You’ve heard that collagen supplements are relatively safe with little to no side effects. But did you also know that you can take too much collagen? More importantly, are you aware of the symptoms of taking too much collagen?
We’ll share the optimal dosage for collagen to help you stay within the recommended limits. On the off chance that you consume more collagen than is needed, we’ll share three notable symptoms that you should look out for. This way, you'll understand why too much of this dietary supplement is not a good thing.
How Much Collagen Should You Take Per Day?
The recommended dosage for collagen supplementation is 2.5-15 grams of collagen peptides per day. Science explained that staying within this range helps you get the most out of your supplements without suffering from the symptoms of too much collagen (more on that later). To find your exact sweet spot, speak with your primary doctor about how much collagen is good for you.
During your consultation with your doctor, keep in mind that the collagen dosage that’s best for you also depends on your personal needs. For example, if you’re supplementing for joint pain relief, you may need more collagen than the average person. The same rule applies if you’re on a vigorous workout regimen, experience chronic stress, or you’re a vegan who doesn’t get enough collagen from your diet.
On top of that, it’s good practice to follow the dosage guidelines on the product packaging. Remember, the actual collagen content per serving usually varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. It depends on factors such as where the collagen comes from as well as the processing methods.
Even within a specific brand, the dosage recommendations can differ for individual products. Using Zen Principle’s collagen supplements as an example, we typically suggest two scoops daily for our Beef Collagen Peptides Powder and Marine Collagen Peptides Powder, and 1.5 scoops daily for our Beef Gelatin Powder. If you’d like to learn more about the differences between collagen peptides and gelatin, check out our comparison guide.
Take Note of These 3 Symptoms of Taking Too Much Collagen
While collagen is relatively safe for human consumption with little to no adverse effects, it’s possible to overdo collagen supplementation. Here are three common symptoms of too much collagen in your diet.
Stomach problems are a common complaint amongst those who have taken too much collagen. You may feel bloated, pass more gas than usual, become constipated, or even have the runs. These are signs that your digestive system is overburdened with too much collagen, such that it can no longer absorb the supplement efficiently.
Take note that collagen-induced gastrointestinal discomfort is more common with gelatin than with collagen peptides (also called hydrolyzed collagen peptides). The reason is, gelatin is partially hydrolyzed and has a larger molecular weight (usually 15-400 kDa). Meanwhile, hydrolyzed collagen is fully broken down and has a smaller molecular weight (about 3-6 kDa). As such, it’s easier for your body to absorb hydrolyzed collagen than gelatin.
If you face digestion issues, it’s best to choose collagen peptides over gelatin, and most importantly, stay within the recommended dosage.
Increased Risk of Kidney Stone Formation
Not many people realize that too much collagen can increase your risk of kidney stones. The most common type of kidney stone is medically referred to as calcium oxalate stone. They are formed when your body transforms glyoxylate into oxalate. Yet, how does collagen come into play?
For starters, the collagen molecule is made up of three essential amino acids: glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. In the human body, hydroxyproline acts as a potential precursor for glyoxylate. High levels of hydroxyproline thus indirectly increase your body’s oxalate levels. This then intensifies the likelihood of calcium oxalate stone formation.
In fact, a study published in the Journal of Kidney International compared the amount of urinary glycolate excretion (glycolate is oxidized to form glyoxylate) after gelatin and whey protein ingestion. The results showed that:
- Urinary glycolate excretion was 5.3 times higher for the gelatin group than the whey protein group.
- Urinary oxalate excretion was 43% higher for the gelatin group than the whey protein group.
- The results suggested that “hydroxyproline metabolism contributes 20−50% of glycolate excreted in urine” and that “the kidney absorbs significant quantities of hydroxyproline and glycolate.”
According to the same study, when 2-5 grams of collagen or gelatin is digested in the body, this produces “approximately 1-3 mg oxalate and 10-20 mg of glycolate per day.”
While collagen turnover accounts for the majority of hydroxyproline content, the researchers also noted that your diet contributes significantly to your body’s hydroxyproline levels. So, if you eat many collagen-rich foods, like bone broth and ground beef, collagen supplements on top of these foods could set you over your daily limit of glyoxylate content. In which case, you’re now more vulnerable to kidney stones.
Dangerously High Calcium Levels
Excessive calcium concentration (medically known as hypercalcemia) in your body is another symptom of taking too much collagen. This is especially so with calcium-rich collagen supplements, such as fishbone powder, ray cartilage, and shark cartilage.
The solution is to avoid using collagen supplements derived from calcium-rich animal parts (usually the cartilage and bones). For example, Zen Principle’s Marine Collagen Peptides Powder is made from the skins of wild-caught deep-sea cod from the North Atlantic. Meanwhile, our Beef Collagen Peptides Powder is produced using 100% grass-fed collagen.
Can collagen cause scleroderma?
Scleroderma is a rare autoimmune condition characterized by abnormally high collagen production in the body. Depending on the type of scleroderma you have (either localized or systemic scleroderma), you may experience hardening and tightening of the skin that could extend to the connective tissues.
Unfortunately, the causes of scleroderma are still unknown. Current research suggests that genetics, the immune system, and some environmental factors trigger scleroderma. Meanwhile, scientists aren’t sure if excessive collagen intake from dietary and supplemental sources may be a contributing factor or not.
If you’re currently diagnosed with scleroderma or suspect you have the condition, it’s best to consult a licensed healthcare professional before adding a collagen supplement to your diet.
It’s Easy To Avoid Taking Too Much Collagen
As you can see, the symptoms of too much collagen don’t sound like much fun. No one wants to suffer through a tummy ache or embarrass themselves by passing gas in public! On a more serious note, you won’t want to risk kidney stones or hypercalcemia.
For safety reasons, it’s best to stay within the recommended dosage of collagen supplements as prescribed by your doctor or as stated on the packaging. If you’ve purchased or are interested in Zen Principle’s Collagen Supplements, check out their individual FAQs pages for the optimal dosage guidelines: