Hydrolyzed Collagen: A Superior Collagen Supplement?

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By Jill Levy

Collagen powder, naturally, is a good option for anyone looking to help support the body in a variety of areas, particularly as they experience the normal aging process. However, there are tons of collagen supplements on the market, each with differences in terms of absorption and benefits.

So what’s the difference between collagen and hydrolyzed collagen? In addition to being derived from different sources, certain types of collagen — including hydrolyzed collagen peptides — have been processed differently (even down to the size of the peptides), leading to changes in the way that they’re handled by the body.

Pure hydrolyzed collagen peptides, in particular, are made in a way that typically makes it much easier for your body to put them to work.

Read on to find out more about the benefits of adding hydrolyzed collagen to your supplement routine, as well as tips for choosing the best formula tailored to your specific needs.

What Is Hydrolyzed Collagen?

Collagen is a type of structural protein found throughout the body, including in the muscles, tendons, joints, skin and digestive system. In fact, it’s the most abundant protein in the human body, accounting for 30 percent or more of connective tissues.

Collagen protein is also found in vertebrate animals, which are the source of collagen supplements. These supplements go by a number of different names, including hydrolyzed collagen powder (aka collagen hydrolysate) and collagen peptides.

What type of collagen is hydrolyzed collagen? While all collagen supplements are hydrolyzed to some extent, some are more so than others.

The definition of “hydrolyzed” is to break down a compound. Hydrolyzed collagen powder is the type that has been broken down into smaller individual collagen peptides, which are typically easier for your body to use and absorb. In this form, collagen protein is associated with several benefits including generally supporting a healthy gut, skin, hair, nails and joints.

When collagen peptides are “fully hydrolyzed,” this means they will dissolve in any temperature liquid, whether hot or cold, plus they won’t have any overly apparent taste or smell. Partially hydrolyzed collagen is also available, which is called gelatin. Gelatin solidifies in cold liquid and isn’t soluble in the same way that fully hydrolyzed collagen powder is.

Collagen Peptides vs. Hydrolyzed Collagen

What is hydrolyzed collagen made out of? Hydrolyzed collagen is made out of multiple amino acids (called “the building blocks of protein”) that are linked together, including the types called glycine, proline and arginine.

The hydrolyzation process breaks down chains that bind amino acids in collagen together. This is done via the work of enzymes that essentially help to do some of the “digesting” of collagen protein for you.

Once smaller units of protein are broken down, which is done in order to make them more absorbable, they are called collagen peptides. When it comes to supplement terminology, some of the time collagen peptides and hydrolyzed collagen are referring to the same things.

General Benefits

Hydrolyzed collagen peptides have been associated with many general health benefits, ranging from gut and digestive support to improved exercise recovery and performance.

Here are a few of the top reasons to consider adding this supplement to your routine.

1. Supports Gut Health

Acting as the “glue” that holds the body together, collagen is found throughout the body, including the gut. Hydrolyzed collagen is generally easily absorbed and can help support overall gut health by maintaining gut lining integrity, which assists in nutrient absorption and plays a role in generally supporting healthy immune system function.

Ancient Nutrition's new Multi Collagen Protein formula is the only one with a collagen ingredient and a probiotic ingredient.

2. Supports Healthy Joints

Collagen protein is considered a key component of cartilage and connective tissues including muscles, joints and tendons. For this reason, using a hydrolyzed collagen supplement can be a great option to support the health and function of the joints, especially among people who are interested in supporting overall comfort, mobility and range of motion.

The new Multi Collagen Protein went through human clinical trials and is actually proven to do the following:

  • Reduces knee stiffness in a week
  • Reduces exercise-induced stiffness and discomfort
  • Improves exercise recovery by 53%
  • Rapidly reduces joint discomfort in 7 days
  • Improves stiffness and knee function at 30 days

3. Supports Healthy Hair, Skin and Nails

Because collagen is found throughout the hair, skin and nails, many people use collagen supplements to help support skin health and hair health as part of a natural approach to skin care and beauty routine.

Additionally, the new Multi Collagen Protein is now clinically proven to do the following …

  • Improves the appearance of crow's feet after 28 days and skin tone after 8 weeks
  • Promotes healthy hair thickness and growth while reducing hair breakage

Hydrolyzed Collagen Supplements

When choosing a collagen supplement, most people will want to opt for a hydrolyzed collagen powder in order to support your body’s ability to absorb the amino acids in collagen most easily. This is also the most versatile type, since it’s soluble in cold and hot liquids. However, gelatin can also be a good option if you’re making something like gummies or a thicker stew.

