Ten Secrets About Collagen Protein (Plus Potential Side Effects)
Collagen protein has become super popular, but what do you need to know about collagen and what side effects might it have?
Note: this post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations related to your individual situation.
10 Secrets of Collagen Protein
1. Where does collagen come from?
Collagen, an insoluble protein produced in the bodies of animals, is the main component of connective tissue and cartilage. It can be found in high quantities of muscle tissue as well, where it contributes to muscle elasticity. Commercial collagen protein is generally sourced from bovine, although you can also find sources from fish now too. Collagen is extracted by cooking cartilaginous animal materials like bones, connective tissue, and skin. Therefore, collagen protein is not appropriate for those following a strict vegetarian or vegan diet, and those who are kosher.
2. Collagen is a good source of protein, but it is not complete
Collagen can be a good source of protein for those that are not strict vegetarian, vegan, or kosher. By volume, collagen is almost purely protein, although it is not a complete protein. One tablespoon of collagen contains about 6-7 grams of protein, which is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream.
3. Collagen can be sourced from CAFO animals unless labeled pasture-raised
Beware of the source of your collagen protein. The Consumer Wellness Center (CWC) tested several brands of collagen protein and found that those not sourced from organic livestock contained concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) byproducts such as endocrine-disrupting chemicals, prescription drugs, and antibiotics. The results have been questioned and the studies are currently being re-done, but it’s a good idea to look for collagen protein that is certified organic and pasture-raised to avoid CAFO byproducts.
4. Collagen helps nourish skin, hair and nails, but only if ingested
Clinical studies have shown that daily collagen consumption significantly improves skin elasticity and moisture. When ingested, collagen peptides may bring about the production and reorganization of new collagen fibers by stimulating the fibroblasts in the connective tissues of the skin. The abundance of amino acids in collagen may also improve the strength of the skin, hair and nails. Many topical beauty products contain collagen. However, that won’t do you much good since the collagen molecules in these products are too large to be absorbed. It’s better to ingest collagen than to try to absorb it.
5. Collagen can supports bone and joint health
Collagen makes up about 90% of our bone mass. Therefore, collagen supplementation can likely be a key factor in promoting bone health. Studies show that supplementing with collagen can also benefit joint health by reducing joint pain and inflammation. The rich source of amino acids provided in collagen protein may help to rebuild joint cartilage and may also have an anti-inflammatory effect.
6. Collagen can support digestion and satiety
The amino acids in collagen provide soothing and reparative properties for the digestive tract. Glycine, one of the amino acids found in abundance in collagen protein, has been shown to stimulate stomach acid production thereby improving digestion and nutrient absorption. Another clinical study showed that those who consumed collagen protein instead of other protein sources like soy and whey at breakfast time were up to 400% more satiated and ate 20% less at lunch time.
7. Collagen might increase histamine levels
People who suffer from a histamine intolerance might have a negative reaction when consuming collagen protein. It is uncommon to hear about side effects from collagen protein. However, quite a few patients that started consuming collagen peptides self-reported increased histamine reactions. Likely these patients that suffered a histamine response when consuming collagen have a severe form of histamine intolerance called Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. If you have a known histamine intolerance, consuming collagen protein may not be appropriate for you.
8. Collagen might deplete tryptophan levels
A little known fact is that collagen has been used in tryptophan-depletion studies to lower serotonin levels. Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin. This study goes into more detail about how collagen protein is being used to study the relationship between serotonin and behavior. So what does this mean for you? Some patients have reported mood disorders as a negative side effect when consuming collagen protein. If you’re prone to mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, then be cautious about consuming collagen protein. You may want to consider supplementing with tryptophan on days you consume collagen.
9. Collagen may not work for people who are sensitive to glutamine
The use of collagen is often prescribed for those who have been diagnosed with a digestive disorder called Leaky Gut Syndrome. But folks that are sensitive to glutamine need to be cautious when consuming collagen protein. Glutamine is an amino acid that is found in abundance in collagen protein.
While glutamine is beneficial for some, others may be sensitive to it since they may suffer from a more severe case of Leaky Gut Syndrome. The reason is that high amounts of glutamic acid from glutamine may leak into the bloodstream via the compromised intestinal walls that are found in people with Leaky Gut Syndrome. High levels of glutamic acid may trigger brain fog, migraines, mood swings, more serious mood disorders, and even seizures if you are prone to them.
10. Collagen blends well into many types of foods and beverages
Collagen is relatively odorless and tasteless and dissolves almost instantly, making it easy to mix into foods and beverages. A quick internet search will bring about many recipes featuring collagen. Here are a few that I’ve created:
You might also want to read my article with more information about the benefits of collagen protein.
As with any supplement, you may wish to discuss with your healthcare professional whether or not collagen protein is a good idea for you. I personally have incorporated it into my diet with very good results, but you can see that there can be some negative side effects from collagen protein.
Some of the brands of grass-fed and responsibly sourced collagen proteins that I trust and recommend include:
Do you consume collagen protein? If so, what are some of the benefits that you have noticed? Have you experienced any negative side effects from its consumption?