Everything you need to know about Type 1 + Type 2 collagen (and how they live in harmony)

Everything you need to know about Type 1 + Type 2 collagen (and how they live in harmony)


Dip your toe in the world of collagen and you soon start to see that, beyond the well documented skin, joint and whole-body benefits, it’s more complex than expected. You’ve wrapped your head around the fact that collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, ubiquitous and important to the structure of key tissues. Soon, questions start to pop into your head… how much should I take? What’s the best source? How do I use it? Is it even absorbed by my body? Luckily we’re here to guide you through and have answers to those important questions here


The deeper you go though, the more questions that come. A major query on many a collagen-curious lips is ‘Should I be taking Type I, II or III and what’s the difference?’. Get ready for a dive down into the collagen ‘types’.


Types of Collagen


You may have heard about the collagen Types I, II and perhaps even III. There are in fact 28 different types of collagen identified, each differing slightly in their amino acid composition, role and location in the body.  As types I-III are the most discussed - let’s save the other 25 for a different article. 


First things first; regardless of the ‘type’, the critical question you need to ask yourself is about the quality of collagen supplement you are using. Not all collagen is made equal, and its bioavailability (in other words how well your body can utilise it) is paramount. 


Once you have found your collagen of choice, you can then look at the ‘types’ of collagen present in your supplement. The different types of collagen are named based on their abundance in the body and the locations they are found.


Type I Collagen 


Type I collagen is not only the most abundant collagen, but fascinatingly, one of the most abundant molecules in the body (1). It commonly resides in almost all connective tissues, pivotal for the structural integrity of skin, bones, tendons, blood vessels, ligaments, organs, cornea in the eye, fascia and the gut. 


When it comes to collagen supplementation, Type I is most likely the type you will come across,  largely due to the ubiquitous nature of this type. It is utilised across the whole body and conversely, as we age this collagen type also decreases and therefore becomes a focus for supplementation. As such, Type 1 collagen is to date the most studied and used in clinical trials with a large focus on body composition, skin, cardiovascular, bone and joint support. 


High quality Type I supplements are ‘hydrolysed’. Essentially in its natural form, the type 1 collagen molecule is pretty long and far too large to be absorbed by the body, and so it needs to be broken down into smaller chains called peptides. This process is called hydrolysation. These peptide chains must then be of a sufficiently low molecular weight to ensure they are absorbed.


Both of our True Collagen (from EU grass-fed bovine source) and Wild Collagen (from MSC wild caught marine source) contain easily absorbed, highly bioavailable and clinically researched Type I collagen peptides at a molecular weight of 5000 daltons, the precise weight known to be small enough to be well absorbed and for the body to use effectively to create new collagen.  


Once absorbed by the body, these Type I peptides travel to the sites where collagen-producing cells reside and offer a dual action. First, they provide the body with the amino acids it needs for collagen production. Secondly they act as a signal to the cells to create new collagen and stop breaking down the collagen already there. Pretty clever for a powder you add to your morning brew. 


It’s worth jumping a little to Type III collagen at this stage. Type III collagen is integral to structures which ensure significant stretching; think blood vessels, the uterus, and the bowel. We mention it here as Type III often coexists with Type I collagen. Type I and III are both found together in the gut (2) and therefore are often the focus for those looking to support the integrity of their gut lining. 


Whilst our True Collagen is predominantly type I,  it also naturally contains traces of type III collagen. It is originally derived from bovine hides which contain mainly type I collagen, but also a small amount of type III. However after hydrolysation, analysing the amounts of collagen peptides which come from type I or type III is almost impossible.  Type I still remains the most abundant within the end product and therefore this is often the one we focus on, although it is more than likely you are benefitting from both types.


Type II Collagen


If type 1 is the global superstar, type II collagen is the intellectual luminary. Lesser known in the wellness world perhaps, and yet an incredibly intelligent molecule and supplement. 

In the body, Type II collagen is the main component of cartilage. Cartilage is a flexible, connective tissue found in various parts of the body, including joints but also the ears, nose, and respiratory tract. Its firm yet flexible consistency provides structural support while allowing for smooth movement of joints and flexibility. Essential in cushioning and protecting joints and facilitating smooth movement, cartilage provides resilience to stressors. When this structure starts to experience wear and tear it affects your ability to move and be active. The degradation of cartilage is the most significant cause of joint discomfort, disease, and loss of function over time, making type II collagen a powerful solution for supporting joint health.


Our Noble Collagen features Type II collagen, sustainably sourced from chicken sternum cartilage and differ structurally to type I powders as they are not hydrolysed but ‘undenatured’ or ‘native’. Essentially, this means it does not need to be broken down to exert an action in the body. Its preserved structure in fact enables its unique mechanism of action. (3)


When undenatured type II collagen travels through the gut intact, it reaches immune cells in the small intestine called Peyer’s patches.  The collagen then binds with these immune cells, promoting a regulating immune response promoting the growth of new joint cartilage, reducing inflammation and joint pain. Super clever for a one-capsule-a-day ritual. 


Yes, unlike the powdered formats of type 1 collagen, the optimal way to deliver undenatured Type 2 collagen is in capsule form, to ensure it maintains its structure, which is crucial for its effectiveness in joint health. Type II is also less palatable than our odourless, tasteless True and Wild, making capsules the preferred format.


Noble Collagen is a not-so-secret (supplement) weapon to be deployed not just for joint problems but for the protection against the wear and tear of joints from ageing and daily impact. 

Living in harmony 

So, which collagen type should you focus on? Essentially if you are looking for skin, gut and general joint and whole-body support Type I (True or Wild) is the one to opt for. However, those looking for more targeted joint and cartilage support, future-proofing or repair, can cast their gaze to Type II (Noble). 


The gold-standard for joint health is to take both type 1 and type II together as they work synergistically for optimal benefits.


Bagi et al. (2017). Oral administration of undenatured native chicken type II collage (UC-II) diminished deterioration of articular cartilage in a rat model of osteoarthritis (OA). Osteoarthritis Cartilage, 25(12), 2080-2090. doi: 10.1016/j. joca.2017.08.013.


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