Collagen Peptides or Hydrolyzed collagen? In this article we clarify the two names and get to the root of where they come from and what they mean.
What’s the difference between collagen peptides and hydrolyzed collagen?
There is no difference. The terms collagen peptides and hydrolyzed collagen are synonymous and used interchangeably for the same product. It’s just a matter of semantics. The phrase ‘collagen peptides’ is based on the end product, which are peptides derived from collagen; whereas ‘hydrolyzed collagen’ comes from the hydrolyzation process, the method by which collagen peptides are made.
For a simple illustration, consider the ingredient ‘wheat flour’. You can call it ‘ground wheat’, after the grinding process. Or ‘wheat flour’ after the end product i.e. flour.
So hydrolyzed collagen is just another way of saying collagen peptides.
Hydrolyzed Collagen vs Collagen Peptides: Which phrase to use?
Either one. They’re both legitimate. Though in recent years there has been a trend towards using the name ‘collagen peptides’. This is because the peptides derived from collagen are the key bioactive component; in other words, it’s the bioactive peptides that add value to a wide range of nutritional and nutraceutical products, so it makes sense to use ‘collagen peptides’.
What is collagen?
Collagen is an important structural protein found in animals. Essentially it holds the body together, giving strength, structure, elasticity and cohesion to bones, skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments and cartilage.
There are different types of collagen in the body. Collagen Type I, for example, is made up of very long, tightly packed fibers that give tensile strength to ligaments, tendons and skin. The fibers in Collagen Type II, on the other hand, are shorter thereby allowing cartilage to absorb shock between bones and to cushion joints. So it’s an essential substance for maintaining good physical health.
As we grow older the body produces less collagen, which results in visible signs of aging such as lines and wrinkles. This is because there is less collagen providing elasticity and structural support to the skin.
Collagen (typically skin and bone from fish, porcine and bovine) is the raw material from which products such as gelatin and collagen peptides are made.
What are collagen peptides and what is the collagen hydrolyzation process?
Collagen peptides are short chains of amino acids extracted from native (full-length) collagen via a process called enzymatic hydrolysis (also enzymatic hydrolyzation).
At a molecular level collagen is made up of three long amino acid chains that form a triple helix with a high molecular weight. As a result, the collagen peptides are locked up in a tough and insoluble matrix of collagen fibers.
So the native collagen (e.g. bovine hide) has to go through a softening process that allows the collagen peptides to be released from their bonds and safely extracted.
The collagen then goes through a process called enzymatic hydrolysis. This is where a specific enzyme is used to break down the peptide bonds so the collagen peptides can be extracted. The degree of hydrolysis has an impact on the average molecular weight of the final product.
The process of enzymatic hydrolysis is strictly controlled to ensure reproducibility.
Why are collagen peptides (hydrolyzed collagen) beneficial?
Collagen peptides are bioactive. That means, once absorbed into the bloodstream, they can influence the activity of cells in the body in multiple ways. For example, collagen peptides can stimulate fibroblasts in the skin to make more hyaluronic acid, which is essential for skin hydration.
Bioactive collagen peptides can help the body repair damaged tissue. It can provide structural support for skin, contribute to healthy hair, and help maintain bone density. This is why collagen peptides are used for a range of health, beauty and fitness needs.
For example, various scientific studies have shown that collagen peptides can help improve joint health1,2 by protecting cartilage from degradation and helping to reduce inflammation around the joint. This has beneficial effects for people with joint conditions as it can help improve mobility and reduce pain.
Other uses for collagen peptides:
Collagen peptides are used by athletes, bodybuilders and sports enthusiasts to help reduce their recovery time following intensive training. Strenuous activity puts a strain on muscle fibres and the wrapping sheath of connective tissues, so the body needs time to heal before doing more training.
Collagen peptides can support recovery by reducing the recovery time, meaning sports-people can maximize their training schedule and improve performance.
As well as faster recovery times, taking collagen peptides can also reduce muscle soreness.
Collagen peptides can support bone health. Bones are predominantly composed of collagen and calcium salts. Throughout a person’s life, bones are constantly repairing and regenerating in a process known as bone remodeling.
As a health supplement, collagen peptides can be used to boost the bone remodeling process and help maintain good bone health. In a recent pioneering study4, researchers found that collagen peptide supplementation can influence the metabolism of bone cells at multiple levels promoting the remodeling process and helping the body maintain the strength of its bones.
Collagen peptides are used to help improve skin health and slow down the visible signs of aging such as wrinkles. There have been several scientific studies that demonstrate collagen peptides’ ability to aid skin beauty. In 2015, the results of two clinical studies4 showed that collagen supplementation improved the appearance and hydration of skin for Caucasian and Japanese women respectively. Another study5 from 2019 confirmed that collagen peptide supplementation has positive effects on the skin in participants of varying skin types.
Would you like an even deeper insight into collagen peptides?
 Clifford, T, et al., 2019. The effects of collagen peptides on muscle damage, inflammation and bone turnover following exercise: a randomized, controlled trial. Amino Acids 51(4):691-704, doi.org/10.1007/s00726-019-02706-5
 Asserin, J. et al., 2015. The effect of oral collagen peptide supplementation on skin moisture and the dermal collagen network: evidence from an ex vivo model and randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, doi: 10.1111/jocd.12174
 Rousselot unpublished study 2019