Type 2 Collagen: What is it, How is it Made, Benefits and Sources
Guide to Type II Collagen
Are you suffering from joint pain and want something to ease the discomfort? Maybe you've heard of collagen, but you're not quite sure what it is or how it can help. You've come to the right place.
There are many different types of collagen, and they all have different purposes. Type 2 collagen is specifically beneficial for joint health, skin health and autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
This article tells you if it really works, exactly how much you need, where to get it as well as the potential downsides of it.
Now before I get into all of that you should know that the single best source of type 2 collagen is a protein rich chicken bone broth. The one from Bluebird Provisions is the best combination of flavor and nutrition.
More on that later on.
What is Type 2 Collagen
Type 2 collagen is the main structural protein in cartilage and is what makes it stretchy, strong and resilient. These long strands of proteins make up our joints, tendons, skin, bones and cartilage.
There is something bout type II collagen that appears to reduce autoimmune responses in your body. It does this by creating anti-inflammatory compounds that go to your joints to reduce pain.
It can cause relief from osteoarthritis, rheumatism, post-surgical joint pain, post-traumatic pain, fibrositis, back pain and neck pain.
What's the difference between type II and type I collagen?
The difference between type II and type I is that type II makes up most of our cartilage and connective tissue around our joints. This is how it provides cushioning and resiliency to these areas.
Three amino acid chains of loosely packed fibers make up this type which makes it better suitable for absorbing shock from walking or moving.
On the other hand, type I collagen makes up around 90% of the collagen in the body. It forms the structure of our skin, bones, tendons, teeth, hair, nails and fascia.
From a practical perspective, many people use type I for beauty and anti-aging benefits and type II for joint health.
Looking for type II collagen recommendation? Read my guide to collagen type 2 supplements.
What is Type 2 collagen best for?
Type 2 collagen is best for those suffering from autoimmune conditions or dealing with chronic joint pain either diagnosed or undiagnosed. Autoimmune conditions like rheumatism seem to respond well to this supplement because of its ability to reduce systemic inflammation and turn on collagen genes.
And those with stiff, creaky joints also respond well to type II because it increased connective tissue and synovial fluid around joint capsules. This gives you more lubrication and cartilage to absorb the shock of daily life.
Collagen Type 2 Benefits
Benefits of collagen type 2 include repairing connective tissue, reducing joint pain, autoimmunity benefits, improving mobility, reducing osteoarthritis symptoms and skin health.
Let's go through each of these one by one.
1. Type 2 Collagen For Cartilage and Connective Tissue
Type II is particularly useful in helping to restore and repair the connective tissue around your joints, tendons and ligaments. This allows you to move with less pain and gain back that flexibility you lost (1).
How does this process work? You need to combine your collagen intake with what I call 'gradual loading.' Loading means we are exposing your injured joints to low loads at first, then progressing to higher loads until you can do what you love again.
For me as an ultramarathon runner, I used chicken bone broth with vitamin C and a loading protocol to get back to running after awful achilles tendonitis issues for three years.
You can learn more about the specific instructions in this collagen benefits article under heading #3.
The idea is that it helps to grow back strong, pliable tissue where you need it most.
2. Type 2 Collagen for Joints
Collagen type 2 plays an important role in joint health and mobility by increasing proteoglycan content to reverse cartilage damage.
Proteoglycans are little proteins that make up human articular cartilage, some common ones are glucosamine, hyaluronic acid and chondroitin.
These two compounds are found in chicken sternum cartilage, which is where most of these supplements are made of.
This makes it one of the most helpful supplements for supporting joint comfort and mobility, as it helps to reduce oxidative damage to joints, lubricates and improves flexibility and movement (2).
3. May Reduce Autoimmune Conditions like Rheumatoid Arthritis
Collagen type II has been shown to have potential therapeutic effects in reducing inflammation and helping to manage the symptoms of autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
This one is cool because some of the studies show that it triggers autoimmune responses in our bodies that signal the activation of anti-inflammatory compounds called cytokines.
