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Hydrolyzed Collagen Peptides: What Are They, and Why Do They Matter?

Spartan racer powered by hydrolyzed collagen peptides is going through an obstacle

When looking at the label of collagen supplements, knowing which information is important and which is just a collection of buzzwords is key to choosing the right product. So are hydrolyzed collagen peptides beneficial or buzzword? Does it matter if your collagen is hydrolyzed or not?

The short answer is that whether your collagen is hydrolyzed or not does matter. 

To understand why, we’ll have to take a closer look at what hydrolyzed collagen peptides are. Then, we can examine a few of the specific benefits you can expect from your collagen peptides and what to look for in the best hydrolyzed collagen supplement.

Before diving into the details of collagen peptides, let’s discuss collagen on the whole. 

What is collagen?

Collagen is a complex animal protein made of three strands of amino acids. It’s the most abundant protein in the human body, and more than 25 subtypes of collagen have been identified. 

Collagen is one of the most basic building blocks of skin, hair, nails, blood vessels, cartilage, and even bone tissue. In its natural state in human or animal bodies, it’s tough and fibrous. 

Our bodies can naturally produce collagen, but this ability slows over time. As we enter adulthood, the best way to ensure our bodies have enough collagen is through food. 

Historically, humans consumed collagen through tough cuts of animal meat and bone broth. As other, more desirable cuts of meat became more readily available, these fell out of daily diets. 

Fortunately, in modern times, we don’t have to slow-roast beef shoulder or boil bones for hours to get the collagen our bodies need. Instead, we can supplement with highly efficient collagen peptides.

What are hydrolyzed collagen peptides?

A quick note before we move on – “hydrolyzed collagen,” “collagen peptides,” and “hydrolyzed collagen peptides” can all be used interchangeably. You might see any combination of these names during your research, but they all refer to the same thing. 

So what is hydrolyzed collagen

The term “hydrolyzed” means that the collagen has undergone a process called hydrolysis. This is a chemical process that breaks down molecules using water and another substance – usually an acid in the case of proteins. 

In order to become a pill, powder, or liquid, most collagen supplements have been hydrolyzed to some degree. The smallest amount of hydrolyzation produces gelatin, which is still a fairly large molecule. 

Most collagen supplements calling themselves “hydrolyzed” are smaller than gelatin, but there’s one problem. There’s no standardized definition for “hydrolyzed” collagen, so each supplement marketing itself as “hydrolyzed” could conceivably have differently-sized molecules. 

Unless your supplement has done scientific research to measure the size of their hydrolyzed collagen, you could be receiving a product that’s closer to gelatin than hydrolyzed collagen peptides. 

To produce the best hydrolyzed collagen, OP2 Labs creates nano-hydrolyzed collagen, which breaks collagen down into molecules that are less than 1% their natural size.

Is hydrolyzed collagen better than regular collagen?

Yes, hydrolyzed collagen is better than regular collagen, because it’s more bioavailable. This means that your body can access the benefits of collagen more easily. Molecules – collagen molecules included – are measured using a unit of mass called a dalton

Naturally occurring collagen molecules are approximately 30,000 daltons. The pores of a human stomach, however, are only about 4,000 daltons. Before your body can use collagen, it has to break down the molecules to an absorbable size. And during that time, most of the collagen will simply pass through your system – not being absorbed at all. 

Hydrolyzed collagen peptides are usually about 10,000 daltons. This means they are easier to absorb, but still larger than your stomach’s pores. 

Our nano-hydrolyzed collagen uses fruit enzymes to break collagen molecules down to 2,000 daltons, so you can access 100% of the collagen you consume

How much hydrolyzed collagen should you take?

Hydrolyzed collagen peptides are typically used as daily supplements. Collagen’s wide range of benefits leads people to take daily collagen to support all kinds of goals – from building muscle to healing wounds. 

Collagen is a protein, and protein intake will depend on your age, body mass, sex, and any medical conditions you may have. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is approximately 0.36 grams for each pound of body weight. 

Collagen shouldn’t be your only dietary source of protein. Up to 36% of protein intake can be hydrolyzed collagen, so you can calculate how much collagen you can work into your daily diet based on your body’s unique needs. 

Dosages of collagen from 2.5 grams all the way up to 15 grams have shown benefits throughout the body during numerous studies. 

Are hydrolyzed collagen peptides safe?

Hydrolyzed collagen peptides are currently not regulated or recognized officially by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, gelatin, which collagen peptides are made from, is recognized as safe by the FDA. 

Additionally, international organizations, such as the European Commission for Health and Consumer Protection and the World Health Organization (WHO) have recognized hydrolyzed collagen as safe.

Some people experience minor side effects with collagen, such as gas, bloating, indigestion, or feeling full. These are common with any protein supplement, and can even occur when ingesting too much protein from normal food sources. 

People with a shellfish, fish, or egg allergy should be cautious when choosing collagen supplements. Some are made using these ingredients and could cause an allergic reaction. You can avoid this by ensuring the collagen you purchase lists the source of collagen as 100% beef.

Hydrolyzed collagen benefits

There are many collagen peptides benefits, all with varying degrees of current scientific research. Scientific research, in general, moves slowly. Some scientific studies can take decades to gather data, and years more to sort that data before being published. 

