One of the things Stephanie and I tend to rely on as a go-to food in winter is bone broth. The new “darling” of the nutrition world, bone broth is filled with gelatin which has been shown to have many amazing health qualities, from its contribution to glowing skin, less wrinkles, bone/joint health and improved digestion to weight management and better sleep.

But is gelatin the same thing as collagen?

We often find people get confused over the difference between gelatin and collagen. Gelatin is derived from collagen; so when collagen breaks down, it becomes gelatin. This is exactly what happens with bone broth. Bones are loaded with collagen and as the broth cooks, it breaks down into gelatin. So gelatin is the cooked form of collagen.

So what exactly IS collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It is found in the bones, muscles, skin and tendons, where it forms a framework to provide strength and structure. Unfortunately, collagen production tends to naturally decline with age. Those who smoke and have a high sugar consumption are at an even greater risk of losing this precious protein.

So as you can see, collagen is an especially important part of keeping our bodies healthy for a ton of reasons. Here’s a rundown of the top 5 benefits.

1). Beautiful skin, reduced wrinkles: Collagen is an important building block for the skin. In fact, 70% of the protein in skin is collagen, and is responsible for the cohesion, elasticity and regeneration of skin. Wrinkles occur when the collagen in your skin breaks down. As we lose collagen, the skin becomes thinner and creases form. When collagen is taken orally, the peptides (amino acids that make up the collagen protein) are attracted to cells that manufacture the production and reorganization of new collagen fibers. How cool is that? For more info on diet and how it can help you have younger looking, glowing skin, check our our diet/skin article right HERE.

2). Bone and joint health: Collagen makes up to 90% of bone mass. Several studies have shown that the presence of collagen peptides can stimulate osteoblasts, the cells responsible for bone formation. Bones with sufficient collagen are like steel, strong and elastic. Bones lacking in collagen are like dry, brittle wood – easily breakable.

We see clients all the time who are solely focused on calcium intake for their bones. However, when it comes to building bone density, cofactors such as magnesium, vitamin K2, and vitamin D are just as if not more important. We work with our clients to balance all bone building nutrients in addition to using collagen protein. Studies suggest that a dose of 10g per day (the amount in about one scoop) is enough to show a benefit.

3). Weight management and digestion: We talk to our clients all the time about the benefits of protein for weight management. Protein is known to be the most satisfying macronutrient.  Studies have actually shown that when taken at breakfast, collagen protein is 40% more satiating than other proteins (such as whey, casein, or soy) and induces a 20% reduction of subsequent food intake at lunch.

We also know that collagen is wonderful for your digestive system. It can help soothe the gut lining, repair damaged cell walls by infusing them with healing amino acids, and help absorb water, keeping things moving freely in the digestive tract.

4). Reduced risk for injury in athletes: We work with a lot of avid exercisers and know how important it is to minimize any risk of injury. Collagen peptides are high in specific amino acids (building blocks of protein) such as glycine and proline, which in turn stimulate certain cells (namely fibroblasts and osteoblasts) to build new collagen.  Supplementation with 30 grams of collagen peptides per day has been shown to reduce the risk for injuries on muscle, tendons, and ligaments in athletes.

5). A good night’s sleep: And finally, years ago in our sleep summit, we discussed the calming effects of collagen. Researchers have determined this is due to its glycine content, an amino acid which has a sedative effect on the brain. We often recommend a scoop of collagen peptides in a cup of chamomile tea as a relaxing nightcap.

Though we absolutely LOVE bone broth and recommend it all the time, it can be nice to have an alternative way to reap the benefits of collagen aside from drinking broth. After much research, we found the Vital Proteins brand to be superior. Here’s why:

  • Single-sourced, 100% pasture-raised non-dairy cows from Brazil; this eliminates the risk of rBGH in their feed or hormones.
  • Non-BPA, air-tight canisters prevent moisture and oxygen from entering the canister, ensuring product integrity, quality and safety.
  • Pretty much tasteless and odorless unless used in plain beverages – where you can detect a hint of flavor.

There are three types to purchase:
Collagen Protein Gelatin (green lid – 17g protein/serving): This would be your perfect substitute for the store brand KNOX, due to its ability to gel. This would be the form you would want to use for sauces and gravy, or to make homemade healthy gelatin snacks packed with protein like jello or fruit snacks.

Collagen Peptides (blue lid – 18g protein/serving):
This is the “hydrolyzed” version of the gelatin so it will dissolve in cold water as well as hot. Add to smoothies, yogurts, puddings, broths, soups, coffees, teas and oatmeal to boost the protein content. For those with severe digestive issues, this form may be best to start with for its ease of digestion. We love stirring it into hot tea, where it just disappears without a trace. Also great in smoothies and won’t leave even a hint of grittiness like many protein powders tend to do. The Vital Proteins website also has lots of yummy recipes you can try too.

Marine Collagen (blue lid – 11g protein/serving):
This one is made from snapper and will also dissolve in cold water as well as hot. Use is similar to the collagen peptides above.

Let us know – have you ever tried bone broth? What about collagen protein powder?