The topic of fish and marine collagen in skin care has resurfaced recently. Let’s dive in and explore the fish tales and truths of the matter! The first thing to note is that there is a significant difference in effectiveness between applying fish collagen topically and oral collagen supplements. Let’s break up the topics starting with food and supplements and then move into topical treatments.
Marine Collagen Supplements for Anti-aging
In several small clinical studies, oral collagen supplements were found to improve dermal moisture content, elasticity, microcirculation, wound healing, and reduce inflammation. This is really good news! Fish (or marine) collagen is a complex protein extracted from the skin of fish that can be eaten to improve our skin and bone health. This protein is absorbed more efficiently into the body than other animal-based collagens because of its small molecular size. Compared to bovine (beef) collagen, fish collagen also has a higher proportion of Type I vs Type III proteins.
Marine Collagen Powder
I found several recipes that use fish collagen powder to avoid pill-based supplements. Add these collagen powders to foods such as salad dressing, sauces, soups and smoothies. Additionally, bovine gelatin powder can be used as a thickener and works well as an egg replacement.
After ingestion, most scientists believe that collagen is hydrolyzed (broken down) into amino acids. This occurs in the gastrointestinal tract (GI). Afterwards, the amino acids are absorbed into the blood and then deposited into skin cells as building material.
Best Type of Marine Oral Collagen Supplement
I noticed that some advertisers mention that their supplements are only from fish skin and not scales. After reading about the difference between the two I found the effects are the same with both. Whether you buy an oral collagen supplement made with fish skin or scales you will still benefit from collagen Type I which is the most important to skin health.
It’s always good to run things by your doctor especially if you buy a blend of collagen, plus other supplements. However, if you follow the directions on the bottle, you should take a couple of things into consideration: For example, in several studies, 3-10 grams of an oral collagen supplement per day is ideal. This is equal to at least 3000 mg daily. Now, factor in the serving size, the number of capsules and the cost per bottle. I sifted through many options and finally settled on one brand named Collazing Marine Collagen with 120 capsules and a recommendation to take 4 per day. Other, more inferior products, suggest taking 6 capsules per day because of their lower concentration per capsule.
As this diagram demonstrates, once you’ve consumed collagen it breaks down into absorb-able collagen peptides and amino acids which then turn into useful peptides that benefit the body. Recent evidence suggests that some collagen is absorbed directly into the blood and is transported directly to the skin demonstrating that fish and marine collagen works well for skin care.
Topical Marine Collagen Skin Care
So, let’s get to the question of whether or not topical marine collagen works well in skin care. Right off the bat, I would have to say no and this is why. Imagine taking a dollop of collagen cream, applying it to your cheek and seeing it suddenly plump up. It would be great! Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen, not even a little bit. Collagen does not penetrate the skin topically due to its molecular size. It sits on the top of the skin and may feel slippery and creamy, but that’s as far as it goes.
In closing, my recommendation would be to bypass any skin care product claiming to have marine collagen. Alternatively, there are plenty of other types of marine extracts that do work well for beauty purposes. If you’re a pescatarian or omnivore, taking marine collagen supplements would be the way to go for anti-aging purposes.