Everyone's drinking marine collagen all of a sudden. But they might want to read this first.

Dissolving processed fish parts in your morning smoothie or soup at night doesn’t sound super appealing. But celebs are raving about marine supplements, Jennifer Aniston and Kourtney Kardashian have both said it’s their anti-ageing secret. But, let’s back it up a little… When did processed fish powder become so sexy?

What is marine collagen, exactly?

Collagen is the most frequently occurring protein in our body and it’s the major building block for our skin, bones, tendons and cartilage. As we grow older, the rate at which our bodies produce collagen begins to slow down and eventually stops all together. The age that this starts happening does vary from one to the next, but for most of us, it begins around our mid-20s, but it could start earlier with exposure to factors like smoking and UV light. Decreased collagen production is a natural part of ageing and is shown in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, thinning hair, brittle nails and decreased muscle tone.

Marine collagen, as the name suggests, is derived from deep sea or freshwater fish. It comes from the parts that would usually be discarded during processing, the scales and skin. The collagen peptides are then processed into a tasteless, easily dissolvable powder, a popular new supplement on market.


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When did it get so popular?

Using collagen to fight the signs of ageing isn’t anything new and it’s been used previously as an ingredient in skincare in topical creams and lotions. The reason, I think, marine collagen supplements are now in the spotlight is due to a recent shift in society. People seem to be wanting a more natural, holistic approach to health and wellbeing, with many now wanting to start the ‘healing’ process within the body.

There are many supposed benefits of consuming collagen, with the majority of marine collagen supplement providers advertising stronger hair and nails, younger looking skin, and improved joint health. Some brands also hint at improved gut health, reduced cellulite and treatment for acne. Beef/bovine collagen is also sold in a similar supplement format and advertises similar perks. The reason we’re seeing more marine collagen supplement powders than bovine on the market is that fish collagen peptides are smaller, making them easier to digest.



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Does marine collagen actually work?

Despite the life-changing promises made by these collagen providers, there is currently very limited evidence out there to support the claims. As marine collagen is so new, there are little studies which either support or refute the benefits of consuming collagen for the body. There is a small amount of evidence, which has shown benefits in improved skin elasticity and a reduction in joint pain, when the marine collagen was consumed for at least eight weeks. Studies which focus on the benefit of the supplement for gut health, muscle repair and acne are yet to be proven scientifically.

That’s not to say there isn’t a benefit from marine collagen to the body, there just needs to be more research done. Over-consumption may lead to side effects like hypercalcaemia (high blood calcium levels) and hypersensitivity if you have existing allergies, particularly to eggs or shellfish.

It isn’t all bad news however, collagen peptides do contain amino acids that are needed for the body’s daily growth and development, so it does hold potential to be a viable alternative to protein powders. The powder is very high in protein and contains minimal additional ingredients, most don’t contain added flavour or chemicals, so may be a more ‘natural’ alternative to protein supplements. If you are interested in marine collagen, I’d suggest you look for a brand which is hydrolysed, meaning it will be easier to digest.



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So, what’s the verdict?

It’s undoubtable that we have collagen in our bodies and our bodies do produce less with age, but there is currently insufficient evidence supporting the claim our bodies can use edible collagen to replenish our stores. I’m like  more studies to be published as I think it’s an innovative product that does hold potential. I’d also like to see these supplements compared to the amounts of collagen found in other animal proteins.

Until then, I’d suggest you don’t rely on it and stick to a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, lean protein and healthy fats. Eating across all food groups provides a broad array of nutrients with plenty of naturally occurring anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

Have you tried taking marine collagen powder as a supplement? What did you think? Tell us in a comment below.

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