If you’re looking to benefit from collagen plus other botanicals and supportive ingredients, consider these products that contain hydrolyzed collagen:

1. Multi Collagen Protein

It features 10 types of hydrolyzed collagen from four grass-fed and pasture-raised, cage-free and cruelty-free sources: chicken, bovine, fish/marine and eggshell membrane collagen.

Multi Collagen Protein is made without fillers, sweeteners, GMOs and artificial ingredients. It’s also available in both a Pure/unflavored formula and several other delicious flavors, making it easy to incorporate into your daily routine.

2. Collagen Peptides 

Made from two sources, clinically studied fermented eggshell membrane collagen and bovine collagen, this unflavored formula provides 18 grams of protein per 2 scoop serving (20 grams of collagen).

Collagen Peptides are also available in vanilla flavor and orange, aka Collagen Peptides Immune that supports a healthy immune system and healthy digestion thanks to the addition of a clinically studied SBO probiotic strain called Bacillus subtilis. They also now come in collagen gummies form as well as vegetarian collagen powder or tablets

3. Multi Collagen Capsules 

For those looking for a potent and convenient alternative to collagen peptides powder, fermented Multi Collagen Capsules are a great choice. These capsules provide 1.5 grams of potent collagen per serving.

By fermenting collagen and using it in the clinically studied formula, we’ve been able to make the benefits of collagen peptides roughly 20x greater by weight than typical hydrolyzed collagen peptides powder. These capsules, which can be taken any time of day, also feature a botanical blend to boost energy and fight fatigue.

4. Multi Collagen Protein Rest + Recovery 

With 13 grams of collagen peptides per serving, along with plant extracts such as tart cherry that have been traditionally used for rest and recovery, this formula is ideal for athletes and active adults.

It can help support muscle recovery and strength, especially post-workout, and also contains ashwagandha to promote restful sleep and a calm, relaxed state of mind.

5. Multi Collagen Protein Gut Restore 

Not only does our Gut Restore formula feature 10 types of collagen, but it also uniquely contains 1 billion CFUs* (*at time of manufacture) of soil-based organism (SBOs) probiotics to help promote healthy gut microflora, reduce occasional bloating and support healthy skin.

6. Multi Collagen Protein Joint + Tissue 

If you’re looking for support when it comes to post-exercise recovery and help reduce discomfort, this is the supplement for you. It features 11 grams of collagen per serving along with calcium fructoborate that has been clinically studied to support joint comfort. It can help promote overall joint health, flexibility, mobility and range of motion within as little as one week of use.

    How to Use

    Ancient Nutrition's original Multi Collagen Protein is a fully hydrolyzed collagen powder that is unflavored. This gives you the flexibility of adding it to a variety of your favorite recipes and drinks, such as coffee, smoothies, juices, stews, sauces and baked goods.

    If you’re looking for something with more flavor, Ancient Nutrition also offers several other flavors, including Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry Lemonade and Cucumber Lime that make great additions to sweet recipes like pancakes, oatmeal and shakes.

    In terms of how much collagen to take, it’s generally recommended that most adults take at least 10 grams of collagen daily, which can be split into 2 divided servings or taken at once. However, you should always read and follow label directions.

    Lower amounts of about 3 to 5 grams per day may also be supportive of skin health, while higher amounts of about 20 to 30 grams may be best for supporting joint health. When collagen is fermented, such as in our Multi Collagen Capsules, you can reap the benefits of collagen by taking as little as 1.5 grams daily due to how potent it is.

    Additional Information

    High-quality collagen supplements are usually tolerated well and unlikely to cause side effects, considering they are often made without common allergens including dairy, nuts, seeds, gluten and soy.

    Stick to suggested serving amounts, such as one to three servings per day.

    To get the most benefits, also be sure to pay close attention to the ingredients list of the supplement you choose, this way you select a high-quality product made with cruelty-free and grass-fed and pasture-raised sources and without fillers or artificial ingredients.

    And, as always, you should consult your healthcare professional prior to starting any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, including taking dietary supplements.

    Jill Levy has been with the Dr. Axe and Ancient Nutrition team for five years. She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Fairfield University, followed by a certification as a Holistic Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Jill takes a “non-diet” approach to health and really enjoys teaching others about mindful eating, intuitive eating and the benefits of eating real foods.