The Benefits of Collagen Peptides

Collagen peptides, a long-time staple of Paleo enthusiasts, have gone mainstream. From celebrity magazines to medical journals, the benefits of this supplement seem to be showing up everywhere. Better digestion, improved bone and joint health, and clearer skin are just a few of the claims collagen-peptide users swear by. If you haven’t heard of collagen peptides, or don’t fully understand them, this overview can help get you started.

What are collagen peptides?

Collagen peptides are an easily digestible form of collagen. Available as a supplemental powder or capsule, collagen peptides contain short-chain amino acids that are derived from (usually) pasture-raised animal collagen. They’re the gelatin that comes from collagen after it gets further broken down through a process called hydrolysis. This level of processing makes collagen-peptide supplements easy to consume and digest.

“Taking collagen as a supplement has many of the same benefits as drinking bone broth, but in a more isolated form,” says Tressa Yellig, founder of Salt, Fire & Time in Portland, Oregon, where she runs a bone-broth café called Broth Bar.

What are the health benefits of taking collagen peptides?

Ingested collagen that’s extracted from the skin, bones and connective tissue of animals mimics the proteins that are found in our own cells, helping to heal and promote growth throughout the body.

“Amino acids found in collagen support liver function, hormone balance, cellular hydration and muscle recovery,” says Yellig. “They are also responsible for normalizing stomach acid, which is essential for the digestion and absorption of minerals in our foods. I believe that the most important function of the collagen is its effect on stomach acid. This stage of digestion is so important for breaking down nutrients into forms that can be absorbed in the small intestine. Without that step, our food cannot function as medicine in our bodies.”

Collagen peptides may also help slow down aging, because of their ability to hydrate the cells.

“Some of the substances found in collagen peptides are responsible for keeping our cells hydrated—even better than just water—and can keep the cellular structure intact,” Yellig explains. “If we think of aging as a slow dehydration process, anything we can do to support cellular hydration would also slow the breakdown of these cells (skin and joints) to help keep them plump, healthy and beautiful.”

What are some ways to incorporate collagen peptides into diet?

You can mix a collagen-peptide powder supplement into almost any drink or food. Toss some in your coffee or tea, smoothie, oatmeal, soup or salad dressing. It dissolves easily in cold and hot liquids, and it doesn’t have much taste. You can even bake collagen peptides into cookies!

“You can use it to thicken a soup or sauce when you’re cooking,” says Yellig, who also recommends that people make bone broth a diet staple. “A common misconception is that collagen peptides are a replacement for bone broth. Bone broth is a whole-food form of collagen, which means the body will do a better job of digesting it and using it as medicine. It also tastes delicious!”