Liquid collagen peptides and hydrolyzed collagen on a white countertop

The Difference Between Collagen Peptides vs. Hydrolyzed Collagen

When you’re looking for a high-quality collagen supplement, you might find yourself wading in a sea of terms you don’t understand or recognize. Collagen peptides vs. hydrolyzed collagen, amino acid profiles, fortified vs. unfortified, medical-grade… the list goes on and on.

So how can you be sure you’re picking the right collagen for your body? When should you take collagen peptides vs. hydrolyzed collagen? 

Researching and understanding what the different parts of your supplement’s label mean are crucial to making the best choice for your health. 

What is the difference between collagen peptides vs. hydrolyzed collagen?

When you’re weighing collagen peptides vs. hydrolyzed collagen, there’s one important thing to keep in mind. 

There is no difference between hydrolyzed collagen and collagen peptides

“Peptides” and “hydrolyzed” are two different ways to describe the same end product. You may even see supplements labeled “collagen hydrolysate.” This isn’t any different from the question of collagen peptides vs. hydrolyzed collagen. 

Supplement companies get to decide how they want to package and market their product. Since there isn’t any regulation stating that one name is preferred over the other, you can see any of these options. This can make choosing a collagen supplement unnecessarily confusing, so let’s break down what these differences mean.

Two versions of the name, “hydrolyzed” and “hydrolysate,” focus on the process the raw collagen goes through.  The other, “peptides,” focuses more on the end product. 

Raw collagen is usually sourced from bones or organs. Hydrolysis breaks the collagen down into smaller pieces called peptides, which we’ll talk more about in a bit. This process is also why you might see some supplements marketed as hydrolyzed collagen peptides. This kind of label includes both the process and the end product.

First, let’s talk about what collagen is and why it would need to be broken down in the first place. 

What is collagen?

Collagen is the most common protein in the human body. Our bodies use collagen to form fibrous connective tissue that quite literally holds us together. In finding answers to the question of collagen peptides vs. hydrolyzed collagen, many people miss just how critical collagen is to a healthy body.

Collagen can be found in your joints, hair, skin, nails, ligaments, tendons, organs, and even your bones. There are 28 known types of collagen, and the dry weight of your body is around 30% collagen. That’s part of why collagen can be a huge part of medical nutrition

And humans aren’t the only creatures made largely of collagen. Mammals and fish also have high collagen content in their bodies. 

It’s important to note that collagen supplements are always sourced from either a mammal or a fish. So-called “vegan collagen supplements” contain no actual collagen but do contain other ingredients to help boost your body’s production of collagen. Hydrolyzed collagen peptides, on the other hand, are made of actual collagen.

What are some natural sources of collagen?

Natural sources of collagen include:

  • Eggs
  • Chicken, especially whole roasted chicken or chicken bone broth
  • Beef, especially beef bone broth
  • Fish broth or sardines – collagen in fish is found in the eyes, scales, and bones
  • Organ meats such as liver, tongue, heart, kidneys, and brains

While all this gives a good idea of why collagen is important and where you can get it, it doesn’t give much insight into what collagen actually is. So let’s take a closer look at what collagen is made of.

What is a protein?

A protein is a large, complex molecule. That’s the one thing that every protein has in common. Beyond that, proteins can come in many different shapes and sizes. Antibodies, muscles, and enzymes are all made up of protein. 

When you’re considering collagen peptides vs. hydrolyzed collagen, remember that they’re the same thing: an important source of protein. You need to consume protein to stay healthy because while your body can make proteins, it needs materials to do so.

But we can go even deeper into what collagen is made of by considering what protein is made of. Proteins are large molecules because they’re made of smaller molecules called amino acids.

What are amino acids?

Amino acids are the most basic building blocks of life. There are 20 of these tiny molecules, and they all work together to perform a number of different functions in the body. Amino acids can be “essential,” “non-essential,” or “conditionally essential.” 

While there’s no difference between collagen peptides vs. hydrolyzed collagen, there are differences between the types of amino acids.

There are 9 essential amino acids. These are the molecules your body needs to survive but can’t make on its own. (Collagen contains 8 of these.)

The rest are called “non-essential,” but this doesn’t mean your body doesn’t need them. Non-essential, in this instance, simply means that your body can synthesize them from other materials. However, eating a diet rich in non-essential amino acids ensures you’re staying nutritionally balanced and is less taxing on the body.

Unlike collagen peptides vs. hydrolyzed collagen, there is a slight difference between non-essential amino acids and conditionally essential amino acids. 

While conditionally essential amino acids are types of non-essential amino acids, they become essential under certain conditions. When you’re healing from a serious injury, fighting a serious illness, or are pregnant, your body needs more of these conditionally essential amino acids than it normally would. 

Collagen contains all 11 non-essential amino acids. Altogether, this means that collagen contains an incredible 19 amino acids!

What is the difference between hydrolyzed collagen and non-hydrolyzed collagen?

Collagen peptides vs. hydrolyzed collagen isn’t the question to be asking when you’re looking to incorporate more collagen into your diet. 

Instead, look at the differences between hydrolyzed collagen peptides and non-hydrolyzed collagen. This can be a substantial difference, both in the way you get this collagen into your diet and what it can do for your body.

What are collagen peptides or hydrolyzed collagen compared to “normal” or unprocessed collagen?

Remember how protein is a large molecule? Molecules are measured using a unit of mass called “Daltons.” (In case you’re wondering, a Dalton is 1.660 x 10−27 kilograms.)

Collagen is approximately 300,000 Daltons, making it large even by protein standards. 

