What Is Collagen Powder (& How to Use It)

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What is collagen protein and how to use it
Wellness Mama » Blog » Health » What Is Collagen Powder (& How to Use It)

I’ve been a big fan of gelatin since our family went on the GAPS diet and it helped my son be able to tolerate dairy again. I’ve also seen huge benefits with my skin, hair, and nails since I started incorporating more gelatin and collagen into my diet.

What Is Collagen?

In short, collagen is an insoluble protein that accounts for 1/3 of the protein in our bodies and 70% of the protein in our skin. Many people are familiar with its role in the skin, which is why it is in so many beauty products. What many people don’t realize is collagen is so much more than just a beauty remedy. (More on that later.)

The collagen molecule is a complex protein made up of over 1,000 amino acids, the main ones being proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline (in a unique triple helix configuration of three polypeptide subunits. (Sorry, science nerd moment!)

But what does this mean on a practical level?

Why We Need Collagen

It means collagen is incredibly strong. In fact, type I collagen (a type found in the human body) is stronger than steel gram for gram. It is fundamental to healthy cell reproduction, joints, connective tissue, and more.

The particular amino acids in collagen and gelatin are said to be especially beneficial in the body for:

The important thing to know is that these amino acids come from bones and cartilege (usually from cows) and are not present in muscle meats. As we trade traditional cooking methods like making homemade bone broth for modern convenience, we are getting less and less collagen and gelatin in our diets.

More in a bit on how to make up the gap, but first:

How to Boost Collagen Protein (From the Inside Out)

Here’s the thing. All of those beauty products that contain collagen won’t do much for your skin. This is because collagen molecules are too big to be absorbed through the skin. That doesn’t mean collagen isn’t really beneficial though… just that we have to get it from the inside out.

So how to get it? There are a few ways:

Natural Sources of Gelatin

Collagen (and gelatin, its cooked counterpart) is naturally found in high quality broth and in cuts of meat that contain skin or bone. If you’ve ever made bone broth and had it “gel” when it cooled, this is due to the collagen naturally present in the bones and connective tissue, which becomes gelatin when cooked.

There are also gelatin powders like this that contain 6 grams of protein per tablespoon and are relatively odorless and tasteless. This makes them easy to mix into warm drinks or recipes for an extra boost of quality protein,

Natural Sources of Collagen

Collagen has many of the same properties as gelatin and is the form actually found in the body. When we lack collagen due to diet or aging, we need a way to get it from the inside out.

Collagen and gelatin aren’t interchangeable, but they both do have their advantages. Some people, especially those with severe digestive issues, won’t handle pure gelatin protein well until they address their digestive problems. Bone broth is a great option in this case, but another good option is collagen peptides (another name for hydrolyzed collagen/collagen hydrolysate), which is essentially a cold-water soluble and more easily digestible form of gelatin.

Because of the unique way hydrolyzed collagen is prepared, it has higher amounts of the amino acids that support healthy cell growth and reproduction especially in connective tissues, hair, skin tissue, cartilage, ligaments and so on. It also absorbs more quickly due to a lower molecular rate.

How to Use Collagen Hydrolysate and Gelatin Powders

What is collagen hydrolysate and how to use it

My absolute favorite source of gelatin and collagen is homemade bone broth (or a high quality grass-fed bone broth like this one), but it isn’t always possible to have access to homemade broth.

As much as I love broth, there are also times (like a scorching August) when a cup of hot broth is not very appealing, so I prefer a different option instead.

Gelatin powder and collagen powder are great options that we use often instead of broth.

Gelatin Powder Uses

Gelatin is great not only due to its benefits but because of its ability to “gel” in recipes. It works really well in jellos, marshmallows, and other recipes for this reason.We use gelatin for making a lot of different gut-healthy recipes like:

This is the grass-fed gelatin that we use.

The one downside to gelatin powder… it only mixes into warm/hot liquids and clumps up in cold drinks because of its ability to gel. Enter collagen!

