What’s the difference between Collagen Peptides and Hydrolyzed Collagen?

January 05, 2021

What’s the difference between Collagen Peptides and Hydrolyzed Collagen?

In this article:

  • What is collagen and how does it benefit the body?
  • What is gelatin and how can we use it in our daily nutrition?
  • Collagen vs. gelatin: What's the difference?

Collagen terminology can get rather confusing. You know you want a quality collagen supplement, but all of a sudden you’re confronted by pages of collagen brands and trying to decide between collagen peptides, bovine collagen, marine collagen, and collagen hydrolysate. The question is: what are the differences among all these products, and do they justify spending hours on research and googling?

A premium collagen supplement must meet certain quality requirements and standards, regardless of its type and source. While we’ve already tackled the qualities to look for in a collagen supplement, in this article we’re concerned with the confusing collagen terminology and their differences. Do they all mean the same thing, and which one is right for you? What are the health benefits of each collagen type and what is the secret behind these hard-to-pronounce scientific terms? Keep reading to find out.

What is collagen and why do our bodies need it?

Collagen is the primary structural protein in the body, and the most abundant protein as well. It accounts for the majority of our protein mass - around one third. [1] Even though there are ~28 known types of this protein, type I collagen is the most abundant in our bodies and the most talked-about collagen when shopping for supplements. Type I collagen is largely present in skin, tendons, bones, and organs. [1] Other prominent collagen types include type II (mostly in cartilage), type III (lymphoid tissues and bones), type IV (basement membrane), and type V (hair and cell surface). [1]

There are numerous collagen sources when it comes to dietary options, including meat, bone broth, eggs, fish, dairy, legumes, and whole grains. [1] Our bodies are also able to manufacture this valuable protein from scratch, but the production process slows with age. Hence, we produce less collagen and it becomes easily depleted, which calls for additional sources like supplements. Hydrolyzed collagen supplementation seems to be the most efficient way of obtaining enough collagen as we age. It offers high bioavailability (easy absorption), which we’ll dig into further in the article.[2]

Let’s go over some of the most important roles of collagen in the body. First and foremost, collagen is a key factor when it comes to the structural stability of the body. It’s often referred to as the glue or cement that holds the body together.[3]

Collagen is crucial in the structure of the skin, blood vessels, heart, and kidneys, as well as our overall cellular composition. [3] The key to collagen’s structural role seems to be in its very structure. Collagen occurs in strong elongated fibrils, so strong that they can’t be broken even when stretched. [4]

As we’ve already mentioned, collagen makes up a large part of our skin. As we age, the amount of natural collagen in our dermis decreases, leaving us prone to visible signs of aging such as wrinkles and fine lines. [5] Collagen has been shown to improve the elasticity and hydration of the skin, reducing dryness and lines, as well as other signs of premature aging. [5] Furthermore, collagen supplementation appears to promote natural production of collagen and other skin proteins such as elastin and fibrillin. [5] It’s no wonder that you see collagen as an ingredient listed on most of your skincare products these days. It’s a bit like the fountain of youth.

Taking a daily collagen supplement has also been associated with improvement in lean muscle mass. Collagen appears to promote muscle gain and strength, especially when combined with proper resistance training. [5] What’s more, a study conducted by D. Zdzieblik and colleagues suggests that collagen supplementation may also lead to an increase in muscle mass in individuals suffering from sarcopenia, a progressive condition targeting muscles. [6]  If you want to stay toned as you age, add a collagen supplement to your pre or post workout nutrition.

Joint pain, especially when it becomes chronic, is one of the most debilitating, persistent conditions. As collagen is crucial for your cartilage and connective tissue, it is also very important when it comes to the health of your joints, as cartilage is what protects them. [5] Compromised cartilage structure is one of the main precursors for joint conditions such as osteoarthritis. Moreover, not only may collagen supplementation help those with chronic joint conditions to alleviate pain, but it also offers anti-inflammatory effects. [5]

Collagen is likewise important for strong, healthy bones. As our collagen production decreases with age, our bone mass is impacted as well. [7] Collagen supplementation may help in preserving bone structure and decrease the risk of degenerative conditions such as osteoporosis. [8] For instance, a study on collagen supplementation and bones suggests that regular collagen supplementation may significantly improve bone mineral density and bone markers. [9]

Collagen is also attributed to a range of other beauty and health benefits, including:

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to how collagen is referenced. Common names for this super supplement include Collagen Powder, Collagen Peptides, Hydrolyzed Collagen, and Collagen Hydrolysate. So, what do you get with each of these?

