The bodies of all animals, including humans, contain large amounts of the protein collagen. Collagen is what adds structure and strength to skin, as well as to organs, bones, tendons and ligaments.
Marine collagen is a type of collagen protein sourced from fish and other sea life, such as jellyfish. It’s a growing market, with public demand increasing following a series of successful studies into its effectiveness.1,2
Marine collagen is known to have a high collagen content. It’s also absorbed well by the body and is considered eco-friendlier and more sustainable than other collagen sources.3
How is marine collagen created?
Marine collagen is derived from the skin, bones, and scales of fish. After the flesh of the fish is removed for food, the fish viscera (that’s everything that’s left!) is cleaned and the collagen is extracted.
Sometimes, the collagen is then hydrolysed, which means the long, rope-like chains are broken down into shorter chains which are easier for us to absorb through our gut and into our bloodstream. This process of hydrolysation can be done either chemically, using acids, or by physical methods e.g. heating.
What’s left is a concentrated collagen which is then sold in the form of marine collagen powder, or added to drinks, tablets or even coffee whitener.
Why take collagen?
The body has a remarkable ability to produce its own collagen – the protein which gives skin its bounce, elasticity and plumpness.
However, collagen synthesis (the process of combining different amino acids and components to make new collagen) declines as we age. Which is where marine collagen comes in.
What does marine collagen do?
Marine collagen is classified as a Type I collagen. Type I collagen the most abundant form of collagen in the body and is found in tendons, ligaments, skin, bones, teeth, hair and nails.
Marine collagen helps the skin repair itself.4 The trauma to the healthy tissues causes the growth of thick, fibrous tissues at the wound site, commonly known as scar tissue.
Marine collagen is thought to give your natural collagen production support by triggering your body to ramp up its collagen synthesis.
In 2016, researchers in Russia conducted a study which found that over 8 weeks of marine collagen supplementation, skin elasticity, sebum production, and skin thickness and skin density were ‘remarkably improved’.5
Why would you opt for marine vs any other type of collagen?
Fish collagen is one of the best collagen supplements for pescetarians, or for those who wish to avoid pork and beef-derived products.
Marine collagen comes from fish waste which might otherwise be discarded as a by-product of the fishing industry- which means it’s potentially the most sustainable, eco-friendly source of collagen.6
Marine collagen is also considered ‘cleaner’ than collagen from land animals, as there is a lower risk of contaminants and no chance of transmissible disease from a fish source.7
There are certain cultural and religious factors which could affect the suitability of bovine (cow-derived) or porcine (pig-derived) collagen. Therefore, marine collagen is the most consumer-friendly type across the world.8
As marine collagen is a type I collagen, it’s most suitable for promoting healthy skin and bones, and the best collagen powder for anti-ageing.9
Collagen from bovine and porcine sources is type II collagen – which is found in the cartilage. Therefore, bovine and porcine collagen is more suitable for people primarily concerned with joint health.
Finally, marine collagen is known for being bioavailable – which means we can absorb it into our bloodstream. This is because it has a low molecular weight and is able to pass through the gut lining.10
Last updated: 5 June 2020
3 Marine Collagen from Alternative and Sustainable Sources: Extraction, Processing and Applications. Mar. Drugs 2020, 18, 214; doi:10.3390/md18040214. mdpi.com/journal/marinedrugs
7 Marine Collagen from Alternative and Sustainable Sources: Extraction, Processing and Applications. Mar. Drugs 2020, 18, 214; doi:10.3390/md18040214. mdpi.com/journal/marinedrugs