What is hydrolyzed collagen, and does it actually provide any benefits?
We’re here to help separate fact from fiction regarding hydrolyzed collagen and also help you figure out whether you should try it or not.
Let’s get started by first answering what collagen is.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. It functions as the primary structural protein for your skin, bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, and GI system. Interestingly, collagen may actually account for up to 35% of the entire protein content of your body!
Due to the many uses of collagen in the body, it is essentially the “glue” that holds you together.
Collagen is composed of 19 different amino acids, but the two main ones are:
Glycine and proline are two non-essential amino acids that play key roles in immune function, joint health, wound healing, cardiovascular health, and antioxidant defense.[2,3]
It’s also worth mentioning that glycine also serves as an important building block of DNA and creatine.
What is Hydrolyzed Collagen?
The “hydrolyzed” part of hydrolyzed collagen is in reference to the processing method used to create it -- hydrolysis.
Hydrolysis is a chemical reaction where water is used to break the bonds of a particular substance. In this regard, you can think of hydrolysis as a kind of “chemical digestion” similar to what takes place in your GI system when you eat food. As food travels the GI tract, it interacts with a variety of chemicals and digestive enzymes (like hydrochloric acid, protease, amylase, lactase, etc.) which break down the food into smaller components that are more efficiently absorbed and utilized by the body.
The process of hydrolysis does much of the same thing. In the case of collagen, hydrolysis breaks down some of the more complex peptide bonds linking the collagen peptides together to help them be absorbed faster and used more efficiently by the body.
Do I Need to Supplement with Hydrolyzed Collagen?
Since collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, you might be wondering why you would ever need to supplement with it.
Well, the truth is that while our bodies produce collagen every day, endogenous collagen production starts to decline around age 25, meaning that our bodies’ rate of collagen breakdown exceeds the rate at which we produce it.
As a result of this imbalance between production and degradation, wrinkles, crow’s feet and other signs of skin aging start appearing as we get older.
Other factors also affect collagen production, including excessive consumption of sugar and alcohol, prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, and smoking.[5,6,7]
To top it off, typical Western diets aren’t particularly rich in foods high in collagen, such as bone broth and organ meats. Therefore, supplementing with hydrolyzed collagen provides a convenient and cost-effective means to increase your collagen intake without having to pound back plates of liver and onions or sip on growlers full of bone broth.
What are the Benefits of Hydrolyzed Collagen?
Improves Skin, Hair, and Nails
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, collagen is the main structural protein of the body where it provides structure for the skin. And, as we age, collagen synthesis declines, leading to the formation of wrinkles, brittle nails, and less vibrant hair.
A number of human research trials have found that supplementing with hydrolyzed collagen or collagen peptides (2.5-5 grams per day) may help reduce skin dryness and wrinkling. It may also help improve skin elasticity and reduce visible signs of aging.[8,9,10]
Researchers attribute the “anti-aging” effects of hydrolyzed collagen supplements to their ability to stimulate endogenous production of collagen due to the high glycine and proline content of hydrolyzed collagen.[8,11]
Furthermore, collagen supplementation may also help increase production of fibrillin and elastin, two additional proteins involved in the structure of skin.
Supports Joint Health
In addition to providing structure for your skin, hair, and nails, collagen also serves as a vital building block for your joints, ligaments, and tendons. Due to the decreased natural production of collagen that accompanies aging, our bodies at a greater risk for developing joint disorders such as osteoarthritis.
Additionally, Intense exercise protocols coupled with poor form also contribute to joint breakdown.
Several studies have found that hydrolyzed collagen supplements may help alleviate joint pain.[12,13,14] And, a study in healthy athletes noted that the ingestion of 10 grams of hydrolyzed collagen (the same amount as found in ½ serving of 1Up Nutrition Grass-Fed Hydrolyzed Collagen Peptides) per day for 6 months led to significant reductions in joint pain both at rest and during physical activity.
