Does liquid marine collagen work?
Collagen drinks are all over social media at the moment, promising glowing skin by simply sipping a wonder shot of anti-ageing juice. From Pinterest to Instagram, photographs of devotees with plump and line-free skin extol the virtues of liquid marine collagen.
As one of the latest tools in the beauty industry's armoury, collagen drinks seem too good to be true. In the ongoing search for new and effective ways to keep looking youthful, people are asking, "Does liquid marine collagen work?"
While the idea of taking a simple drink each day sounds wonderful, will it really improve our skin - or is it simply a fad? If there's evidence that it works, how much liquid marine collagen is needed to notice the difference?
Based on expert opinion, we're going to discuss how much solid science is behind collagen drinks and find out if they're worth adding to your diet. Can a drink really restore your glow and banish wrinkles? Read on to find out.
What is liquid marine collagen?
Liquid collagen is an edible supplement containing collagen proteins in a liquid, often purified water. Collagen supplements can benefit the health of the skin, hair, nails and joints. Collagen also gives structure to tissues in the bones, tendons, ligaments, teeth, organs, muscles and blood vessels, according to scientific research.
Collagen makes up 33% of our body’s total protein mass. Marine collagen comes from fish - and like other sources of collagen, it may help delay signs of ageing, such as wrinkles and joint issues. Marine collagen provides an alternative for people who don't like using other forms of collagen produced from animal products.
Many people consider marine collagen to be a more sustainable alternative to other forms, as it can be made from the unused raw materials not needed by the fishing industry for food products. The materials are used to create skin care products, rather than going to waste. Marine collagen provides a more economic choice for cosmetics companies.
Scientists have found 28 different collagen types in the human body. The most common is called Type I and makes up more than 90% of the collagen in our body. Collagen is what gives our skin its elasticity and strength.
How can you take collagen?
While many cosmetics companies make collagen creams, a lot of people choose to take it as a dietary supplement. Drinking liquid marine collagen is one way of doing this. Supplements such as this contain collagen protein that is hydrolysed, or broken down into small blocks.
The body can absorb these smaller blocks more easily. While many of these supplements use purified water for the liquid element, some also use other liquids, such as juices. The supplements can be taken as individual shots, in smoothies or in vials.
It also comes in powder or tablet forms, but the latest trend is to drink liquid marine collagen. Some studies suggest taking liquid collagen with other supplements, such as tretinoin, retinol and Vitamin C, may provide greater benefits.
If you're concerned about taking any kind of health supplements, it may be a good idea to talk to your GP first to discuss what you're planning to consume and the potential effects.
Why do we need collagen supplements?
Collagen's role in the body is extremely important, as it is one of the main building blocks for skin, hair, bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Collagen prevents our skin from sagging and gives people a plump, youthful look, according to dermatologists. Our body makes collagen naturally, but the production decreases the older we get.
We start to lose collagen as young as in our mid-20s. Later in life, women lose up to 30% of their natural collagen production capabilities during the first five years of menopause. This is why many cosmetics and health supplement companies are increasingly using collagen to supplement people's anti-aging beauty regime.
Does marine collagen taste fishy?
Marine collagen doesn't have a fishy smell or taste, despite being sourced from fish. This is because all of the fish oils have been removed during processing. When you take it in powder form, it can be added to tea or coffee without affecting the taste of your drink.
Similarly, you can drink liquid marine collagen without experiencing any fishy taste at all. Some devotees of marine collagen say they often weed out inferior brands by checking if it has even a slight odour, as it shouldn't have any actual smell or taste at all.
How does liquid marine collagen work?
Collagen drinks are said to start working around one hour after ingestion, according to some researchers. The collagen peptides in the drinks are believed to be digested into smaller molecules, which are absorbed into the gut. Around one hour after ingestion, they have been identified in the bloodstream.
Research has shown that absorbed peptides can not only reach the skin, but may also be retained in our body's tissues for up to two weeks.
Many of the collagen drinks contain hydrolysed collagen, in which the protein structure has been broken down. This is done so that it is more easily absorbed into the body - hence the collagen peptides are more bioavailable, according to dermatologists.
Are there any clinical studies of liquid collagen?
There is some hard evidence in support of the collagen beauty shots. There have been several laboratory-based studies that have demonstrated the potential for collagen peptides in supplements and drinks to improve skin hydration.
This can reduce wrinkles by strengthening our own body's collagen network. An independent study completed in 2019 concluded collagen supplements showed promise when it came to improving skin elasticity and the density of dermal collagen.
The clinical studies used between 2.5g and 10g of liquid collagen per day. The outcomes of the tests were reported at various times, commonly between four weeks and eight weeks, although some continued after this time period.
According to a 2020 review, published by the National Library of Medicine, a trusted source, collagen supplementation may slow the formation of wrinkles and lines, improve our skin’s ability to maintain and absorb moisture, improve the skin's elasticity and texture, encourage skin cell rejuvenation and improve skin density.
In clinical trials in 2018, jointly carried out by research teams in England and Italy, participants drank a liquid marine collagen supplement daily for 90 days. They experienced a general improvement in their skin elasticity, structure and hydration.
During the same trial, the participants also experienced a significant 43% reduction in joint pain and 39% improvement in their joints' mobility.
In a clinical study in 2017, female participants took 2.5g of bioactive collagen peptides each day, in a single dose, for 24 weeks. They reported a 42% decrease in nail breakage after four weeks.
Researchers conducting a further study in 2020 concluded that taking 2.5g of bioactive collagen peptides each day for 16 weeks increased hair growth by 31%. Participants also reported their hair was thicker.
What's the best dose of liquid marine collagen?
The results of the studies were promising, although scientists have yet to ascertain the best dose of liquid collagen - and the most effective period of treatment - for consumers to experience optimum results. Outside the laboratory setting, the research is relatively sparse, as liquid collagen is such a new treatment.
During the human body's digestive process, any collagen that enters the gut is broken down into smaller molecules, including amino acids and peptides. This means not all of the collagen survives the digestive process and manages to travel into the bloodstream and ultimately to the skin.
In order to make any meaningful change to our skin’s structure, a fairly significant amount of liquid collagen must make its way to the skin. It follows that when you consume a collagen drink, it's best to opt for a hydrolysed, high-grade version that offers a better chance of making it through our body's digestive processes.
Does Vitamin C work with liquid collagen?
Scientists say collagen isn't the only thing that improves the texture and appearance of our skin. Vitamin C is also required for natural collagen production. Providing the skin with extra support, it is an antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory agent and a skin-brightening agent all rolled into one.
Many dermatologists recommend using or ingesting products infused with Vitamin C as well as liquid marine collagen for a double skin boost. It pays to research Vitamin C skincare products, as the various formulas on the market can vary significantly in terms of concentration and potency.
The recommendation is to use Vitamin C in skincare in a concentration of up to 20%, but don't go any higher than this. Combine a Vitamin C supplement with a liquid marine collagen supplement to give the best chance of improving your body's collagen production and brightening your skin.
While liquid marine collagen is relatively new on the skincare market, the early indications are positive. However, the one note of caution, when it comes to marine collagen, is that some people who have a fish allergy may experience an allergic reaction to these supplements.
This is why it's always best to consult your GP if you have any doubts before consuming any new product orally.