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Gelatin vs Collagen

While gelatin is actually a cooked form of collagen, the two have different properties, which means they function differently in your body. As you may know, your body naturally produces collagen, its most prevalent protein. Collagen plays so many vital roles that it's often referred to as the body's glue. And even though gelatin may mirror some attributes of naturally produced collagen and collagen supplements, the differences between the two are important to know.

As you consider collagen vs gelatin, keep in mind that scientific studies on these dietary supplements and their health benefits are preliminary. What is known is that the 20-plus collagens the body produces do have many health benefits. These include properties that increase skin elasticity, strengthen bones, create joint flexibility, build muscle, and create nails and even corneas. Collagen impacts almost every part of your body.

Aging, pollution, smoking, and even excessive sunlight are among the many factors that slow natural collagen production and even sap collagen from the body. Wrinkles, aching joints, and brittle nails are likely signs of collagen depletion. That's why collagen supplements are so popular with so many people.

infographic including a diagram of collagen fibers and the various benefits of using collagen

What Are the Differences Between Collagen and Gelatin?

bowl of gelatin cubes next to a bowl of collagen powder on a gray counter

In trying to understand the differences between these two items, you may be wondering if one is better than the other. The truth is that it’s not possible to say whether collagen or gelatin is better. To do so is similar to asking if an automobile or a bicycle is better. The answer depends on many factors, including the outcomes you seek.

To start, let’s look at how collagen and gelatin have different chemical structures.

  • Collagen: This protein is created by way of a triple helix, which is composed of three chains of more than 1,000 amino acids, which are building blocks of protein.

  • Gelatin: The amino acid chains in gelatin are formed differently and shorter.

So, what does this all mean? It’s simple: gelatin is not the same as collagen.

a scoop of white collagen powder on a pink background above the molecular structure of amino acids

Both are Easy to Digest

For now, consider an argument that gelatin is "better" because some people believe gelatin is easier to digest than collagen protein. That is not true of collagen peptides. A collagen peptide supplement is even easier to digest than gelatin. Still, neither collagen or gelatin is known as difficult to absorb.

Collagen is More Convenient

Another plus for collagen supplements is that many people find them more convenient to use. A collagen supplement easily dissolves in hot or cold liquids, and you can even mix it into foods so you can make them part of any diet. As for gelatin, most, but not all, of them only dissolve in hot water.

Does Eating Gelatin Increase Collagen?

a wooden tray holding various forms of gelatin: powder, granules, and sheets

There is some preliminary evidence that eating gelatin does increase your collagen. That's excellent news because you'll find gelatin in many foods, including soup, broth, gummy candy, and even marshmallows. It's no coincidence that gelatin is a staple for those recovering from illnesses, either, because the high protein content may aid recovery. Plus, unlike meat and other high-protein sources, gelatin does not contain fat.

As noted, gelatin is available in many forms. There is also processed gelatin called “collagen hydrolysate.” It has the same chemical makeup as traditional gelatin, but it doesn't thicken, and you can dissolve it in cold water. You'll find both gelatin and collagen hydrolysate in powder or granules. You can also buy sheet forms of gelatin.

As a side note, don't forget to consider bone broth. It’s another handy go-to snack or meal for people interested in adding a form of collagen to their diets to see the potential health benefits.

Why Do Some People Prefer Collagen?

Girl drinking from a glass and giving a thumbs up - quality collagen supplements are tasteless and mix well with anything!

The answer is again similar to the car and the bicycle comparison we mentioned before—it all depends on need. However, scientific studies indicate hydrolyzed collagen offers a more complete nutritional package than gelatin. Potential health benefits of collagen include joint health (and joint pain), wound healing, and the pain of osteoarthritis. Early studies show that this protein may even help build muscle.

As mentioned earlier, collagen powder is easy to use in just about any meal. You can stir it into hot and cold drinks like coffee and smoothies, or sprinkle it on a salad. Quality collagen supplements are almost tasteless, too, so they don't interfere with the taste of your food.

Are Collagen Peptides and Gelatin the Same Thing?

Collagen peptides and gelatin are not the same things. Some people erroneously think they are because they are often both created from the connective tissue, bones, and other parts of animals. When you break down collagen, you create a form of gelatin.

Manufacturers of collagen supplements use a more sophisticated method to extract the collagen from the connective tissues and other parts of mammals or fish. There are many benefits to the intensive process that results in collagen powder. One of the main advantages is that it allows for quick absorption into the body. That's one of the reasons that collagen supplements are so in demand.

Does Jell-o Have Collagen?

The main ingredient in Jell-o, the mainstay dessert from Kraft Foods, is gelatin. And, as you know, gelatin contains collagen. So yes, Jell-o has collagen. It also has artificial flavors and other non-natural ingredients. 

red jello spilling out on a wooden cutting board next to bowl and spoon of gelatin granules

What to Know About Collagen and Other Dietary Supplements

You owe it to yourself to take extra care when you choose dietary supplements. Many people don’t know the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate such supplements as it does medications and food. They basically rely on manufacturers to police themselves and the supplements they create.

There are several steps you can take to ensure the supplement you choose is the best possible one for you. It’s recommended that you talk to your doctor or health care professional to make sure the supplement is right for your health profile. Then, when you choose a collagen supplement, take a few minutes to read the label carefully and get familiar with how much you should take per day.

five scoops in a circle, each containing different dietary supplement powders, including collagen and wheat grass

When it comes to choosing a high-quality collagen supplement, consider looking for those that have similar sources to those you’d actually eat—like cage-free, free-range, and antibiotic-free sources. The difference in quality is crucial, and you may also want to avoid products with fillers, binders, sweeteners, and preservatives. If you have a question about a supplement that the producer does not answer on the label, you can consult the company's website or call the company directly to see if they’ll provide more information.

A High-Quality Collagen Supplement

At Brightcore, we’re proud to provide a high-quality, multi-collagen protein powder with Revive®. When you read the label, you'll see it's created from wild-caught fish, cage-free chicken, grass-fed hydrolyzed bovine, and eggshell. It's also infused with vitamin C and hyaluronic acid, and free of GMO, dairy, soybean, fillers, artificial binders, and colors. It’s a tasteless powder, too, so you can easily add more collagen to your dietary menu without changing the taste of your favorite foods and beverages.

small wooden bowl of white collagen powder below the word collagen spelled out in Scrabble tiles

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