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.
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 makes collagen peptides different? What about collagen versus collagen peptides?
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. Collagen peptides are 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 shorter, collagen peptides are more readily broken down into a form that can enter the bloodstream upon digestion.
After 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 about hydrolyzed collagen versus 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.
How is gelatin different from collagen 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.
What about bone broth?
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!
So what’s the bottom line? What should you be taking: collagen versus collagen peptides? 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,. Choose gelatin when you want to add thickening or texture to a recipe or to make healthy jello or gummies. Both collagen peptides and gelatin have the ability to repair and rebuild throughout your body!
Summary of Difference Between Collagen, Collagen Peptides, Gelatin and Hydrolyzed Collagen
- Collagen is the most important structural protein in the body. However, full length collagen is ineffective as an oral supplement because of its long, twisted shape.
- To understand the difference between collagen versus collage peptides, remember that collagen peptides and gelatin are made by breaking down full length collagen molecules. Collagen peptides are more bioavailable and digested more quickly than gelatin due to their shorter length.
- While some people can get confused about the difference between hydrolyzed collagen versus collagen, hydrolyzed collagen and collagen peptides are two names for the same product.
- Gelatin is collagen that has gone through partial hydrolysis, which makes it gel.
- Bone broth is made by slowly cooking bones and cartilage in water to form gelatin. Collagen peptides are more easily absorbed into the bloodstream ,so bone broth does not have the same healing ability as collagen peptides.
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*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.