Last updated: October 27, 2020

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Collagen is one of the most vital proteins in our bodies. This molecule keeps our cartilage and joints healthy and gives our skin shine and elasticity. Unfortunately, the organism reduces its production of this incredible protein as we age. So, is it possible to stop this from happening?

While we cannot stop the passage of time yet, we can certainly try to mitigate its impact. Marine collagen is used to synthesize products that combat the loss of skin and joint elasticity. Are you eager to learn why marine collagen is different from more traditional supplements? Then keep reading our guide!

Key Facts

  • Marine collagen is obtained from the bones, scales, and skin of fish.
  • These supplements are as effective as other types of collagens, such as bovine collagen.
  • You have to evaluate various factors before making your purchase. These include your dietary restrictions, the origin of the product, as well as additional ingredients, among others.

Our Selection: The Best Marine Collagen Supplements on the U.S. Market

In the following section, you will discover our very own selection of the most popular marine collagen products currently available out there. We have chosen supplements that meet high-quality criteria and that have received high ratings from past consumers. Have a look at their descriptions below, and you might just find the right supplement for your needs!

Best Marine Collagen Supplement From Wild-Caught Fish

This non-GMO marine collagen supplement by Vital Proteins is a high-quality powder sourced from wild-caught cod.

Free of gluten and dairy, it is unflavored; that way, you can add it to your favorite hot or cold beverage. You can even put it in your morning coffee!

Best Value-For-Money Marine Collagen Powder

This Amazon’s Choice product is also sourced from wild-caught deep-sea fish from the North Atlantic region. It is 100% natural, gluten-free, and hydrolyzed to favor absorption by the body.

It is also the most affordable product of our selection. You are recommended to add the powder before the liquid to increase its solubility.

Best Marine Collagen Capsules

Now, some people are used to and prefer taking capsules. If that’s your case, this marine collagen supplement by Neocell is what you need. Each bottle contains 120 capsules, and you are advised to take 4 per day.

This means that you get one month of supplementation per product. Each pill also contains 20 milligrams of hyaluronic acid.

Best Marine Collagen Supplement for Sensitive Users

Last but not least, this marine collagen supplement is sourced from wild fish caught in Canadian waters.

This hormone- and antibiotic-free product is ideal for individuals that are prone to allergic reactions. Indeed, it contains no gluten, egg, dairy, shellfish, or soy, among others.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Marine Collagen

Marine collagen is obtained from the skin, scales, and bones of fish. Its function is identical to that of collagens of land-based origin (mainly bovine and porcine), although its effect on the skin may be more powerful. The popularity of marine collagen supplements is continually growing due to their sustainability and overall safety.

Couple drinking over seafood

Marine collagen may improve skin texture.
(Source: Goodluz: 41809600/ 123rf.com)

What is marine collagen exactly?

Simply put, collagen is the most abundant molecule in the human body. This protein stabilizes the tissues of our body, providing them with the resistance they need. Collagen actually refers to a family of proteins similar in composition, but different in structure. The most relevant are (1):

  • Type I: Plentiful in the skin, bone, tendons, teeth, and cornea, it prevents tissue damage when exposed to stretching processes.
  • Type II: This type of collagen is most often found in cartilage. It provides resistance to increases in joint pressure, helping maintain the integrity of these tissues.
  • Type III: It is present in blood vessels, skin, and glandular tissue. This molecule contributes to the support of various body organs while contributing to the elasticity of the skin.
  • Type V: This collagen is located between the organs, forming part of what we call the interstitial tissue. You can also find it in the placenta, where it is essential for successful pregnancies.
  • Type X: Bones and joints owe an important part of their resistance to this type of collagen.

Our organism can produce its own collagen through the use of several amino acids, including proline, lysine, and glycine. However, the synthesis of this protein decreases over the years.

This has been directly linked to the aging process of the skin and joints.

Some researchers have tried to use collagen as a nutraceutical, a beneficial nutrient taken as a supplement. By administering collagen exogenously, age-induced declines in collagen levels may be avoided. But do you know what the raw material origin of most collagen supplements is?

These products are obtained from other animals that also contain this protein in their bodies. In that regard, the inedible remains of cows and pigs are often used to produce these supplements. However, this protein can also be sourced from the bones and skin of fish, resulting in marine collagen products (2).

Fish & seafood

Unlike traditional collagen, marine collagen is obtained from the scales and bones of fish.
(Source: Raths: 37078334/ 123rf.com)

How does marine collagen differ from porcine or bovine collagen?

