How are hydrolysed collagen peptides absorbed and why does it matter? Let's ask the expert.
This article was guest written by our in-house nutritionist, Jade Leighton BA Hons DipION mBANT rCNHC.
Hunter & Gather Hydrolysed Collagen Peptides
Hunter & Gather powdered collagen peptides have already been through a hydrolysis process which breaks down very large collagen molecules into tiny molecules - known as collagen peptides.
These have a very small molecular weight, which means some of the heavy lifting has already been done in terms of preparing the collagen for absorption!
How are hydrolysed collagen peptides absorbed? 🤔
When the collagen peptides reach the small intestine, digestive enzymes break them down into shorter peptides (chains of protein molecules) and individual amino acids ready for absorption. Then tiny hair-like structures called microvilli on the gut lining help your body absorb these nutrients into the bloodstream.
Once in the bloodstream, the peptides and amino acids travel to your liver through the portal vein. The liver uses the amino acids for a number of purposes and controls the release of amino acids into the circulation.
At this point, dedicated transporters help the short peptides and amino acids to travel to cells, so that your body can use them for protein synthesis. This is the process of building new proteins, including endogenous collagen production.
Do other nutrients affect collagen absorption? 🌱
In terms of nutrients that can impact the absorption of protein, there are certain plant foods which have substances that can make it harder for our bodies to break down and use protein.
Foods like legumes, cereals, potatoes and tomatoes have inhibitors that can block enzymes in our digestive system, making it more difficult for us to digest and absorb the protein they provide - and potentially protein consumed alongside them.
- Grains and legume seeds contain tannins, which are phytochemicals that can attach to proteins and digestive enzymes, hindering protein digestion
- Nuts, seeds, and grains contain phytic acid, which binds to minerals like calcium and zinc, essential for digestive enzymes, reducing the overall digestibility of protein in these foods
- Many plant proteins are surrounded by complex carbohydrates, such as fibre, which can create barriers for digestive enzymes trying to access the proteins
Nevertheless, no direct research has been done that looks at combining the consumption of collagen peptides with these types of foods, and whether any absorption is inhibited as a result.
Can other nutrients improve collagen absorption? 🥩
It’s worth noting that there is a nutrient that may improve the process of protein synthesis from collagen, and that’s pyridoxine - aka vitamin B6.
A key role of this vitamin is to help enzymes break down protein and carry amino acids to the bloodstream. This is the reason why it is suggested that inadequate consumption of B6 may impair protein synthesis in the body.
Key sources of vitamin B6 in the diet include meat (and liver), poultry, some fish like tuna and salmon, dairy, chickpeas and bananas.
I hope this article has helped to provide some insight into what hydrolysed collagen peptides are and how they're absorbed. If you are concerned about absorption being impacted then I would recommend having your collagen with water - hot or cold - or with additional protein and fat such as with yoghurt.
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