Researchers attribute that supplementing with collagen may help boost the body’s own production of collagen, which may help improve the structure and integrity of joints as well as reduce inflammation.
Supports Cardiovascular Function
The bulk of the research to date in regards to collagen supplementation has been along the lines of improving the joint health and the appearance of skin, but one of the emerging bodies of research is that of collagen’s impact on cardiovascular health.
As you may recall, collagen is used in the formation of your arteries (the blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart and to your muscles. Having insufficient production of collagen may lead to a weakening of the arteries and eventual atherosclerosis.
A six months open-label trial including 32 healthy adults found that consuming 16 grams daily of collagen (split across two-8 grams servings) led to significant improvements in “good” HDL cholesterol as well as notable reductions in measures of arterial stiffness compared to baseline.
Research is still in its infancy regarding hydrolyzed collagen supplements and cardiovascular health, but for the preliminary findings are encouraging.
May Prevent Bone Loss
Similar to collagen and natural testosterone production, bone mass tends to decline with age. As a result of this loss of bone mass, we’re at an increased risk for bone fractures and the development of osteoporosis.
Human studies have found that daily supplementation of collagen helps increase bone mineral density (BMD) compared the those receiving a placebo.[18,19]
In case you weren’t aware, bone mineral density is an important marker used to measure the mineral content of your bones. Individuals with lower bone mineral densities typically have weaker bones and develop osteoporosis.
May Help Build Muscle
In addition to serving as an important structural component of your skin, joints, hair, and arteries, collagen also is used to build muscle tissue. In fact, collagen accounts for up to 10% of skeletal muscle tissue.
Research in patients with sarcopenia (age-related muscle wasting) documented that daily supplementation with 15 grams of collagen for 12 weeks (in conjunction with resistance-training) led to greater gains in muscle and strength compared to those who only exercised but did not supplement with collagen.
Interestingly, the group receiving the collagen supplement also lost more body fat than those who didn’t receive the collagen supplement!
Researchers postulate that collagen’s potential muscle-building benefits stem from its ability to support the body’s production of creatine. This is due to the fact that collagen is rich in glycine and glycine is one of the main building blocks used in the synthesis of creatine.
As we stated up top, most of the research regarding collagen supplementation is regarding joint health and skin. However, a number of anecdotal reports note improvements in other areas accompanying hydrolyzed collagen supplementation, including:
- Gut health
- Immune Function
This is most likely due to the high glycine content of collagen as glycine is an amino acid that serves as a modulator of the immune system and it’s also believed to encourage healing and limit chronic inflammation.
Is Hydrolyzed Collagen Worth It?
The strongest body of evidence for collagen supplementation is in support of joint health and improving the quality and appearance of one’s skin, hair, and nails. It may also offer benefits regarding gut health, sleep, and immune function.
There are a considerable number of options from which to choose when trying to select your particular collagen supplement, and it can be hard to separate a high-quality collagen product from a suspect one.
That’s why we decided to create our own Hydrolyzed Collagen Peptides.
We use only high-quality grass-fed collagen, absent the unnecessary additives and fillers found in lower quality collagen supplements. 1UP Nutrition Hydrolyzed collagen peptides contains what a collagen supplement should -- only hydrolyzed collagen powder.
Each serving provides 20 grams of easily digestible collagen, rich in protein and amino acids to promote healthy skin and hair as well as support healthy joints and bones.
- EASTOE JE. The amino acid composition of mammalian collagen and gelatin. Biochem J. 1955;61(4):589–600. doi:10.1042/bj0610589
- Wu G, Bazer FW, Burghardt RC, et al. Proline and hydroxyproline metabolism: implications for animal and human nutrition. Amino Acids. 2010;40(4):1053–1063. doi:10.1007/s00726-010-0715-z
- Razak MA, Begum PS, Viswanath B, Rajagopal S. Multifarious Beneficial Effect of Nonessential Amino Acid, Glycine: A Review. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017:1716701. doi:10.1155/2017/1716701
- Abdul Wahab Mohammad, Norhazwani Mohd. Suhimi, Abdul Ghani Kumar Abdul Aziz and Jamaliah Md. Jahim, 2014. Process for Production of Hydrolysed Collagen from Agriculture Resources: Potential for Further Development. Journal of Applied Sciences, 14: 1319-1323.
