Surprising Things Taking Collagen Could Do To Your Body

While you might think of collagen as the ingredient in skin-care products that promises increased skin elasticity and youthful fullness, it actually plays many roles in the human body, and for that reason, people ingest collagen supplements to treat multiple issues and to improve the health of multiple bodily systems. However, there are also potential side effects associated with supplementing with collagen, so it's always a good idea to weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks.

Collagen helps to encourage the growth of cartilage, so people with joint pain or osteoarthritis can benefit from taking it, as proven by a 2019 study published in International Orthopaedics (via Very Well Health). Similarly, a 2009 study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that taking hydrolyzed collagen supplements could help maintain lean body mass. Research has also shown that taking collagen tripeptide can help improve cholesterol levels and reduce other risk factors for hardening of the arteries, a common complication of heart disease (via Very Well Health).

Potential side effects of taking collagen

And while all of these benefits may mean collagen supplementation is a good idea for some individuals, discussing this decision with your doctor is always recommended, as there are potential side effects you should also be aware of. On the more mild side of things, the digestion of collagen supplements can cause feelings of queasiness, gas, and heaviness in the abdomen. Anyone with a seafood or shellfish allergy, however, should be very cautious, as many collagen supplements are derived from these sources, making them potentially very dangerous for anyone with this type of allergy. Speaking of ingredients, since supplements are not regulated by the FDA, it is important to research the brand and the ingredients of the type of supplement you choose (via Bustle).

More significant digestive issues like diarrhea or constipation can also result from taking collagen, as the body sometimes has trouble breaking down the high doses of collagen proteins all at once. Another reason it's important to consult with your doctor before taking collagen (or any supplement) is because it could potentially interact with other medications you're taking or topical medicines you're using. But if collagen seems like something that might be able to help you, don't let these possible side effects deter you from asking your doctor about it, because, as Dr. Stacy Chimento, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology, tells Bustle, "Collagen supplements are generally safe to consume without any serious side effects."