If you have already browsed the market for collagen supplements, you may have noticed that the products available are processed from different raw materials. Depending on the origin of the proteins, we can identify land-based collagen (bovine, porcine, or from poultry farming, among others) and marine collagen. We have listed their main specificities below (1, 2, 3):

  • Bovine collagen: Cow skin, cartilage, and bones are the main ingredients of these supplements. Bovine protein is rich in type I and III collagen and is generally used to treat the symptoms of osteoarthritis, accelerate tissue recovery, and improve skin texture.
  • Porcine collagen: Similar to bovine collagen, supplements sourced from pigskin and cartilage provide high amounts of type I and type III collagen. These products are most popular in the field of cosmetic surgery, where they are used as fillers for wrinkles, dark circles, and imperfections.
  • Other land-based collagens: Other sources of collagen include bird bones (mainly chicken and hen) or eggs. They are less popular than those derived from cows and pigs, often appearing as additional ingredients in supplements.
  • Marine collagen: The scales, bones, and skin of fish are processed to obtain these supplements. They are rich in type I collagen, which is why they are recommended as a dietary supplement to improve the appearance of the skin. Marine collagen may also help maintain bone and joint health.

Regardless of its origin, collagen will always have an effect on the organism. Whether you purchase a land-based or marine product is all up to you. The following factors, for example, are exceptionally important for some people (2):

  • Stress: Some see bovine collagen as a potential transmitter of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (mad cow disease). Current controls on supplement production have made the transmission of this disease almost impossible, but there are still consumers who feel safer by using marine collagen.
  • Nutritional preferences: Bovine and porcine collagen are generally subject to hydrolysis processes that make them hypoallergenic. However, people with severe food allergies may opt for marine collagen to avoid any type of food intolerance.
  • Ethics and religion: Personal preferences and beliefs are a crucial factor in the world of supplementation. Individuals who cannot consume pork or cow products will find marine collagen to be the best option.
  • Sustainability: Marine collagen could be a more environmentally-friendly raw material than land-based collagens. However, this statement requires further analysis to confirm it.

The truth is that marine collagen isn’t a higher-quality alternative to bovine or porcine collagen. Choose the supplement that best fits your needs and preferences. In the table below, we have summed up some data that you may find helpful in making your decision (2, 3, 4):

Porcine collagen Bovine collagen Marine collagen
Common uses Joint pain

Tissue repair

Skin elasticity

Digestive health

Aesthetic medicine

Joint pain

Tissue repair

Skin elasticity

Digestive health

Joint pain

Tissue repair

Skin elasticity

Bone health

Antioxidant

Benefits Hypoallergenic Additional protein contribution Hypoallergenic

Sustainable

Safe

Disadvantages Intolerance to the raw material Intolerance to the raw material

Disease transmission (extremely rare)

Intolerance to the raw material
Average price (ounce) $1.75 $1.50 $2.10

What are the benefits of using a marine collagen supplement?

These products will offer you all the advantages associated with traditional collagen dietary supplements. Marine collagen is most efficient in improving the complexion and texture of the skin and can reduce the appearance of expression lines. You can find its other benefits in the following list (5, 6, 7):

  • Joint pain relief: Consumption of marine collagen may improve joint pain caused by osteoarthritis, the process of chronic degeneration of joint cartilage. Athletes who suffer from joint discomfort due to physical activity may also benefit from its use.
  • Increase in bone density: Several studies have demonstrated that marine collagen supplements could increase bone density. This is one of the leading indicators of bone health; when it decreases, you are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis.
  • Antioxidant effect: Marine collagen has been shown to have an antioxidant effect on animal models. This may help to mitigate the damage caused by free radicals, preventing premature aging.
  • Metabolic control: Better control of glucose and lipid metabolism was observed on type-2 diabetic patients who supplemented with marine collagen. These products may improve the metabolic profile of certain consumers.

Like most dietary supplements, marine collagen isn’t exempt from attacks and criticism. Influential figures in the world of medicine and dietetics believe that this type of product has no benefit at all. While current studies seem to corroborate the usefulness of collagen, this is important for you to know.

If collagen supplements may improve your quality of life, they should in no way substitute medical care. In addition, remember that they cannot slow down the natural aging process or prevent the consequences of an unbalanced diet. Living a healthy life is always the best way to take care of yourself and your body.

How should I use marine collagen supplements?

We have consulted the scientific literature available to design a small table that can guide you in taking the right dose of marine collagen. These values are for reference only, and the recommendations of a health professional should always have precedence over them (4, 8, 9, 10).

Effect Dosage Quantity
Improving skin texture 2.5 grams Once a day
Decreasing expression lines 1 gram Once a day
Improving degenerative joint pain 360-720 milligrams Once a day
Improving sport-related joint pain 10 grams (after medical approval) Once a day

In theory, the absorption of marine collagen supplements isn’t affected by the concomitant consumption of food. Most people take it in the morning with their breakfast, but positive effects have also been observed in studies where collagen was administered immediately before going to bed.

