So, how does one approach the subject when comparing two products from different companies with only one active compound, which is virtually the same ingredient? That was the dilemma as we reviewed Primal Collagen from Primal Harvest and Collagen Peptides from Vital Proteins.
Typically, in a comparison article such as this, we drill down on the formulations and blends, we scrutinize the ingredients, looking for advantages in trademarked or patented compounds or organic certifications, and we compare dosages, all to determine which product might best deliver on its advertised benefits. But when comparing Primal Collagen and Vital Proteins, both products feature one essential ingredient, types I and III hydrolyzed collagen protein from grass-fed and pasture-raised bovine. We couldn’t fall back on taste or mixability, as both are unflavored and hydrolyzed for optimal mixability, absorption, and bioavailability. So, how did we determine a winner in this comparison? Read on, and you’ll see how we arrived at our decision.
First, just a bit about collagen, the most abundant protein produced in your body and the main structural protein in skin, tendons, and bone. Accounting for about 30% of your body’s total protein, it is the glue that holds it all together. It’s the primary building block of skin, muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage, providing structural strength and support. Unfortunately, our natural (endogenous) collagen synthesized by the body begins to decline in your thirties, leading to wrinkles, sagging skin, weakened joint cartilage, and reduced bone strength. Other factors contributing to collagen loss and denigration include lifestyle choices such as smoking, alcohol abuse, excessive exposure to the sun’s rays, and diet.
A healthy, well-balanced diet, regular exercise, and good lifestyle decisions provide the raw ingredients and setting to help your body make collagen naturally. Still, many people turn to collagen supplements to replenish this vital protein to optimal levels.
Primal Harvest Collagen vs. Vital Proteins: The Products
Although there are some 28 different types of collagens, five are used most frequently in dietary supplements, with types I and III being the most prevalent and most effective when used together. Collagen supplements come in many delivery formats, including powders, broths, capsules, gummies, and bars.
Primal Collagen from Primal Harvest
Primal Harvest Collagen is an unflavored, powdered collagen nutritional supplement derived from grass-fed and pasture-raised bovine containing types I and III collagen to support hair, nail, joint, and skin health.
Type I collagen is the most abundant collagen in the human body (about 90% of our collagen) due to its prevalence in connective tissue. In addition, it is a primary component of teeth and bone, also found in the skin, blood vessels, lungs, and heart. Type I is designed to support healthy skin, hair, and nails.
Type III, an essential component of internal organs, muscles, and arteries, is also found along with type I in the skin, bones, tendons, lungs, and ligaments. The second most abundant collagen of soft tissue, type II, is particularly effective when combined with type I.
Each 10-ounce package of Primal Harvest Collagen contains thirty servings of hydrolyzed bovine collagen.
Each serving is 10 grams of collagen, delivering 35 calories. The collagen from natural sources is hydrolyzed (broken down) for maximum absorption and bioavailability. As seen below, collagen is the only ingredient in the product.
Primal Harvest is manufactured in the U.S. in a cGMP-certified facility. It is non-GMO, gluten- and soy-free, with no antibiotics or added hormones, and is formulated with GelcoPEP Technology to make the powder easier to mix without clumping.
The company supports its products with a 90-day money-back guarantee.
How to Take Primal Harvest
Stir one scoop of Primal Collagen peptide powder (10 grams) into 8 ounces of any hot or cool liquid and mix thoroughly. The product performs well in smoothies, protein shakes, juices, tea, coffee, or any other favorite beverage. Collagen can be taken with or without a light meal and at your chosen time. For optimal results, use daily consistently.
Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
We apologize in advance if this product description may sound a bit repetitive; however, such is the case when detailing two products featuring the same single ingredient from similar sources, processed in the same way.
Vital Protein Collagen Peptides is an unflavored, powdered collagen nutritional supplement derived from grass-fed and pasture-raised bovine containing types I and III collagen to support hair, nail, joint, and skin health. Each 9.33-ounce package contains fourteen servings of hydrolyzed bovine collagen. Each serving is 20 grams of collagen, delivering 70 calories. The collagen, from natural sources, is hydrolyzed (broken down) for maximum absorption and bioavailability. As seen below, collagen is the only ingredient in the product.
