Can collagen be found in food? Does it have the same effect as supplements?

In recent years, collagen has gained market as a popular dietary supplement, available in a variety of forms, such as powder, capsules, and drinks. These supplements are derived from animal sources, especially bovine hide, and are processed using advanced technology to obtain its hydrolyzed form, that is, collagen peptides. The production technology of collagen peptides involves steps that guarantee a molecular composition of the product to be well absorbed and effective.

However, when it comes to finding collagen in natural foods, the situation is a little more complex. Although collagen is present in various food sources such as meat, fish, chicken, bone broth, it is important to note that consuming these foods does not necessarily guarantee an increase in body collagen production.

The reason for this is that the collagen found in food is in its native form, which consists in a long, dense collagen fibers. These fibers are composed of chains of amino acids linked together in a complex way. Normal digestion breaks down proteins into amino acids, which are then absorbed and used by the body for the synthesis of new proteins, including collagen. Thus, most collagen in food is digested like any other protein, resulting in the release of individual amino acids. These amino acids can be used by the body for different functions, including the synthesis of new proteins, but not necessarily to produce collagen.

Native Collagen

Collagen peptide supplements, on the other hand, are formulated to provide a form that is easily absorbed and readily utilized by the body. Hydrolyzed collagen supplements undergo a process called hydrolysis, in which collagen molecules are broken down into smaller pieces, peptides. These collagen peptides are made up of shorter chains of amino acids and are designed to be more easily absorbed by the body.

Collagen Peptides

When consuming hydrolyzed collagen supplements, collagen peptides can be absorbed by the intestines more efficiently than native collagen from food. This is because its structure is pre-digested, facilitating the absorption of specific amino acids involved in collagen synthesis. By taking collagen supplements in hydrolyzed form, the specific peptides needed for collagen synthesis are provided in greater amounts, which can help stimulate collagen production in the body.

Thus, although consuming collagen-rich foods can provide important nutrients for overall health and protein formation in the body, there is no conclusive evidence that this results in a direct increase in collagen levels in the body.

Vivian Zague
July 3, 2023
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