What precautions should I take while supplementing with marine collagen?

These products are considered safe for consumption in low to moderate doses (2.5 grams). Side effects from the consumption of marine collagen supplements are generally mild (bad taste in the mouth and gastrointestinal discomfort). In exceptionally rare cases, they can increase blood calcium levels (11).

There has been no report of significant drug interactions. However, you are advised to consult your physician before supplementing if you take different chronic treatments.

Children under the age of 18 should not take marine collagen products without supervision.

The effect of these supplements on pregnant or breastfeeding women is still unknown. This is why you should be particularly cautious if you are in this situation. The use of marine collagen during these delicate stages should be avoided or closely supervised by a doctor.

If you suffer from an allergy to fish or shellfish, you should be very careful and not use these supplements without medical supervision. While most fish allergens tend to be removed during the synthesis process, you may still expose yourself to intolerance reactions.

Dr. Joshua ZeichnerDirector of Cosmetic & Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai, New York City
“When taken by mouth, collagen can help support optimal functioning of the skin. As it goes through your digestive system, it is broken down into its component amino acids which circulate throughout the body. It acts like a signal to your skin to rev up new collagen production and provides the building blocks to do so.”

Buyer’s Guide

You may still be asking yourself what differentiates a good marine collagen supplement from a mediocre one. In the following section, we will delve into some of the most important shopping criteria to keep in mind when you’re purchasing these products. Pay attention to them and you’ll be on the right track to finding quality supplements!

Dietary Restrictions

As you can imagine, marine collagen isn’t suitable for vegan or vegetarian individuals. This protein has a purely animal origin. Supplements advertised as “vegan collagen” include compounds that stimulate endogenous collagen synthesis without actually providing this protein directly. Don’t be fooled by these marketing strategies!

Woman stretching

Marine collagen may contribute to athletic performance.
(Source: Rido: 83992278/ 123rf.com)

Hydrolyzed Peptides

Collagen is naturally found in gelatin and food of animal origin. Unfortunately, the degree of absorption of the protein in this form is very low. If you are interested in using a marine collagen supplement, opt for one with hydrolyzed peptides. This type of product contains smaller molecules that boost your body’s absorption.

Ingredient Combinations

You can combine marine collagen supplements with other products. Vitamin C, for instance, has beneficial antioxidant properties. Hyaluronic acid, on the other hand, can contribute to the maintenance of the joint structure. If you want to boost your athletic performance, combining marine collagen and magnesium is an excellent option.

Raw Material Origin

Overfishing is one of the greatest challenges that we face as a society. Supplementation with marine collagen can be sustainable, as long as environmentally-friendly fishing styles are applied. If you are concerned about the environment, look for a product that indicates the origin of the raw material on its label and avoids trawling.

Marine collagen powder supplements can have a fishy taste that some people may not like. If that’s your case, mix it with a fruit drink to hide its aroma!

Summary

If you follow a pescatarian diet, the idea of consuming collagen supplements may make you frown. However, the advent of marine collagen means that you now have a sustainable alternative that is just as effective as traditional products. If you want to give your skin its glow and freshness back, don’t hesitate to give it a go!

Remember, however, that the best way to combat premature aging and joint wear is prevention. Avoid tobacco and drugs, follow a healthy diet, and exercise regularly to keep those extra pounds at bay. If you add marine collagen supplements to this routine, you’ll be able to enjoy the best life you can.

Did you find our shopping guide helpful and interesting? Feel free to give us your opinion in the comments section below. You can also share this article with your friends and family on your social media!

(Featured Image Source: Lupu: 26081200/ 123rf.com)

References (11)

1. Brinckmann J. Collagens at a Glance. In: Topics in Current Chemistry [Internet]. 2005 . p. 1–6.
Source

2. Lim Y-S, Ok Y-J, Hwang S-Y, Kwak J-Y, Yoon S. Marine Collagen as A Promising Biomaterial for Biomedical Applications. Mar Drugs [Internet]. 2019 Aug 10 ;17(8):467.
Source

3. Ricard-Blum S. The Collagen Family. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol [Internet]. 2011 Jan 1 ;3(1):a004978–a004978.
Source

4. Addor F, Cotta Vieira J, Abreu C. Improvement of dermal parameters in aged skin after oral use of a nutrient supplement. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol [Internet]. 2018 Apr;Volume 11:195–201.
Source

