Can You Take Too Much Collagen?

Taking collagen supplements may seem like all the rage right now, but you might be asking yourself if you can take too much collagen.

Currently, there are no set guidelines established for the recommended amount of collagen one should take per day. With that said, collagen supplements are safe and well-tolerated by most people.

However, there may be unpleasant side effects if you take too much collagen, which includes an upset stomach and feeling overly full. 

If you are wondering how much collagen you should consume, are wondering if you can take too much collagen, or are simply wondering if collagen supplements are right for you, continue reading this article to learn more.

What is Collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It provides structure, support, and strength to skin, muscles, bones, and connective tissues throughout the body. It can support bone health, relieve joint pain, improve bone mineral density, and may even enhance body composition.

The body makes collagen on its own, and we also get collagen from both foods and supplements. In supplement form, collagen is often partially broken down into its most absorbable form, hydrolyzed collagen peptides.

Because collagen occurs naturally, not everyone might need a collagen supplement, and it actually is possible to take too much collagen.

The Different Types of Collagen

There are several different types of collagen in the human body, but the most abundant type is type I, which makes up 90% of the body's collagen.

Type II collagen is found in cartilage and is most helpful to improve joint health.

Type III collagen is mainly found in muscles, arteries, and organs.

Do You Need Collagen?

It may seem like you are going against the grain by not taking collagen supplements.

Although there are many established benefits to collagen supplements, the reality is that not everyone needs, or would benefit from, taking collagen supplements.

As we get older, our body's collagen levels begin decline, which can result in fine lines and wrinkles, joint pain, and more.

Once you reach 40 years old, you begin to lose an average of 1% of your total collagen each year. This can be exacerbated by certain lifestyle choices such as smoking, excessive sun exposure, excessive alcohol intake, and poor diet [1, 2].

Those who are younger and don't fall into this category likely don't need a collagen supplement. Their body is probably producing enough already and any additional collagen may not provide any further benefits.

On the other hand, if you fall into the category of those over 40 with any one of the above lifestyle factors, you will likely benefit from a collagen supplement. 

Although there is no way to test your collagen levels, there are some signs that you might be low such as sagging or wrinkled skin, joint pain, and stiffness, to name a few [3].

How Much Collagen Should I Take Per Day?

Since there are no set guidelines available on collagen dosing, the amount that you take is going to vary from supplement to supplement depending on the form it is in. 

One of the most common forms of supplemental collagen is hydrolyzed collagen. Hydrolyzed collagen is easily absorbed and is often made into capsules or powdered supplements. 

Based on available studies, effective doses of this form of collagen can range from 2.5-15 grams per day

Smaller doses, such as 2.5 grams, have been associated with an improvement in joint pain, stiffness, and skin integrity whereas larger doses of 15 grams are associated with helping to increase muscle mass [4].

Is Collagen A Complete Protein?

By definition, a complete protein is one that contains all nine essential amino acids. The essential amino acids are the ones that the body needs from food because we cannot make them on our own.

Collagen is low in the amino acid tryptophan, which means that collagen is not in fact a complete protein.

Therefore, collagen proteins should not be the primary source of protein in anyone's diet, but rather an addition to a healthy diet.

Can You Take Too Much Collagen?

Because collagen is a protein that is naturally occurring in the body, there is limited concern for taking too much of this supplement. 

Collagen is considered safe and non-toxic, however, consuming large amounts may result in stomach upset and uncomfortable feelings of fullness.

Additionally, since collagen is a protein, consuming more protein than your body needs can potentially lead to weight gain or even stress on your kidneys at very high amounts.

Since most research available supports doses of 2.5-15 grams of collagen, it would likely be most beneficial to stay within, or close to, those ranges to avoid any side effects. 

Are There Side Effect Risks With Collagen Supplements?

The most common side effects associated with consuming large amounts of collagen supplements are gastrointestinal in nature. 

Side effects might include bloating, cramping, stomach upset, feeling uncomfortably full, and mild nausea, but these are quite rare.

Some consumers have reported also having a headache or fatigue from consuming high doses of collagen. Overall, the risks associated with consuming too much collagen are low. 

Bear in mind that some collagen supplements may contain additional ingredients that can include allergens, cause side effects, or potentially interact with medications. 

Always speak to your doctor or health care provider before adding any supplement to your routine, especially if you are currently taking any medications for a chronic condition. 

