Bone Broth vs Hydrolysed Collagen - Which Is Best?

Posted on March 10 2022

Bone Broth vs Hydrolysed Collagen - Which Is Best?

 

Bone broths and drinks containing collagen have recently become a trend beverage that has acquired a reputation as the next ‘best thing’ for promoting health.

Currently, there is plenty of excellent scientific evidence proving that the consumption of hydrolysed collagen supports the synthesis of native collagen in varying tissues, with the availability of key amino acids being a likely contributor to its effectiveness…… but what evidence exists about the active quantities or bioavailability of Amino Acids contained in bone broth?

So just what is the answer to the Bone Broth Vs Collagen debate? Although there are many bone broth brands on the market spruiking the health benefits of their product, few, if any at all, back it up with any scientific evidence. What is the basis of their so called ‘superior’ nutritional value when comparing to hydrolysed collagen? Is consuming bone broth as good or better than hydrolysed collagen for your health? Well, the short answer is no, and here’s some surprising reasons.

 

Amino Acid Content of Bone Broth Vs Hydrolysed Collagen

Despite public interest in bone broth most, if not all, of the health claims made regarding it’s ingestion have not been scientifically evaluated and this includes amino acid content.

This study (1) published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabllism  2018, analyzed commonly consumed preparations of bone broth (BB) to assess the amount and consistency of its amino acid content. The main finding of this study was that amino acid concentrations in BB were significantly lower for hydroxyproline, glycine, proline, hydroxylysine, leucine, and lysine than those provided by a potentially therapeutic dose (20 g) of reference collagen supplements.

The authors concluded

 “it is unlikely that BB can provide a consistently reliable source of key amino acids”.

A year later, this study (2) published in the Journal of Undergraduate Chemistry Research, confirmed the results of the 2018 study. 

In the study, specific amino acids of interest to the scientists included arginine, glutamate (expressed as glutamine), hydroxylysine, hydroxyproline and proline, since increased values of these in bone broths would support health claims.

A maintained level of increased nitric oxide production, produced from arginine, is known to improve cardiovascular health, ensure muscle growth, and strengthen the immune system. These attributes help to prevent arteriosclerosis and prevent heart attacks by moderating the level of homocysteine in the blood.

Glutamine is an amino acid derived from glutamate and is known for increasing water retention within cells, helping to signal growth, and intensify production of protein and glycogen. Glutamine also enhances cell regeneration, glutathione production, and gut health.

Hydroxylysine and hydroxyproline and glycine are key components in collagen and are known to interact with other collagen amino acids to form the collagen tripeptide molecule. Proline is beneficial for skin health through increased collagen production thus making it crucial for wound healing.

Their results are displayed in the table below and clearly show the superior content of AA's in Hydrolysed Collagen.

  

mg amino acid / gram product

Amino Acids

Beef Broth

Chicken Broth

Hydrolysed Collagen

Arginine

1.5

1.9

84.0

Glutamine

2.6

3.5

124.0

Hydroxylysine

0.3

0.3

12.0

Hydroxyproline

1.9

2.1

114.0

Proline

2.2

2.4

115.0

Alanine

1.6

1.9

81.0

Aspartic Acid

1.2

1.7

66.0

Glycine

3.7

4.0

206.0

Histidine

0.2

0.4

8.0

Isoleucine

0.3

0.5

15.0

Leucine

0.7

1.0

29.0

Lysine

0.5

0.9

34.0

Methionine

0.2

0.3

6.0

Phenylalanine

0.6

0.6

21.0

Serine

0.6

0.7

34.0

Threonine

0.4

0.7

19.0

Tyrosine

0.4

0.5

5.0

Valine

0.5

0.6

24.0

 

The table shows that while bone broths may have an ability to contribute vital amino acids on a dietary basis, they are shown to be a significantly lower source when compared to hydrolysed collagen. These results, therefore, do not support the claims made by some bone broth exponents that BB is equal to Hydrolysed Collagen in nutritional value..

And finally, this study (3) published by the Biochemical and Children's Departments, King's College Hospital, London, scientists analysed a broth prepared from bones and mixed vegetables for its use in the feeding of infants.

They concluded that

 “bone and vegetable broths are not of great nutritional value”.

 

Protein Content

Substantial evidence (4) supports the increased consumption of high-quality protein to achieve optimal health outcomes. A growing body of research indicates that protein intakes well above the current Recommended Dietary Allowance help to promote healthy aging, appetite regulation, weight management, and goals aligned with athletic performance. Higher protein intakes may help prevent age-related sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass, and strength that predisposes older adults to frailty, disability, and loss of autonomy. Higher protein diets also improve satiety and lead to greater reductions in body weight and fat mass compared with standard protein diets, and may therefore serve as a successful strategy to help prevent and/or treat obesity. Athletes can also benefit from higher protein intakes to maximize athletic performance given the critical role protein plays in stimulating muscle protein remodeling after exercise.

So how does Bone Broth compare to Hydrolysed Collagen for protein content?

Well, the average protein content of most commercial bone broths is around 5% while the average protein content of CollagenX Hydrolysed Collagen is a whopping 90%.

 

Safety Concerns

Bone broths are good sources of essential metals such as calcium and magnesium, however, bones are also known to absorb toxic heavy metals, consumed from the animal’s environment, such as lead and cadmium.

The heavy metal, lead, is a widespread contaminate throughout the modern environment. Such sequestered lead can then be mobilised from the bones through the cooking process.

However, the presence of toxic metals in bone broth has rarely been studied. UNTIL NOW.

In this double blind, controlled study (5) of lead concentrations in three different types of organic chicken broth, scientists showed that broths do indeed contain several times the lead concentration of the water with which the broth is made.

In particular, broth made from skin and cartilage taken off the bone once the chicken had been cooked with the bones in situ, and chicken-bone broth, were both found to have markedly high lead concentrations, of 9.5 and 7.01 μg L, respectively (compared with a control value for tap water treated in the same way of 0.89 μg L).

In view of the dangers of lead consumption to the human body, the authors of the study recommend that:

“doctors and nutritionists should take the risk of lead contamination into consideration when advising patients about bone broth diets”.

And in another study (6), scientists investigated the extraction of metals, both essential and toxic, from animal bones into broth, with a view to addressing some of the public concerns about whether bone broths are good sources of nutrient elements and the risks that are associated with the consumption of toxic metals in bone broth/soup.

The scientists found that Calcium and Magnesium levels in home-made or commercial broth/soup were found not to exceed low tenths of milligram per serving, or less than 5% of the daily recommended levels. They also found that, although the risks that are associated with the ingestion of heavy metals such as Lead and Cadmium in broth are minimal, (because the levels were in the ranges of a few μg per serving), there is concern over the accumulation of these toxic metals over time through frequency of consumption and the content of these heavy metals in other foods, and through pollution of the air we breathe.

 

Conclusion

Now don’t get me wrong. Bone broths are nutritious and tasty. I still enjoy a bone broth or hearty home made chicken soup on occasion. But to compare bone broth to Hydrolysed Collagen as a nutritional  equal, or in some cases, a better nutritional alternative just doesn’t cut it when it comes to the science.

My rule of thumb is to choose a pure, high quality hydrolysed collagen that is fully traceable from the sourcing of raw materials to the final product, and is environmentally friendly. I take CollagenX hydrolysed collagen every day whereas bone broth I take sparingly, (but even then I throw in a spoonful of Collagen powder).

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