If you’re worried about taking a collagen supplement, it could be because you see collagen as something brand new and untried in the human diet. But that’s not strictly true.
While our ancestors might not have stirred a scoop of powder into a chai latte, they did eat collagen and lots of it. “Nose to tail” eating was not only the norm in ancient societies, it was also thought to be a lot healthier than the way we eat meat today (ie just eating the muscle and throwing away all the gristly bits).
Consuming the hide and joints of animals meant that no valuable protein was wasted, but also gave early humans the full profile of amino acids they needed for robust, healthy bodies. In fact, some experts, including well-respected paleo writer Mark Sissons of Mark’s Daily Apple, believes that eating collagen is not only safe, but actually necessary for the health of meat-eaters, because the glycine in collagen ‘balances out’ the glycine lost through digesting muscle meat.
That may or may not be true, but one thing’s for sure. In today’s modern diets, the amino acids in collagen (glycine, proline and hydroxyproline) are hard to come by. And they’re the same amino acids we need to make our own collagen. It makes sense that we should give our bodies a good supply of these building blocks each day. But is collagen powder a safe way to do that?
Is taking collagen powder safe?
Taking collagen peptides is both safe and well-tolerated. However, some people have been known to experience minor side effects of taking collagen powder such as heartburn, a feeling of fullness, mild diarrhea or skin rashes. Taking collagen supplements with food may help to avoid any gastrointestinal upsets, as can taking a smaller dose at first and building up slowly, or even splitting a normal dose into two smaller amounts and taking them separately.
Can you take too much collagen powder?
Consuming too much of anything can make you feel a bit sick, whether that’s alcohol, sugar, meat or a protein powder! Your body soon tells you you’ve overdone it, because anytime you consume more food than your body has the enzymes to process, there’ll be some digestive discomfort like bloating. If this happens at a higher dose of collagen peptides, just scale back and slowly build up to your ideal dose.
Some people do feel thirstier when they consume more protein. Listen to your body and drink extra water if you need to.
Can I take collagen powder with other supplements or medications?
Collagen powder has no known drug interactions. But it’s always worth telling your doctor about any supplements you’re taking prior to using any medication and that includes collagen.
Is collagen powder suitable when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding?
Pregnant women are advised to get just over 50g of protein per day (that’s 6g more than women who aren’t pregnant) to keep them healthy. A tablespoon of collagen powder is almost entirely protein, so will provide you with 5g per day to help you reach your daily goals.
Taking collagen could also help when it comes to bone building and bone retention during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
So it sounds like a good idea to take collagen powder when you’re expecting. But is it safe?
It’s hard to discuss the safety of any natural products in the context of pregnancy and breastfeeding because it’s ethically questionable to perform any research on pregnant women. What we do know however is that collagen appears to be well tolerated and is thought of as a safe supply of important amino acids and protein.
That said, you shouldn’t overdo it on anything when you’re pregnant. Be sure that taking the collagen powder doesn’t put you over the recommended daily amounts of protein and tell your doctor or midwife you’re taking it.
You’ll also want to be completely certain that your collagen powder has been tested for purity and safety. Marine collagen is sourced from fish skin and choosing an unreputable brand could put you at risk of heavy metal toxicity.
Rest assured, though, that the collagen powder we sell here at Bare Biology is toxin-free. We ensure every batch of Skinful is third party tested and we’re so proud of our results we publish them on our shop page.
Is there anyone who should avoid taking collagen powder?
If you’re allergic to either fish or shellfish, you should not take a marine collagen powder such as Skinful. And if you have kidney disease, you should consult your doctor first as collagen will count towards your daily protein total.
Caution is also advised if you’ve got a history of kidney stones and again, it’s all because of the protein. Too much protein raises levels of uric acid and reduces levels of citrate in urine, both of which can start stones forming.
If you have a family history of kidney stones, ensure you’re drinking plenty of water while taking a collagen supplement.
Does collagen powder contain toxins that are known to be present in fish?
Knowing if there are any toxins in your collagen powder is vitally important, because the negative health effects caused by contaminants will outweigh any of the potential benefits you get from the supplement.
Fish can contain high levels of environmental pollutants such as heavy metals, PCBs, dioxins and furans. All manufacturers promise their collagen is free from toxins, but many fail to provide evidence. We provide COAs (Certificates of Analysis) for our collagen, so you can check the purity for yourself.
Choosing a reputable brand who are transparent about their test results and ingredients is key. Our Skinful collagen peptides are made from hydrolysed wild (never farmed) codfish skin, made and packed in Norway. They’re 100 percent safe and have the highest degree of purity.
We’re also completely transparent about the amino acids they contain.
Does a marine collagen like Skinful contain mercury?
Marine collagen does not contain any mercury as a general rule. Mercury is highly fat soluble and, as such, it accumulates in the fat tissue and organs of fish. Marine collagen is made from the skin of fish. It’s free of fat and therefore does not normally have any mercury in it.
Does a marine collagen like Skinful contain arsenic?
We associate the word ‘arsenic’ with poison. But we consume small, non-harmful amounts of arsenic every day. This is mostly through vegetables, grains and fruits because of the naturally-occuring arsenic in the soil.
Arsenic is also found in fish, too. Every batch of Skinful is tested for arsenic (along with other heavy metals) and is always found to be very low. Our result for a typical batch is 0.51 parts per million (ppm), well within the Animal Hygiene Regulations safe limit of up to 1 ppm for total arsenic in collagen and gelatin. In short, it’s a tiny amount.
So is collagen powder safe to take?
Although it may feel like the latest buzzword in nutrition, collagen is not new. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate vast quantities of collagen in the form of animal bones and it’s believed that doing so helped them to thrive, not just survive.
Packed with protein and important amino acids, collagen may help us fill an important gap in the modern diet too. And luckily these days there’s no need to boil up bones to make a broth. A collagen powder such as Skinful is safe, well-tolerated and third party tested for strength and purity. And you can just stir it into any drink, hot or cold!
Stuck on what to do with your collagen powder? Check out our super easy collagen blueberry smoothie recipe.