- Donejko M, Przylipiak A, Rysiak E, et al. Hyaluronic acid abrogates ethanol-dependent inhibition of collagen biosynthesis in cultured human fibroblasts. Drug Design, Development and Therapy. 2015;9:6225-6233. doi:10.2147/DDDT.S91968.
- Overbeek SA, Braber S, Koelink PJ, et al. Cigarette Smoke-Induced Collagen Destruction; Key to Chronic Neutrophilic Airway Inflammation? Hartl D, ed. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(1):e55612. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055612.
- Danby FW. Nutrition and aging skin: sugar and glycation. Clin Dermatol. 2010;28(4):409-411. doi:10.1016/j.clindermatol.2010.03.018.
- Proksch, E., Schunck, M., Zague, V., Segger, D., Degwert, J., & Oesser, S. (2013). Oral Intake of Specific Bioactive Collagen Peptides Reduces Skin Wrinkles and Increases Dermal Matrix Synthesis. Skin pharmacology and physiology(Vol. 27). https://doi.org/10.1159/000355523
- Borumand M, Sibilla S. Effects of a nutritional supplement containing collagen peptides on skin elasticity, hydration and wrinkles. J Med Nutr Nutraceut 2015;4:47-53
- Proksch, E., Segger, D., Degwert, J., Schunck, M., Zague, V., & Oesser, S. (2014). Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 27(1), 47–55. https://doi.org/10.1159/000351376
- Ganceviciene R, Liakou AI, Theodoridis A, Makrantonaki E, Zouboulis CC. Skin anti-aging strategies. Dermatoendocrinol. 2012;4(3):308–319. doi:10.4161/derm.22804
- Collagen supplementation as a complementary therapy for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis : a systematic review. (2016), 153–164.
- Bello, A. E., & Oesser, S. (2006). Collagen hydrolysate for the treatment of osteoarthritis and other joint disorders: a review of the literature. Current Medical Research and Opinion, 22(11), 2221–2232. https://doi.org/10.1185/030079906X148373
- 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
- Clark, K. L., Sebastianelli, W., Flechsenhar, K. R., Aukerman, D. F., Meza, F., Millard, R. L., Albert, A. (2008). 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Current Medical Research and Opinion, 24(5), 1485–1496. https://doi.org/10.1185/030079908X291967
- 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/
- Tomosugi N, Yamamoto S, Takeuchi M, et al. Effect of Collagen Tripeptide on Atherosclerosis in Healthy Humans. J Atheroscler Thromb. 2017;24(5):530–538. doi:10.5551/jat.36293
- Elam, M. L., Johnson, S. A., Hooshmand, S., Feresin, R. G., Payton, M. E., Gu, J., & Arjmandi, B. H. (2015). A calcium-collagen chelate dietary supplement attenuates bone loss in postmenopausal women with osteopenia: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medicinal Food, 18(3), 324–331. https://doi.org/10.1089/jmf.2014.0100
- König D, Oesser S, Scharla S, Zdzieblik D, Gollhofer A. Specific Collagen Peptides Improve Bone Mineral Density and Bone Markers in Postmenopausal Women-A Randomized Controlled Study. Nutrients. 2018;10(1):97. Published 2018 Jan 16. doi:10.3390/nu10010097
- Gillies AR, Lieber RL. Structure and function of the skeletal muscle extracellular matrix. Muscle Nerve. 2011;44(3):318–331. doi:10.1002/mus.22094
- Zdzieblik D, Oesser S, Baumstark MW, Gollhofer A, König D. Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomised controlled trial. Br J Nutr. 2015;114(8):1237–1245. doi:10.1017/S0007114515002810