Gelatin is a protein substance used to thicken liquids. It does not have a color, smell, or taste. It comes from boiling animal tissues such as beef bones, cartilage, tendons, and pig skin. Gelatin is used in many kinds of food products and drug and supplement products. Common examples of foods that contain gelatin are gelatin desserts, jelly, trifles, aspic, marshmallows, and candies such as "peeps" and gummy bears. Gelatin may be used to add thickness or texture to foods, finishing agents, ice cream, jams, yogurt, cream cheese, fruit juices, wine, beer, or margarine. Different types and grades of gelatin are used in a wide range of food and nonfood products.
In the pharmaceutical industry, gelatin is used as the substance that holds the active drug in vaccines and other medications. It is also used as a binder for tablets and suppositories. Gelatin capsules (gelcaps) are often used to hold various foods, nutritional supplements, and medicines.
In medicine, gelatin is taken by mouth for conditions like joint disease, arthritis (joint stiffness and inflammation), osteoporosis (weakening of the bones), skin and hair care, and weight loss. Early information suggests that an agent that contains gelatin with fresh frozen plasma (a blood substitute) may help prevent death in premature infants.
More research is needed on the effect of gelatin for use in disease conditions.
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These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
There are few studies about the use of progelatin for hair growth. Early research suggests that it improves hair growth by increasing the thickness of the hair fibers. More well-designed studies are needed before conclusions can be made.
Infant mortality (infant death)
There are few studies about the use of a gelatin-based blood substitute to help prevent infant death. Early research suggests that it may decrease the number of deaths in children. More well-designed studies are needed before conclusions can be made.
There are few studies about the use of gelatin for joint pain. Early research suggests that it helped to make knee joints more flexible and decrease pain of the knee joints of athletes. More well-designed studies are needed before conclusions can be made.
There are few studies about the use of gelatin for skin care. Early research suggests that skin moisture was increased and harmful oxygen chemicals in the blood were decreased. More well-designed studies are needed before conclusions can be made.