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What is Hydrolyzed Collagen and Why Are People Adding It to Everything?

What is Hydrolyzed Collagen and Why Are People Adding It to Everything?

  • Hydrolyzed collagen, also known as collagen peptides or collagen powder, is more than just protein powder.
  • Collagen contains amino acids your body uses to form the connective tissue in your skin, hair, nails, bones, and joints.
  • Hydrolyzed collagen is broken down into smaller molecules so it’s easier to absorb into your bloodstream. It’s flavorless, odorless, and great for anyone who wants glowing skin, shiny hair, and stronger joints (aka everyone).
  • Add hydrolyzed collagen to your favorite drinks, meals, and baked goods. You can also find it in protein bars and flavored powders. Make sure it’s free of unnecessary fillers and comes from pastured, hormone-free animals.

Want to reduce wrinkles, support your joints, and add more protein to your diet? Hydrolyzed collagen is the best way to cover all your bases (and feel great doing it).

Also known as collagen peptides or collagen powder, hydrolyzed collagen is more than just protein powder: It’s packed with the amino acids your body needs to build and repair your skin, bones, and joints. Plus, it’s easy to add to your favorite dishes, baked goods, and daily essentials like Bulletproof Coffee.

Here’s everything you need to know about this all-in-one supplement, including what the heck “hydrolyzed” means.

What is hydrolyzed collagen?

Spoon of hydrolyzed collagen

Collagen is the largest and most abundant protein in the body. It forms the connective tissue in your skin, hair, nails, bones, and joints. Unless you regularly devour on organ meats and spend hours preparing bone broth, you likely need more collagen in your diet.

That’s where hydrolyzed collagen comes in. This trendy supplement is an easy way to add more collagen to your diet because it’s flavorless, odorless, and mixes so easily with pretty much any liquid — and it’s all thanks to that hydrolyzing process.

The science of hydrolysis

Molecules concept

“Hydrolysis” sounds funky, but it just means breaking a hydrogen bond. The easiest way to think about this process is to think about all the steps involved with digestion. You break down your meal into smaller parts by chewing it, and then it gets broken down into even smaller particles in your stomach so your body can use all the nutrients from your food.

Like digestion, hydrolysis converts collagen into smaller molecules. These molecules are easier to absorb into your bloodstream. Collagen can be hydrolyzed with chemicals or enzymes. Enzymes are proteins that control the rate of biochemical reactions, and enzymatic hydrolysis is easier to control without ruining the nutrition of the collagen. In enzymatic hydrolysis, an enzyme breaks a hydrogen bond by incorporating a water molecule.[1][2]

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Hydrolyzed collagen benefits

Woman touching cheek

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and collagen is packed with three important ones: glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. Your body uses these amino acids to make new collagen. That’s great news for anyone, but especially as you age — it’s normal to produce less collagen over time. Here’s more detail about the benefits of hydrolyzed collagen.

Better skin, hair, and nails

Hand with painted nails on blue background

Want to drink from the fountain of youth? Just add collagen. Not only does it make your hair and nails strong and shiny, but it also combats the effects of aging. Collagen reduces the appearance of wrinkles and increases skin hydration and smoothness.[3][4] How? Consuming collagen encourages your body to form new collagen, which is a big deal — it forms 75-80% of the skin in the dermis, the layer that gives skin its fullness. Learn more about how collagen keeps your skin young.

Stronger joints and bones

Working out with stronger joints

Hydrolyzed collagen decreases joint pain and makes your joints more flexible,[5][6] which is a big deal if your preferred form of exercise is tough on your joints, like running and martial arts. Collagen is a particularly great hack for athletes because it promotes faster recovery: Your body uses collagen to build everything from connective tissue to tendons, so having those amino acids more readily available can boost your performance in the gym or on the track.

Related: How Do Collagen Supplements Work? What the Science Says

How to use hydrolyzed collagen

Scooping hydrolyzed collagen into glass

You’ll find hydrolyzed collagen in tons of different products, like powders and protein bars. But before you start chowing down on collagen charcoal beauty elixirs and collagen keto bread, ask yourself these questions:

Does the collagen come from pasture-raised animals? For the best nutritional punch, your collagen should be sourced from pasture-raised, hormone-free animals. Toxins in your food and supplements wreck your body and damage your cells. Learn more here.

Does it have any fillers? Look at the label to make sure it doesn’t include any unnecessary additives. The ingredients list on unflavored collagen peptides should only list hydrolyzed collagen powder — nothing else.

Unflavored collagen can be added to pretty much any liquid — think smoothies, Bulletproof Coffee, and even soups. You can even bake with it (hello, collagen cookies). Check out this roundup of collagen peptide recipes for more delicious ideas. For chewy, gummy, and delicious treats with all the benefits of collagen, try out these Bulletproof Collagelatin recipes.

Here are some more ways to enjoy hydrolyzed collagen:

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