Does Hydrolysed Collagen Survive Digestion or is it Destroyed in the Stomach?

Does Hydrolysed Collagen Survive Digestion or is it Destroyed in the Stomach?

Its becoming more and more apparent to me that many of our medical and health professionals are being left behind when it comes to their knowledge on how hydrolysed collagen works in our bodies, and the impact it has on our overall health. Unfortunately, many of our health practitioners rely on out-of-date information and are out of touch with the rapid development happening in this area of human nutrition and science.

Nothing emphasizes this point more than a recent conversation I had with a professional research scientist via Facebook. (Not sure just what she researched but judging from the conversation it certainly didn’t seem like it was hydrolysed collagen).

She commented that when you eat hydrolysed collagen it basically gets broken down by our digestive system into individual amino acids which the body distributes at random to wherever it needs. She said hydrolysed collagen does not survive the harsh environment of the stomach and that ingesting it does not produce collagen in the body. In fact, she was quite scathing, calling hydrolysed collagen a scam.

She added she gets all the amino acids she needs for forming new collagen from her diet.

A quick search of google confirmed that this line of thought is rather common.

So is she right?..... Does hydrolysed collagen just get broken down into its individual amino acids and then get distributed in the body randomly to wherever needed? Does it really assist in the generation of new collagen in the body?

Well, consuming a healthy and nutritious diet doesn't guarantee the body's optimum collagen production. There's so much more to it and this is where hydrolyzed collagen peptides comes into play.

She fails to understand how collagen peptides work in the body.

Collagen peptides are a class of small molecule amino acid sequences with various biological functions. Bioactive peptides have superior absorption mechanisms and functional properties that cannot be compared to amino acids.

Collagen peptides have been found to exhibit various biological activities, such as hypotensive and blood sugar-regulating effects, antioxidant properties, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory actions, anti-thrombotic activity, calcium absorption promotion, antibacterial effects, and skin-condition improving properties.

To understand how collagen peptides affect our skin, it's essential to first comprehend the journey they undertake within our bodies.

Peptides play a crucial role in the digestion and absorption of hydrolyzed collagen. You see, as collagen is broken down, it forms a variety of peptides, each consisting of a unique sequence of amino acids. These peptides are essential for several reasons:

     1. Enhanced Solubility: Collagen peptides have improved solubility compared to intact collagen, allowing them to mix easily with liquids and be more bioavailable.

     2. Absorption Efficiency: The smaller size of collagen peptides facilitates efficient absorption through the intestinal wall.

     3. Biological Activity: Some collagen peptides have demonstrated specific biological activities, such as promoting the synthesis of new collagen, which can benefit various tissues in the body.

This groundbreaking study, published in 2021 in the scientific journal ‘Nutrients’ provides invaluable insights into this process.

Hydrolyzed Collagen, also known as collagen peptides, are derived from the enzymatic breakdown of collagen, a structural protein found in the skin, bones, and connective tissues of animals including cows and fish. The study found that these hydrolysates contain smaller peptides, including the essential amino acids like proline and hydroxyproline.

When you ingest collagen peptides, they enter your digestive system, where they undergo enzymatic digestion. This process breaks down the collagen peptides into smaller peptide fragments and individual amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and in this case, they play a crucial role in supporting skin health.

The study also reveals that collagen hydrolysates are easily absorbed in the small intestine. This efficient absorption ensures that the essential amino acids, particularly hydroxyproline, are readily available for various bodily functions, including collagen synthesis.

Hydroxyproline is a key player in collagen formation. It is an amino acid that is relatively rare in most dietary proteins but is abundant in hydrolysed collagen.

Another study, published in the scientific journal ‘Science of Food’ in 2022, offers compelling evidence of the impact of ingesting collagen hydrolysates on the presence of hydroxyproline in the bloodstream.

The study identifies a specific tripeptide containing hydroxyproline that becomes detectable in human blood after the ingestion of hydrolyzed collagen. This finding is significant because it highlights the direct link between hydrolyzed collagen consumption and the availability of hydroxyproline, a crucial component of collagen, in the bloodstream.

This study, using a unique hydrolysed collagen powder, ‘Peptan’, investigated the transformation that different types of collagen peptides undergo during digestion and absorption.

Results of the study showed that ‘Peptan’ collagen peptides underwent significant change during digestion and absorption. The average molecular weight decreased as the Peptan collagen powder was exposed to digestion enzymes in the stomach and small intestine, and broken into smaller peptides. It was detected that the products of different animal sources become more similar when the average molecular weight drops along the digestion and the absorption process.

The human blood analysis revealed the presence of bioactive hydroxyproline carrying dipeptides in the blood after Peptan ingestion. These dipeptides (Hydroxyproline-Glycine and Proline-Hydroxyproline) significantly contributed to the total increase of hydroxyproline, the characteristic amino acid of collagen, in the blood.

Collagen is the primary structural protein in the skin, responsible for its strength, elasticity, and youthful appearance. The availability of hydroxyproline in the bloodstream suggests that ingesting collagen peptides can contribute to the body's collagen production, potentially supporting skin health and appearance.

Now that we've explored the digestion and absorption of collagen peptides, it's time to examine their real-world impact on human skin. This most recent study published in 2023 in the scientific journal ‘Food and Function’, provides compelling evidence of the positive effects of collagen peptide consumption on skin health.

In this randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study, participants were given collagen peptide or a placebo over an extended period. The results were remarkable. The group that consumed collagen peptides experienced improvements in several key aspects of skin health:

  1. Hydration: Collagen peptide ingestion led to increased skin hydration, which is essential for maintaining a healthy skin barrier and preventing dryness and flakiness.
  2. Elasticity: Skin elasticity, a measure of its ability to stretch and bounce back, improved significantly in the collagen peptide group. Enhanced elasticity contributes to smoother and more youthful-looking skin.
  3. Desquamation: Collagen peptides were found to support the natural shedding of dead skin cells (desquamation). This process is essential for maintaining skin clarity and preventing dullness.
  4. Wrinkling: Perhaps the most exciting finding was the reduction in wrinkles observed in participants who consumed collagen peptides. Wrinkles are a common sign of aging skin, and any intervention that can mitigate them is highly sought after.

The mechanism behind these improvements in skin health likely stems from the collagen peptides' ability to promote collagen synthesis in the body. As mentioned earlier, hydroxyproline from collagen hydrolysates is readily absorbed and can contribute to the formation of new collagen fibers in the skin.


Ingesting collagen peptides, derived from the enzymatic breakdown of collagen, can have a profound impact on human skin. These scientific studies reveal that collagen peptides are efficiently digested and absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, providing the body with essential amino acids like hydroxyproline.

The presence of hydroxyproline in the bloodstream, as evidenced, suggests that collagen peptide ingestion directly supports collagen production in the body. This, in turn, can improve skin health by enhancing hydration, elasticity, desquamation, and reducing the appearance of wrinkles, as demonstrated in the randomized controlled trial above.

The existing evidence points to an undisputable connection between collagen peptides and healthier, more youthful-looking skin. So, if you're looking to boost your skin's radiance from the inside out, consider incorporating collagen peptides into your daily routine. Your skin might just thank you with a youthful glow that lasts.

 Peptan is available in Australia through CollagenX.

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