As a supplement, hydrolyzed gelatin is used to strengthen connective tissue and bones, and it may help heal cartilage and bone injuries as well. Further, hydrolyzed gelatin can help athletes avoid mishaps like sprains and tendonitis that occur when joints are overused.
Some supplement retailers suggest it may encourage the body to burn fats rather than proteins or carbohydrates for energy from food, thereby facilitating weight loss. Furthermore they say, hydrolyzed gelatin is said to help maintain lean muscle mass, which also promotes weight loss. There is no evidence any of this is true (one product making such claims — Body Solutions — was sued by the FTC for making false and unsubstantiated claims).
Hydrolyzed gelatin is an incomplete protein.
However, it is one of the best sources of the amino acids (protein building blocks) that comprise collagen.
These are glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, lysine and hydroxylysine. Hydrolyzed gelatin is therefore believed to be an excellent source of concentrated nourishment for bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, cartilage and skin.
It is widely used in Europe as a treatment for arthritis and osteoporosis. Studies conducted in Germany and the Czech Republic support the use of hydrolyzed gelatin to treat these conditions. In one study, supplements of 7-10 grams of HCP per day were associated with a decrease in pain and stiffness in joints, and subjects reported that it was as effective as acetaminophen in relieving arthritic pain.
In addition, a German study suggested that supplements of hydrolyzed gelatin may slow the progression of osteoporosis. It may also help speed recovery from strenuous athletic training or sports injuries.
Hydrolyzed gelatin is used in cooking and to make the coating for supplements and medications that come in capsule or tablet form. It is also used in conditioners for hair and fingernails because of its strengthening properties. A dry powder form of hydrolyzed gelatin is created from bone and cartilage by crushing and defatting it and then processing it to remove calcium and break the collagen bonds.
The product is then dehydrated to form a powder that can be reconstituted. Hydrolyzed gelatin is a food product, so it is not associated with any side effects or drug interactions and there are no specific dosage recommendations. When used topically in hair or nail conditioners, it may cause skin irritations in people who are allergic to it.
A major benefit of using hydrolyzed gelatin as a supplement for joint and bone health is that it is much less expensive than other popular supplements used for the same purpose, such as glucosamine and chondroitin. While there are more studies supporting the use of glucosamine and chondroitin, it should be noted that these two substances work on a different part of cartilage structure than HCP.
Both anecdotal and clinical evidence support the efficacy of hydrolyzed gelatin in helping to strengthen and repair damage to joints and cartilage, and it may be more effective than glucosamine and chondroitin for people who need its particular mechanism of action.
If you’re looking to experiment with hydrolyzed gelatin, check out Elasti-Joint—it contains 5000 mg per serving (in addition to chondroitin and glucosamine). It’s available from one of our recommended online retailers, BodyBuilding.com.