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is one of the various types of protein found in skin, bone, muscles and internal organs, and it is necessary for the proper functioning of these tissues. Hydrolyzed collagen is the product resulting from bone and cartilage
that has been broken down into small components that collectively are referred to as gelatin
. Bone and cartilage are first crushed or ground, defatted, then rid of their calcium
content via soaking in hydrochloric acid before being soaked in sodium
hydroxide to destroy the natural bonds in the collagen.
Once the process is complete, a powder remains that can be reconstituted into gelatin — the same gelatin used in cooking and the making of empty capsules for taking medications. Among the health claims frequently made about the internal use of hydrolyzed collagen include muscle tone, strengthening of arteries, rebuilding of the joints and internal organs.
Emphasis has been placed on collagen that has been hydrolyzed because this fibrous protein is broken down into short chains of amino acids known as peptides and into completely free amino acids. When taken internally, peptides are further broken apart into free amino acids, which are the building blocks for protein. Gelatin is not a complete protein. In general, only four amino acids make up about 70 percent of the amino acids of hydrolyzed collagen. Tryptophan typically is missing from gelatin, which also tends to lack hydroxylysine, methionine
It is generally believed, however, that the amino acids that are present are made readily available to the body because they do not have to be broken down for the building of new collagen. This belief, also prompted its external use because the skin not only contains collagen, it also is porous. Hydrolyzed collagen has been added to a variety of personal care products, such as shampoos, hair conditioners and beauty creams. Although its use is widely encouraged and accepted, particularly in cosmetics, people with sensitive skin could experience a condition known as contact dermatitis
. If itching, swelling, or a rash develops, the use of the product should be immediately discontinued.
Pregnant women are advised to consult with a medical doctor before supplementing their diet with gelatin. If they do not have sensitive skin, external use of hydrolyzed collagen is generally considered safe. There are differing opinions and results when considering this processed protein as a remedy for complaints such as thinning or sagging skin. Considering the role of hydrolyzed collagen in the body, some have theorized that gelatin supplements might be the answer for correcting such chronic conditions as hypertension, osteoporosis and autoimmune problems. Gelatin, however, should not be used to treat serious health disorders.