What is the difference between collagen, gelatin and hydrolyzed collagen? Does it matter whether you take an expensive collagen supplement or just eat a cheap gelatin (like Jello)? Or can you just eat more meat and cartilage to get extra collagen? There are many opinions out there and some bloggers who say it doesn’t matter.
But are these bloggers right? Is eating Jello really a cheap substitute for expensive collagen supplements?
While we were developing our supplement, Collagen Complete, we did extensive research into the different forms of collagen and talked with many scientists specialized in this field. Here’s what we discovered about the difference between collagen, gelatin and hydrolyzed collagen. My husand, Dr. Rick Argall, made a video explaining the differences between gelatin and hydrolyzed collagen which you can watch here:
The Interesting Forms Of Collagen
Gelatin and hydrolyzed collagen are similar in that they are both derived from collagen. Of all the proteins in your body, collagen is the most abundant. It forms your joints, muscles, bones, skin, hair and nails. Because of this, when your collagen begins to fall apart with aging, the skin starts to wrinkle and the bones start to become brittle.
Collagen is a unique form of protein because it’s a triple helix built out of amino acids. This triple helix structure is super-elastic and very tough to break. It’s more elastic than the steel springs in your mattress and more flexible than rubber. It’s the material that gives fluid form to the human body. Healthy collagen defines youth, flexibility and motion.
When you eat collagen in the from of animal parts, such as the bones, meat and skin, your digestive system is not the most effective at breaking it down. Think of swallowing a bone or piece of cartilage. It would probably go through your entire digestive system without being broken down very much.
This is why collagen usually has to be broken down before eating it. This break-down process was historically done by creating bone broths where the bones, skin and joints of animals would boil for many hours and the collagen would form a gelatinous layer on top of stews and broths when cooled. This is how our primal ancestors supplemented collagen without even knowing it. The Paleo Dieters are also fans of creating bone broths for supplementing collagen.
Gelatin (Partially Hydrolyzed Collagen)
Scientists are frequently discovering more and more benefits to getting more collagen in our diets, but because it is such a strongly bound protein, we now break it down in multiple steps called hydrolysis (the action of breaking it down using water). Think of this as pre-digesting the collagen, so that it can be more easily absorbed by our bodies.
When the collagen triple helix strands are broken down to the point of being pulled apart into individual strands, you are left with gelatin (partially hydrolyzed collagen). Gelatin will only dissolve in hot water, and will congeal into a jelly when it’s cooled. This is actually the same as the gelatin that forms on top of a bone broth. Here’s a video where I show you how to make a bone broth at home:
Gelatin is normally used for culinary purposes–to make mint jellies, to thicken sauces, to make sweet desserts, etc. Who didn’t enjoy a nice bowl of Jello as a kid?
Because it has been broken down, gelatin is much more easily absorbed by the body than normal collagen. This is why eating gelatin is so good for us. It can actually help re-build our joints, bones and skin. For years, health experts recommended gelatin for improvement of joint pain. Now studies show that gelatin can benefit those who have appetite issues and can’t shut off their hunger. The long chains of amino acids in gelatin help normalize gut hormones plus can heal a leaky gut and ailing GI tract.
Collagen Peptides – Completely Hydrolyzed Collagen
If gelatin is hydrolyzed even further, those individual strands of protein are broken down even further into what are called “peptides”. These are now completely “pre-digested” collagen. The peptides are ready to be absorbed in your body. Unlike gelatin, hydrolyzed collagen powder easily dissolves in cool water (not just hot water), and they won’t ever congeal in water. Studies show that when you eat or drink these collagen peptides they are directly absorbed into the bloodstream and build up in your skin, bones and joints.
Because collagen peptides are already “digested”, the body will just absorb them right away. More than 90% of the hydrolyzed collagen is absorbed within six hours of ingestion. This means it has what’s called bioavailability; the peptides are available for immediate use in the body without intermediate steps. Studies show that most of it is accumulated in the skin and joints.
Is Hydrolyzed Collagen Better Than Gelatin?
Although consuming collagen in any form is better for you than not having enough collagen in your diet, I would argue that the bio-availability of hydrolyzed collagen makes it a much better option for a supplement than gelatin. This aspect of hydrolyzed collagen has gotten it a lot of attention and new studies are coming out every year.
Studies show it’s helpful for those who have arthritis. In fact, only 10 grams of hydrolyzed collagen consumed daily has been shown to reduce pain in the joints for those who have the most severe joint pain. Even young athletes show joint benefits when they take hydrolyzed collagen.
Hydrolyzed collagen has also been shown to boost the level of collagen in your bones once you consume it. Only 10 grams of hydrolyzed collagen per day is shown to increase bone density – and thus make a big difference in those who have brittle bones, called osteoporosis.
Studies also show that when you consume hydrolyzed collagen, the amino acids of the collagen source accumulate in the skin and smooth out wrinkles. After 2 to 3 months, the results will be greater skin elasticity, more moisture in the skin, wrinkles that are not as deep, and smoother skin.
Studies also show that hydrolyzed collagen acts essentially as an internal sunscreen, protecting you from UVA and UVB rays. Although there are many different types of collagen in the body, hydrolyzed collagen increases Types 1 and IV in the body.
The insides of your arteries can also benefit from hydrolyzed collagen supplements. All arterial walls are made from collagen so taking a hydrolyzed collagen supplement should help increase the flexibility of these blood vessels.
Collagen With Bio-availability
As you can see from all the research into hydrolyzed collagen, the big difference comes down to bio-availability (the ability of your body to absorb the collagen peptides). The amazing results of hydrolyzed collagen studies are not seen from gelatin or eating collagen (although both of those are good for you too). It comes down to that 90%-99% absorption. Yes, a hydrolyzed collagen supplement is more expensive than a bowl of Jello (gelatin), but the science shows that the extra cost is well worth it.
Contact Us @ (888) 507-8958 for Hydrolyzed Collagen.