Hopefully, you’ve noted the differences between the two products. Vital Collagen is a slightly smaller container, 9.33 ounces versus 10 ounces in Primal Collagen. The serving size of Vital is double that of Primal, with 20 grams of protein versus 10 grams, and the number of servings is half that of Primal 14 versus 30. Don’t let this be a major factor, as Primal states that you may wish to consider doubling their serving size, which would basically cancel out these differences.
The company frequently refers to its product as “Our celebrity-loved collagen powder.” Jennifer Aniston is a major supporter with an employee role in the company.
Vital’s product contains the same types I and III hydrolyzed bovine collagen from grass-fed, pasture-raised cattle, providing the same health benefits.
The product is manufactured in the U.S. in a cGMP NSF-certified facility, and the product is certified as Safe for Sport, also by NSF, one of the three leading third-party certification companies.
Made without gluten or dairy and with no added sugars or artificial sweeteners, Collagen Peptides are Whole30 Approved, Paleo-friendly, and certified Kosher.
Like Primal Collagens product, the collagen in Vital’s Peptides is hydrolyzed, a form of collagen more easily absorbed into the bloodstream.
How to Take Vital Proteins
Like Primal Collagen – simply stir into your favorite beverages, one 20-gram serving with your coffee, tea, in a smoothie, or a bowl of oatmeal. And like Primal, daily use is encouraged, any time of the day.
Note: Vital Proteins removed the scoop in their products, so the serving size is about four tablespoons, twenty grams. The management at Vital Proteins wanted to put a little less plastic in the world as a sustainability initiative. You can match the Primal dosage of 10 grams using only two tablespoons.
Primal Harvest Collagen vs. Vital Proteins: Which Product is Better?
The winner between the two brands is Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides.
How can we make that determination, given all the similarities?
In truth, both are excellent products and will deliver the promised benefits with regular, consistent use. They are virtually the same product. We even compared amino acid profiles and could not discern any appreciable difference.
So, we had to dig deeper into the companies, their corporate philosophies, and go-to-market strategies. We admit that pricing and convenience in accessing the product were factors. We summarize our findings below for those seeking a quick answer and then go into greater detail in the following segments.
Whenever we compare supplement products, we start with the basics:
- Are the products made in the U.S. in an FDA-registered, cGMP-compliant facility – (current Good Manufacturing Practices)?
- Transparency in labeling, that is, no proprietary blends. Each ingredient and dosage are clearly indicated on the Supplement Facts panel.
- Are products third-party tested/certified for safety, quality, and purity?
- Are ingredients organic and/or non-GMO?
- Does the company offer a money-back guarantee?
Both companies meet the above criteria with one important distinction. Vital Proteins uses NSF, National Sanitation Foundation, for the third-party cGMP certification of its facility and goes even further as the product is certified Safe for Sport, ensuring it is banned substance free. Primal states its facility is cGMP compliant; however, certification is not mentioned. They also note third-party testing of their products, but again with no mention of certification.
The next factor is logical yet may illustrate a bit of bias on our part.
Primal products are available on the company website and Amazon.com. They are not sold at retail in traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Vital Proteins are sold on the company site, Amazon, and numerous other e-commerce sites, and virtually everywhere in food, specialty, mass merchandiser, and drug stores.
This speaks to the corporate philosophies and go-to-market strategy of an online presence only versus an omnichannel marketing approach. Beyond the convenience factor, anyone who has sold products through retail giants such as Walmart, Kroger, Walgreens, GNC, and other major retailers, understands that the vetting system for these retailers is far more extensive than that required of an online-only retailer. Product liability insurance indemnifying the retailer, copies of certifications for cGMP compliance, and product COAs (Certificate of Analysis) are just a few hoops a manufacturer selling to big box stores will encounter. There are many good online-only companies and products, yet the rigors of selling to retail require different expertise and sophistication.
