Aging gracefully depends on how you nurture your body. Today, a trove of studies shows the importance of following a nutrient-dense diet, being active and taking dietary supplements to support a healthy aging process. One of the clear standouts to help along the way: collagen, an antiaging nutrient that rose to stardom in Japan decades ago. Collagen is everywhere in our bodies—from our skin, hair and nails to our bones and joints—collagen is an important protein for staving off wrinkles and keeping our joints healthy.
Although there are at least 20 types of collagen, most of the focus on collagen is around types 1, 2 and 3—and for good reason. Types 1 and 3 are found together in the body and make up more than 90 percent of our bones. Type 1 is also the major collagen of tendons, skin, ligaments, corneas and many interstitial connective tissues. Type 2 is found in cartilage and makes up less than 10 percent of your body’s supply.
“Though the types overlap, for the most part collagens 1 and 3 are concentrated in skin and bones, while collagen 2 is concentrated in the joints,” says Jonny Bowden, “The Nutrition Myth Buster” and author of 15 books on health and nutrition. “The skin breaks down over time, losing moisture, plumpness and elasticity, so you’ll see benefits in all those areas with collagen 1 and 3 supplementation.”
Although types 1 and 3 may be the optimal beauty boosters, don’t ignore type 2 when it comes to skin health, Whittel says. This type contains hyaluronic acid—another key antiaging nutrient that helps skin stay plump, firm and supple.
As for joint health, type 2 collagen is the clear go-to, says Bowden. “It can help address the breakdown of cartilage and loss of collagen that results in increased friction and less synovial fluid.”