These cytokines work to reduce inflammation in our joints, which can reduce pain and make you feel better.
One study used type II collagen supplements in people with rheumatoid arthritis. The study showed showed that those taking chicken collagen type II supplements had less pain, morning stiffness, tenderness, and swelling, indicating a decrease in inflammation (3).
It is thought that collagen type II helps to lessen the immune system's excessive antigens and c reactive protein production. Possibly because of the presence of glycine.
Anyways, these two things can cause autoimmune attacks seen in rheumatoid arthritis.
4. May Help Treat Osteoarthritis
Theres's something about the amino acid balance in type 2 collagen that helps reduce inflammation and provide cushioning for joints. We've got some interesting studies to back this up for osteoarthritis (OA) related knee, back and hip pain.
A 2008 randomized control trial published in the Nutrition Journal followed 191 volunteers with knee OA. Half of these people took a placebo while the other half took 40 mg of undenatured type 2 collagen.
The collagen group saw a significant reduction in knee pain and stiffness and overall improvement in the knee joint (5). Read about this study and more in my collagen for joints guide.
5. Can Assist in Skin Health
There's some research to suggest that collagen II can help with skin health, but it is not known whether it is better than type 1 or type 3 for this benefit.
Collagen type II is not found in the same amount on our skin as it is in our cartilage. However, it still does accumulate on our skin if you eat collagen containing foods (6).
For skin, I would not sweat the details of different types and just make sure you are getting some.
How is type 2 collagen made?
Collagen type 2 is made mostly from cartilage found in chicken sternums, sharks and pork. You can also get it from cows, but due to mad cow disease, many researchers and manufacturers stay away from bovine sources due to the potential risk of infection.
In the west, you'll mostly find it made from chickens. The process of making collagen II (CII) begins with massive quantities of chicken bones, necks and sternums.
From here they grind the material down to smaller pieces before using enzymes, heat and acid to boil the material down. There are various filtering, deodorizing and decoloring stages before the product is concentrated, spray dried and packaged.
You'll notice many CII products are labelled as 'undenatured.' This means it has not been further processed (using more heat and acid) to unbundle its peptide chains into smaller amino acid molecules.
Undenatured is the ideal form you want them in because denaturation is shown to degrade the quality of type II and reduce its benefits (7).
Conversely, products like hydrolyzed collagen proteins are referred to as denatured because they undergo more heat and acid to break down the peptides from large molecules to smaller ones.
Type II Collagen Sources
Type II collagen sources include cartilage, collagen protein supplements, bone broth, fish and pork skin and marine collagen. You want to stay away from certain types of collagen, so read up below so that you don't miss out.
1. Collagen Type 2 Protein Supplements
Type 2 collagen supplements are mainly made from chicken cartilage, although some are also made from pork and shark cartilage. Chicken bone broth is the best whole food source you can find.
The great thing about most type 2 supplements is that they will naturally have chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine, which are both popular for supporting healthy joints.
They typically come in two forms: denatured (or hydrolyzed) and undenatured. For osteoarthritis treatment, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune conditions, you want the undenatured version.
Read my ultimate guide to collagen supplements for sagging skin to find the best one for you.
2. Cartilage like Chicken Wings and Feet
Cartilage is a type of connective tissue made up of cells called chondrocytes that are responsible for making new connective tissue. Woah that sounds confusing doesn't it?
The main thing you need to know is that you can get some of this from eating things like chicken wings, drumsticks and feet. These parts of the chicken have the most cartilage and will provide the most benefit.
3. Chicken Bone Broth
Since CII is naturally concentrated in chicken cartilage, the best whole food source is from drinking chicken bone broth.
It s made by boiling animal bones and cartilage at a low heat for a long time. This concentrates the amino acids, hydrating electrolytes, glucosamine and chondroitin into the protein rich beverage.
