Q: Can you take too much collagen?
A: There's no upper established upper limit.
With collagen supplements being all the rage, people are asking time and time again "can you take too much collagen?"
Unlike many vitamins and minerals that have specific UL (Tolerable Upper Intake Limits) and repercussions if you go beyond that UL, collagen is different.
Taking too much collagen has unlikely side effects, other than you'll need to re-supply quicker than most if you're taking more than 20g a day.
This article discusses whether taking too much collagen is a real problem and how to choose the best collagen supplement for the most benefit.
Let's get to it!
- 5-20 grams of collagen per day is OPTIMAL.
- Always choose grass-fed hydrolyzed collagen.
- Collagen is crucial for strong and healthy skin, hair, joints, connective tissues, bones, muscles, and arteries.
- Can you take too much collagen? There is no established upper limit for collagen intake.
- Taking collagen supplements is crucial to your health as you age.
FIRST OFF, HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU TAKE PER DAY?
Based on current studies, the sweet spot sits at 5-20 grams per day for optimized collagen turnover and synthesis.
Here's a quick guide to specific dosages based on goals:
SKIN HEALTH: 2.5–10 grams daily
BONE HEALTH: 5 grams daily
JOINT SUPPORT: 5–10 grams daily
MUSCLE HEALTH: 15–20 grams daily
But you might as well cover all your bases and hit that 20g every day. One scoop in the morning, one at night, easy money.
SECOND, WHAT COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENT SHOULD YOU TAKE?
Always go with grass-fed.
Grass-fed collagen is superior in quality and amino acids when compared to non-grass-fed collagen products.
Sourced from the hides, bones, cartilage, and connective tissues of cows raised under strict standards, these animals are able to graze on grass year-round and are not treated with excessive antibiotics or artificial growth hormones.
Collagen from cattle is also very similar to the collagen we have in our own bodies and provides a good amount of type I and type III collagen.
In addition to grass-fed hydrolyzed collagen supplements, several other collagen supplements are available. Knowing the key differences between these types of collagen supplements can help you choose the best one for your health goals.
OTHER TYPES OF COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENTS
Here’s the low down on other types of collagen out there.
UNDENATURED COLLAGEN (TYPE II): Undenatured type II collagen comes from chicken sternum cartilage. It is manufactured using a low-temperature process to keep its structure intact. This type of collagen can be helpful for joint health because it can ease stiffness and discomfort and make it easier to move around.
MARINE COLLAGEN: Marine collagen comes from the bones, skin, scales, and heads of fish. It is widely used in the cosmetic industry because of its anti-aging properties. It may also have other health benefits. A 2022 review of studies concluded that marine collagen might improve wound healing and bone regeneration.
MULTI-COLLAGEN: As its name implies, multi-collagen provides a wider variety of collagen types than single-source options. It generally comes from at least two animals, with bovine, chicken, and fish being the most common sources.
MOST IMPORTANTLY - WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU TAKE TOO MUCH COLLAGEN?
Possibly...gas and nausea.
The good thing about collagen is that there's no upper limit to how much you can take! But hold up, don't go chugging a whole tub of it in one go.
The most common complaint of taking too much collagen is mild stomach discomfort, including gas and nausea. However, this is more likely to occur with low-quality collagen supplements that are loaded up with additives, fillers, and preservatives.
Interestingly, a 2022 study in healthy female adults found that consuming 20 grams of collagen peptides daily may actually reduce bloating and improve mild digestive symptoms.
Furthermore, one recent 2019 study noted that collagen is safer in much higher doses than typically used in studies. The study's authors concluded that as much as 36% of our daily protein intake could come from collagen without any adverse health effects.
So what does this mean?
A person who requires 80–100 grams of protein per day can safely consume 29-36 grams of collagen powder per day.
WHY YOU SHOULD SUPPLEMENT WITH COLLAGEN PEPTIDES
Unless you’re sipping bone broth all day or eating animals from nose to tail as our ancestors did, you can probably benefit from a collagen supplement.
