Hydrolysed collagen: what is it?

by Hannah de Gruchy November 06, 2021

Hydrolysed collagen: what is it?

What is hydrolysed collagen and what are its benefits? 

Collagen in its natural form is too large to be absorbed by the human body. So, hydrolysed collagen, a type of collagen that’s been broken down into smaller molecules has been created for use in supplements.

Skin detailCollagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and due to its structural properties, it is found in connective tissues including our skin, joints, cartilage and bones.

As we age, our collagen production naturally declines, and as a result, our skin begins to develop fine lines and wrinkles and our joints, muscles and bones can become weaker.

Many people therefore choose to take collagen supplements to help defend against skin ageing and support healthy joints and bones.

Hydrolysed collagen: fast facts

  1. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and is made up of long chains of amino acids – hydrolysed collagen has been broken down into smaller molecules called peptides.
  2. Collagen production naturally declines as we get older
  3. Hydrolysed collagen can be taken in supplement form to help support our natural levels of collagen
  4. Collagen supplements can be made from animal or vegan friendly algal sources

How is hydrolysed collagen made?

Marine & Bovine Collagen - cows & fish

Since collagen occurs naturally in the skin and connective tissues, many collagen supplements are derived from animal sources – either from cows (bovine collagen) or pigs (porcine collagen).

However, it’s been discovered that the skins, fins, scales and bones of fish are a plentiful source of marine collagen. New algae sources have also been discovered and they’re used to create vegan collagen supplements.

Collagen is formed of long, complex chains of amino acids, the building blocks of all proteins. These long chains are too large to be easily absorbed by the body and therefore in order to make readily absorbable collagen supplements, collagen undergoes a process during their manufacture called hydrolysation.

This forms hydrolysed collagen, or collagen hydrolysate, which is made up of smaller chains of amino acids, called peptides. For this reason, hydrolysed collagen is also known as collagen peptides and is described as being more ‘bioavailable’ or more easily absorbed into the bloodstream, than non-hydrolysed collagen.

The process of hydrolysation is either carried out by heating and the addition of enzymes or by adding an acid such as acetic acid to pure collagen. The resulting hydrolysed collagen is then small enough to pass through the gut lining and become absorbed into the bloodstream.

What are the benefits of hydrolysed collagen?

Happy Couple Exercising

Perhaps the most well documented benefit and therefore most popular reason for taking hydrolysed collagen supplements is to support youthful looking skin. Collagen keeps the skin plump and hydrated, meaning less visible fine lines and wrinkles. Studies have shown that taking a hydrolysed collagen supplement can “significantly improve skin hydration, elasticity, roughness and density”.

Not only that, but once collagen has gone through the hydrolysation process, its molecular weight decreases. This helps with bioavailability but it also means that hydrolysed collagen has more antioxidant activity than non-hydrolysed collagen. Antioxidants work by donating electrons to unstable and damaging atoms of oxygen called free radicals. Lower molecular weight hydrolysed collagen is able to donate spare electrons more freely. This means it has better antioxidant properties and can neutralise free radicals more easily.

Further studies have shown that hydrolysed collagen supplements increase the level of collagen peptides in the bloodstream, improving skin elasticity, moisture levels, and reducing trans epidermal moisture loss that leads to dryness.

Are there any side effects to taking hydrolysed collagen supplements?

Hydrolysed collagen supplements are generally considered to be safe and without severe side effects. However, they’re not a miracle cure and should not be treated as such. They should be considered supplementary to any conventional medications being prescribed for these or any other condition.

Types of hydrolysed collagen supplements?


Hydrolysed collagen supplements are available as tablets, powders and drinks.

Marine collagen capsules from G&G contain hydrolysed collagen and have added beneficial ingredients such as chondroitin, glucosamine, MSM and vitamin C. Highly absorbable, they support the healthy function of the bones and cartilage, as well as youthful-looking skin.

Another form of marine hydrolysed collagen is this marine collagen peptide powder from Planet Paleo. It’s made from sustainably caught, wild fish in French waters.

Bovine collagen derived from grass fed cows is considered one of the most beneficial types of collagens. Pure collagen powder from Planet Paleo is an award-winning hydrolysed collagen powder produced from free range, grass fed Argentinian cows. It helps to promote smoother, younger looking skin and supports healthy tissue regeneration.

For more hydrolysed collagen supplements, you can browse our collagen peptide supplement collection. Need helping choosing your collagen? Send us a message or read our article on the best collagen supplements in the UK.

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Hannah de Gruchy
Hannah de Gruchy


Health and wellness author and biologist specialised in sustainability, nutrition and eco-living.

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