Collagen supplements and collagen peptides are all the rage in the health and beauty world at the moment. But what is collagen and what are its side effects? It's a family of fibrous proteins that act as the building blocks for skin, bones, teeth, cartilage, tendons and other connective tissues, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
Collagen, which helps in healing and repairing damaged bones and cartilages, also maintains the resistance, elasticity and mobility of joints and connective tissue. You can take dietary supplements to restore collagen levels; however, there are positive and negative side effects associated with doing so.
Supplemental Collagen Benefits
According to a study published in 2017 by Biomedical Journal of Scientific & Technical Research, collagen supplements have many beneficial side effects. Collagen pills increase skin hydration and improve skin elasticity, which provides an anti-aging effect for your appearance.
Collagen supplements improve wound healing and help reduce inflammation in the body. These supplements can also improve symptoms associated with osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, as well as decrease risk of cardiovascular disease. Collagen lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Research also shows that collagen can increase insulin secretion and improve glucose tolerance.
High Calcium Levels
According to MedlinePlus, a website supported by the National Institutes of Health, high calcium levels or hypercalcemia may occur as possible side effects of collagen supplements. Collagen tablets that come from marine sources, such as shark cartilage and shell fish, contain high amounts of calcium, which can significantly raise the calcium levels of the patient using the supplement.
Normal values for calcium levels range from 8.5 to 10.2 mg/dl — a reading higher than 10.2mg/dl is considered hypercalcemia. Too much calcium in the body causes constipation, bone pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abnormal heart rhythms. Taking calcium supplements together with this type of collagen tablet should be done with caution.
Reactions from Hypersensitivity
Hypersensitivity reactions can result as a side effects of taking collagen supplements. As noted on the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases website, hypersensitivity reactions happen as an abnormal response of the immune system against allergens, such as food, drugs and supplements. Collagen supplements that come from shell fish and other marine sources may cause allergic reactions.
Other collagen supplements that come from eggs and their derivatives can also cause food sensitivities, especially in children. Prior to giving injectable collagen, a test is done to check for hypersensitivity.
Bad Taste in the Mouth
Some oral collagen supplements can leave a bad taste in the mouth, according to MedlinePlus. Collagen supplements made from marine sources usually have an unpleasant taste and odor that is not very favorable to most patients. Drinking fruit juice together with this type of oral collagen supplement can mask the unpleasant taste. Acidic fruit juices, such as orange, apple, grape and tomato, can lower the collagen supplement's strength and potency; therefore, they should be avoided.
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: Osteoarthritis
- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: Food Allergy
- MedlinePlus: Shark Cartilage
- Biomedical Journal of Scientific & Technical Research: Beneficial Effects of Collagen Hydrolysate: A Review of Recent Developments