What is Gelatin Made of?


Q: I love goodies! I feel less guilty indulging in those that are relatively fat free such as gummy bears, licorice, wine gums, etc. and feel that I am better off at least in escaping the unwanted pounds. I noticed that many such goodie products contain gelatin. What's gelatin made of? Is it bad for you? Is gelatin natural? Is there a difference between a natural/organic product made with gelatin vs. a conventional product with gelatin as its ingredient? -Kim

What type of substance is Gelatin?

A: Gelatin is commonly used in foods, nutritional supplements (gel caps), drugs, and photographic film. It is a colorless protein formed by boiling the specially prepared hides, bones, and connective tissue (tendons) of animals. There are no known drug or nutrient interactions associated with gelatin, but some people are allergic to gelatin made from cows. There are some health benefits to using gelatin. Two of the amino acids (proteins) found in gelatin are substances the human body uses to make collagen, a primary component of connective tissues such as cartilage. Though there is little evidence, theoretically, gelatin might play a role in rebuilding arthritic joints and promoting the growth of healthy skin and nails.

Vegetarian alternatives to gelatin include the seaweed, Agar-Agar, kuzu root, guar gum, and carrageenan. Kosher gelatin is available also and should be indicated on labels.

Bottom line

Gelatin is a natural substance that may help strengthen your skin, nails, and bones. If you are vegetarian, vegan, or keep kosher, read labels carefully.

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Lisa has been in her own practice for over 15 years and specializes in weight management. She teaches natural nutrition in both corporate and educational environments and is a shining example of someone who practices what she teaches. Lisa is a nutritionist and educator specializing in weight management. After losing weight several years ago through a more natural diet and by improving her digestion, she committed to sharing her new-found knowledge and returned to school to study nutrition. Over the past decade, her Nu-Vitality Weight Program has helped employees at numerous corporations lose thousands of pounds. In addition, Lisa regularly consults for groups and individuals with unique nutritional needs such as police officers and athletes. Lisa has been featured on the Discovery Channel, numerous radio programs and is a contributor to various publications. Additionally, she teaches nutrition at multiple post-secondary schools, has taught natural food cooking workshops, and authored two books.