Marine Ingredients Increase Skin Collagen and Elastin Production

September 16, 2008

by Jeanette Jacknin, M.D.Jeanette Jacknin



More than 20,000 species of seaweed and algae exist in oceans and lakes and are beneficial in helping to acquire beautiful, youthful skin. Green seaweed is believed to increase collagen and elastin production, and reduce the signs of aging, dark circles, spider veins, stretch marks and cellulite. Used in moisturizers, beauty and hair care products, another popular marine-based ingredient, red algae extract, works as a binder and also has an anti-aging effect; and brown algae has been shown to control the signs of aging and cellulite.

Spirulina, a single-cell blue green algae, thrives in warm, brackish saline ponds. Spirulina grows so fast that it accounts for up to half of the Earth’s oxygen. This simple plant contains 65 percent protein and more than 100 vitamins, including vitamin B12, minerals, enzymes, chlorophyll, and essential fatty acids (EFAs) including gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Spirulina is highly alkalizing, which can help restore the alkaline pH balance of the body. It also reduces the effects of aging and improves longevity, detoxifies the body and boosts the immune system. In addition, spirulina is a rich source of beta-carotene, which protects the skin against photosensitivity and works as an antioxidant, protecting cells against harmful environmental elements.

The single-celled green algae called chlorella is primarily cultivated in large man-made freshwater ponds and has been grown in the Pacific Rim for more than 25 years. A popular health supplement in Japan, chlorella is highly alkalizing and, like spirulina, helps restore the alkaline pH balance of the body’s tissues thus reducing the effects of aging. Chlorella has the highest known concentration of chlorophyll in any edible plant, about 2 to 3 percent, and contains 60 percent protein, as well as high levels of beta-carotene, vitamins and minerals. It has a deodorizing activity and is used in topical ointments to reduce odors produced by wounds and surface ulcers. This mineral-rich substance also aids in tissue repair and acts as an antioxidant.

The chlorella growth factor (CGF) in the algae is thought to be quite potent and includes RNA, DNA, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. This nutrient-rich mix is said to strengthen immune function and promote rapid tissue healing, both internally and externally. Research and clinical trials have shown CGF and chlorella possess activity against a variety of cancers and tumors, in humans and in animals. CGF’s beneficial actions have been reported as immunity enhancement, inhibition of cancer cell growth and reduction of virus increment and cell renewal.

Chorella is able to protect collagen and elastin fibers against the enzymes responsible for their degradation, namely, collagenase and elastase. Chlorella may also help restructure scarred skin or aging skin tissue by stimulating the synthesis of collagen. Studies indicate it may also help the appearance of stretch marks. Researchers Pierre-Yves Morvan and Romuald Vallte studied the effects of an extract obtained from chlorella on skin restructuring, skin microcirculation and skin protection against ultraviolet (UV) irradiation. They found the micro-algae tested at 1 percent increased collagen-1 expression by 333 percent and collagen-3 expression by 150 percent, and increased elastin expression in fibroblasts by 35 percent. It also increased expression of the epidermal-dermal junction proteins and stimulated the proteins of the epidermal differentiation complex, showing a restructuring effect not only on dermis but also on epidermis. Chlorella vulgaris is thus an excellent firming ingredient, active on both epidermal and dermal structure, as well as the epidermal-dermal junction. The researchers also found Chlorella vulgaris at 1 percent significantly decreased the color and morphology of stretch marks, decreased the redness of vascular lesions and improve the size and color of the spider veins of trial patients.


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