What is hydrolysed marine collagen? | Your supplement ingredients explained
You may be aware that collagen protein is one of the most abundant proteins in the human body. It is especially abundant in the skin and connective tissue; it makes up 70-80% of healthy skin. Collagen contributes to skin elasticity, and unfortunately, collagen levels decline in the body after age thirty, leading to the hallmarks of ageing skin, including wrinkles, fine lines and sagging skin. For this reason, collagen is a popular supplement ingredient for replenishing some of the protein that has been lost.
There are different types of collagen supplements; one popular type is marine collagen, which is taken from the skin and scales of fish. Marine collagen is considered a Type I collagen because of its high proportion of Type I collagen fibres; human skin also contains predominantly Type I collagen. Marine collagen, similar in composition to human skin, makes it a popular option to use in supplements for the skin.
In addition to marine collagen supplements, you may see terms like hydrolysed collagen or collagen peptides written on supplement labels. Here, we will cover everything you need to know about hydrolysed marine collagen. You will find out what hydrolysed means, how hydrolysed marine collagen is produced, what the benefits are and how it compares to other collagen supplement types.
What is hydrolysed marine collagen?
As discussed, marine collagen is collagen protein found in fish skin; it contains Type I collagen, meaning it is the most homologous to human skin. Collagen has a rope-like protein structure made up of three protein chains wound around one another; it can take a long time for the body to break down and use collagen protein, so supplements tend to contain hydrolysed collagen.
Hydrolysed collagen is simply collagen protein that has been broken down into smaller amino acid chains. These can be more easily digested and absorbed into the body, making hydrolysed collagen more bioavailable than collagen proteins found in solid foods or bone broth, for example.
Hydrolysed collagen is also referred to as collagen peptides or collagen hydrolysate; if you see any of these terms on your supplement label, they all mean that the collagen has been broken down for easy absorption.
How is hydrolysed marine collagen produced?
Hydrolysed collagen is produced by separating the collagen strands - like unwinding a rope. Then, these individual protein strands (you may know them as gelatine) can be further broken down into smaller pieces (peptides). This process of breaking down protein strands is called hydrolysis, hence the name hydrolysed collagen. Hydrolysis breaks chemical bonds in the protein by adding a water molecule in the place of a chemical bond, breaking sections off from the chain. 'Hydro' refers to the water molecules, and 'lysis' refers to the breaking of bonds, so the term hydrolysis means the breaking of bonds with water.
You cannot simply add water to protein to hydrolyse it; there need to be specific conditions for this reaction to take place. The simplified three-stage process of producing hydrolysed marine collagen from protein is outlined below:
Stage 1 – Extraction
First, the rope-like protein structure will need to be unravelled, leaving the individual strands (gelatine) exposed for the next stage. This is done by adding dilute acid to the protein source, in this case, the fish skin. This can also be done with heat (although this can damage the protein structure). For example, heat is used to extract collagen (gelatine) from the protein source when making a bone broth.
Stage 2 – Hydrolysis
The next stage is to make peptides through hydrolysis. Many different conditions can induce hydrolysis; the traditional method uses an acid such as acetic acid. Although cost-effective, this process is not very specific or efficient. A more advanced and efficient method is to use proteolytic enzymes (enzymes that digest protein) such as Pepsin. Proteolytic enzymes are highly specific protein bond-breakers, so higher quality and higher peptide yields can be achieved by using them.
Stage 3 – Purification
This is a complicated procedure that consists of taking the dissolved peptides out of solution (a process called precipitation) and separating the molecules by size. A device called a centrifuge will separate the peptides by size, and then the smallest ones will be funnelled off to be turned into marine collagen peptide powder.
The benefits of hydrolysed marine collagen
Marine collagen peptides are small molecules made of only a few amino acids. Peptides made up of two or three amino acids can pass directly into the bloodstream to be immediately used in the body; this makes small peptides very bioavailable. Even larger peptides made up of four or more amino acids can be quickly broken down by enzymes in our digestive system. Peptides can be absorbed in as little as 20 minutes, while collagen protein from solid food may take hours to be absorbed.
Collagen peptides have also been shown to increase natural collagen production by stimulating collagen-making cells (fibroblasts) to make more collagen. Studies have found that collagen peptides improved skin hydration, elasticity and reduced wrinkles after 90 days of supplementation.
A pioneer study using marine collagen peptides also increased hair strength and reduced the appearance of eye and nose wrinkles after 90 days.
Comparing hydrolysed marine collagen to other types of collagen
The table below explores the benefits of the combined characteristics of collagen supplements. A collagen source is either hydrolysed or remains in protein form. We also explore alternative collagen sources compared to marine collagen.
Other collagen sources
Frequently asked questions
What type of hydrolysed marine collagen is best?
The best hydrolysed marine collagen supplements are usually powdered supplements. Peptides are dissolvable, so making a daily collagen drink is easy; simply mix them into water, juices or smoothies. Powdered supplements are also rapid and easy to digest, so naturally, take advantage of collagen proteins' digestibility.
Is all marine collagen hydrolysed?
The majority of collagen found in supplements is hydrolysed. Not only does hydrolysis make the collagen more bioavailable, but purified collagen peptides are tasteless, odourless and dissolvable in water, making them ideal for supplements. If you choose a broth supplement, these will not be hydrolysed. Finally, non-hydrolysed marine collagen can be found in seafood.
What is a typical dose of hydrolysed marine collagen?
Do you need hydrolysed collagen?
The answer to this question is whether you feel you need a collagen supplement. Most collagen supplements contain hydrolysed collagen because they are much more bioavailable than collagen proteins and are tasteless and odourless. Marine collagen from solid food will eventually be broken down into peptides. However, this process will take longer, and the dosage may not be controllable.
- Skin ageing
- Skin collagen through the lifestages: importance for skin health and beauty.
- Cosmetic Potential of Marine Fish Skin Collagen
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- Collagen Extraction from Animal Skin
- Effect of Prolyl-hydroxyproline (Pro-Hyp), a Food-Derived Collagen Peptide in Human Blood, on Growth of Fibroblasts from Mouse Skin
- The effect of oral collagen peptide supplementation on skin moisture and the dermal collagen network: evidence from an ex vivo model and randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials
- Effects of hydrolyzed collagen supplementation on skin aging: a systematic review and meta-analysis