From a corporate point of view, Vital Proteins, founded in 2013, had a head start on Primal, founded in 2018. More importantly, today, Vital Proteins is owned by Nestle Health Science, a business unit of Nestle SA, the largest food corporation in the world. Vital, America’s number-one selling collagen brand, has expanded its full spectrum lineup of collagen-based products into international markets, including Japan, China, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, the U.K., Canada, and Mexico. Size often does matter.
Since both products are unflavored, taste is not a determining factor. Both products also hydrolyze their collagen, which aids in mixability, absorption, and bioavailability. We compared Nutrition Facts and the amino acid profiles of both products and other than adjusting for serving size, they are equal.
This leads us to the value proposition of the brands, which is distorted by the different serving sizes on the Facts Panel.
|Primal Collagen||Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides|
|Container Size||10 oz.||9.33 oz.|
|Price per Container||$36.95||$27.00|
|# of Servings||30||14|
|Serving Size||10 grams||20 grams|
|Cost per Serving||$1.23||$1.93|
|Cost per gram of Collagen||$.123||$.096|
One needs to analyze the pricing carefully, going beyond the price per container and per serving, and look at the cost per gram of collagen – advantage Vital Proteins. Both offer 90-day money-back guarantees and subscription savings. Vital Collagen Peptides can be purchased for less than $27.00 at certain retailers, avoiding the shipping charges incurred on one-time purchases on Primal online.
We consider Vital Proteins the better option; however, we encourage you to consider either product as the health benefits of collagen supplementation are clinically validated.
Clinical studies Confirm the Efficacy of Collage Supplementation
The benefits cited by Primal Collagen and Vital Proteins focus on hair, skin, and nail health, improved skin elasticity, gut health, reduced joint pain, and prevention of bone loss. Other benefits include immune support, cardiovascular and digestive health, and possibly weight management.
The NCBI (National Center for Biotechnical Information), in its “Review of the Effects of Collagen Treatment in Clinical Studies,” found evidence supporting the efficacy of collagen supplementation in delivering the following benefits:
Potential Skin Benefits of Collagen Supplementation
In nineteen clinical, randomized, placebo-controlled studies, collagen peptide supplementation significantly improved skin hydration and elasticity and reduced wrinkles compared with placebo treatments. Dosages were 2.5 – 15 grams per day.
Potential Benefits for Bone Health – Osteoporosis Avoidance
Additional studies showed that collagen supplementation improved bone mineral density (BMD) – which is important as reduced BMD may be a precursor to osteoporosis. Participants who supplemented with five grams per day for one year exhibited significant increases in BMD compared to those who took a placebo.
Collagen Protein Effective in Combatting Sarcopenia
A condition of aging that concerns many men is muscle wasting, known as sarcopenia. Several clinical trials featuring older men who suffered from sarcopenia found that collagen hydrolysate supplementation, in combination with resistance training, could significantly increase muscle mass and strength and decrease body fat in participants.
Collagen Supplementations Potential for Weight Management
Beyond the benefits cited above, collagen supplementation may provide additional health benefits. The NCBI study addresses uses in wound healing, the treatment of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), and dental procedures.
As noted in the sarcopenia trials, participants markedly improved their body composition, indicating muscle gain/fat loss when supplementation was combined with resistance training.
Type II collagen is generally considered a more effective joint treatment as it is the main constituent of cartilage. However, in its review of randomized controlled trials, the NCBI determined that both type II collagen and collagen peptides were shown to treat osteoarthritis and reduce joint pain effectively.
Collagen to Support Gut Health
Two of the plentiful amino acids in collagen protein are glycine and glutamine. The role of glutamine in supporting gut health has been well-researched and documented. Per Primal Harvest, their collagen supplement is clinically supported to help improve liver health, digestion, and the gut barrier.
Primal Harvest Collagen Protein vs. Vital Proteins: Pricing
Primal Harvest Collagen is priced at $36.95 on the corporate website for a one-time purchase. The subscribe and save option (monthly auto-ship) will save you 20%, as the purchase price goes to $29.56, and you receive free shipping.
