Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Bone Broth vs. Collagen—A Nutritionist Settles This Health Debate

The elixir of health, beauty, and longevity. A steaming mug of minerals or a sleek scoop of protein? These two contenders are up for debate: bone broth and collagen. If you’ve wondered which deserves a place in your wellness routine, welcome. We’re breaking down the pros and cons of each. While there’s a good chance you’ve heard of both, the winner isn’t so black-and-white. Whether you’re a wellness newbie or a season aficionado, it’s time to settle the bone broth vs. collagen dispute—once and for all.

These two superstars promise radiant skin, sturdy joints, strong muscles, and a happy gut. But which one is right for you? Scroll to get the deets. We’re unveiling their benefits, versatility, cost-effectiveness, and more. Time to unlock the secrets to a healthier you.

What is bone broth?

Bone broth is a nutrient-rich liquid, derived from simmering animal bones (typically chicken, beef, or fish) along with vegetables, herbs, and spices. It’s a relatively slow and prolonged cooking process. In turn, the bones release their collagen and essential nutrients. The result: a savory and aromatic liquid—rich in flavor and health benefits. Bone broth is a natural source of everything from collagen and essential amino acids to B vitamins and minerals. This nutrient-dense liquid can support joint function, gut health, and skin appearance.

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What is collagen?

Collagen, on the other hand, plays a vital role in tissue support (think: skin, joints, and bones). It’s a protein derived from animal or marine sources—cow, chicken, fish, or pig collagen. Collagen supplements are available in various forms, including powders, capsules, and liquid. Ultimately, they’re designed to be easily incorporated into your daily routine. Collagen is touted for its potential to improve skin elasticity, joint mobility, and gut health.

Are collagen and collagen peptides the same thing?

Not quite. Collagen peptides are made by breaking down animal collagen through hydrolysis. So, while collagen is a complete protein, collagen peptides are fragments of that protein. Whole collagen is difficult for the body to digest or absorb, while collagen peptides are significantly more accessible for the body.

Why Sourcing Matters

When it comes to bone broth vs. collagen, sourcing is important. After all, pasture-raised and factory-farmed animals are not the same. Pasture-raised animal products offer superior nutrient profiles compared to their conventional counterparts.

These animals tend to have a diet rich in natural, nutrient-dense forage, resulting in bones and tissues with higher levels of the good stuff: essential vitamins and minerals. Additionally, they have lower exposure to antibiotics and hormones. Plus, these animals have less of an environmental impact. Moral of the story: when possible, choose pasture-raised!

Nutrient Content: Bone Broth vs. Collagen

With nutrient composition in mind, which comes out on top? In terms of nutrient diversity, bone broth wins. But for concentrated (specific) nutrients, collagen takes the cake.

Bone Broth

  • Pros: Thanks to bone broth’s slow cooking process, it’s a multitasker—extracting collagen, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. It’s a natural source of multiple nutrients.
  • Cons: The nutrient content in bone broth can vary (particularly due to sourcing, bone quality, and simmer time), and it may not be as concentrated in specific nutrients as collagen supplements.


  • Pros: Collagen supplements are available in a more concentrated form. They provide a precise dosage of collagen peptides, making it easier to control your intake.
  • Cons: They often lack the broad spectrum of nutrients found in bone broth.

Do you absorb bone broth or collagen better?

If you want to get the most bang of your nutrition buck, it’s important to understand bioavailability. In essence, bioavailability refers to your body’s ability to absorb and utilize nutrients. When it comes to collagen and bone broth, collagen supplements are designed for better absorption. In other words, they’re formulated to be highly bioavailable. While this means it’s easier for your body to absorb collagen peptides, it lacks the additional nutrients that bone broth contains.

Keep in mind that other schools of thought argue that because bone broth contains collagen in its natural form, it’s more readily absorbed than collagen peptides, thanks to the presence of other co-factors (minerals, amino acids, and vitamins). In summary? The jury’s still out.

Is bone broth easier to digest than collagen?

For many, yes! Bone broth is easy to digest due to its gentle, nourishing properties. It’s often recommended for those with digestive issues. Especially when aromatics, like ginger, are added to the simmering liquid, bone broth can soothe an upset stomach. While consuming it in excess may lead to discomfort, that’s quite rare. Collagen supplements are also well-tolerated, of course, but bloating or gas can be a potential side effect.

How to Add Bone Broth and Collagen to Your Diet

Is one more versatile than the other? Not distinctly. Bone broth can be used as a base for soups, stews, sauces, and sipped on its own. It adds a depth of flavor and nutrients to various dishes. Although preparing it homemade takes time, it’s fairly low effort (thanks to a slow-cooker or crockpot!). Collagen supplements are also multipurpose. You can easily add the powder to smoothies, teas, lattes, and soups. The unflavored variety will have a minimal impact your recipe’s taste and texture.

The Cost Equation

Making homemade bone broth is economical, especially if you use leftover bones from meals (like rotisserie chicken or bone-in chicken thighs). It’s a sustainable way to maximize the value of your ingredients. Plus, if you freeze your fridge scraps over time—like onion peels, carrot tops, and broccoli stalks—a nourishing bone broth comes together with a minimal, zero-waste cost!

On the flip side, collagen supplements can be more cost-effective. Particularly in terms of price per gram of collagen. After all, you’re paying for the specific nutrient you’re targeting. At the end of the day, it’s a toss up.

Bone Broth vs. Collagen: The Takeaway

In the bone broth vs. collagen debate, the best choice depends on your personal preference. Bone broth offers a broader spectrum of nutrients—and the satisfaction of a homemade, traditional approach—while collagen supplements provide a more convenient, precise, and bioavailable source of protein. Ultimately, each has its unique advantages. With circumstances in mind, base your decision on your specific dietary needs. In many cases, both provide a well-rounded approach to nourishing your body.

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