Collagen, collagen peptides and gelatin… they’re all terms you’ve likely heard before. But what’s the difference? Should we care? Collagen, collagen peptides and gelatin are used interchangeably because they are all made of the same 18 types of amino acids and provide eight of the nine essential amino acids. On the surface, it sounds like they’re pretty similar. Yet when you take a closer look, there are subtle differences that make each of these proteins unique. Both are products of hydrolysis, but one type is much smaller and easier to digest. You might also wonder what is gelatin and what is marine collagen. Read on to learn the differences of collagen vs collagen peptides, what collagen is good for and which one may be the best for you.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the long-chain of amino acids that builds our skin, connective tissue and bones but cannot be absorbed through our diet. It is made primarily of three amino acids — proline, hydroxyproline and glycine —which gives it unique functional properties different from all other proteins. This also makes it the most important structural protein in the body.
Collagen is formed from three very long chains of over 1,000 amino acids twisting into a helix conformation. This tightly twisted helix gives collagen the strength to build our body, but is difficult to break down during digestion and too large to cross the intestinal wall, so in it’s unhydrolyzed, full-length form, collagen is not an effective oral supplement.
What Are Collagen Peptides?
Collagen peptides, or collagen hydrolysate, are short chains of amino acids derived from collagen. You can find them in the form of protein powder. To understand the difference between collagen versus collagen peptides, it is important to understand that collagen peptides and gelatin are made by breaking down the full-length collagen molecules. They are made of the same amino acids as collagen, but they have different properties.
After consumption and absorption, collagen peptides travel throughout the body, repairing, rebuilding and providing energy. Collagen peptides are shuttled to the different tissues where cells will build the peptides into full-length collagen helices to repair our skin, bones and joints, or the cells can use the amino acids directly for energy.
What’s the Difference Between Collagen and Collagen Peptides?
Collagen peptides are generally more bioavailable – they are better absorbed into the bloodstream because they are much shorter chains of amino acids than collagen and gelatin. Because they’re fully hydrolyzed and therefore shorter, collagen peptides are more readily broken down into a form that can enter the bloodstream upon digestion. To put it simply, collagen peptides are the more broken down form of collagen.
What is Hydrolyzed Collagen?
Hydrolyzed collagen powder is another named for collagen peptides. It is important to understand that hydrolyzed collagen versus collagen peptides are two names for the same product. Full length collagen is broken down into collagen peptides through a process called hydrolysis, so collagen peptides are frequently also referred to as hydrolyzed peptides, or just hydrolyzed collagen.
What’s the Difference Between Gelatin and Collagen Peptides?
Gelatin is collagen that has undergone partial hydrolysis, which makes it gel. The partially hydrolyzed chains in gelatin hold on to a lot of water causing gelling. Gelatin is a great thickening agent for desserts and stews. Gelatin is also great for making healthy jello and gummies. Collagen can be mixed into any beverage or recipe without changing the texture or flavor.
Gelatin is formed by mixing collagen in water and slowly heating, which is how bone broth is made in general, by slowly cooking bones and cartilage in water to form gelatin. The collagen in the animal bones and connective tissue is slowly turned into gelatin that dissolves in the broth. The benefits of bone broth are from this dissolved gelatin. However, bone broth does not have the same healing abilities for our bodies as supplementing with collagen peptides. But you can add scoops of collagen peptides to the broth to boost its benefits!
Collagen Types 1, 2 and 3
There are actually many different types of collagen, but the most talked about are collagen Types 1, 2 and 3. Type 1 collagen and Type 3 collagen are usually grouped together because they are the most abundant and have similar bodily functions. Both can be sourced from bovine collagen. Type I can also be sourced from marine collagen as well, unlike Type 3 collagen. Nevertheless, the two make up 90% of the total collagen in the human body and are key in the maintenance of your skin, hair, bones, and muscles.
More specifically, Type 1 collagen can be found almost anywhere in the body except cartilaginous tissues. In fact, Type 1 collagen itself makes up 70% of your skin. This type of collagen is particularly helpful in enhancing the skin and helping to reverse the aging process. On the other hand, you can find Type 3 collagen in hollow organs, like your artery walls. Both types are rich in amino acids glycine, proline, and glutamine, which all serve their own key functions in the body, including blocking endotoxin or acting as an antioxidant.
Finally, there is Type 2 collagen, which can only be found in cartilage. They make up around 50% to 60% of all cartilage protein, and therefore are quite useful in supporting your joints and cartilage. This type of collagen specifically comes from chicken and may be able to aid in supporting your jaw and back as well. If you have weak knees, for example, Type 2 collagen might just be the collagen for you.
Collagen Supplements for a Healthy Life
So what’s the bottom line? When it comes to collagen vs collagen peptides, which one should you be taking? Based on your needs, which types of collagen are the best for you?
Given the option, choose collagen peptides over collagen for the most beneficial supplement. Collagen peptides are versatile for adding to cold or hot beverages or food, and they won’t affect the taste of your favorite dishes. Bovine collagen peptides are rich in Types 1 and 3, and marine collagen is rich in Type 1. Choose gelatin when you want to add thickening or texture to a recipe or to make healthy jello or gummies. In the end, though, both collagen peptides and gelatin have the ability to repair and rebuild throughout your body!
Want to read more?
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.