When people think of the word collagen, they typically associate the word with “gelatin,” (cooked collagen) notoriously known as a wonder food with anti-inflammatory and anti-aging qualities, almost like a cushion. However, when it comes to health and collagen supplementation, collagen produces both collagen proteins (gelatin) and collagen peptides, also known as collagen hydrolysate. Both are slightly different. Commercially, collagen supplements have been around since the early 1920’s. Back then, these supplements were mainly promoted for improving hair, skin, and nails for women, but now, collagen supplements are known to actually aid in the overall health of the entire body.

Vitalproteins.com posted a blog giving helpful insight into the difference between the two in their blog “Collagen Hydrolysate and Collagen Protein: The Difference.” Their blog tells us that Collagen Hydrolysate, (Collagen Peptides) are fragments of proteins. These proteins are said to have the same amino acid content found in Collagen Proteins. These proteins are easily dissoluble in almost all cold liquids, and it’s also easily digested. A benefit from these peptides is that they are completely flavorless and said to be 100% pure. You can mix them easily into juice, smoothies, water, or whichever you prefer without altering the flavor in any way.

The blog goes on to say that collagen protein is what people typically associate with “gelatin,” or “jelly.” Collagen proteins are considered a little heavier and not easy to dissolve in water or juices. These proteins are better served in soups, stews, or in a healthy snack or dessert. It is said to offer the same amino acids as collagen peptides, but the warmer temperature is needed to help dissolve the proteins into recipes. Regardless, the blog says that these proteins are still an easy and smart way to balance your amino acids and get a fabulous protein boost.

Why are amino acids important when it comes to proteins? It turns out, according to the blog, that they are the “building blocks that make up all proteins, including collagen.” A lot of amino acids that our bodies can’t make, we have to try and outsource them through food and dietary supplementation. Collagen supplementation is actually very important. Collagen is abundant in the human body. Not only do we have collagen in our skin, but it is also found in bodily organs and throughout the musculoskeletal system. It is found in joints and cartilage and without collagen, we actually wouldn’t be able to move or stand. Of course, naturally, one would think that consuming collagen supplements would improve skin elasticity, regeneration, and rejuvenation, but it can also improve hair, nails and can even improve, preserve, and revitalize bone and joint health because it is so abundant in the human body.

The blog further tells us that collagen is a protein in itself and is comprised of glycine, proline, hydroxyproline (which makes collagen especially unique because it is high in hydroxyproline), and arginine, which are those vital amino-acids that if supplemented, can actually benefit the entire body. What’s more is that Gelatin and collagen supplements play an important health recovery role in the Paleo Diet, GAPS Diet or and even a Carbohydrate-based diet. 

Aside from their genetic makeup and weight, and whether or not one is more easily soluble than the other, it’s important to note that, “Peptides are short-chain amino acids naturally derived from collagen protein. These natural peptides are highly bio-available, digestible and soluble in cold water.” In addition, one is mentioned is dissoluble in water, and the other is more like a gelatin. According to Paleo Leap.com, “All About Gellatin And Collagen,” “there’s one more distinction to make. Cooking collagen-rich foods extracts gelatin, but with more intensive processing can also create a slightly different product called collagen hydrolysate.”

The article on Paleo Leap also provides a chart of comparison between the two. When it comes to the source, both come from the bones, skin and scales of animals. When it comes to the amino acid profile, again they are both exactly the same; the collagen protein just has the proteins in smaller pieces. When it comes to being soluble in water, as we covered, the protein is only soluble in hot water, however the peptide can be dissolved in cold water, and of course when compared, can cause liquid to turn into gels while the peptides do not. When making the decision as to which one is best for you, it is important to note that the protein itself, (gelatin) must be taken in moderation. The positives of the gelatin is that it can make you feel fuller longer, however, in copious amounts, it can cause indigestion, upset stomach, gas, and a plethora of other undesirable and uncomfortable side effects.

Collagencomplete.com breaks down the difference even more in their article, “What is the difference between collagen, gelatin and hydrolyzed collagen?” They tell us that “When the collagen triple helix strands are broken down to the point of being pulled apart into individual strands, you are left with gelatin (partially hydrolyzed collagen).  Gelatin will only dissolve in hot water, and will congeal into a jelly when it’s cooled.  This is actually the same as the gelatin that forms on top of a bone broth. Because it has been broken down, gelatin is much more easily absorbed by the body than normal collagen. This is why eating gelatin is so good for us. It can actually help re-build our joints, bones and skin.  For years, health experts recommended gelatin for improvement of joint pain. Now studies show that gelatin can benefit those who have appetite issues and can’t shut off their hunger. The long chains of amino acids in gelatin help normalize gut hormones plus can heal a leaky gut and ailing GI tract.”

The article further goes on to explain that “when those individual strands of protein are broken down even further into what are called ‘peptides,’ these are now completely ‘pre-digested’ collagen. The peptides are ready to be absorbed in your body. Unlike gelatin, hydrolyzed collagen powder easily dissolves in cool water (not just hot water), and they won’t ever congeal in water. Studies show that when you eat or drink these collagen peptides, they are directly absorbed into the bloodstream and build up in your skin, bones and joints. Because collagen peptides are already ‘digested,’ the body will just absorb them right away.  More than 90% of the hydrolyzed collagen is absorbed within six hours of ingestion. This means it has what’s called bio-availability; the peptides are available for immediate use in the body without intermediate steps. Studies show that most of it is accumulated in the skin and joints.”