Collagen Peptides are short chains of combinations of the hundreds of specific amino acids that make up 'collagen'. There are 18 amino acids that appear in high concentrations, and 3 are considered 'key': Glycine ('Gly'), Proline ('Pro'), and Hydroxyproline ('Hypro'). This trio of amino acids are present in unusually high concentrations in fish-sourced collagen peptides.
How Collagen Peptides Are Made
Creating effective collagen supplements for the skin is more complex than one might think.
The collagen molecule is the largest molecule in the body -- often called the 'super molecule' -- and its tightly wound 'triple helix' design is simply too big and too strong (stronger than steel by weight) to penetrate the surface of the skin, or be broken down by digestive enzymes and absorbed into the bloodstream when ingested.
This makes it difficult for topical applications or collagen drinks and collagen powders containing plain 'collagen' to replenish collagen in the skin. While moisturizers, serums, and collagen creams containing plain collagen may claim to support the body’s natural production of collagen, they can’t replace the collagen in your skin. The same is true for any collagen supplement you ingest (be it a collagen powder, collagen pill or collagen drink) that contains plain, whole molecule 'collagen.' The molecule is just too big to be absorbed and have any desired effect.
Fortunately, several years ago researchers at a large food processing company in Japan discovered a solution to this problem. They invented (and patented) a technology to break apart the collagen ‘super molecule’ into tiny collagen pieces, using various enzymes and high-pressure steam, a process called "Hydrolysis". The end product is nano-sized snippets of collagen fibers called "Hydrolyzed Collagen" -- now commonly referred to as "Collagen Peptides".
Thanks to the innovation of hydrolysis, collagen that has been 'hydrolyzed' into collagen peptides can now efficiently deliver these small, usable collagen peptides with key amino acids into our body when ingested, or applied topically.
Sources of Animal Collagen for Collagen Peptides
Type I and Type III Collagen (for skin) are derived from:
- the skin and/or scales of fish ("Marine collagen"),
- or the bones, cartilage and/or hides of cows ("Bovine collagen"),
Type II Collagen (for joints) is made from bones and cartilage of animals:
- the bones of pigs ("Porcine collagen") or
- cartilage of chickens
- bones, cartilage and/or hides of cows ("Bovine collagen").
The majority of fish collagen is Type I collagen (90%), with some Type III collagen (10%). Our own body's collagen is approximately 85% Type I and is the primary building block of our skin's structure -- which explains why Type I Collagen is considered to be the most desirable ingredient in the best collagen supplements, and most beneficial for skin care.
Why Marine Collagen Peptides are Superior For Skin
When it comes to skin health and skin benefits, fish-sourced Type I collagen peptides are widely considered to be superior to bovine-sourced Type I collagen peptides, due to the lower molecular weight (smaller size molecule) of fish-sourced collagen peptides.
A lower molecular weight means enhanced absorption, which translates into increased bioavailability.
The molecular weight (measured in 'Daltons') of a collagen molecule in its native state is approximately 300,000 Daltons ("Da"). By comparison, the molecular weight of Type I fish ('marine') hydrolyzed collagen ranges between 3,000Da and 8,000Da, with an average size of 5,000Da.
This dramatic reduction in size -- by a factor of 60 -- is equivalent to going from trying to swallow a basketball to swallowing a peanut. This is what enables fish/marine hydrolyzed collagen to be absorbed up to 1.5x more efficiently than bovine or other animal-sourced collagen.
Type I collagen peptides sourced from fish are processed from fish scales and/or fish skin -- parts of the fish that would otherwise be discarded, making them an environmentally responsible choice for collagen supplements.
Type I hydrolyzed marine collagen peptides are available in different grades, based on the type of fish and the part of the fish used.
The most premium grade of Type I marine collagen peptides available today is produced in Japan by the same food processing company that invented (and patented) hydrolysis. This highest quality collagen peptide is sourced from Red Snapper, a sustainably-sourced, deep-water fish wild-caught in the South Pacific Ocean, using 100% fish scales ONLY (NO fish skin).