Collagen vs. Collagen Peptides, With so many collagen options on the market, deciding can be difficult. Here’s what you need to know.
Collagen is an essential building block within the human body. This protein is foundational in building our skin, bones and connective tissues. Elasticity in skin and durability of tendons (to name a few areas of impact) depend on the correct quantity of healthy collagen. Over time, our bodies become less effective at producing collagen, and the collagen we already have starts to break down. One way that people mitigate this problem is by using diet or supplements to increase collagen production. But understanding the difference between collagen and collagen peptides can be key to getting your body what it needs.
What is collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein our bodies produce. It is made from three chains of amino acids arranged into a helix pattern that is found in our muscles, tendons, cartilage, skin and bones. Amino acid glycine is present in most collagen chains, with proline and hydroxyproline also being common. On top of being a foundational building block, collagen is more specifically useful for things like tissue repair and healthy immune response.
There are 28 types of collagen we know of. Of these many types of collagen in the body, types I and III make up the significant majority. As we age, our collagen breaks down more quickly, and our body becomes less effective at producing more. (This is one of the contributing causes to aging skin.) Other factors that contribute to collagen decline include smoking, environmental pollution, excessive alcohol use and nutrient deficiencies.
What does collagen do?
As we age, our collagen breaks down at a faster rate, compounded by decreased production, so it’s important to be mindful of our collagen intake. While this is important for overall body health, there are many specific benefits that people may pursue. For instance, healthy collagen levels help maintain healthy hair, skin, bones and joints. However, more research is needed to understand how effectively collagen supplements help repair tissue.
Tendons depend on collagen for strength and durability and can weaken as we age. Taking supplements may help strengthen tendons and other parts of the joints. Collagen also makes up a significant portion of our bone mass, and people often lose bone mass in older age. In some cases, increasing collagen intake through supplements may help mitigate this.
What are collagen peptides?
Collagen peptides, also known as hydrolyzed collagen, are fragments of animal-derived collagen that is broken down through a process called hydrolysis. When the collagen is hydrolyzed, it becomes more bioavailable — the body is more effective at absorbing it.
Collagen peptides aid in producing new collagen proteins and repairing existing ones. While thorough research into these supplements is relatively new, studies are beginning to make promising findings. For instance, this study found that collagen peptide supplements can contribute to improvements in numerous traits of skin health.
What do collagen peptides do?
Numerous suspected benefits of collagen peptide supplements exist, although only a few have been seriously researched. Among those potential benefits include improvements to aging skin and osteoarthritis. Although these peptides are mostly consumed to repair damaged collagen, these supplements may also help with other health issues like:
- Cartilage deterioration: Recent studies have pursued the links between collagen peptide supplements and the mitigation of osteoarthritis.
- Heart conditions: Arteries are another part of the body that depends on collagen. Collagen peptide supplements could help reduce risks for heart conditions by keeping arteries healthy.
- Muscle mass: Collagen peptides alongside exercise could help prevent sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass that occurs with age.
- Skin health: Studies have shown a positive correlation between collagen peptide supplements and improved skin health such as hydration and elasticity.
What’s the difference between collagen and collagen peptides?
One key difference between collagen and collagen peptides is that one is a broken-down form of the other. Collagen peptides are made by breaking animal collagen down through hydrolysis. So, while collagen is a complete protein, collagen peptides are fragments of that protein.
Whole collagen is difficult for the body to digest or absorb, while collagen peptides are significantly more accessible for the body. When taking a whole collagen supplement, your body will only be able to use a small portion of it compared to a collagen peptide supplement. This difference in bioavailability is the driving force behind collagen peptides as a collagen alternative.
It’s important to emphasize that the value of collagen peptides lies in their potential to help the body repair or produce collagen. So, while collagen peptides might be a good way to get there, the end goal is whole and healthy collagen.
Which is better: Collagen or collagen peptides?
Although the end goal may be collagen, the best way to get there could be through collagen peptides. Because of the low bioavailability of collagen and the relatively high bioavailability of collagen peptides, the latter may be more beneficial for people looking to reap the benefits.
While more research is needed to determine the full range of benefits collagen and collagen peptide supplements offer, the preliminary evidence seems to support using collagen peptides. However, it’s important to remember that there are different collagen types and supplements come in various formats.
Types of collagen and collagen peptides supplements
Collagen peptides are reflective of the type of collagen used in making them. Bovine and marine collagen are two examples of common sources of collagen used to make collagen peptide supplements. Both sources provide abundant Type I collagen, while bovine also provides significant Type III.
Collagen is gathered from different animals, with bovine, pork, poultry and marine animals being among the more common sources. Once extracted, the collagen can be turned directly into collagen supplements, broken down into collagen peptides or partially broken down into gelatin.
Supplements of collagen and collagen peptides can be found in powder, pill and liquid forms. Each of these contains collagen or its fragmented parts. Pills are often the same as the powder form but placed within a pill capsule. However, there is some difference between powder and liquid. Powder tends to have a higher concentration of collagen or peptides.
At the same time, liquid forms often claim higher rates of bioavailability but lower concentrations. Ultimately, the choice is a preference, but if one supplement type doesn’t yield results, you might succeed with another.
First published by CNET on Aug. 16, 2022 at 10:07 a.m. PT.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.