How long to see results of marine collagen?
Described as the "fountain of youth" by devotees, marine collagen is the latest trend for skincare with proven benefits, according to research. Various scientific studies have been carried out to test the supplement's effectiveness - and early indications are it's a winner.
Marine collagen can be taken in oral form to improve the texture and appearance of the skin, creating a plump, youthful look and smoothing out wrinkles. As its name suggests, it is derived from marine life, making it ideal for people who won't use products containing animal derivatives.
Why do people use marine collagen?
Collagen makes up 33% of our body’s total protein mass, so taking collagen supplements can benefit the skin, nails, hair and joints. There are 28 different collagen types in the body. The most common is Type I, which makes up more than 90% of the body's total collagen.
It gives the skin elasticity and strength, but the body's natural production of collagen starts to slow down from a relatively early age. We're already starting to lose collagen in our mid-20s. This continues throughout our life. During the first five years of menopause, women lose up to 30% of their collagen production capabilities.
As more research is carried out into the results of marine collagen supplements, experts agree they may help to delay the signs of ageing, including wrinkles and joint issues. Many leading cosmetics and health supplement companies are starting to recognise the benefits of collagen in everyday beauty regimes.
People choose marine collagen as a more sustainable alternative to other forms, as it is made from by-products of the fishing industry that would otherwise go to waste. It doesn't have a fishy smell or taste when consumed, as the fish oils are removed during processing.
In powder form, marine collagen can be added to tea or coffee without affecting the taste of the beverage. You can also drink liquid marine collagen suspended in purified water, or in juice, a smoothie, or a shot.
It may seem too good to be true that a simple drink, powder or cream can make such a difference to people's health, but a growing body of evidence is pointing to its effectiveness as a supplement to help maintain a youthful appearance.
How long to see the results of marine collagen?
Various scientific studies have been carried out to determine how long it takes to see the results of taking marine collagen. A study published by the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology in 2015 suggested oral collagen supplements visibly reduced the signs of skin ageing in around four weeks.
This included a decrease in the number of wrinkles and an increase in skin moisture. The results by the end of week four were described as "minor". After 12 weeks, however, the results were deemed "major", with wrinkles decreasing by up to 31.2% during the clinical trials.
The survey concluded the results vary from person to person. A minority of participants saw some results within seven days. However, the majority of participants saw results after four weeks, with the maximum results being visible in 12 weeks.
The results of scientific research are similar to the results reported by consumers who have reviewed collagen products themselves. In the case of individual users, they said the best results were visible after six to 12 weeks of collagen supplements.
A study in 2018 by scientists in Minerva research laboratories in London and Italy involved participants drinking a liquid marine collagen supplement every day for 90 days.
They reported an improvement in skin elasticity, structure and hydration at the end of the clinical trials. They also experienced a 39% improvement in joint mobility and a 43% reduction in joint pain.
Does marine collagen have other health benefits?
Collagen supplements consumed during clinical trials have had other benefits on participants. A study in 2017 invited women to take 2.5g of bioactive collagen peptides once a day for 24 weeks. The research was carried out jointly by health organisations, including the Brazilian Centre for Studies in Dermatology in Porto Alegre.
The study concluded the participants had enjoyed a 12% increase in nail growth and a 42% decrease in nail breakage after treatment. The condition and appearance of the nails showed some improvement after four weeks. This led to collagen being cited as a successful treatment for brittle nail syndrome.
In 2020, a study carried out by Nutrafoods involved participants taking 2.5g of bioactive collagen peptides every day for 16 weeks. At the end of the clinical trials, the participants' hair cell growth had increased by 31% and the thickness of their hair had increased "significantly".
Broadly speaking, early research into the benefits of collagen supplements is promising, revealing it can take as little as four weeks to see the results of marine collagen. However, more research is required before a definitive timescale can be provided.
What do most studies suggest for collagen results?
The majority of scientific studies suggest a similar timescale when it comes to seeing the results of marine collagen. In terms of improving the texture and appearance of the skin, the usual time to see results is between four and 12 weeks. It takes around 24 weeks on average to see any major improvement to the nails.
