Research-Based

What is Marine Collagen?

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By Meghan Stoops, RDN

Reviewed by Juliana Tamayo, MS, RDN - Last Updated

what is marine collagen

For some, they’ve only heard of collagen peptides from the commercial with Jennifer Aniston. If taking collagen supplements makes me look like that, sign me up! 

But there are many different types. Marine collagen, for example, comes from the skin and bones of various fish. But what is it, and should we be taking it?

What is Collagen?

Collagen is a valuable protein found in the connective tissue of humans and other animals. It accounts for 30% of your body’s total protein, and it plays many vital roles in the human body. 

Collagen helps to provide strength and elasticity to our skin, replace dead skin cells, help with blood clotting, and help create protective layering for our internal organs.

There are 28 different types of collagen, all with special roles in the body. Of the 28, there are 5 main types, collagen I, II, III, IV, and V with type I making up 90% of the body’s total collagen. This is the type that provides structure to your skin, bones, and ligaments.

As you get older, your collagen levels decrease. This can lead to saggy skin and achy joints.

Because of this, it’s no wonder researchers have investigated supplemental collagen. Although the research is still lacking, the results from current studies show promise. 

What is Marine Collagen?

Collagen can come from many different sources, including cows, pigs, poultry, and fish.

Marine collagen is derived from the skin, scales, and bones of various fish. These can either be wild-caught or from a fish farm.

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Commercial marine collagen is typically from fresh-water fish, such as Tilapia or Pangasius, a type of large catfish.

You can get marine collagen from food sources. Choose fish that allow you to eat most, if not all, of the fish, such as sardines. 

You can also get collagen from consuming the skin of various fish, such as salmon.

Marine Collagen vs. Bovine Collagen

The main difference between collagen that comes from fish and one that comes from cows is the types of collagens they are made up of and not much else. 

For example, research has found marine collagen to help boost collagen I and II in the body, whereas bovine collagen helps to boost collagen I and III.

Both sources of collagen provide similar benefits for your hair, skin, and nails due to their collagen I content.

Marine collagen is still being researched. However, it has shown promise in bone tissue regeneration and wound healing, among other potential benefits.

Bovine collagen tends to be more budget-friendly than marine collagen however, marine collagen contains higher levels of the amino acid glycine. 

Glycine is an essential amino acid in the structure of collagen. 

Some studies have found increasing glycine in the diet has the potential to help increase collagen synthesis and increase cartilage regeneration in those with osteoporosis.

Benefits of Marine Collagen

Unfortunately, there is a lack of evidence to support the benefits of taking marine collagen or any source of collagen supplements currently.

While there are several small studies, they are lacking in randomized controlled trials (the gold standard for testing the effectiveness of medications). This isn’t to say collagen supplements are not effective. However, more research is needed to conclusively determine the benefits.

Of the studies available, supplemental collagen is possibly effective for improving skin hydration and elasticity and relieving pain, and improving joint function in people with osteoarthritis.

Marine Collagen Supplements 

Collagen supplements have grown in popularity over recent years because of their many purported health benefits. 

Marine collagen supplements can be found in powder, capsule, or pill form. Some marine collagen supplements only contain marine collagen. You can read reviews of some popular ones below:

You can also find supplements that incorporate different types of collagen, such as marine, bovine, and chicken collagen. You can read reviews of some popular ones below:

Marine collagen peptides are more easily absorbed as they are broken down into smaller molecules. These are sometimes sold as hydrolyzed collagen; however, they are the same thing.

Collagen also requires other nutrients to support its structure, including vitamin C, zinc, copper, and manganese. Some supplements might include these nutrients as well.

Marine collagen supplements will likely list the directions for use on the package. There is currently no recommended dosage for collagen of any kind. 

Always speak with your healthcare provider before adding a supplement to your diet. 

Conclusion

Marine collagen is collagen that comes from marine sources, such as the skin, scales, and bones of various fish.

Although it comes from a different source, marine collagen is very similar to other types of collagen, including bovine collagen. Both might provide benefits for your hair, skin, and nails.

Marine collagen is typically more expensive than bovine collagen and is available in many forms. You can also get it directly from your diet by eating the bones and skin of fish.

Although there are many promising studies on marine collagen, further research is still needed to provide definitive evidence of its possible health benefits.