Is it OK to Take Collagen Every Day?

If you do decide a collagen supplement is right for you, it's important that you take it on a daily basis for the best results. 

You likely won't notice much benefit if you only take collagen once in a while.

Just like taking multivitamins and other supplements, consistent intake of collagen helps to ensure you are building up your collagen stores and will likely provide the most benefit rather than taking them sporadically. 

Be sure to check the recommended dosage of your supplement to ensure that you don't take too much collagen and therefore reap the most benefit without side effects.

What are the Benefits of Taking Collagen?

Collagen is a naturally occurring protein in our body that has many health benefits.

Collagen supplements support healthy skin, hair, and nails

One of the biggest benefits of taking collagen is how it supports healthy skin health and appearance.

Hydrolyzed collagen encourages the body to make even more collagen, which leads to an increase in skin elasticity, helping people look younger and more vibrant.

There is also research to support that collagen supplements can contribute to strong, shiny, healthy hair. Nail health can also be improved with a collagen supplement.

Taking collagen supplements supports muscle mass and joint health

Collagen supplements can improve bone density, strengthen connective tissue, support the health of our blood vessels, and may even improve provide joint support [5].

Although there is a fair amount of promising research on the potential benefits of collagen supplements, there is still more research needed to support these claims. 

Can Collagen Make You Gain Weight?

Collagen supplements themselves will not likely result in weight gain

However, if you are consuming a collagen powder supplement that contains a significant amount of calories without adjusting your dietary intake, it's possible that you might experience a small increase in weight. Most collagen supplements are simply composed of just collagen peptides, so it shouldn't be a concern for weight gain.

Collagen alone is not considered a high-calorie food, but rather high in protein which is one of the most satiating macronutrients. 

Because protein promotes satiety, it is possible that consuming collagen supplements in higher doses (such as 15g per day) may help to promote a healthy weight.

If you are concerned about your weight, it's important to look at your diet and lifestyle as a whole, rather than assume collagen is leading to weight gain.

Can You Eat Collagen Rich Foods While Taking a Collagen Supplement?

It is safe to consume collagen-rich foods while also taking a collagen supplement.

In fact, your collagen intake should come from both supplements and dietary sources.

Currently, research is limited on the benefits of consuming collagen-rich foods versus supplements as dietary collagen has not been found to improve overall collagen levels.

Some examples of collagen-rich foods include bone broth, chicken skin, sardines, and organ meats. 

If you're not someone who consumes many collagen-rich foods, it's a good idea to ensure you're getting a collagen supplement to optimize your body's collagen stores and promote collagen synthesis.

However, there is a difference between collagen-rich foods and foods that promote collagen production in the body, such as vitamin C-rich foods [6]. Vitamin C is a precursor for collagen in the body, meaning it must be present in order collagen formation to occur in the body. Therefore, consuming foods such as oranges, spinach, bell peppers, and strawberries, can help increase your body's natural collagen production.

How to Add Collagen Supplements to Your Routine

If you decide that taking collagen is right for you, luckily it's easy to add collagen powder supplements to your diet. Simply look for a product that contains collagen hydrolysate, also known as collagen peptides, as this is the most readily digested and absorbed form of collagen.

The best collagen supplement will also be free of added ingredients or artificial sweeteners. To ensure you're choosing a high-quality, safe supplement, make sure the product is from a reputable source that is transparent about its processes and sourcing.

You can simply mix your collagen supplement into your favorite beverage, smoothie, or shake. Some people like to even mix collagen into certain foods such as oatmeal, yogurt, or baked goods.

Final Thoughts

So, can you take too much collagen?

Research has found collagen supplements to be potentially helpful in improving skin health, joint health, bone health, among other health benefits. Although there is a lot of hype in the media surrounding collagen supplements, more research is still needed on these benefits.

If you are young, consume a healthy diet, avoid smoking, excessive alcohol, and sun exposure, collagen supplements may not be necessary. Or, if you don't normally consume collagen-rich foods, taking a collagen supplement might be a good idea.

Adults over the age of 40 may especially benefit from collagen supplements since their natural production starts to decline.  

If you decide to add a collagen supplement to your wellness routine, always choose one from a trusted brand that offers third-party testing for quality. Be sure to speak to your doctor or healthcare provider before adding a supplement to your routine.

And note that it can take anywhere from 4-12 weeks of consistent collagen supplementation to see significant results.