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Hydrolysed Collagen

Quick Summary Points

  • Hydroylsed collagen is an amino acid supplement made from collagen, a compound that is naturally found in muscle and connective tissue.
  • It is a rich source of the amino acids glycine and proline.
  • Supplementing with hydrolysed collagen has been shown to be helpful for lean muscle growth, joint pain and skin health.
  • Because it is not a complete source of protein, it's not advised that you rely on hydrolysed collagen as your main source of protein.
  • Average doses range anywhere between 10g and 0.4g/kg of body weight.
  • Hydrolysed collagen is most often found in joint support supplements, but can be seen in anything from protein powders to antioxidant supplements.

What is Hydrolysed Collagen?

Hydrolysed collagen (or collagen hydrolysate) is collagen protein that is processed with hydrolysis, similar in principle to the method used to obtain hydrolysed whey protein. However, unlike whey, the protein quality of collagen is incomplete, but it does have a unique amino acid profile which gives it benefits of its own.

Where Does Hydrolysed Collagen Come From?

Collagen is a group of proteins that naturally occur in muscle and connective tissues of people and animals. Commercially, it is most frequently extracted from animal by-products such as connective tissue, skin, and bones. Essentially this is the same as gelatin, but it is then processed in a way to break down the protein into shorter amino acid chains, that is, hydrolysed collagen.

Hydrolysed Collagen Benefits

Hydrolysed collagen is well absorbed and high in the amino acids glycine and proline. In fact, it tends to contain more glycine and proline than a lot of other foods. If you take a look at any typical whey protein powder, it tends to be relatively low in glycine. Collagen protein therefore is a good way to boost the glycine content of whey protein to complement its actions as a high quality protein.

Hydrolysed Collagen Benefits for Muscles

In a study, it was found that hydrolysed collagen was more able to maintain lean muscle mass in elderly subjects who were consuming a low protein diet, compared to whey protein (Hays et al, 2009). This implies that hydrolysed collagen may be a valuable source of protein, particularly during periods of fat loss to help maintain muscle mass.

Hydrolysed Collagen Benefits for Joints & Skin

Collagen is a major component of bone cartilage. When hydrolysed collagen is ingested, it finds its way to, and accumulates in cartilage (Oesser et al, 1999). It has been reported that taking 10 g hydrolysed cartilage/day may be able to reduce bone collagen breakdown (Moskowitz, 2000). This shows that dietary collagen may play a significant role in the treatment of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, which is good news for any athlete with worn out knees. One of the most comprehensive studies to date, showed that hydrolysed collegen supplementation over an extended 6 month period resulted in significant improvements in joint pain experienced by college athletes (Clark et al, 2008). Another study showed that hydrolysed collagen supplementation provided the most benefit when taken by individuals suffering from more severe osteoarthritis (Benito-Ruiz et al, 2009).

Limited research has looked into the effect of consuming collagen on skin. However one study did show that hydrolysed collagen, together with vitamin C and glucosamine was able to improve the moisture, smoothness, and elasticity of skin (Matsumoto et al, 2006).

Hydrolysed Collagen Negatives and Side Effects

It is important to note, that despite the benefits of collagen, that it is not a complete protein. It should never make up all or the majority of anyone's protein intake, as this will lead to deficiencies in certain amino acids. Instead, collagen should be used to complement other sources of protein.

Collagen naturally occurs in food, and as such, it is considered to be safe for consumption. Its safety has been clinically evaluated, and it has been reported that minimal side effects are associated with collagen use. Some side effects experienced by small groups of people include mild gastrointestinal upset. Unpleasant taste is also considered a problem among some groups (Moskowitz, 2000; Benito-Ruiz et al, 2009).

Hydrolysed Collagen Recommended Doses and Ingredient Timing

Being a protein, collagen can be used to partially make up your recommended daily protein intake. It has been found that 10 g/day has been effective in providing benefits for joint health (Moskowitz, 2000), and 0.4 g/kg/day was effective in helping to maintain lean mass (Hays et al, 2009). There is no specific timing necessary for taking collagen.

Hydrolysed Collagen Supplements

Hydrolysed Collagen can be found as a stand-alone supplement. In the bodybuilding industry, hydrolysed collagen is an ingredient used in some protein bars.

Stacking Hydrolysed Collagen

As a source of protein, hydrolysed collagen should be stacked with other, more complete, sources of protein, such as whey or soy. When used for joint health, it can be stacked with glucosamine, chondroitin, and other joint support supplements.

Benito-Ruiz et al (2009), A randomized controlled trial on the efficacy and safety of a food ingredient, collagen hydrolysate, for improving joint comfort. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 60: 99-113
Clark et al (2008) 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. 24: 1485-1496
Hays et al (2009), Effects of Whey and Fortified Collagen Hydrolysate Protein Supplements on Nitrogen Balance and Body Composition in Older Women. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 109: 1082-1087
Matsumoto et al (2006), Clinical effects of fish type I collagen hydrolysate on skin properties. ITE Letters on Batteries, New Technologies & Medicine, 7: 386-390
Moskowitz (2000), Role of collagen hydrolysate in bone and joint disease. Semin Arthritis Rheum, 30: 87-99
Oesser et al (1999), Oral administration of (14)C labeled gelatin hydrolysate leads to an accumulation of radioactivity in cartilage of mice (C57/BL). J Nutr, 129: 1891-1895

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