Are Collagen Supplements Safe?

Collagen supplements provide your body with an easily absorbed form of this building-block protein. Synthesized collagen is available as a pill or a mixable powder. Your body's skin cells receive timely benefits from each dose.

Collagen supplements are safe to take. Credit: PLG/iStock/GettyImages

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Your body has always produced its own nutrient-sourced collagen. If age or poor nutrition has decreased that natural supply, it's safe to take a collagen supplement.

Can I Safely Take Collagen?

According to Alyssa Pike, RD, Nutrition Communications Coordinator at International Food Information Council Foundation, adding collagen supplements to your diet shouldn't cause you harm. It bears noting, however, that the United States Food and Drug Administration isn't authorized to review effectiveness and safety of supplements. In addition, manufacturers aren't required to prove the safety (or effectiveness) of the supplements before launching them into the marketplace.

It's possible that, because each person has distinct nutritional needs, your body might not require any collagen supplementation. If you consistently consume varied animal and plant proteins, your body is likely receiving all the collagen it needs through your diet. If you're looking for a high-value collagen source, cook up some bone broth, which is considered the gold standard of collagen sources.

Read more: What Are the Benefits of a Collagen Powder Drink?

Your Daily Recommended Collagen Intake

When choosing a collagen supplement, consult with your physician on the appropriate dosage for your needs. As with any nutritional supplement, you must take the recommended amount on a consistent basis. With that said, however, a January 2019 study published in the Journal of Drugs and Dermatology assessed the effects of oral collagen supplements on subjects' skin quality, among other factors. Study patients did not all receive the same daily amount of collagen.

Researchers reviewed 11 studies that included an aggregate of 805 patients. Eight studies utilized collagen hydrolysate, with a dosage of 2.5 grams per day to 10 grams per day, for periods ranging from eight to 24 weeks. In contrast, two other studies used collagen tripeptide, 3 grams per day for periods of four to 12 weeks. Although results are still under analysis, varied-length collagen supplement use resulted in noticeable improvements in patients' skin hydration and elasticity.

Collagen Health Benefits

Collagen is literally the glue that holds your body together, emphasizes dermatologist Dr. Shari Lipner of New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. This fiber-like protein helps to connect skin cells and also contributes to skin's elastic properties. Versatile collagen is present in your skin, bone, tendons, cartilage and ligaments.

When you consume fish, chicken, beef, beans, dairy and eggs, your body gets amino acids needed for collagen creation. Vitamin C-rich foods, copper and zinc are also necessary to synthesize collagen naturally, notes the Cleveland Clinic.

Unfortunately, your natural collagen production decreases with age. As a result, you might notice thinner and drier hair, easily broken nails and wrinkling skin. When you augment your body's natural collagen with a supplement, you'll likely notice progress toward healthy hair, nails and skin. As an added bonus, collagen supplements are known to contribute to better bone strength and joint health.

Read more: 9 Ways to Keep Your Skin Looking Great

Collagen Side Effects

Naturally, you're concerned about the potential side effects of any medication or supplement. Fortunately, collagen hasn't been linked with any serious side effects or well-publicized drug interactions. If you have a specific concern, speak with your physician or a registered pharmacist.

Collagen supplement use has, however, been associated with three less-worrisome side effects. While taking collagen, you may experience a feeling of stomach heaviness. Skin rashes could also make an appearance, and you might be bothered by annoying diarrhea episodes.

Collagen can also be problematic for users who are allergic to some collagen supplement ingredients. If you have a known food allergy to shellfish, fish or eggs, it's best to avoid collagen supplements containing these components.

Can Collagen Cause Weight Gain?

Here's the short answer: No. Taking collagen supplements shouldn't make you gain weight. In fact, collagen use has been associated with a feeling of satiety, or fullness, after users consume a meal. If you feel satisfied with the food you've eaten, you're less likely to snack nonstop and eat unhealthy foods at your next meal.

The reason collagen makes you feel full is simple. Collagen is comprised of animal protein, and protein has long been known to trigger a feeling of satiety. If your collagen supplement is free from sweeteners or other additives, your body is receiving that protein in its simplest form.

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