Marine collagen is a fibrous protein extracted from the scales or skin of saltwater fish, including cod and salmon. In recent years, preliminary animal and clinical studies have found that this collagen possesses medicinal properties that can help promote human health and well-being. Already widely used in the Far East, marine collagen-based products have begun to appear more often on health food shelves in the West. Talk to your doctor before beginning any regimen of self-treatment.
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Slows Effects of Aging
Marine collagen has antioxidant properties that have been used in skin-care products to prevent or even repair the damage caused by environmental factors, such as UV rays and low humidity, as well as damage associated with the aging process. Researchers at Beijing University’s School of Public Health in China explored the effects of marine collagen peptides on the skin of aging mice. In findings published in the April 2008 issue of the Chinese Journal of Preventive Medicine, the researchers reported that test animals given oral doses of marine collagen peptides showed a significant thickening of their epidermis, as compared with mice in the control group. Researchers also reported a sharp increase in the number and activity of fibroblasts in the skin of mice treated with marine collagen. Fibroblasts are cells that play a key role in the creation of new connective tissue, such as skin.
Promotes Bone Growth
Another research group at Beijing University’s School of Public Health conducted an animal study to determine what, if any, effect marine collagen peptides had on bone development. Specifically, they looked at how peptide supplementation affected the development of long bones in growing rats. They used marine collagen extracted from the scales of chum salmon and focused on femur development in test animals of both sexes. Their study, published in the July 2010 issue of the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, concluded that marine collagen supplements significantly increased the size, mineral density and toughness of femurs in male rats but produced less impressive results in female test animals. They suggested more and broader studies to confirm marine collagen’s effects on other animal and human subjects.
Collagen from a wide array of animal sources is used in cosmetic formulations to help moisturize and plump human skin cells. In “Handbook of Cosmetic Science and Technology,” author Marc Paye reports that while beef and pork collagen still top the list of animal-sourced proteins in cosmetics, marine collagen is becoming an increasingly attractive alternative. Growing concern about infectious agents such as foot and mouth disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy and viral infections in beef collagen has helped to accelerate the switch to marine collagen, according to “Animal Cell Technology: Basic & Applied Aspects.”