Hydrolysis is a process that breaks down collagen molecules to be closer to 10,000 Daltons. These smaller pieces of proteins are called “peptides.”

When you consume natural sources of collagen, the molecules aren’t hydrolyzed, and your body has to break them apart before it can use them.

Why does that matter?

Well, your stomach pores are only about 4,000 Daltons in size. That’s right, even smaller than hydrolyzed collagen! But the smaller the size of your supplement is, the less time it takes for your body to break down and absorb.

If the supplement takes a long time to absorb, it can give you stomach upset, and worse yet, mean that much of your supplement doesn’t get absorbed at all! Instead, it will pass through your digestive tract and go to waste. 

Is hydrolyzed collagen better than non-hydrolyzed collagen?

Since you’re taking the time to consider whether collagen peptides vs. hydrolyzed collagen would be best, you should also know whether hydrolyzed vs. non-hydrolyzed collagen is best. 

Overall, you should get some of both!  

Eating foods rich in collagen can allow your body to access other nutrients that a supplement alone can’t give. Plus, they’ll give an extra boost of collagen on top of your daily supplement intake. 

It’s hard to measure how much collagen you’re getting from your food, though. So the best collagen for joints and wound healing will be collagen peptides, particularly enriched ones that provide all 20 amino acids. 

Choosing a label that says collagen peptides vs. hydrolyzed collagen doesn’t matter, since there is no difference between hydrolyzed collagen and collagen peptides. What matters is getting a good dosage consistently – something supplements do very well!

What are the benefits of collagen peptides?

Collagen peptides benefits have already been shown to be rich and varied. The research on collagen peptides is constantly growing as we learn more about how this pivotal protein impacts our bodies.

The benefits of collagen overall have mostly been studied through the lens of collagen peptides, specifically because the dosage is much easier to control and measure. 

Think of it this way. Bone broth can contain a huge number of different molecules from the bones alone. Spices and herbs might be added to enhance flavor, but many of these are also known to have health benefits. So when positive effects are observed, you can’t help but wonder: “What, specifically, caused this outcome?”

Collagen peptides vs. hydrolyzed collagen isn’t the issue, but collagen peptides vs. raw collagen can make a huge difference in the findings of a scientific study.

Here are just some of the benefits of collagen peptides:

Collagen peptides may boost overall health and wellness

Remember how collagen can be found all throughout your body? Since collagen is so important to nearly every function of your body, taking collagen regularly can boost your overall health and wellness. This is doubly true if you’re taking a medical-grade collagen supplement. 

How is medical-grade collagen made? Are medical-grade vs. non-medical collagen supplements the same as collagen peptides vs. hydrolyzed collagen – that is, the same thing under different names?

Definitely not. Medical-grade supplements are made under stricter regulations. For a supplement to qualify as “medical grade,” it must: 

  • Be administered under the supervision of a licensed physician
  • Meet distinctive nutritive requirements
  • Have been created based on recognized scientific principles to meet those requirements
  • Be approved by the FDA

All collagen can boost your health and wellness, but medical-grade collagen supplements, in particular, are guaranteed to be the highest available quality. They’re specially designed to meet your body’s needs and are used by medical professionals to help people heal.

Collagen peptides are convenient

Collagen peptides vs. hydrolyzed collagen isn’t something to get too hung up on since they’re the same thing. When you’re looking at collagen peptides vs. raw collagen, though, things get more interesting. 

Raw collagen can be found in a variety of foods, but remember, it’s nearly impossible to know the dosage. On top of that, foods that are rich in collagen aren’t always the most pleasant foods to eat. 

Collagen peptides, on the other hand, are usually in powder or liquid form. This makes getting an exact dose of collagen a breeze. You can meet your body’s amino acid needs through the fortified collagen in your morning coffee – no liver or bone required!

This convenience factor allows you to care for your health without expending extra time and energy getting to know foods that might not be part of your routine. 

Whether you opt for a label that says collagen peptides vs. hydrolyzed collagen, you’ll be able to make a quick, easy step towards caring for your health. There is no difference between hydrolyzed collagen and collagen peptides, so you’ll be reaping the benefits no matter what’s on the label.

Collagen peptides are easily digestible

Raw collagen has to be broken down before your body can use it. That can be a huge problem  since collagen is such a large molecule. Remember that your stomach pores are only 4,000 Daltons in size. This means that even most hydrolyzed collagen is too large to be easily absorbed. 

At 10,000 Daltons, your body still has to break hydrolyzed down quite a bit to absorb it, though not as much as a 300,000 Dalton raw collagen molecule! Of course, choosing collagen peptides vs. hydrolyzed collagen won’t matter if your body can’t absorb the molecule.

So what are you supposed to do?

Ideally, you should look for a nano-hydrolyzed supplement. This has gone through the process of hydrolysis more than once to break the protein down into even smaller pieces. 

At ProT Gold, our collagen is nano-hydrolyzed to just 2,000 Daltons. Your body absorbs it at a much higher rate than raw or even normally hydrolyzed collagen, so the dosage you take will always be the amount that your body benefits from.

In fact, our supplement has been shown to fully absorb in just 15 minutes or less!

Choosing the right collagen supplement

Looking for the right supplement can make your head spin. Collagen peptides vs. hydrolyzed collagen is just one example of the many ways that supplement labels can use complicated language to obscure simple facts.

When you’re choosing a supplement, look at the facts. Where is the collagen sourced from? Is it hydrolyzed? Does it have a complete amino acid profile – meaning all 20 amino acids are in a single dose? Is it medical grade?

Armed with the answers to these questions, you can confidently choose the right hydrolyzed collagen protein for your needs.