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What are Collagen Peptides and are they the same as Gelatin?

Collagen

What is Collagen?

Collagen and collagen peptides are often used interchangeably but may not necessarily mean the same thing. Liquid collagen, on the other hand, is often in the processed form of collagen peptides – just in a liquid format. Read on as we explore the differences between the various Types (I, II, III) of collagen, the different forms (liquid collagen, collagen peptides, and gelatin), and what they actually offer consumers in terms of health benefits. 

First, what exactly is collagen? 

‘Collagen’ in the broadest sense of the term, is the long-chain amino acids that are found in our tissues, skin, joints, and bones. They are the most abundant protein in the body. 

At the same time, they cannot be obtained directly through diet unless supplemented. Instead, our body naturally produces collagen out of pre-cursors: these are things like vitamin C and amino acids, which can increase collagen production in the body. However, as we age, the production naturally declines and this is why we see the ‘results’ of aging both internally and physically. These include fine lines, wrinkles, joint pain and inflammation, and arthritis. 

In traditional, unhydrolyzed full-length form, collagen is not effective as a supplement, as the long chain is difficult to break down by the stomach during digestion. This needs to be further broken down and processed, so we can utilize it optimally in the forms of supplements – this is where we hear the terms “collagen peptides” and “hydrolyzed collagen” from, as these are processed forms of collagen that are easily absorbed and utilized by the body. 

What about ‘Gelatin’ – Is it the Same as Collagen Peptides?

What about gelatin? Gelatin is a form of collagen that has undergone ‘partial hydrolysis,’ which gives it that ‘gel-like consistency. These partially hydrolyzed chains in gelatin cause the gelling due to the water content – this is why it is often used as a thickening agent for soups and other recipes. 

‘Bone Broth’ is similar to ‘gelatin’ in this sense and is essentially the same thing. Bone broth, like gelatin, is made by slowly cooking bones and connective tissue in water – and the gelatin dissolves into the bone broth. The actual ‘benefits’ of bone broth, which are compared to that of collagen, are actually from the gelatin content of the bone broth. Bone broth does not have the same beneficial properties that collagen peptides do. 

Liquid Collagen and Collagen Peptides: How to Choose the Best Option

So, clearly, collagen peptides are what we want to be supplementing with. But what exactly are ‘peptides’ and how is this collagen produced? 

Collagen peptides, also known as “hydrolyzed collagen” or “collagen hydrolysate” is a form of collagen that has simply been broken down first so it is useable by our bodies. The process of hydrolysis (where water molecules disrupt the bonds in an enzymatic process) breaks down the collagen into smaller chains of protein – these are what we know as “collagen peptides.” Almost all commercially available collagen will thus be hydrolyzed to be processed and for consumers to be able to dissolve it in water. At the same time, any “liquid collagen” you purchased is already hydrolyzed by nature of it being dissolved in water in a pre-manufactured product.

The questions are then – are collagen peptides actually useful and do they have health benefits? 

The literature and studies clearly tell us that yes, collagen peptides, when supplemented, do offer and confer numerous health benefits when used for a prolonged period of time. 

Collagen supplementation is noted to help improve skin elasticity, and hydration of the skin, reduce wrinkles and fine lines, help with joint pain and inflammation from arthritis, improve bone loss in those with osteoporosis, and improve the health of nails, hair, and teeth.

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