Can I Boost Collagen by Eating Fish Maw?

In East Asia, particularly in Hong Kong, the consumption of fish maw is a cherished tradition, especially among women. This delicacy is often consumed in the form of fish maw chicken soup or braised fish maw, with the belief that it can boost collagen levels in the body. But does eating fish maw really increase collagen? Let’s explore this topic in detail.


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Understanding Fish Maw and Collagen
Understanding Fish Maw and Collagen

Fish maw, also known as swim bladder, is a dried seafood product commonly used in Asian cuisine. It is extracted from various fish species, including croaker, sturgeon, and cod. The unique texture of fish maw, which becomes gelatinous and chewy when rehydrated, is highly prized in Asian cuisine.


Collagen, on the other hand, is a protein that plays a crucial role in maintaining skin elasticity and reducing wrinkles. As we age, our body’s collagen production decreases, leading to signs of ageing such as wrinkles and sagging skin.

Fish Maw and Collagen: The Connection
Fish Maw and Collagen: The Connection

Fish maw is believed to contain high levels of collagen. Consuming it is thought to improve skin elasticity, reduce wrinkles, and promote overall skin health. However, it’s important to note that many of these health benefits are based on traditional Chinese medicine beliefs and have not been extensively studied or scientifically proven.


Food like fish maw and pig trotters are indeed sources of collagen. However, the efficiency of gaining collagen from these foods depends on several factors, including the individual’s digestion and absorption.


Fish maw is believed to contain high levels of collagen. However, the actual amount of collagen that can be absorbed by the body from fish maw is not well-studied. Pig trotters, or pig’s feet, are rich in collagen. When slow-cooked or braised, the collagen in pig trotters breaks down into gelatin to the soup or sauce base, which is easier for the body to absorb. However, pig trotters are also high in fat. A 3-ounce serving of simmered pig’s foot contains about 14 grams of fat.


Therefore, while these foods can contribute to collagen intake, they should be consumed in moderation due to their high fat content1. It’s also important to note that a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle play a crucial role in maintaining collagen levels.

Boosting Collagen Levels: Dietary and Lifestyle Recommendations
Boosting Collagen Levels: Dietary and Lifestyle Recommendations

While consuming fish maw may contribute to collagen levels, there are several other ways to boost collagen production:


  1. Collagen Supplements: These supplements are popular for their potential to improve skin health. Some studies suggest that taking hydrolyzed collagen supplements for 90 days can reduce wrinkles and improve skin elasticity and hydration.

    Collagen supplements often contain hydrolyzed collagen, which is broken down into smaller molecules, making it easier for the body to absorb than  whole food collagen sources. Therefore, while both fish maw and collagen supplements can contribute to collagen intake, collagen supplements are generally more easily absorbed by the body due to their formulation.
  2. Vitamin C: This vitamin is essential for collagen production. Consuming foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, berries, and bell peppers, can help boost collagen levels.

  3. Protein-Rich Foods: Foods rich in protein, such as eggs, bone broth, beans, and meat, provide the amino acids necessary for collagen production.

  4. Zinc and Copper: These minerals are essential for collagen production. Foods like meat, shellfish, nuts, whole grains, and beans are good sources of zinc and copper.
  5. Healthy Lifestyle: Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and avoiding excessive sun exposure can also help maintain healthy collagen levels.

Remember, while these methods can contribute to collagen production, they should be part of a balanced lifestyle. It’s always a good idea to consult with a doctor or a nutritionist for personalised advice.


In conclusion, while fish maw is believed to be a good source of collagen, it’s important to remember that a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle play a crucial role in maintaining collagen levels. As the saying goes, “Beauty comes from within.” So, let’s embrace ageing gracefully with a balanced diet, regular exercise, and a positive attitude. Enjoy your journey to healthier skin!

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