The amino acid composition of collagen comprises
18 of the standard amino acids present in the human body.
Long before it had been given a name, collagen was part of our ancestors’ diet. In fact, they naturally consumed more of it than many of us do today because they readily used those parts of an animal that contain the most collagen, such as skin, cartilage and bones. Today’s examples for collagen-rich foods are aspic (jelly in pâté en croûte) from France, pork pie from the UK and Tonkotsu Ramen (noodle soup with pork bone broth base) from Japan.
As a naturally occurring protein, collagen is always derived from
Commonly, we distinguish:
Collagen peptides are made by cutting the large collagen molecule into a divers mix of smaller parts, so-called peptides. Like the initial collagen protein, the peptides are characterized by specifically high levels of the amino acids glycine, proline and hydroxyproline – together representing around 50% of the total. Hydroxyproline is unique to collagen and forms specifically stable bonds with other amino acids. The resulting peptides provide collagen peptides with unique bioactive properties.
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.
Discover the transformation from native collagen to gelatin
and collagen peptides.
Native collagen is composed of large triple helix structures made from long amino acid chains. It is not soluble. Typical applications include collagen casings, medical materials, sponges for burns/wounds etc. The molecular weight of native collagen is around 300k – 400k Dalton.
Gelatin is a form of hydrolyzed collagen. It is extracted from collagen-rich raw materials by pulling the triple helix apart into parts of the individual strands. Gelatin will dissolve in warm water and jellify when cooled down (this is the same gelatin you get in your bone broth prepared at home). Because of its gelling, foaming, emulsifying and binding functionalities, gelatin is commonly used in culinary applications, such as gummies, candies, jellies, sauce thickeners etc. Gelatin also has an irreplaceable role in pharma applications, such as soft and hard capsules. Gelatin has a molecular weight of around 50k Dalton.
When gelatin is hydrolyzed even further, the long strands of collagen are broken down into small peptides. Collagen peptides are soluble in cold water, easily digested and absorbed by our body. Over 90% of the collagen peptides appear in our bloodstream within a few hours after consumption, and are effectively delivered to their site of action in our body. Find out more about bioavailability of collagen peptides.
Collagen peptides are bioactive. They act as a messenger to the target tissue, influencing its function, such as triggering the synthesis and reorganization of new collagen fibers in skin. Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated collagen peptides’ health benefits in key areas that include healthy aging, joint and bone health, sports nutrition or skin beauty.
Since collagen peptides are cold water-soluble, they are a better option for functional foods and beverages and dietary supplements than gelatin. Collagen peptides have a molecular weight of less than 5000 Dalton.