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Is it safe to take marine collagen?

NW by Natasha Whiting
21 July 2022

Is it safe to take marine collagen?

Popularity of collagen supplements is increasing. But many people are still uncertain if it is safe to take marine collagen, so read on to learn everything you need to know.

Collagen is one of the oldest health foods in the world - our ancestors took it without a second thought. Even in modern society, many cultures practice using every part of an animal for food or other uses. There are many valuable proteins, vitamins and minerals in parts of animals like joints, organs and blood, and this includes the nutrients requires to create collagen. Collagen comes about as a result of the body receiving certain amino acids from high-protein foods like eggs, gelatin, fish and bone broth.

Around 57% of collagen is made up of the amino acids glycine, hydroxyproline and proline, and it is difficult to take in all three from your diet alone. Your body's natural collagen production declines substantially as you get older, so it is an important supplement to take.

Here's what collagen production looks like as you age:

  • 20s: Collagen production in the dermis decreases by around 1% each year

  • 30s: Collagen production declines at a faster rate

  • 40s: Your body no longer produces new collagen

  • 50s: Collagen is completely diminished, resulting in less healthy skin and hair

Where does marine collagen come from?

Marine collagen is extracted from fish scales and is generally thought to be the prime source of collagen. It absorbs very effectively into the body and is less sullied by environmental impurities than collagen sourced from mammals. The fish that marine collagen is most commonly sourced from are cod or snapper, and there is an abundance of proline, hydroxyproline and glycine present.

How can marine collagen benefit me?

A marine collagen supplement can help fill the gaps of what you simply can't get into your body via your diet. Collagen is your body's most abundant protein, acting as the framework for important tissues. It helps maintain elasticity in your skin as well as other connective tissues like the joints, so its importance cannot be underestimated. Marine collagen is also fundamental to healthy hair and nails. Studies have indicated that women who take a marine collagen supplement can experience diminished lines and improved moisture in the skin in as little as 8 weeks.

So how safe is marine collagen?

Marine collagen is known to be a safe and well-tolerated supplement. When taken with food, there is minimal chance of any gastrointestinal discomfort. Many people start off taking a small dose to see how their body responds before increasing the dosage to build up a tolerance and find their equilibrium. One respected study found that marine collagen is safer in comparison to mammalian collagen because of the fact it has fewer impurities. There is nothing to suggest marine collagen can be harmful, though there is some risk for people who are allergic to fish. Other known side effects include:

  • An unpleasant taste in the mouth

  • Elevated calcium levels (hypercalcemia)

This is why it is recommended that you start with a low dosage. The side effects above are extremely rare, but it is important to be aware of them.

How sustainable is marine collagen?

Marine collagen is generally considered to be more sustainable than collagen from mammals. We collect collagen from the leftover parts of an animal that nobody wants to eat, so whether that collagen comes from fish scales or bovine hide/hooves, you are supporting a sustainable industry.

Can I take collagen in combination with other supplements or medications?

As with all supplements, there is the possibility that collagen could have a detrimental interaction with another supplement or medication. There are no known interactions at this time, but that does not mean they do not exist. If you plan to take collagen with other supplements or medications, the best advice is to consult your healthcare provider. A discussion about your goals and how you hope to achieve them could help you identify the best options for you.

Is it possible to take too much marine collagen?

As with most things in life, marine collagen is best taken in moderation. Too much of a good thing can tip the scales in unwanted ways. Generally speaking, collagen is safe, but if you take too much of it then you could experience stomach discomfort. There have also been reports of minor skin rashes in people who overdo it with marine collagen. Let us reiterate that if you have an allergy to seafood, and that includes shellfish, marine collagen is not recommended for you. What else can I do to boost my collagen? There are some lifestyle factors that can help your body's natural collagen production and you can do them alongside taking a supplement for maximum benefit:

  • Avoid too much sun exposure

  • Don't smoke

  • Eat healthy and avoid consuming too much sugar

  • Ensure you get lots of sleep

Is it true there is mercury in marine collagen?

Some fish are known to have mercury in them, but this usually accumulates in the fatty parts of a fish's body. It is not usually present in the scales. Scales contain no fat - they are a pure form of collagen protein, so it is very unlikely that any mercury will be present in them. An animal study in 2012 concluded that there was no significant risk of impurities like mercury in marine collagen.

Is marine collagen safe to take when pregnant?

It is generally recommended that pregnant women consume 75-100g of protein each day. This is because it helps with the growth and development of foetal tissue, and it helps increase the amount of blood in the body. Marine collagen may seem like a simple, obvious source of protein but, if you are pregnant, it is important to be cautious. Before taking marine collagen during pregnancy, you should consult your physician. The same is true of introducing anything new into your diet. The best advice is to bring your questions to an expert so that they can advise on the best approach to maintaining the health and wellness of yourself and your baby.

How can I add collagen to my diet?

There are many versions of collagen supplements that make it easy to incorporate into your diet. The active ingredients are aimed at supporting your health and beauty from the inside, and may provide natural nourishment for your skin, hair and nails. The best supplements come from sustainable fish and combine that with other things like acai berry and butterfly pea power, all designed to promote good health with no artificial contents. Collagen often comes as a powder that can be mix into drinks like water, smoothies, tea or coffee. Many like to consume it with a smoothie so that you also get all the vitamins and minerals from the fruits and vegetables you are taking in. You may detect a slight fish-like smell to the supplement - this is a good indicator that it is marine collagen at its purest. This will not impact the taste of your smoothie.

Marine collagen FAQs

Do I need to take collagen every day?

To get the maximum benefit, it is recommended to take collagen as a daily supplement. Around 2.5 - 10 grams a day is generally considered a safe and effective intake, so experiment and learn what works for you.

Can collagen cause weight gain?

No, there is nothing that links collagen supplements with weight gain. In fact, collagen is sometimes linked with weight loss. It's a protein, and high-protein diets are known to reduce hunger levels and are often recommended to help prevent regaining weight after weight loss.

How can I tell if I'm deficient in collagen?

A collagen deficiency doesn't necessarily come with any tell-tale signs, but there are some autoimmune disorders called collagen vascular diseases to look out for. Symptoms include fatigue, rashes, muscle weakness and joint pain. If you think you may have collagen vascular disease, go to your doctor and get a blood test.

Is constipation a known side effect of collagen?

There are no reports of collagen causing constipation. In fact, it can promote a healthy gut and digestion by promoting the building and maintenance of connective tissues throughout the digestive tract.

Are there any risks associated with stopping taking collagen?

If you decide to stop taking marine collagen supplements, you shouldn't notice any immediate side effects. However, in the long run, you may find that you lose out on its benefits.

Final thoughts

Marine collagen is a fantastic supplement that may provide many benefits for both health and beauty. There are very few risks associated with taking it for most people, so it is considered to be a very safe supplement to take. Any side effects that are experienced are typically very mild and can be dealt with by consulting your physician and perhaps adjusting your dosage.

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