Vital Proteins are available on the company website, Amazon.com, and other e-commerce sites, and in general distribution in food, drug, mass market, and specialty brick-and-mortar retailers. Collagen Peptides are $27.00 for a single purchase and $22.95 with a subscription on the company website.
When shopping for Vital Proteins’ Peptides, note the container size and number of servings as there appears to be some deviation across retailers – possibly the effect of a channel strategy employed by the company. In general, a 9.33-ounce package retails as follows:
- Specialty Retailers
- GNC – $26.99
- Vitamin Shoppe – $26.99
- Other e-commerce
- Amazon – $24.99
- Mass Merchandisers
- Walmart – $24.98
- Target – $24.99
- Kroger – $27.00
- Chain Drug
- Walgreens – $26.99
- CVS – $23.59 (special sale price)
Are Collagen Supplements Safe?
As observed in clinical trials, hydrolyzed collagen protein supplementation is generally safe for most healthy adults. Some people, however, may experience mild side effects, including constipation, bloating, upset stomach, or diarrhea.
Those who opt for a multi-collagen product, particularly those with food allergies, should exercise caution as these supplements often contain eggs, fish, and shellfish.
As always, we suggest you discuss any new supplement with your healthcare provider before adding the product to your regimen.
Primal Harvest Collagen vs. Vital Proteins: Multi Collagen Products
Since we introduced the concept of a multi-collagen product in the section above, we’ll spend just a few paragraphs explaining the difference between multi and a simple type I and III product. Both companies offer either a multi collagen product or a peptide with additional components to deliver different health benefits:
Primal offers products in the Beauty, Energy, Mobility, Longevity, and Balance categories, including their Primal Collagen (the subject of this article), plus a Multi Collagen and Keto Collagen. The Multi Collagen product is in capsule form and contains collagen types I, II, III, V, and X. (Collagen types are numbered and stated in Roman numerals). These five types are sourced from bovine, chicken, fish, and eggshell membranes.
The company markets various collagen products within its portfolio, including supplements, vitamins, and food and beverages, in several forms, powders, bars, capsules, gummies, and waters. Collagen offerings include:
- Advanced, types I and III, plus Hyaluronic Acid and vitamin C.
- Flavored Peptides
- Lemon, Chocolate, and Vanilla
- Matcha Peptides, with caffeine
- Collagen Creamer
- Cartilage Collagen, with added type II collagen
Most companies in the collagen space will offer a multi collagen option. Why? Different collagen types address different benefits. We’ve discussed types I and III in detail in this article.
Type II (as mentioned) is considered the cartilage collagen and is used frequently in products to address joint health. The source of type II is chicken in most supplements.
Type V, not as abundant in the body as Types I, II, and III, functions in forming cell membranes and the tissue in a woman’s placenta. Typically sourced from the eggshell membrane, type V contributes to bone health, connective tissue, and helps protect muscles, the liver, and the lungs.
Type X, another lesser collagen in the body, is involved in bone formation in cartilage. Sourced from chicken or bovine, this collagen is crucial in healing joints.
Some of the more prevalent Multi Collagens on the market include:
- Ancient Nutrition – Multi Collagen (with ten types)
- CodeAge – Multi Collagen Peptides (with five types, I, II, III, V, and X)
- Now Multi Collagen (types I, II, and III)
- Wholesome Wellness – Multi Collagen (types I, II, III, V, and X)
In Summary: Primal Harvest Collagen vs. Vital Proteins
Hopefully, this review, especially the clinical confirmation that collagen peptides perform has convinced you to add one of these products to your regimen. Although we proclaimed a winner, Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides, either option delivers an excellent product. When combined with healthy lifestyle choices, a sensible diet, and exercise, collagen such as with Vital Proteins and Primal Harvest, can be an effective tool for improved body composition. To reiterate, types I and III are your best options for skin, hair, nails, muscle retention, and body composition. Specifically for joints, Type II native collagen is the best source. We highly recommend you select a product with types I – III at a minimum or all five of the types for overall health.