Kim is an RN and author of the book "360 Health: Your Guide to Cancer Prevention, Healing Foods, & Total Body Wellness."
What Is Collagen Hydrolysate?
Never heard of collagen hydrolysate? You're not alone. Collagen hydrolysate (or hydrolyzed collagen) is very similar to gelatin but with some very different and unique characteristics.
Collagen is essentially a protein derived from the bones, cartilage, or hides of certain animals. Hydrolyzed collagen results when that animal material is defatted, ground, soaked in hydrochloric acid and dehydrated. The resultant powder is the collagen that can then be used for consumption.
Hydrolyzed collagen is rich with amino acids. It is easily absorbed to form building blocks of new collagen in the body. Different than gelatin, it can easily be mixed with water and does not congeal. This makes it useful and instantly ready to mix.
Benefits of Collagen Hydrolysate
Collagen hydrolysate is touted by many as anti-aging. As we age, our body's collagen weakens. This results in things like sagging skin, prolapsed organs, and "bone on bone" joints. Consuming collagen hydrolysate can benefit and regenerate the body in a multitude of ways. An old adage states, "Eat What Ails You." Collagen, as the foundation for building connective tissue, when consumed can help reverse problems with bones, hair, skin, joints, digestion, and much more.
Hair, Nails, and Skin
Hydrolyzed collagen does wonders for one's locks. Not only can it strengthen hair, but it is know for making hair fuller, thicker, and shinier. Nails also grow to new lengths, and some report having to clip their fingernails and toenails sooner.
Skin's surface can also appear to regenerate. The skin can appear plumper and fine lines seem to diminish. Cellulite also can look less prominent.
Some studies have been done on this very topic:
A 2008 study in Tokyo of 33 women ages 40-60 who took 10 g of Hydrolyzed Collagen daily for 2 months showed a 91% increase in skin hydration and resilience.
A Dermiscan study in Lyon France in 2008 showed similar findings in an age group of 35-55: an increase in skin smoothness and hydration, using the new Corneometer and Skin Image Analyzer technologies. After 12 weeks of 10g Hydrolyzed Collagen daily, 41% less furrowing, less wrinkles, more resilient, more hydrated. Skin resilience was measured by the C&Z Cutometer, which is objective and state of the art.
Hydrolyzed Collagen's Role in Skin Health
Joints and Cartilage
Amino acids are required to build connective tissue. Hydrolyzed collagen is rich in amino acids like glycine, lysine, and proline that help to increase synovial fluid and restore cartilage worn thin by overuse and wear and tear. According to the website "The Doctor Within", collagen works so well to rebuild the structure of joints that patients have actually canceled joint replacement procedures after consuming hydrolyzed collagen for a few months. Similarly, collagen hydrolysate can increase bone density and improve osteoporosis. Since bone is made from collagen and minerals, it makes sense that consuming it would aid in bone regeneration.
Hormones and Thyroid
Amino acids are needed to form hormones and are the foundation for muscle and organ structure. The glycine found in collagen hydrolysate can inhibit excess estrogen in the body, making it useful for assisting in normalizing hormones. Consuming the muscle meat from animals alone, which most Americans do in abundance, can cause stress and inflammation in the body. This is due to the disproportionate ratio of certain amino acids to others. Muscle meat is high in methionine, cysteine, tryptophan, and serotonin, but low in glycine and other important amino acids. Muscle meat consumption causes inflammation and thus also increases cortisol. An increase in cortisol can break down muscle instead of fat, contributing to muscle loss as we age. Cortisol also inhibits thyroid function. However, consuming hydrolyzed collagen adds other necessary amino acids like glycine, proline, and alanine. In fact, hydrolyzed collagen contains ALL 20 amino acids. The glycine in collagen also stimulates stomach acid production and thus improves digestion and assimilation of nutrients. Because poor digestion underlies all hormonal imbalances, improving stomach acidity and nutrient assimilation supports the roots of hormone balance.
Muscles and Organs
Collagen makes up tendons, ligaments, and bones, but it is also the basis for body organs like the heart and lungs, arteries, and the digestive tract. As we age and collagen breaks down, we can experience issues with organ prolapse and arterial stiffness. Hydrolyzed collagen consumption can increase muscle tone, help regulate blood pressure by improving arterial strength, and increase lung capacity. It can aid in organ rebuilding. Athletes who consume collagen also report quicker recovery time and increases in lean muscle mass. Collagen hydrolysate can also greatly help with the muscle wasting experienced by people going through cancer treatments.
Digestion and Weight Loss
As previously mentioned, collagen hydrolysate can help to increase stomach acid. This helps with overall digestion of food. Collage hydrolysate also binds to water in the intestines and helps to move food through the digestive tract with ease, supporting bowel regularity. Some tout that it can also aid in weight loss due to its satiating qualities. Studies have been done regarding collagen hydrolysate and weight loss, although more research is needed. Collagen is also very healing for the bowel (or "leaky gut"). It is thought that "leaky gut" or intestinal permeability contributes to various autoimmune diseases by allowing undigested and irritating food particles, bacteria, and toxins through the gut wall and into the bloodstream. It has been known for centuries that bone broth, rich with collagen, is quite healing. Likewise, collagen hydrolysate also can also benefit "leaky gut" and possibly help with autoimmune disease.
How Do You Consume it and Does it Work?
Depending on the brand and manufacturer, collagen is typically measured by tablespoon and mixed into liquid. The "Great Lakes" brand pictured above recommends taking two tablespoons twice daily. Two tablespoons has around 12 grams of collagen hydrolysate and has 11 grams of protein. It can be mixed with cold or hot liquids and is flavorless. Personally, I mix two tablespoons into my morning smoothie. In the evening, I'll mix it into decaf coffee or herbal tea. And does it work? I can report that my hair has gotten much thicker and even wavier. My nails are strong and grow very rapidly. I've tried different brands, and I do feel they all work quite well. One may want to consider looking for collagen hydrolysate that is derived from grass-fed, pasture raised beef to ensure the highest and purest quality. However, consuming any collagen hydrolysate would be a step in the right direction and could make a huge difference in one's overall health.
A Thorough Overview of Benefits
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.