In most cases, these terms are considered interchangeable. Collagen powder is simply collagen in powdered form, which is easy to use and mix into your favorite drinks and foods. Peptides refer to the actual form of collagen powder, which is easy for the body to absorb and offers high bioavailability. Finally, the term “hydrolyzed” refers to the actual process of breaking down collagen into peptides, which are formulated into a powder substance for ease-of-use and stability.

Now, let’s answer some of your burning questions about the different kinds of collagen and the processes behind their production!

Q&A

What does it mean for collagen to be hydrolyzed?

When referring to collagen as hydrolyzed, we’re talking about collagen that has been broken down into peptides. [10] Collagen’s hydrolyzed form is considered the most bioavailable supplement form for humans, as it is more easily absorbed into your body. [10] Hydrolyzed collagen contains peptides of low molecular weight, which is one of the main reasons behind its high bioavailability. [11] If a supplement is considered to be highly bioavailable, it means that the majority of it will reach the bloodstream and be utilized by the body - which is something we’re all looking for in a supplement.

Due to the fact that it is easily absorbed, hydrolyzed collagen can easily access problem areas and reach the cells in need. For instance, when it comes to skin issues, hydrolyzed collagen not only replaces depleted collagen cells, it also promotes natural collagen production, providing the necessary amino acids. [12] 

Hydrolyzed collagen is considered to be the most effective and convenient collagen supplement form, and not only thanks to its bioavailability. It is also odorless, unflavored, highly soluble, has a low allergenicity level, and it is known for its antimicrobial and antioxidant activity, a study conducted by A. L. López and colleagues concluded. [12] 

Hydrolyzed collagen is the preferred form due to its low molecular weight (3000–6000 Da) which allows the body to easily absorb the nutrient. [20] When it comes to Amandean’s hydrolyzed collagen, it has an average molecular weight of 3000 Da.

What is a peptide?

Peptides are essentially short amino acid chains and they usually consist of 5-20 different types of amino acids. [13] Peptides are derived from protein, and aside from the peptides in dietary supplements, there are also naturally occurring peptides - especially in the skin matrix. [13] High-quality supplements contain bioactive peptides, which have been shown to lower the risk of the development of chronic conditions such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, as well as boost immunity. [14] [22]

Peptides can be extracted from various dietary sources, including eggs, milk (such as whey protein), meat, and marine sources. In most cases, peptides are derived in a process of enzymatic hydrolysis. [14] Because they’re derived from protein, collagen peptides are attributed all the promising benefits of protein, including increased muscle mass, faster wound healing, stronger bones, and graceful aging. [15]

What is the difference between bovine collagen and marine collagen?

Let’s start with the most obvious difference between the two: the source of ingredients. As the name itself implies, bovine collagen is derived from bovine species including bison, water buffalo, yak, antelope, and cows. [16] However, the majority of bovine collagen supplements on the market are made from cows. Amandean collagen peptides are selectively-sourced from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows in South America (Paraguay, Uruguay, and Brazil). On the other hand, marine collagen comes from marine sources, primarily the scales and skin of fish such as snapper and cod. [17] Amandean’s marine collagen powder is sustainably-sourced from wild-caught cod off the coast of Iceland in the pristine waters of the North Atlantic.

Both bovine and marine collagen are considered plentiful sources of types I (largely present in skin, bones, and tendons) and III (found in hollow organs and blood vessels). [18] Marine collagen contains slightly more type I collagen, hence its importance in skin health. [19]

If you’re debating between the two, you should consider your dietary preferences. For vegans, there is still no plant-based collagen alternative. However, synthetic collagen grown in a lab may not be far off. If you’re following a pescatarian diet, marine collagen is an ideal source of collagen protein for you. It is also important to mention that both bovine and marine Amandean collagen are 100% keto & paleo-friendly, in addition to being soy-free, fat-free, sugar-free, zero carb, and non-GMO.

