Understanding Marine Collagen benefits doesn’t help you when selecting the supplement
Marine Collagen Benefits: How to Choose the best Marine Collagen Product
It’s relatively easy to decide whether or not to start taking marine collagen.
But deciding which one? Ooh, trickier. And then, why marine collagen? Why not collagen from other sources? What are marine collagen benefits? Time to answer those questions.
Collagen products are not all created equal. There are dozens (hundreds?) from which to choose, and dozens of suppliers. Each one has its own set of benefits and features. It can feel overwhelming.
This article is a simple guide intended to make the process easy, and focuses specifically on marine collagen.
Marine Collagen Benefits - the details:
First of all … the evidence is not comprehensive
It’d be wonderful to be able to say there are millions of studies out there documenting the health benefits of collagen (and specifically, marine collagen) supplements.
Sorry. Can’t do that.
There is, however, considerable evidence that is at least modest, significant, and well-documented.
Here are the health benefits attributed to marine collagen:
Skin elasticity, wrinkles and appearance of ageing
Collagen is a protein, found and used in the skin, hair, nails, tendons, joints, and muscles.
It helps keep your skin elastic and stretchy. And you lose approximately 1% of it every year of your life. It’s part of the ageing process, and makes your skin look wrinkly and droopy in places.
Boosting the collagen in your skin just reverses the appearance of decline, and brings strength where it was lost.
Hair and nail strength improve
In exactly the same way, collagen is what helps keep your hair and nails strong. And you lose 1% of this per year, too.
So boosting collagen in your hair and nails makes them less prone to fraying and splintering.
Joint pain reduces
Many people who suffer from arthritis or other joint pain report feeling less pain when taking collagen.
Muscle and muscle strength
Higher protein intake generally will boost muscle mass and strength. Collagen, being a protein, will contribute to this, although collagen alone is not the most effective protein to do this with.
Blood sugar and insulin in diabetics
There is small evidence that blood sugar and insulin levels in diabetics will improve with collagen intake. However, the key word there is small.
The collagen source
Collagen supplements are extracted from animals. So if you are on a vegan diet, collagen supplements of any kind are not for you.
If you’re not vegan, the animal source might matter if you have any food allergies or other diet restrictions. Those allergic to fish, for example, must steer clear of marine collagen, whereas for kosher dieters it’s about the only collagen source they can consider.
How to choose which marine collagen?
Now that you know marine collagen benefits, here are the factors to consider when selecting a marine collagen product:
Where do the fish come from? Freshwater or seawater? And what species of fish?
You might be allergic to the latter, but not the former. Or to a specific species of fish, or to shellfish. (Shellfish allergies are quite common, so you want a supplement that is very clearly labelled Shellfish-Free.)
If freshwater, have the fish been farmed or wild-caught?
This makes a difference to some people who think farmed fish are susceptible to fungi or diseases that spread easily in confined spaces.
Scientifically proven results (studies) from third parties
It’s easy to make a claim that sounds convincing. But can they back it up?
If their product has been verifiably third-party-tested, they can. And you can check them on it. You can follow the trail of evidence yourself.
You might decide you don’t find the evidence convincing, but at least with third-party-test results, you can be sure the numbers haven’t just been invented by a smooth talker.
Partially- or fully-hydrolyzed?
With partially-hydrolyzed collagen, the protein chains have been stretched out and somewhat swollen with water. This forms a gelatin, which will be more easily absorbed by the digestive tract.
With fully-hydrolyzed collagen, the protein chains are broken down further, making them (so the theory goes) more absorbable still. However, the scientific evidence for this is modest and incomplete.
Are you suspicious of companies doing genetic meddling with the food you eat?
If the product is tagged as non-GMO, it means that no genetic engineering techniques have been applied anywhere in production of the collagen supplement.
Your body needs small quantities of some metals to function properly.
Very small quantities. Of specific metals, eg zinc, iron, calcium, potassium, and a few others. They are comparatively low-molecular-weight metals that exist commonly throughout nature.
Higher-molecular-weight metals, or heavy metals, do not occur commonly in nature.
And they are harmful to nature (and to life). Examples include lead, mercury and cadmium. Lead, for example, is linked with Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s not normal for such metals to be found in fish, but neither is it uncommon.
You want to be sure whatever fish-derived (ie marine) collagen supplement you buy has been verified to contain acceptably-low levels of heavy metals.
Your body needs antibiotics … when you’re fighting an life-threatening infection (and only when).
Any other time, they’re undesirable. Reason: They train the nasties to resist them in the future. It’s tempting for supplement producers to fight infection in the fish antibiotics - it keeps production (and revenues) up. But if collagen is extracted from those fish, the antibiotics make their way into you.
You want a product that has not been produced using antibiotics in any way.
Hormones and Preservatives
Same argument applies here for hormones and preservatives.
They help suppliers with production rates and profits, but at a cost to your health.
The List of Ingredients
Is it a long list? Of complicated-sounding ingredients?
Or just a handful of simple, easy-to-understand ones? (Maybe only one.) The more ingredients there are, the more complicated the process has been to create the product. Sometimes, you need that, but not always.
What are those additional ingredients? Why are they there?
What do they do? Does the label on the bottle tell you, in plain terms? If you are buying marine collagen, you really only need one ingredient: collagen, derived from farmed or wild-caught fish.
Flavour & smell
Given the source of marine collagen, it would be natural for collagen to carry a hint of fish flavour or odour.
But if it’s been processed properly, it shouldn’t. In which case, the label should clearly say No fish flavour or smell (or similar).
In some marine collagen products, artificial flavouring may have been added. This is likely to mask a fish flavour that the manufacturer has not eliminated. In this case, the specific flavouring ingredient should be listed on the label (or at a minimum, the words “artificial flavouring”).
Marine collagen generally is available only in capsule or powder form. Which do you prefer?
With powder, your dosage is flexibly adjustable - just take a bit less (or more) than recommended. Health benefits are also typically faster with higher dosages, and some people dislike swallowing capsules.
With capsules, there is no measuring of powder to do - just swallow a capsule with water.