Collagen is a safe and natural ingredient available in different grades. It can be found in foods, such as bone broth or gelatin-based desserts. Its solubility, absorption and digestibility levels vary from one grade to another.
Native collagen is composed of large triple helix chains of amino acids and strengthens the structure of our body. It is not soluble. Typical applications include collagen casings, medical materials, sponges for burns/wounds etc. The molecular weight of native collagen is around 300 - 400kDa.
Gelatin is obtained by partial hydrolysis of collagen. This process occurs when collagen triple helices are broken down to the point where they are pulled apart into individual strands. Gelatin will only dissolve in hot water, and will jellify when it is cooled (this is the same gelatin you would get in the bone broth you prepare at home). Because of its gelling, foaming, emulsifying and binding functionalities, gelatin is often used in culinary applications, such as gummy candies, jellies, sauce thickeners etc. Gelatin also has an irreplaceable role in pharma applications, where it is often used as excipient for making soft and hard capsules. Gelatin has a molecular weight of 50kDa.
When gelatin is hydrolyzed even further, those individual strands of protein are broken down into small peptides of amino acids. Collagen peptides are soluble in cold water, highly digestible and ready to be absorbed by our bodies. Studies have demonstrated that over 90% of the peptides we consume are digested and absorbed within a few hours after consumption. This rapid absorption ensures an effective delivery of the essential peptides and amino acids to their site of action in our bodies. Find out more about bioavailability of collagen peptides.
Collagen peptides are highly bioavailable. They act as building blocks, renewing bodily tissues, such as skin, bones and joints. It has been proposed that collagen peptides may act as a messenger to the cells and trigger the synthesis and reorganization of new collagen fibers, thereby supporting our tissue structure. Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated collagen peptides’ health benefits. Key areas of benefit include healthy aging, joint and bone health, sports nutrition and skin beauty. Collagen peptides are cold water-soluble and highly bioavailable and bioactive. This makes them a better option for functional foods and beverages and dietary supplements than gelatin. Collagen peptides have a molecular weight of less than 5000Da.