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What is Hydrolysed Collagen? Everything You Need to Know


Here at Absolute Collagen, we talk a lot about hydrolysed collagen - but what actually is hydrolysed collagen, and what are its benefits? We demystify this term and give you all the details in our new blog post.

October 16, 2020


Photo of a white woman with short silver hair wearing a white dressing gown and squeezing a yellow Absolute Collagen sachet into her mouth

October 16, 2020


Whether you’re a lifelong champion of collagen or you’ve just recently been introduced to it by your favourite beauty influencer, we appreciate that the slew of scientific and technical terms that get chucked around by collagen companies can be hard to digest.

Well, here at Team AC, you can rely on us to give it to you straight. We don’t throw buzzwords about - we just provide information that is no-nonsense, straight to the point and easily digestible – just like our lovely little product!

Today’s technical term that we want to decode for you is: hydrolysed collagen. Are you curious as to what it is and why we swear by it for our supplement? Read on to discover everything you need to know...

Let’s Break Down Some Simple Facts

So, what is hydrolysed collagen exactly? Hydrolysed collagen (sometimes spelt with a Z, for example in the USA) refers to collagen that has been through the chemical process of hydrolysis. This involves breaking down, rupturing, or changing the chemical structure of collagen into peptides (i.e. their smaller parts) in a lab. This is necessary because, in their original form, collagen molecules are far too large to be absorbed by our bodies.

The collagen can be broken down by either:

  1. Thermal treatments (heating), followed by the addition of enzymes OR
  2. Adding an acid to the collagen

At Absolute Collagen, we use the first option, using heat and enzymes to hydrolyse our collagen. But whichever method is used, the result is a lower molecular weight for the collagen. Compared to a molecule with a high mass, hydrolysed collagen can easily be added to tablets or liquids. Most importantly, hydrolysis means the once large collagen molecule can now easily pass through the gut lining and be absorbed and distributed by the body. 

Graphic showing the two ways of hydrolysing collagen, symbolised by a flame on the left and science equipment on the right

Technically, most collagen supplements are hydrolysed to some degree or another. However, whilst some - like Absolute Collagen - are completely hydrolysed, others are only partially hydrolysed (more on this later).

Put simply, when collagen is completely hydrolysed, it is a more broken down form of collagen that can easily be dissolved in liquids, and that the body can use. 

How Is Hydrolysed Collagen Sourced?

Before hydrolysis occurs, collagen is typically extracted from bovine (cow), porcine (pig) or marine (fish) sources. Here at Absolute Collagen, we use the latter. This is because marine collagen is free from risk of farmyard viruses like bird virus, foot-and-mouth disease, and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). Plus, it’s been shown to absorb into the bloodstream up to 1.5 times faster than collagen from other sources, making it the most efficient choice of collagen with the quickest-acting benefits.

As an aside, if you’re not a fan of fish but want to try out our product - don’t worry! We refine our collagen to remove any unpleasant fishy odour or taste, while ensuring we don’t compromise on its nutritional value.

Hydrolysed Collagen Absorption

As mentioned above, collagen molecules in their natural form are much far too big to be absorbed by the body. In comparison, hydrolysed collagen is much more bioavailable – this refers to the degree or rate at which a substance is absorbed into the body when ingested. This means hydrolysed collagen can be absorbed through the intestinal barrier and into the bloodstream, before finally being carried throughout the body.

However, not all hydrolysed collagen supplements are created equal - the Dalton weight of the collagen molecule is very important. When we talk about the Dalton weight (Da), a lower weight equals a greater ease of absorption, and means the collagen has undergone extensive hydrolysation, resulting in you getting the most from the collagen supplement. The Dalton weight of some hydrolysed collagen supplements is 5000 Da, whereas we at Absolute Collagen use the much more absorbable 2000 Da.

But here comes the most interesting part. The absorption of hydrolysed collagen basically gives your body a bit of a wake up call, stimulating it to create more of its own collagen where needed!

It’s also worth noting that the body knows where to send extra collagen in order of how much it’s needed, and it might not be where you expect it! For example, you might be looking to improve your hair by taking collagen, but if your body actually has a greater collagen shortage in your nails, you may notice unexpected improvements there first.