The positive effects of hydrolyzed collagen peptides have been observed colloquially for several years, and science is beginning to dig deeper into these benefits. 

While scientific research advances slowly, the informal evidence for collagen’s efficacy continues to grow. That being said, all of the benefits we’ll talk about today have scientific backing. 

Here are just some of the benefits of hydrolyzed collagen:

Hydrolyzed collagen may improve digestion

Finding protein powder for sensitive stomachs is difficult. In general, protein molecules tend to be large and difficult to digest. This can lead to all the unpleasant side effects we associate with protein powder – whey protein being the worst offender due to its lactose content.

One of the best hydrolyzed collagen benefits – especially with nano-hydrolyzed collagen – is its digestibility. Because the molecules are smaller, they can be digested easily and comfortably. 

The best collagen is nano-hydrolyzed, making it half the size of your stomach’s pores.

OP2’s products, specifically, have been scientifically proven to be fully digested in 15 minutes

Comparatively, 70% of whey proteins were still intact after that time under the same conditions. 

Hydrolyzed collagen can boost hair and skin health

One of the most commonly recognized hydrolyzed collagen benefits is a boost to the health of your hair, skin, and nails. For some time, collagen has been primarily seen as a beauty supplement. Some companies have even claimed that lotions and creams can help you reap the benefits of collagen. 

The benefits of topical collagen, however, have no scientific backing. Only molecules of 500 daltons or less can cross the skin barrier, and collagen simply can’t get that small. The collagen ends up just sitting on your skin, getting washed away without being absorbed. 

Ingesting hydrolyzed collagen peptides, on the other hand, has been shown to reduce wrinkles and promote significant hair growth. This is because skin and hair are primarily made of collagen, and ingesting it can provide your body with the building blocks it needs to repair and strengthen itself. 

Hydrolyzed collagen may support bone and joint health

Your cartilage and bones are also primarily made of collagen. Naturally, hydrolyzed collagen peptides can help to support their health!

Studies have shown that hydrolyzed collagen can help relieve arthritis symptoms. In several randomized placebo-controlled trials, collagen significantly improved the stiffness people with arthritis experienced. Participants also experienced a decrease in pain. 

Bone density studies have had similar findings. One osteoporosis study showed significant improvement in bone density and other markers after consuming 5 grams of hydrolyzed collagen peptides daily for a period of 12 months. 

Hydrolyzed collagen can speed recovery time

Recovery from illness and injury, especially as we age, can be lengthy. The body’s ability to heal slows over time, making recovery difficult. Hydrolyzed collagen peptides have increasingly become a cornerstone of wound healing. 

The best hydrolyzed collagen is used regularly in hospitals worldwide to promote healing and help patients meet their nutrition goals. One study conducted on burns found that collagen supplementation significantly sped healing and reduced patients’ hospital stays. 

At home, collagen supplements can be easily incorporated into a post-surgery diet – even if the patient can only consume liquids. Collagen peptides are easy to stir into teas, soups, or water, making them accessible to anyone recovering from gastric bypass or other surgeries.

Hydrolyzed collagen may promote weight loss 

The weight-loss effects of protein have been understood for years. So do hydrolyzed collagen peptides, in particular, have any effect on weight loss? Or are they on par with any other protein? 

On the scientific side, early animal studies have discovered that collagen can slow the rate of weight gain and counteract estrogen deficiency-induced obesity. Human studies that directly investigate weight loss and collagen are still forthcoming, but the animal research is promising. 

But collagen is also a protein, and can be part of a plan for weight loss in general. Hydrolyzed collagen peptides can help strengthen joints and increase lean muscle mass, making them a beneficial addition to your exercise routine. 

Collagen protein can help you feel full for longer periods of time, just like other proteins, which can help you go longer between meals – further promoting weight loss. 

With so many potential benefits, you can see why hydrolyzed collagen is chosen as a daily supplement by a wide variety of people. Perhaps you’d like to take some yourself! Of course, not all supplements are created equal, so it’s important to find top-quality collagen. 

How to find the best hydrolyzed collagen

So how can you find the best hydrolyzed collagen peptides? There are a handful of things to look for to ensure that you can access all of the hydrolyzed collagen benefits we’ve discussed today. 

First, check the level of hydrolysis. Many companies don’t disclose this, so find one that does. Nano-hydrolyzed collagen is best, since it breaks collagen down into molecules small enough to easily pass through the pores of your stomach and be put to work in your bloodstream. 

Next, make sure the supplement is coming from a trusted source. Read reviews carefully, and check to make sure that there aren't any harmful additives in the supplement.

Then, as a bonus, find a collagen that’s a complete protein. While hydrolyzed collagen peptides contain most of the essential amino acids your body needs, collagen alone doesn’t contain all of them. 

The best hydrolyzed collagen supplement will be fortified to include all the essential amino acids, so your body has every building block it needs. 

Collagen isn’t a miracle cure, but it does contain the most basic building blocks of the human body. And like any set of building blocks, this makes it incredibly versatile. 

That’s why hydrolyzed collagen protein, and specifically a nano-hydrolyzed collagen protein like the supplements from OP2, can transform the health goals of people around the world – from doctors healing wounds to athletes building muscle and everyone in between.