), by region, and segment forecasts, 2022-2028. Grand View Research. 2022.
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