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.
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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