What is Fish or Marine Collagen? Proven Benefits for Skin and Joints
What is Collagen
Collagen has become more popular in recent times especially in the world of beauty. What at all is collagen? What is marine collagen and why is it important?
Collagen can be defined as a tough, insoluble protein that is found throughout the body in the connective tissues that hold muscles and organs in place. Within the tendons and ligaments, collagen transmits the force from muscles to bones and stores elastic energy. Simple human activities like walking would not be possible without these properties. Collagen can be found in all parts of the body and within the skin, it supports the epidermis, which is the outermost layer of the skin.
The skin is also made up of elastin which is a similar protein that helps keep the skin flexible. It is what allows the skin to spring back into place when stretched.
As we age, the strength and functions of collagen and elastin fade, giving rise to wrinkles and sagging skin. This is the reason why treatments for wrinkles and folds on the skin are designed to restore collagen, fat, and other support structures that have been lost or possibly damaged.
Other factors that can decrease collagen levels in the skin include
- UV rays that penetrate the skin causing damage to collagen-producing fibroblast cells
- Free radicals from UV exposure can damage the collagen strands and stimulate collagenase activity, which leads to the formation of irregular collagen linkages that weaken the skin. Applying sunscreen can help prevent this from happening
- Mechanical stress on the skin which results from regular wrinkle-causing behaviors can also break down collagen in the skin
- As we age, the synthesis of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) decreases, affecting the moisture levels in the dermis and as a result, collagen becomes brittle and prone to breakage
Types of Collagen
Collagens occur in all shapes, sizes, and forms but only four types account for over 90% of all the collagen in the body. These four types are Collagen Type 1, Type 2, Type 3, and Type 4.
Type 1 collagen can be found in skin, tendons, capillaries and veins, bone and organs. Collagen Type 1 is also known to be the most abundant protein in mammals. It has outstanding mechanical properties and it is present in almost every extracellular tissue with mechanical function. Type 2 collagen is the main component of cartilage in the body while Type 3 is found in reticular fibres. Type 4 collagen is the mainstay of the cell membrane.
Other types of collagen are Types 5 to 11 and do not occur as much as Types 1 to 4 in the body.
Collagen is the major structural protein found in the skin and bones of all animals and they serve as potential sources of collagen for the cosmetics and biomedicals industries. Marine collagen is obtained from marine sources primarily from fish scales, skin, and bones. They have become more popular than mammalian collagen for different reasons.
Marine collagen is known to be relatively cheaper than mammalian (bovine, etc) and also has lower viscosity when compared to other types of collagen. Viscosity refers to the thickness of fluid and marine collagen is typically more fluid than other types of collagen.
Marine collagen is also more soluble in water and dissolves easily. As a result, marine collagen powder will dissolve better in liquids without forming lumps. Also, fish or marine collagen have a relatively lower risk of carrying unknown and unwanted pathogens as compared to those of mammalian sources.
In general, marine collagen is found to be about 60% purer than bovine collagen and much safer.
Other commercial collagen supplements on the market are derived from bovine skin, pigskin, and chicken waste.
In the beauty and cosmetic industry, marine collagen is used as an excellent ingredient for various products. Its anti-aging and anti-wrinkling properties make it a suitable ingredient for the development of creams or gels with high moisturizing action
Marine collagen supplements are sold either as liquid, capsules or in powder form. According to Applied Market Research, powder form of hydrolised collagen supplement accounted for the highest hydrolysed collagen market share in 2018. This may be because like hydrolised marine collagen powder, hydrolised collagen digests easily and is more readily absorbed into the body. Also, because of its tasteless nature, marine collagen powder can be added to water, coffee, smoothies, juices and other foods and drinks.
Health Benefits of Marine Collagen
1. Collagen supports and improves healthy skin – Collagen is widely known for the benefits it provides to the skin. It helps improve the skin texture, structure, and tone as well as reducing skin wrinkling. A research study that was carried out to determine whether an oral nutritional supplement drink containing hydrolyzed collagen and other specific ingredients reported to have antiageing properties, would have a positive effect on skin wrinkling, elasticity and hydration concluded that oral nutritional supplement consisting of hydrolyzed collagen, hyaluronic acid, and essential vitamins and minerals, leads to a significant improvement in wrinkle depth.
Another study that looked oral supplementation of collagen hydrolysate concluded that after 4 weeks of use or treatment, a statistically significantly higher skin elasticity level was determined in elderly women. Skin moisture and skin evaporation also improved as part of the treatment. This research was carried out on 69 women aged 35-55 for 8 weeks where patients received 2.5g or 5.0g of collagen hydrolysate.
2. Collagen helps relieve joint paint – Joint pains and joint-related problems used to be accepted as part of getting older. Though partly true, today, you can find ways of improving and supporting joint-related pains. Just like the skin, the bones in the body are made up o the layers; cortical bone and trabecular bone. The mix of these two bone types helps determine the bone’s strength. Similarly, the joints are also made up of various components that perform different roles. The joint is made up of synovial fluid, ligaments, tendons and cartilage. Cartilage is a group of tissues produced by chondrocytes that are characterized by a relative lack of vascularity and consists of cells surrounded by a specialized extracellular matrix composed predominantly of type II collagen and proteoglycan. The preservation and health of cartilage are paramount to joint health.
A 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain reported that an improvement of joint pain in athletes who were treated with collagen hydrolysate supplement. There is also significant evidence that suggests that collagen hydrolysate can be considered as an option in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Another study that looked at the effects of oral administration of Type 2 collagen on rheumatoid arthritis found that there was a decrease in the number of swollen joints and tender joints for patients or candidates that had taken chicken type 2 collagen for 3 months.
Other benefits of Collagen are
- Collagen helps reduce bone mass
- Collagen may help reduce cellulite and stretch marks
- Collagen helps maintain skin hydration, skin radiance and helps reduce wrinkles
- Helps support healthy hair, nails and teeth
In simple terms collagen is a protein made up of amino acids. It has become widely accepted for the role it plays in maintaining healthy skin. Collagen is also useful in helping to reduce joint pain. Marine collagen which is a type of collagen obtained from marine sources such as fish scales and bones has also become popular because of its availability and how it easily dissolves in a fluid.
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