Another game-changer when it comes to the choice of collagen is the molecular weight. Molecular weight is one of the primary factors when it comes to the bioavailability of collagen - the lower the weight, the easier it will be for a nutrient to reach the bloodstream. Most hydrolyzed collagen supplements include peptides with low molecular weight (3000–6000 Da) in order to reach a high level of bioavailability. [20] While both bovine and marine collagen are collagen hydrolysates, marine collagen is considered to be more bioavailable thanks to its extremely low molecular weight (3000 Da in the case of Amandean’s marine collagen).

What is the difference between collagen and gelatin?

When it comes to the source of these proteins, there is no difference; both collagen powder and gelatin powder are sourced from grass-fed, pasture-raised South American cows, as far as Amandean products are concerned. Moreover, both formulas are non-GMO, soy-free, fat-free, and gluten-free; ideal for high-protein diets and friendly for those that follow paleo or keto nutrition. They also contain similar amino acid profiles and both contain Type I & III collagen.

However, there is a difference in the way you use them in your drinks or recipes. Collagen powder is soluble in both hot & cold liquids and makes for an ideal addition to pre- and post-workout shakes, smoothies, and on-the-go nutrition. Unflavored gelatin, on the other hand, is often referred to as collagen for cooking. Unlike collagen peptides it will gel in cold liquids and can act as a high-protein thickener for things like gummies, energy balls, stews, jello, and even custards or jams.

Both collagen peptides powder and gelatin powder contain valuable amino acids, the building blocks of protein. [21]. Both supplements contain 18 amino acids (both essential and non-essential) alanine, arginine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, glycine, histidine, hydroxylysine, hydroxyproline, leucine, lysine, phenylalanine, proline, serine, theonine, tyrosine, isoleucine, methionine, and valine - the only difference being the amount of each amino acid in these formulas. Their percentages vary slightly.

How many types of collagen are in collagen peptides?

Amandean’s collagen peptides contain two different types of collagen; type I and type III. As we’ve mentioned before, type I is largely present in skin, bones, and tendons, while type III is found in hollow organs and blood vessels. [18] Amandean’s collagen peptides contain ~90% type I and ~10% type III collagen, which is the perfect ratio of these types for skin, hair, nails, as well as joint health.

What collagen is right for me?

The truth is, as long as you’re prioritizing a brand with high quality ingredients and a high bioavailability formula, there is no wrong choice. At the end of the day, it’s a matter of personal preference and what kind of diet you follow. Pescatarian diets will want to exclude bovine collagen, or if you avoid fish altogether, you’d be more happy with collagen peptides sourced from cows. The health & beauty benefits are parallel.

Additionally, it’s important to choose a collagen supplement that fits your lifestyle.If you don’t like to spend too much time in the kitchen, you’ll love the versatility and convenience collagen peptide powder offers. Also, this option is ideal if you typically have meals on-the-go or enjoy a meal-replacement shake or smoothie from time to time. On the other hand, if you’re a regular chef in the kitchen and love to try new high-protein recipes, enjoy preparing healthy meals, unflavored gelatin might be a great addition to your kitchen. You can even try both.

Summary Points:

  • Collagen is crucial to the structure of the skin, blood vessels, heart, and kidneys, as well as our overall cellular composition.
  • Hydrolyzed collagen is considered to be the most effective and convenient collagen supplement form.
  • Terminology can get confusing so be sure to read labels carefully when choosing your collagen.
  • Prioritize the quality of ingredients and bioavailability, and find a source that fits your dietary preferences.