Hydrolysed Collagen Benefits

Skin & Beauty

Nothing quite beats a compliment about your skin, does it? A fresh-faced glow can make you look energised and youthful. As we get older, our natural levels of collagen decline significantly, and this degradation leads to wrinkles and decreased skin elasticity. Hydrolysed collagen has been proven to increase skin hydration and elasticity, as well as promoting strong hair and nails. You can find out more about the benefits of collagen for your skin in our recent blog post. Plus, check out the reviews from some happy Absoluters below!

Two photos of a white man looking directly up into the camera alongside a description of how Absolute Collagen has benefited him

Before and after close up photo of a white woman's face using Absolute Collagen

Strong Hair and Nails

It’s not just our skin that benefits from a collagen boost. Collagen is also found in our hair and nails, both of which become brittle and weak when our collagen levels drop, as naturally occurs with age. Absolute Collagen contains essential amino acids for hair growth and health, and for this reason top UK Trichologist Eva Proudman recommends taking Absolute Collagen to help fight thinning or brittle hair. Similarly, collagen can boost your nails. A study found that ingesting hydrolysed collagen reduced nail breakage by 42% and increased growth by 12% over a period of 24 weeks.

Graphic demonstrating how hydrolysed collagen increased nail growth and reduced nail breakage

Sports Recovery

While working out can be the greatest natural high, and a great boost to your mental wellbeing, the achy aftermath isn’t always so enjoyable. Absolute Collagen contains 7.2g of protein and amino acids and, post-exercise, protein and amino acids may help with aching muscles, joints and bones. 

Taking collagen after a workout can also help restore any nutrients that may be lost during exercise. Don’t just take our word for it though, many of our Absoluters feedback that a daily dose of Absolute Collagen helps them with their workout regime - like the lovely Julie below!

Photo of a white woman with long light brown/blonde hair looking into the camera alongside a description of how Absolute Collagen has benefitted her

Soluble Collagen vs Hydrolysed Collagen

Soluble collagen and hydrolysed collagen are pretty much two sides of the same coin! Soluble, by definition, refers to a substance that can be dissolved – especially in water. Hydrolysed collagen is water-soluble, which makes it easy to incorporate into a lotion, tablet or drink (of the hot or cold variety). So, if you’re more of a tea drinker, good news - feel free to add Absolute Collagen to your brew!

Photo showing a glass of water next to a black Absolute Collagen sachet, both standing against a dark grey background

Hydrolysed Collagen vs Collagen Peptides

‘Hydrolysed collagen’ is essentially another name for ‘collagen peptides’. There is no difference between the two. As explained above, collagen in its original form is too big to be absorbed by the body. This means it needs to be broken down into smaller collagen parts (aka collagen peptides). This is done via the hydrolysis process. The two names are used interchangeably and sometimes people even merge the two and call them ‘hydrolysed peptides’ or ‘collagen hydrolysate’. We know, it can get a tad confusing - but rest assured there's no difference!

Hydrolysed Collagen vs Gelatine

So what about gelatine, you may be wondering? Gelatine is indeed another type of collagen. However, there is a distinct difference between gelatine and hydrolysed collagen. While they originate from the same source, gelatine has only gone through partial hydrolysis (you may remember from above that hydrolysed collagen goes through the full hydrolysis process), which is where its gel appearance comes from. Another difference is the properties of each when added to liquid; gelatine can act as a thickener when added to liquids, whereas hydrolysed collagen tends to dissolve. Crucially, the main difference is that gelatine doesn't deliver the benefits that hydrolysed collagen does, which is why we stick to the highest quality hydrolysed collagen for our supplement.

Graph comparing the properties of gelatine and hydrolysed collagen including the source and profile of each protein

How Much Hydrolysed Collagen Should You Take Each Day?

To see optimum results, we recommend that you take one of our sachets a day. Each sachet contains 8000mg of ready-mixed hydrolysed collagen, which is the most collagen your body can consume in one day. Any more and your body simply won’t be able to process it, any less and you’re not getting the maximum possible benefit. Some collagen supplements recommend that you need more than 8000mg, however this may be due to the quality of the collagen being lower than Absolute Collagen's premium hydrolysed Type 1 collagen and having inferior absorption into the body. With Absolute Collagen, there’s no added frills or fillers, simply the right amount of all the good stuff. That’s just the way we like it! 

Still have questions about our hydrolysed marine collagen supplements? Send them our way! We love to hear from you and will happily answer your queries. Get in touch today.

Try liquid marine collagen from £1.93 per day