Can you take too much collagen?

by Hannah de Gruchy March 25, 2024

Can you take too much collagen?

Collagen is a protein found in the human body. It has many essential roles, including helping to provide cushioning and lubrication in the joints and adding flexible support to the blood vessels.

Perhaps, however, it’s most well-known for its role in adding structure and plumpness to the skin. Collagen fibres sit underneath the upper layers, providing support and giving the appearance of youthful, lifted skin. Surprisingly, around the age of 25, we begin to lose the ability to manufacture collagen, meaning that our reserves gradually become depleted.

As we journey through our 30s, 40s and beyond, the result of dwindling collagen is plain to see – we develop fine lines and wrinkles, and our skin, particularly that of our face, begins to sag. We might also notice uncomfortable, stiff joints as the collagen depletes.

For this reason, many people choose to take collagen supplements to aid their natural collagen production. The benefits of collagen supplements include firmer, more lifted skin, a more youthful complexion, and better lubricated, more mobile, and less painful joints.

But is it possible to overdose on collagen and can you take too much collagen?

Taking collagen supplements: fast facts

  • Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body.
  • It’s responsible for the plumpness and youthfulness of the skin and plays a vital role in the health of the joints, muscles, and blood vessels.
  • Most collagen supplements are animal-derived; bovine collagen is made from the bones of cows and other large animals, and marine collagen derives from fish bones. Some plant-based collagen formulas also exist.
  • 2.5 – 15 g of collagen per day is considered beneficial.
  • Taking much more than this regularly may lead to digestive problems and, potentially, weight gain.

Proven benefits, but can you take too much collagen?

Handful of nuts

Collagen supplements have clear and well-researched benefits. Taking them can lead to younger-looking, less wrinkled, and more lifted skin, as well as more mobile, less stiff joints.

Many studies conclude that the skin benefits could be noticeable in just eight weeks. Some suggest that results could be seen even sooner, with one reporting a noticeable reduction in skin wrinkles after four weeks.

Consuming 2.5 – 15g of collagen in supplement form is generally considered beneficial per day. Numerous studies have found collagen supplements safe, with no known severe or dangerous side effects. But it shouldn’t be assumed that the more collagen we take, the better the results.

Collagen is a protein, and most healthy adults require around 45 - 55g of protein each day (more if we’re exercising or training to an exceptionally high intensity). This equates to around two portions of protein-rich meat, nuts, or tofu per day – one portion fitting roughly into the palm of your hand.

Therefore, taking up to 15g of collagen supplements is unlikely to push us much beyond this. However, the positive benefits will only increase if we take up to 15g daily; if we take more, we may experience some side effects.

What are the symptoms of too much collagen?

Although there are no known severe side effects to taking collagen supplements, some people report minor ones. These include gastric symptoms such as abdominal bloating, pain, excess wind, and diarrhoea. If you’re new to collagen supplements, the advice is to start with a low intake and gradually increase this over a few weeks to avoid overloading your stomach.

Even if you don’t experience these symptoms, you may do so if you take more than the recommended daily serving. The more collagen you take, the more likely you may experience digestive discomfort.

There is also some evidence to suggest that taking excessive amounts may lead to kidney or liver damage as your body tries to deal with the excess amino acids. (All proteins comprise differing quantities of the same building blocks – amino acids.)

Can too much collagen cause weight gain?

Woman having walk

A large collagen intake (more than 15g per day) over a long period could lead to weight gain. This is because collagen is a protein, and protein, along with carbohydrates and fats, is a macronutrient. All three macronutrients contain energy in the form of calories, and if we consume more calories than we burn off, we can gain weight.

Excess protein, in any form, can be stored as fat, leading to weight gain. So, if you’re trying to avoid gaining weight, it’s best not to exceed the recommended daily intake of collagen or any other protein supplements.

Many people take collagen supplements to improve their natural levels, promote youthful-looking skin, and support their joints. Although there is no upper recommended daily intake, it’s generally considered best to stick to the recommended 2.5 – 15g daily.

Technically, it’s impossible to “overdose” on collagen since it’s a protein, and the body will process it. But if we take much more than this, it’s unlikely that we’ll notice any further benefits, and we may experience some side effects, including bloating, stomach pain, and weight gain.

To see if these supplements benefit you, take your chosen form of collagen for at least 12 weeks. If you have a sensitive stomach, start on a low intake before gradually increasing. If you want to learn more about the collagen products we stock, email us, give us a call or use the live chat option, and well happily guide you.

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Hannah de Gruchy
Hannah de Gruchy


Health and wellness author and biologist specialised in sustainability, nutrition and eco-living.

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