Article References:

  1. January 2020, R. R.-L. S. C. 23. (n.d.). What is collagen? Retrieved from livescience.com website: https://www.livescience.com/collagen.html
  2. Collagen supplements: Benefits, safety, and effects. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.medicalnewstoday.com website: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325344
  3. News-Medical. (2011, January 18). What is Collagen? Retrieved from News-Medical.net website: https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Collagen.aspx
  4. Lodish H, Berk A, Zipursky SL, et al. Molecular Cell Biology. 4th edition. New York: W. H. Freeman; 2000. Section 22.3, Collagen: The Fibrous Proteins of the Matrix. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK21582/
  5. Elliott, B. (2018, April 6). Top 6 Benefits of Taking Collagen Supplements. Retrieved from Healthline website: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/collagen-benefits
  6. Zdzieblik, D., Oesser, S., Baumstark, M. W., Gollhofer, A., & König, D. (2015). Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomised controlled trial. The British journal of nutrition, 114(8), 1237–1245. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114515002810
  7. Viguet-Carrin, S., Garnero, P., & Delmas, P. D. (2006). The role of collagen in bone strength. Osteoporosis international : a journal established as result of cooperation between the European Foundation for Osteoporosis and the National Osteoporosis Foundation of the USA, 17(3), 319–336. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00198-005-2035-9
  8. Moskowitz R. W. (2000). Role of collagen hydrolysate in bone and joint disease. Seminars in arthritis and rheumatism, 30(2), 87–99. https://doi.org/10.1053/sarh.2000.9622
  9. König, D., Oesser, S., Scharla, S., Zdzieblik, D., & Gollhofer, A. (2018). Specific Collagen Peptides Improve Bone Mineral Density and Bone Markers in Postmenopausal Women-A Randomized Controlled Study. Nutrients, 10(1), 97. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10010097
  10. Are Collagen Supplements Right For You? (n.d.). Retrieved December 28, 2020, from Verywell Health website: https://www.verywellhealth.com/hydrolyzed-collagen-5082613
  11. León-López, A., Morales-Peñaloza, A., Martínez-Juárez, V. M., Vargas-Torres, A., Zeugolis, D. I., & Aguirre-Álvarez, G. (2019). Hydrolyzed Collagen-Sources and Applications. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 24(22), 4031. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24224031
  12. León-López, A., Morales-Peñaloza, A., Martínez-Juárez, V. M., Vargas-Torres, A., Zeugolis, D. I., & Aguirre-Álvarez, G. (2019). Hydrolyzed Collagen-Sources and Applications. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 24(22), 4031. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24224031
  13. Are Collagen Supplements Right For You? (n.d.). Retrieved December 28, 2020, from Verywell Health website: https://www.verywellhealth.com/hydrolyzed-collagen-5082613
  14. Chakrabarti, S., Guha, S., & Majumder, K. (2018). Food-Derived Bioactive Peptides in Human Health: Challenges and Opportunities. Nutrients, 10(11), 1738. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10111738
  15. Collagen supplements: Benefits, safety, and effects. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.medicalnewstoday.com website: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325344
  16. Bovine Collagen: Benefits, Forms, and Uses. (n.d.). Retrieved December 28, 2020, from Healthline website: https://www.healthline.com/health/bovine-collagen
  17. Is Your Digestion Off? Eat This Kind Of Collagen. (2018, December 9). Retrieved December 28, 2020, from mindbodygreen website: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/marine-collagen-101
  18. Collagen Type 3 - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. (n.d.). Retrieved December 28, 2020, from www.sciencedirect.com website: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/collagen-type-3#:~:text=Collagen%20I%20is%20found%20in
  19. Collagen Type 2 - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. (n.d.). Retrieved December 28, 2020, from www.sciencedirect.com website: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/collagen-type-2
  20. León-López, A., Morales-Peñaloza, A., Martínez-Juárez, V. M., Vargas-Torres, A., Zeugolis, D. I., & Aguirre-Álvarez, G. (2019). Hydrolyzed Collagen-Sources and Applications. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 24(22), 4031. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24224031
  21. Amino acids: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (2017). Retrieved from Medlineplus.gov website: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002222.htm
  22. Moskowitz R. W. (2000). Role of collagen hydrolysate in bone and joint disease. Seminars in arthritis and rheumatism, 30(2), 87–99. https://doi.org/10.1053/sarh.2000.9622
  23.  




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