What is Hydrolyzed Collagen Protein?
Collagen is a protein that plays a crucial role in the appearance of our skin. Hydrolyzed Collagen is a way to rejuvenate your body’s collagen levels and treat conditions like arthritis.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. About 65% of the body’s total protein content is made up of collagen.
Collagen itself is a polypeptide molecule. Like all proteins, it’s made up of a chain of amino acids – like glycine, proline, arginine, and hydroxyproline. Collagen is not only the most abundant protein in the body, but it’s also the largest: it’s made up of over 1500 amino acids.
Based on this complex chain of amino acids, it’s understandable that collagen has a complex series of processes in the body. It affects almost every part of our body that has connective tissue, including the heart, skin, lungs, muscles, hair, arteries, bones, joints, discs, cartilage, nails, blood cells, liver, and prostate.
As the body gets older, our collagen levels naturally decrease. One of the most noticeable signs of decreased collagen levels is in our skin: through a process called ptosis, our skin and muscles start to sag as we get older.
Decreased collagen levels lead to more than just skin and muscle problems. They also cause instability and weakness in the organs. The heart and prostate may become enlarged, for example, while other organs may start to get weaker.
Your bones will also start to lose density as collagen levels naturally drop with age. Your joints and ligaments will become weaker and less elastic. Collagen typically acts like a cushion between your joints and bones. When that collagen isn’t as abundant anymore, it can degrade this cushion and cause health problems.
Collagen also leads to an increased risk of cardiovascular problems as you get older. Arteries will weaken and become less able to resist plaque formation.
Have you ever noticed that older people will lick their fingers when they thumb through the pages of a book – but younger people don’t have to? That’s related to collagen loss and aging.
How Does Your Body Get Collagen?
Your body forms its own collagen by assembling together parts from the foods you eat.
For example, your body puts together the amino acids you get from your food and turns those amino acids into collagen.
In order to turn those ingredients into amino acids, they must first be broken down many times in the digestive system. Then, they’re absorbed through the walls of the intestine and enter your bloodstream before being reassembled as collagen at the target site within your body – like your skin.
One of the problems with getting collagen through this method is that protein digestion is often incomplete, which can lead to very large peptide chains within the body. These peptide chains may not be utilized efficiently, which ultimately leads to lower collagen levels.
Hydrolyzed Collagen is Easier to Absorb
Hydrolyzed Collagen, also known as collagen hydrolysate, is a specific type of collagen that is pre-engineered to be easier to absorb. Instead of forcing your body to break down amino acids and then re-assemble those amino acids into collagen, hydrolyzed collagen skips that step.
Hydrolyzed collagen basically gives your body small, usable chain peptides and amino acids that are ready to go within your body.
These hydrolyzed collagen supplements are typically made from high-grade gelatin (often extracted from cattle hides). A formula might look something like this:
— 83% Protein
— 15% Water
— 2% Minerals
Why gelatin? Gelatin actually contains all the essential amino acids required by the human body (except one, tryptophan). Those amino acids include glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, glutamic acid, alanine, arginine, aspartic acid, and several others.
Gelatin also has the unique quality of being highly bioavailable. The compound has 95% bioavailability according to some clinical studies, which means that very little of it goes to waste.
Scientific Evidence for Hydrolyzed Collagen
Now that you know some of the science behind hydrolyzed collagen, let’s look at some of its results at rebuilding skin.
2008 Study in Tokyo Shows Hydrolyzed Collagen Improves Skin Hydration
In a 2008 study performed in Tokyo, 33 women between the ages of 40 and 60 were instructed to take 10 grams of hydrolyzed collagen daily for 2 months. By the end of the study, these women had exhibited a 91% increase in skin hydration and resilience.
2008 Study in France Shows an Increase in Skin Smoothness and Hydration
A study in Lyon, France exhibited similar results to the Tokyo study. In this study, participants between ages 35 and 55 took 10 grams of hydrolyzed collagen daily for 12 weeks. Their results were measured using Corneometer and Skin Image Analyzer technologies. Participants who took hydrolyzed collagen experienced 41% less furrowing and fewer wrinkles. Their skin was also observed to be more hydrated and more resilient.
Hydrolyzed Collagen for Joint and Bone Health
Hydrolyzed collagen can also be used to improve the health of your joints and bones as you age.
Some studies have shown that a daily intake of hydrolyzed collagen increases bone mass density. It appears to do this by stimulating osteoblasts activity, which basically means it fuels the cells that generate bone (as opposed to osteoclasts, which destroy bone).
Nevertheless, the joint and bone health benefits of hydrolyzed collagen are far from certain. A follow-up study to the one above was performed in 2011 by the European Food Safety authority Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition, and Allergies. That panel returned with a verdict that “a cause and effect relationship has not been established between the consumption of collagen hydrolysate and maintenance of joints.”
How to Use Hydrolyzed Collagen
Typically, you buy hydrolyzed collagen in the form of a topical skin cream – like a moisturizer.
Look for creams that can provide 10 grams of daily hydrolyzed collagen content. This is the amount that has been used in the studies listed above. At that dosage, hydrolyzed collagen has proven to be effective at reducing the effects of aging and targeting wrinkles.