The benefits of marine collagen and vitamin C supplements
Marine collagen is a type of collagen that is derived from the skin and scales of fish. Many choose marine collagen supplementation because of its high proportion of Type I collagen fibres. 90% of the collagen in human skin is also this type I collagen.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is also a popular ingredient for supplements. It is a vital nutrient that we need to get from our diet or from supplements, it is an antioxidant and plays a role in many bodily functions. Extreme vitamin C deficiency can lead to a well-known pirates’ disease called scurvy, in which your bones weaken and begin to bow.
A lesser-known fact is that collagen and the role of vitamin C are closely linked; for this reason, it is common to see the two nutrients combined in one supplement. This article will cover the safety and efficacy of taking collagen with vitamin C. You will come to understand the biological mechanisms behind vitamin C and collagen synthesis and how to take vitamin C with marine collagen.
Can you take marine collagen with vitamin C?
The difference between marine collagen and other sources of collagen is that it is the most similar to the collagen found in human skin, it doesn’t interact any differently with vitamin C and it is safe to take for anyone without a fish allergy. Vitamin C is also safe for consumption - it is an essential nutrient abundantly found in foods such as peppers, citrus fruits, and cruciferous vegetables. Both dietary supplement ingredients are commonplace, and they are safe to take together.
Furthermore, marine collagen and vitamin C taken together may in fact, have a greater positive impact than each ingredient taken alone. This is because vitamin C is integrally involved in the collagen synthesis pathway in the body.
How vitamin C affects collagen
The relationship between collagen and vitamin C has been well studied. Vitamin C is a co-factor for the enzymes prolyl hydroxylase and lysyl hydroxylase. What this means is that Vitamin C is vital for the activation of these two enzymes that are involved in the stabilisation of collagen fibres with cross-links. Optimal cross-linking keep collagen strong and elastic without being brittle and stiff.
When vitamin C is not present or if there are variable levels of vitamin C (aka you don’t meet your daily needs consistently), there is decreased cross-linking of collagen and inconsistencies in the stability of collagen fibres.
Furthermore, it has been found that vitamin C also stimulates collagen mRNA production. mRNA is a small protein coding molecule that acts as an intermediate set of ‘genetic instructions’ between the DNA and the ribosomes (cellular protein factories). So, upregulating these mRNA inherently increases collagen production.
These mechanisms are not in dispute, however, due to vitamin C being abundant and naturally occurring, there is an ongoing debate on whether taking vitamin C with collagen, or at all for collagen formation, is worth it. The answer may lie in dosage.
How to take marine collagen with vitamin C?
It is common to find vitamin C in collagen supplements due the effects it has on collagen production. However, many will say that this food supplement pairing is futile on the basis that it’s not necessary to take these nutrients together. Also, it is relatively rare to have a vitamin C deficiency on a healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables.
It is the case that marine collagen and vitamin C do not need to be taken together. This is because vitamin C is only involved in collagen primary and tertiary collagen production (the amino acid and cross-linking stages). Collagen supplements will need to first be broken down into amino acids before being re-built into collagen protein, and this process takes time – even for collagen peptides.
You can also meet your daily vitamin C needs easily through diet. However, to significantly increase normal collagen formation with vitamin C, you may need a high dosage of vitamin C per day. Even with plenty of vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables, you may need to supplement with vitamin C to increase collagen synthesis. Supplementation with high dosages of vitamin C has shown a significant increase in type I collagen production after 10 days.
The bottom line is that the more vitamin C you can take, the better it is for collagen synthesis (under 1000mg). You do not have to take vitamin C with your marine collagen supplement; however, a combined supplement removes the need for multiple supplements and always ensures that you are at least hitting your daily dose of vitamin C, if not well beyond this.
A marine collagen complex
We have established that marine collagen and vitamin C work towards a common goal – to improve collagen levels – this is why they are commonly combined. There are also other ingredients that may act synergistically to benefit the hair, skin and nails. Such ingredients that are safe to pair with marine collagen are as follows:
- • Hyaluronic acid– 50% of Hyaluronic acid is found in the skin and it contributes to hydration and plumpness in the skin. Hyaluronic acid has also been found to upregulate collagen synthesis. Skin ageing is partially attributed to the loss of hyaluronic acid in the skin as we age.
- • Biotin– also called vitamin B6, biotin contributes to the normal maintenance of the hair and nails. Nutrient deficiencies are more common since vitamin B6 is not so abundant in foods. Meeting your daily biotin needs can help to maintain hair and nail health.
- • Other ingredients such as vitamin E, which contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress, Selenium which is vital for the maintenance of normal hair and nails and Copper which is involved in the maintenance of hair and skin pigmentation are all important for the maintenance of healthy skin, hair and nails.
Meeting all of your nutrient needs can be challenging, so when you are looking for a marine collagen supplement, you may want to choose one that combines additional ingredients to support the skin, hair and nails. Look for marine collagen peptides with vitamin C and hyaluronic acid to support natural collagen formation.
Beauty complex contains 7,000mg of marine collagen peptides, as well as vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, biotin, vitamin E, Selenium, and Copper. All these active ingredients work to maintain normal collagen synthesis and to support the skin. This complete collagen drink powder is portioned into sachets for effective nutrient delivery and convenience.
Does vitamin C help you to absorb collagen?
Vitamin C has no influence on collagen absorption – vitamin C instead plays a role in collagen production. Once collagen has been broken down into amino acids, vitamin C will help to stimulate collagen production.
Do collagen supplements need vitamin C?
Natural collagen synthesis does require vitamin C, however collagen supplements do not need to contain it in order for them to be effective - provided your diet is not deficient in vitamin C. You may want to choose a marine collagen supplement containing vitamin C to ensure against a deficiency.
- Cosmetic Potential of Marine Fish Skin Collagen
- High-dose vitamin C supplementation accelerates the Achilles tendon healing in healthy rats
- The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health
- Efficacy of Vitamin C Supplementation on Collagen Synthesis and Oxidative Stress After Musculoskeletal Injuries: A Systematic Review
- Vitamin C Fact Sheet for Health Professionals
- Collagen peptide and vitamin C additively attenuate age-related skin atrophy in Sod1-deficient mice
- Irradiation-Induced Expression of Hyaluronan (HA) Synthase 2 and Hyaluronidase 2 Genes in Rat Lung Tissue Accompanies Active Turnover of HA and Induction of Types I and III Collagen Gene Expression