It is my number one recommendation if you're dealing with autoimmune issues or joint pain because of bone broth's anti inflammatory benefits.
Bluebird Provisions makes highest quality, undenatured product you'll find with 12 g collagen protein and only 160 mg sodium per cup.
4. Fish Skin Collagen
Fish skin collagen is full of CII thanks to the scales, skin and bones of sea creatures like sharks and cod. It is a popular source because it pescatarian friendly and because of the greenwashing that these supplement brands do.
The cons are that the taste is awful and it is more expensive than other types.
5. Chicken and Pork Skin
When it comes to type II collagen production, the two types of skin that are most commonly used are chicken and pork. From a practical perspective, I would recommend that you eat the skin on your chicken thighs or breasts and pork.
Skin is like nature's multivitamin. It has so many benefits, nutrients and minerals compared to eating plain animal meat. We lack these nutrients in our western diets because we usually throw it out.
If you want a way to get more than I love the pasture raised pork rinds from EPIC.
Side Effects of Type 2 Collagen
Taking type 2 collagen may cause minor side effects like bloating, mild diarrhea and burping. But the great thing bout undenatured versions is that the dose is very low at around 40 mg per day.
This low of a dose means you likely won't get the same side effects listed above which are more common when people take higher doses (10 grams or 10,000 mg) of collagen peptides.
Also, if you have autoimmune conditions, then you may want to avoid denatured or hydrolyzed collagen peptides and stick to undenatured versions.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult a physician before taking it.
Type 2 Collagen Dosage
The recommended dose of type 2 collagen depends on whether you are using an undenatured or a denatured (hydrolyzed) version.
For autoimmune conditions, rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis you want an undenatured CII supplement. The daily dose is very low at 40 mg taken first thing in the morning before breakfast.
For skin benefits and joint health, you can take 10 grams per day of a denatured (also known as hydrolyzed collagen) product. It is important that you do not rely on collagen supplements as your only protein source because of the lacking amino acid profile.
What's the best way to get type 2 collagen?
The best way to get type 2 collagen is to drink real chicken bone broth. You can make it at home or purchase a high protein broth in store or on Amazon.
Most brands you can't trust because they use added filler ingredients like yeast extract, 'natural flavors,' artificial sweeteners and dextrose.
So make sure you find a reputable, non-GMO version sourced from the USA or Canada with at least 10 g protein per serving or cup and no added salt.
You can also get it by eating chicken wings, feet, drumsticks and animal skin like pork rinds. If you want to go the supplement route then look for an undenatured CII supplement.
The absolute best one I like is the CII from NOW Foods.
In addition to food and nutrition, you must use the right strategies for increasing collagen like lifting weights, exercising, sleep and reducing stress.
It is only when you combine nutrition with the right lifestyle changes that you will heal your body. I know it sounds corny, but it is true.
Is type 2 collagen better?
Type 2 collagen is not better or worse than type 1 or type 3. It depends what you are looking for. If you have autoimmune issues, asthma or osteoarthritis then type 2 is a better option.
This is because of its ability to reduce inflammation and fight free radical damage in your cells.
However, if you are looking for skin health, reducing wrinkles, weight loss and gut healing benefits, then look a more holistic balanced collagen source which includes types 1, 2 and 3. These are also known are peptides or powders.
Ultimately, I recommend getting it from real food as that is how nature intended us to get our protein and amino acids. Except in rare cases, you easily get enough by focusing on collagen rich foods and doing the right other activities.
As you've read above, collagen type II is an important protein for joints, cartilage and immunity. It can be found in animal sources like chicken wings, pork skin and fish like sharks.
You can also get it in supplement form. Bluebird Provisions chicken bone broth is the best source to cover your nutritional needs. You can find it on their website or on Amazon.
Leave a comment if you have any questions about the different types, where to get it or anything else. I'll do my best to answer you asap.
Disclaimer: this information is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the FDA or CFIA. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult your primary care physician for advise on any of this.
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