Hydrolyzed Collagen Powder Uses

Collagen powder won’t gel like regular gelatin, but it dissolves easily both in cold drinks (like smoothies) and hot drinks. I use it almost daily for protein and healthy fats added to:

Bonus: It’s not only good for you but adds a delicious creaminess and froth! We use collagen from both Bulletproof as well as Jigsaw Health. While the majority of collagen comes from bovine, there is marine collagen for anyone that needs the sourcing to come from fish or other marine life.

What We Do

We still drink bone broth regularly (either homemade or this brand). I also still use regular grass-fed gelatin in anything we need to “gel.” I’ve found that everyone in our family seems to digest the collagen hydrolysate/peptides form more easily, so now we use that most of the time for a quick boost of protein.

I’m curious- have you ever tried gelatin or collagen hydrolysate? How did it work for you? Share below!

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Scott Soerries, MD, Family Physician and Medical Director of SteadyMD. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

Collagen Hydrolysate is an easier to digest form of gelatin that does not gel but that contains essential amino acids like proline and glycine.
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


492 responses to “What Is Collagen Powder (& How to Use It)”

  1. Gabrielle Avatar

    I’ve read heating collagen like in my coffee, destroys the benefits!?

  2. Raquel Avatar

    Hi everyone,
    I have used Vital Proteins for a few years now, but with the ongoing destruction of the Amazon, I am really attempting to not support the cattle industry in Brazil. Is anyone aware of a bovine collagen protein that is not produced in Brazil? Primal Kitchen claims their product is from South America, but I presume that means Brazil as well. I am of course aware of marine collagen, but it is much more costly. Any information you have would be appreciated, as I would like to continue using collagen as a supplement. Thank you!

    1. Sydney Avatar

      That’s such an important consideration! What have you found out?

      1. Raquel Avatar

        Hi Sydney,

        I only last week noticed that on the Amazon page for Garden of Life’s collagen among the question section they seem to source from small farms in Germany. See company statement below:

        “Our Grass Fed Collagen Peptides are manufactured in the U.S.A. and we are currently sourcing our collagen from small farms in Germany. We went to Europe because GMOs are not allowed and the herds are much smaller and more traceable. In addition, they have strictly enforced guidelines regarding animal welfare and humane practices.”

        I purchased this product and it is great quality, and I am completely happy to use it after using Vital Proteins for years. I have been using it in coffee every morning and it dissolves fine with no taste, I won’t be going back.

        I have written to Vital Proteins several times to address the issue of Brazilian sourcing and the company’s potential impact on the Amazon destruction but I have never received a response.

        Here is the link in case you’d like to try the Garden of Life product.


  3. Mohammed Adel Avatar
    Mohammed Adel

    Marine Collagen Hydrolysate makes clumps when it dissolved in cold water is there any way to prevent these clumps?

  4. KATHY ramirez Avatar
    KATHY ramirez

    I am trying to make your lemon Bundt cake recipe. What can I substitute for the collagen if I don’t have any in my pantry? Can I use gelatin as an equal substitute? I’m in the middle of making it so a quick response would be helpful.

  5. Aline Avatar

    much enjoying your site. just wanted to note about collagen – as a breast cancer survivor, am concerned about the link found between collagen & cancer…

  6. Chelsey Avatar

    Great post! So I have a question… I have a 13 month old (my first and only child so far). Ya know when they turn one traditionally you’re suppose to start giving them whole milk? I’m not wanting to give her that much dairy. The only dairy I give her now is cheese and occasionally plain yogurt in smoothies. Can giving her collagen work in place of milk?

  7. Kristi Avatar

    Hi there! What is your opinion about adding a tiny little pinch of collagen into breast milk for babies? As way to enhance breast milk for babies who need higher calorie count without the extra volume ? As opposed to using formula added into breast milk.

