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Gelatin Capsules Side Effects

by  A.M. TACON
author image A.M. Tacon
A.M. Tacon is an associate professor of health at Texas Tech University. Her research interests include psychosocial factors in cancer, complementary therapies and stress reduction in individuals with cancer. Dr. Tacon runs mindfulness-based stress reduction programs for women with breast cancer, which is based on various forms of mindfulness meditation.
Gelatin Capsules Side Effects
Large pile of gelatin supplements. Photo Credit: Buba1955/iStock/Getty Images

Gelatin, a form of hydrolyzed collagen, proteins and amino acids, comes from the boiled skin, tendons and ligaments of animals such as cows and horses. Gelatin has been used in foods for more than 100 years, as well as a supplement for enhancing hair and nail health. More recent claims are that gelatin may improve arthritis as well as trigger the body to burn fat and lose weight, states Brigham and Women's Hospital. While side effects are not common, they are possible.

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Allergy to Gelatin

In addition to being used in food products and health supplementation, gelatin also is used in making the coating of capsules for many medications. While rare, some individuals may be hypersensitive to cow or bovine gelatin products. Therefore, if you know that you have such an allergy or hypersensitivity, there are other sources that are available to you, for example, fish-based or vegetarian forms that can be substituted for the bovine form, states Should you begin experience allergy symptoms such as hives, itching, dizziness or trouble breathing, seek immediate medical attention.

Toxin Exposure

Another side effect of gelatin supplements is a reaction to toxins sometimes found in gelatin. According to "The Rite Way to Immortality: Seven Rite Rules of Wellness, Energy & Longevity" by Dr. F.C. Rite, gelatin capsules, on occasion, may get combined with toxins due to their animal source. This is because many cows receive antibiotics, or may eat foods that have been treated with pesticides. If this is the case, you may experience stomach upset or other gastrointestinal symptoms. Stop taking the gelatin capsules and contact your doctor if such symptoms occur; if symptoms become acute, get emergency medical treatment.

Liver and Kidney Function

A possible side effect of gelatin supplements involves the protein contained in the gelatin and kidney and liver functioning. Specifically, taking gelatin capsule supplements can result in your liver and kidneys having to work harder to break down and excrete the protein. Since gelatin is known for being used at times as a protein supplement, too much protein without the intake of the necessary amount of carbohydrates can put an excess strain on your liver, according to Therefore, those with a history of kidney or liver disease should speak first with their physician before taking gelatin capsules in order not to exacerbate existing medical conditions.


Another potential side effect involves the use of products that contain gelatin for external use. For example, topical application of skin care products or hair products such as shampoo may produce what is known as contact dermatitis in certain individuals, states Brigham and Women's Hospital. If you begin developing a mild rash and the product contains hydrolyzed collagen or gelatin, stop using it immediately. Should this symptom not subside after several days, contact your doctor for evaluation.

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