5. De Luca C, Mikhal’chik E V., Suprun M V., Papacharalambous M, Truhanov AI, Korkina LG. Skin Antiageing and Systemic Redox Effects of Supplementation with Marine Collagen Peptides and Plant-Derived Antioxidants: A Single-Blind Case-Control Clinical Study. Oxid Med Cell Longev [Internet]. 2016 ;2016:1–14.
Source

6. Subhan F, Ikram M, Shehzad A, Ghafoor A. Marine Collagen: An Emerging Player in Biomedical applications. J Food Sci Technol [Internet]. 2015 Aug 23 ;52(8):4703–7.
Source

7. Sanchez A, Blanco M, Correa B, Perez-Martin RI, Sotelo CG. Effect of fish collagen hydrolysates on type i collagen mRNA levels of human dermal fibroblast culture. Mar Drugs [Internet]. 2018 Apr 26 ;16(5):144.
Source

8. Kim D-U, Chung H-C, Choi J, Sakai Y, Lee B-Y. Oral Intake of Low-Molecular-Weight Collagen Peptide Improves Hydration, Elasticity, and Wrinkling in Human Skin: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Nutrients [Internet]. 2018 Jun 26 ;10(7):826.
Source

9. Dar Q-A, Schott EM, Catheline SE, Maynard RD, Liu Z, Kamal F, et al. Daily oral consumption of hydrolyzed type 1 collagen is chondroprotective and anti-inflammatory in murine posttraumatic osteoarthritis. Agarwal S, editor. PLoS One [Internet]. 2017 Apr 6 ;12(4):e0174705.
Source

10. Bolke L, Schlippe G, Gerß J, Voss W. A Collagen Supplement Improves Skin Hydration, Elasticity, Roughness, and Density: Results of a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Blind Study. Nutrients [Internet]. 2019 Oct 17 ;11(10):2494.
Source

11. Shark Cartilage: MedlinePlus Supplements [Internet].
Source

Why you can trust me?

Review article
Brinckmann J. Collagens at a Glance. In: Topics in Current Chemistry [Internet]. 2005 . p. 1–6.
Go to source
Review article
Lim Y-S, Ok Y-J, Hwang S-Y, Kwak J-Y, Yoon S. Marine Collagen as A Promising Biomaterial for Biomedical Applications. Mar Drugs [Internet]. 2019 Aug 10 ;17(8):467.
Go to source
Review article
Ricard-Blum S. The Collagen Family. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol [Internet]. 2011 Jan 1 ;3(1):a004978–a004978.
Go to source
Clinical Trial
Addor F, Cotta Vieira J, Abreu C. Improvement of dermal parameters in aged skin after oral use of a nutrient supplement. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol [Internet]. 2018 Apr;Volume 11:195–201.
Go to source
Clinical Trial
De Luca C, Mikhal’chik E V., Suprun M V., Papacharalambous M, Truhanov AI, Korkina LG. Skin Antiageing and Systemic Redox Effects of Supplementation with Marine Collagen Peptides and Plant-Derived Antioxidants: A Single-Blind Case-Control Clinical Study. Oxid Med Cell Longev [Internet]. 2016 ;2016:1–14.
Go to source
Review article
Subhan F, Ikram M, Shehzad A, Ghafoor A. Marine Collagen: An Emerging Player in Biomedical applications. J Food Sci Technol [Internet]. 2015 Aug 23 ;52(8):4703–7.
Go to source
Clinical Trial
Sanchez A, Blanco M, Correa B, Perez-Martin RI, Sotelo CG. Effect of fish collagen hydrolysates on type i collagen mRNA levels of human dermal fibroblast culture. Mar Drugs [Internet]. 2018 Apr 26 ;16(5):144.
Go to source
Double-blind clinical trial
Kim D-U, Chung H-C, Choi J, Sakai Y, Lee B-Y. Oral Intake of Low-Molecular-Weight Collagen Peptide Improves Hydration, Elasticity, and Wrinkling in Human Skin: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Nutrients [Internet]. 2018 Jun 26 ;10(7):826.
Go to source
Clinical trial in animals
Dar Q-A, Schott EM, Catheline SE, Maynard RD, Liu Z, Kamal F, et al. Daily oral consumption of hydrolyzed type 1 collagen is chondroprotective and anti-inflammatory in murine posttraumatic osteoarthritis. Agarwal S, editor. PLoS One [Internet]. 2017 Apr 6 ;12(4):e0174705.
Go to source
Randomized clinical trial
Bolke L, Schlippe G, Gerß J, Voss W. A Collagen Supplement Improves Skin Hydration, Elasticity, Roughness, and Density: Results of a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Blind Study. Nutrients [Internet]. 2019 Oct 17 ;11(10):2494.
Go to source
Official website
Shark Cartilage: MedlinePlus Supplements [Internet].
Go to source
Reviews