  8. Dr. Arash Hakhamian Avatar
    Dr. Arash Hakhamian

    Your article has piqued my interest. This is definitely a thinker’s article with great content and interesting viewpoints. I agree in part with a lot of this content. Thank you for sharing this informational material.

  9. Matthew Avatar

    I have been using a reputable powder collagen for two months and have seen no improvement in my skin, hair or nails.
    I think it’s highly overrated and after doing further research it’s not I think I was suckered by my health food store rep?

  10. Olivia Avatar

    I bought collagen powder on Amazon a few weeks ago and when I put it in regular cold water it was a gross after-taste and takes a while to dissolve. I also tried putting some in my iced tea today and it balled up and did not dissolve. Is there a difference in brands? Am I doing something wrong?

  11. Alyssa Avatar

    Hi Katie,

    I’ve been following your blog for a long time and appreciate your insights and well-researched recommendations! I have been taking collagen peptides for a while now, and consider it a staple part of my diet. I start every morning with a cup of tea + peptides. I’ve reading about some potential side effects of taking collagen peptides without proper supplementation of tryptophan. Is this something you’ve read about or have an opinion on? I’m trying to figure out if I should supplement my peptides with tryptophan, but there seems to be a lot of unclear info out there about this. I have noticed some subtle but consistent changes in my mood over the past couple of years and don’t want to immediately attribute it to this, but thought it could be an interesting link given that I do take collagen peptides almost religiously every day. Any thoughts/insights would be much appreciated!

  12. Suzette Avatar

    I am curious why you chose this brand since it isn’t certified organic? Do you know the company owners personally or have a reason to trust them? I sure like the price better than the certific organic collagen powders!

  13. David Avatar

    Can’t you make jello plain gelatin & put it in liquid or cook it according to the box? It would seem you could get something simple from the grocery store instead of having to send off for something, especially people who are disabled & are on a fixed income. Thanks.

  14. Joy Avatar

    Would this be safe for children between the ages of 13-16 that are active in sports for joint and muscle recovery after work outs?

  15. Laurie Avatar

    Should collagen powder have any smell to it? I bought a very well known, high end collagen powder from grass-fed cows that has a “Cow Smell” to it. Its a bit funky and since I have never tested collagen powder before I have no idea if this is normal or not. It has no color and I didn’t taste anything when it was put in juice. However, a bit later I had a horrible headache and thats not a normal issue. I am not sure if they were connected or not and thought I would ask this question before trying this again.

  16. Emilie Avatar

    Hello! Any advice on how much collagen kids can consume a day. Both kiddos have Lyme and I know from my experience that collagen really helped with my articulations and joints. Any help would be very appreciated 🙂

  17. Julie Avatar

    Lysine…. not glycine.
    When you consume collagen it’s broken down in the body as amino acids and our body decides where the AA’s need to go to build bigger proteins. There’s nothing that tells these specific AA’s that they need to go directly to the skin to make collagen. Simple digestion Your body is better off with eating high quality protein in the form of FOOD and Vitamin C which are both needed for your body to make its own collagen. It is basically very expensive protein powder. Just another thing to sell. EAT REAL FOOD. But, to each their own!

  18. Lee Avatar

    hello there! i am wondering about adding collagen /gelatin to say, beauty products. i want to make a gel deodorant with the collagen as the gelling agent. i have been researching this for a few days now, really haven’t found anything! just as a diy’er…do you think it would work? any thoughts on which collagen or gelatin to use? lol any thoughts you have on my lil idea would be awesome! thank you!

  19. Jessica Avatar

    How young were your kids when you started them on collagen? Thanks, great article!!

  20. Sheila Avatar

    I use collagen peptides in my coffee and in smoothies almost daily. A little grass fed butter and coconut oil with collagen makes my coffee smooth and creamy! My mom started using it recently, and it’s helped her broken arm heal more quickly than expected. She has also commented that the skin on her arms is noticeably less crepe-y over the past few months.

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