When ingesting collagen supplements, people generally note an improvement in their muscle mass and strength during exercise and resistance training after around three months. Some participants say taking collagen can lead to less soreness following physical training within just a few days.
A significant improvement in joint health is felt after four to six months, while tendons feel more flexible after three to six months. To date, scientists have been unable to pinpoint a time frame for seeing an improvement in the growth and thickness of hair.
Can marine collagen work quickly on skin?
It's unlikely that any significant skin benefits from using marine collagen will be visible in less than 12 weeks. While some minor improvements have been noted after four weeks, three months is the average time that participants in trials notice any real results.
After 12 weeks of taking a collagen supplement in clinical trials, respondents noted their skin had enhanced elasticity, better hydration and greater density. Results descried as "significant" began to appear at six weeks, but it took 12 weeks for the best results.
Some studies suggest you may see the results of marine collagen sooner, with improved skin elasticity enhancement at four weeks. However, taking the collagen supplements should continue to make sure levels don't drop again. The science suggests you should stick with it for at least three months to see the improvements continue.
How long for collagen to work on joints and tendons?
If you're seeking joint support from taking marine collagen, it can take four to six months to feel an improvement. Tendons generally become more flexible after three to six months.
Studies have found a positive impact on patients' knees after around 13 weeks. However, for broader results to improve all joints, it will usually take longer. Patients have generally experienced enhanced overall joint health after around six months of taking collagen supplements.
Research has also found that the results can be enhanced when collagen supplementation is combined with strengthening exercise. Participants in clinical trials involving a combination or collagen and exercise saw improved tendon function and better performance within 12 weeks.
How long to see the results of marine collagen on hair?
As noted earlier in this guide, it has been very challenging to determine how long it takes for marine collagen to improve the condition of hair. Top consultant trichologists have carried out tests into how taking collagen can improve the hair and scalp.
Both men's and women's hair can be affected by deficiencies in their diet. In particular, a lack of essential amino acids, minerals and vitamins can lead to hair thinning and shedding. Lifestyle factors, such as stress, can also be an underlying cause of thinning, lacklustre hair.
While no-one can live stress-free in today's busy world, it's simple to tackle dietary deficiencies, with marine collagen being a recognised supplement to boost wellbeing. It can support the natural growth cycle of the hair, which impacts the rate at which it sheds.
In clinical trials, a detailed examination of the hair took place every fortnight, over a period of 12 weeks. The participants took collagen daily. They were required to answer a questionnaire and complete an observation sheet each day.
After two weeks, participants were already reporting an improvement in their hair texture, with 100% of respondents saying it was "sleeker" and "smoother". A detailed trichological examination during week two didn't reveal a specific change in texture.
However, after four weeks, the texture was noticeably sleeker and smoother in every candidate. After eight weeks, all participants said they no longer needed to use hair conditioner, as their hair was already softer and sleeker.
Despite this recent study, scientists remain convinced that when it comes to the hair, the results of marine collagen still vary from person to person. Although the early research is positive, more studies are needed to determine more conclusive results.
Does our age affect how fast marine collagen works?
The general consensus from research to date suggests people of all ages can see results in a similar time period. For example, muscle mass can take around three months to improve when collagen supplements are combined with resistance training exercises.
A scientific study conducted among women who had started their menopause concluded collagen provided a "positive impact" on muscle strength and body composition. A further study of post-menopausal women revealed enhanced bone density occurred 12 months after they started consuming collagen peptides.
A separate study conducted with older men as the subjects concluded they had observed an improvement in their muscle mass and body composition in around three months when collagen supplements were combined with resistance training.
What can affect how fast marine collagen works?
Not only does the dosage of marine collagen affect how quickly it works, but no-one is identical, so it can impact one person differently from another. If you don't ingest the recommended marine collagen dosage daily, you can't expect the results you hoped to achieve.
Many experts recommend a marine collagen supplement with a daily dose in the 10g to 20g range. While this is a helpful guide, some people find that lower doses can also support key health areas.
As well as ingesting collagen supplements, make sure you also eat a balanced diet, full of healthy proteins and minerals. While marine collagen in itself can achieve good results, everyone needs a healthy diet for the greatest chance of improved health and wellbeing.