But if you’re still on the fence, let us explain why they’re a good idea.
COLLAGEN AND GLYCINE
Collagen is rich in the amino acids glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. Glycine is crucial for the creation of many proteins, including collagen. It’s a conditionally essential amino acid that the body can't always produce in adequate quantities, especially during times of growth and recovery from injuries.
Unfortunately, many people eating a Western diet may not be getting enough glycine. This is because we primarily eat muscle meat from animals, which doesn’t have a lot of glycine. The more concentrated sources, such as animal skin, tendons, and bones, are often discarded.
Aside from making collagen, glycine also plays an important role in the production of creatine and glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that protects your body from cellular damage.
As an added bonus, glycine has a calming effect on the brain and may help you sleep better.
COLLAGEN AND AGING
Collagen production slows down around the age of 20 and, as we age, continues to decline by approximately 1.0%–1.5% each year. Lifestyle factors like smoking, poor diet, excess alcohol consumption, and sun exposure can further reduce collagen levels.
After several years, the effects often become noticeable. You may start to experience joint pain, slow injury recovery, wrinkles, and slow wound healing.
Taking collagen supplements can help stimulate collagen formation and replenish some of what’s lost through aging.
Here are the health benefits of collagen supplements broken down by benefit.
JOINT HEALTH: Collagen supplements improve joint health by building and repairing joint cartilage. This helps to reduce pain and inflammation and improve mobility.
Studies have proven that collagen supplements can improve joint discomfort, knee pain, recovery from Achilles tendinopathy, and ankle and knee functionality.
SKIN HEALTH: As one of the main components of your skin, collagen provides your skin with structural support and elasticity.
One 2022 review of studies concluded that collagen supplements reduce skin wrinkling and roughness, in addition to improving skin elasticity, hydration, and turgor.
SKELETAL MUSCLE: As we get older, we often experience a loss of muscle mass, partly due to decreased collagen production. Collagen contains eight of the nine essential amino acids required for muscle tissue growth and repair.
BONE DENSITY: Collagen is a major component of your bones. As we age, our bones become weak and brittle, making them more prone to fractures.
One 2021 study discovered that long-term collagen supplementation could prevent decreases in bone mineral density. Bones with higher density tend to be stronger and less likely to break.
HOW TO CHOOSE A COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENT
When it comes to selecting a collagen supplement, there are a few key factors to keep in mind.
- No Fillers
- No Added Vitamins
- No Additives
- Absolutely NO sketchy brands.
GRASS-FED: Superior collagen comes from grass-fed animals.
HYDROLYZED: Hydrolyzation breaks down collagen proteins into smaller, more easily-digestible particles called peptides.
SINGLE INGREDIENT COLLAGEN: Without additional vitamins, additives, and fillers. Added vitamins to "enhance absorption" is a marketing play some collagen companies/supplements use. Although your body needs vitamin C for collagen synthesis, your body can absorb a collagen supplement just fine on its own. There is no solid scientific proof to suggest that vitamin C increases collagen absorption. In fact, it can potentially interact with other ingredients in the product while sitting on the shelf, thus decreasing its effectiveness.
REPUTABLE BRANDS: Buy from a brand you trust. Stop buying Collagen from your local Ross or TJ Maxx. Look for a product that's been checked by a third party to make sure its contents match the label and that it’s free of contaminants.
Collagen is important for healthy hair, skin, joints, and bones. Although the human body naturally produces collagen, production declines as we age. Taking collagen supplements can help replenish collagen levels in the body, helping with everything from easing joint pain to improving skin health.
There is no established upper limit for collagen intake, and collagen supplements are generally safe and well-tolerated for most healthy individuals.
Although taking too much collagen is unlikely to cause any significant side effects, some people have reported experiencing digestive issues after consuming large doses.
To reduce the risk of unpleasant side effects, opt for a single-ingredient collagen powder that is sourced from grass-fed animals and free of unnecessary additives, fillers, and preservatives.