Dear Dr. Hasz, as I age, I want to make sure that my body is getting proper nutritional support. I have been hearing so much about the benefits of Collagen and bone broth lately. What is the difference between them? Which would give me better nutritional value? Thanks! –K. S.
This is a question that I have been thinking about a lot lately, and I am happy to have a chance to address it. Some use the terms collagen, collagen peptides, gelatin, and bone broth interchangeably because they are all comprised of the same 18 types of amino acids, but there are unique traits that each possess.
Let’s begin with collagen. What is collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It is the substance that holds all living tissues together. Collagen is the long-chain of amino acids that is found in bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, blood vessels, organs and skin. In its original form, collagen cannot be absorbed through our diet because it is formed from three very long chains of over 1,000 amino acids twisting into a helix. The natural strength of collagen in its full length form is what makes it difficult to break down in digestion, and it remains too large to cross the intestinal wall.
What is the difference between collagen and collagen peptides?
Collagen peptides are made by breaking down full-length collagen molecules so that they are smaller and more easily absorbed. They are made from the same amino acids, but because they are smaller, collage
n peptides can be digested and enter the blood stream. Once in the bloodstream the collagen peptides travel to the targeted tissues
in the body, bone, cartilage, skin, etc, where the body’s cells will use these smaller peptide building blocks to construct the full-length collagen strands to repair and sustain the body.
What is the difference between hydrolyzed collagen and collagen peptides?
Some people are confused when these two terms are used, however they are referring to the same thing. Collagen peptides are what occur when you break down full length collagen through hydrolysis.
What is gelatin? Is it different from collagen/ collagen peptides?
Gelatin is collagen that has been partially broken down, but is not as small or easily absorbed as collagen peptides. Gelatin will only dissolve in hot liquid, while collagen peptides will dissolve in liquids of any temperature.
What is unique about bone broth?
Bone broth is a time honored process of slowly cooking bones in water to form gelatin that dissolves in the broth. The health benefits from broth are found in the dissolved gelatin. However, while bone broth is an excellent ingredient to cook with, it is less effective than supplementing with collagen peptides. Why is this? Because collagen peptides are smaller and more easily absorbed into the bloodstream than gelatin. In addition collagen peptides cause fewer digestive symptoms than the gelatin found in bone broth and it is possible to notice an improvement in health sooner with the more easily absorbed collagen peptide supplements.
Bone broth is often not cooked in a way to maximize nutritional efficacy.
Most people only simmer their broth for a few hours, but for maximal nutrient release it is necessary to simmer the broth for much longer periods of time, ideally 20+ hours. Even after this more prolonged simmering, the amount of collagen released into a serving of chicken bone broth is 6 grams. It is also important to consider the quality of the animal bones that are used to make the broth. A nutritionally superior bone broth should be made using the bones from grass fed cattle, pastured poultry or wild caught fish. Since you will be extracting the nutrients and ingesting them in a more highly concentrated form, it is important that the animal was healthy. While it is possible, to find these high quality bones to make broth, it may be difficult to acquire enough to make sufficient quantities of broth to ingest to get your recommended 5-8 grams of collagen a day, especially as some recipes call for five to six pounds of bones for every gallon of stock. In addition, bone broth doesn’t have the other added nutrients that are necessary for optimal collagen absorption.
What is the best way to ensure that you are getting the recommended amount of collagen each day?
Collagen peptides stand out as having the best ability to repair and rebuild the body. After researching a variety of brands, I personally choose Prisma Natural USA for a variety of reasons.
Everyone knows the old saying: You are what you eat. While that is true, eating a nutrient doesn’t guarantee that you are absorbing a nutrient. The collagen peptides in Prisma Natural have the smallest molecular weight (5000 Da), which ensures excellent absorption. In fact, marine collagen has a 1.5 to 2.5 times higher absorption rate when compared to all other collagen types (Type II & III from beef and pork sources).
Studies suggest that we need between 5-8 grams of peptides per serving to create the desired results. Prisma Natural’s powdered Collagen Plus products deliver 10 grams of collagen per serving.
Prisma Natural adds organic silicon to strengthen bones & connective tissues; hyaluronic acid for increased skin and joint hydration; and the Vitamin C necessary to deliver collagen formation.
Finally, it is easier to take a powder, than it is to make bone broth and drink it daily. As a doctor, I know the importance of helping my patients build habits that they will consistently perform. While, bone broth can be a sound addition to a person’s diet, I find it to be difficult to implement on a daily basis, while the convenience of a powder that can be added to one’s morning coffee is much more achievable.