From skin and bones to gut health, collagen is an essential compound that holds the body together and boosts your health and wellbeing.
It's undoubtedly one of the trendiest supplements in the wellness world, and with good reason. Unlike most supplements in the market, collagen comprises about 75% of the protein in your body and can be found in your skin, blood, bones, and muscles(1).
This is why collagen supplements can effectively increase muscle mass, prevent bone loss, and improve skin health.
As you age, it becomes harder for your body to produce collagen leading to visible signs of aging and bone health issues. Collagen supplements may help you maintain good health, relieve osteoarthritis pain, and m keep your skin youthful and well-hydrated(1).
It's indisputable that collagen is good for you. The problem comes when picking a collagen source. There's so much information available, and it can be challenging to differentiate between the types. Here’s the lowdown on everything you need to know.
Keep reading to find out which collagen supplement is best for you.
Are Collagen Peptides the Same as Hydrolyzed Collagen?
Most collagen supplements are sourced from animals. Your body will break down the collagen into amino acids used to build the collagen your body requires. However, your body can't process collagen in its unhydrolyzed, natural form, depending on the collagen type.
Collagen supplements can be found in two primary forms:
- Collagen peptides
- Hydrolyzed collagen
Collagen peptides are short chains of amino acids derived by breaking down full-length collagen molecules. Raw collagen goes through a softening process that allows collagen peptide molecules to release their bonds. Collagen peptides have the same amino acid composition as raw collagen, but the molecules are small enough to be absorbed through the intestinal wall(1).
Hydrolyzed collagen means cold enzymes have been added to facilitate breaking it down. The enzymatic hydrolysis process breaks down collagen peptides into smaller molecules, making them easier to absorb(2). You should get better results by consuming hydrolyzed collagen. After absorption, collagen is shuttled to different tissues in the body, where they help repair skin, bones, and joints.
The main difference between the two types of collagens is that hydrolyzed collagen is more bioavailable, meaning it’s more easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Raw collagen is such a large and complex molecule that taking it orally wouldn’t help you much.
Which Is Better Collagen Peptides or Hydrolyzed Collagen?
Hydrolyzed collagen is the better of the two because your body has an easier time absorbing and utilizing it. Fully hydrolyzed collagen molecules can be more readily broken down into a form that can enter the bloodstream upon digestion(2).
Collagen that has undergone partial hydrolysis has a gelatin consistency. While it’s great for thickening stews and making healthy jello, it does not have the same healing benefits as fully hydrolyzed collagen.
Another thing to look out for is the constituents of collagen supplements. Type I collagen is usually considered best for the skin. Because it's so prevalent in the connective tissues, it can help reduce signs of aging like wrinkles and fine lines while making your hair and nails healthy. Type II collagen is somewhat less prevalent in the body than type I and III, but it aids in keeping your cartilage and skeletal system healthy(1).
Finally, type III collagen is a major structural component in hollow organs such as late blood vessels and the bowel, making it vital for digestion and cardiovascular health. Most hydrolyzed collagen supplements contain types I and III collagen helping your body rebuild and repair skin, hair, nails, muscles, bones, and blood vessels.
Why Is Hydrolyzed Collagen Better?
The small structural differences between collagen peptides and hydrolyzed collagen make all the difference in how your body utilizes hydrolyzed collagen better, possibly making it more beneficial for your skin, joints, and cartilage health.
Most research on collagen supplements is related to joint and skin health. It’s a great supplement that promotes healthy aging and gut health. And the best part is it’s relatively safe for everyone to consume.
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- León-López, Arely, et al. "Hydrolyzed collagen—sources and applications." Molecules 24.22 (2019): 4031.
- Proksch, E., et al. "Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study." Skin pharmacology and physiology 27.1 (2014): 47-55.