Collagen has so many beneficial properties. However, can too much of a good thing turn into a not-so-good thing? Are there collagen side effects users should know ahead of time? While mostly on the minor end, this invaluable protein isn’t 100% free of noticeable unwanted effects. Some of our more loyal readers know by now that we are big advocates of all things collagen. Nevertheless, we must point out some aftereffects if you decide to acquire the compound via supplement.

Know the Collagen Source

Most allergic reactions are not from the collagen itself. Rather, it’s from the source. If you’re allergic to fish, for example, then you should probably think twice about getting collagen from fish sources. This is where users have to exercise caution when using supplements. What is the main source(s) of the collagen? Some products only list the collagen type and not the source. This can make things a bit tricky. If using type 2 collagen, then the source is likely from chicken. If type 1 and 3, though, then it can be from a number of sources, such as bovine, fish, or egg whites.

We are big on transparency and strongly believe supplement manufacturers should disclose every ingredient on the bottle or at least on their site. We advise staying away from companies that keep their ingredients a secret or hide behind proprietary blends. We recommend seeing our post on the parameters of a high-quality collagen supplement. Going organic is another solution, as there are minimal secondary ingredients that may be the actual cause of side effects.

Side Effects of Collagen Supplements at a Glance

Okay, let's look at some of the potential side effects of collagen hydrolysate. Keep in mind that the negative effects are atypical. People who experience side effects either exceed recommended dosages or have pre-existing allergies.

Bad Aftertaste

Some people have complained of collagen powder and even pills leaving a bad taste in their mouth, which lingers for several minutes after ingestion. This is a minor and mostly nonissue, especially considering that it’s easily preventable. Just take the powder or pill with juice or milk; that’ll easily mask any unpleasant effects on the palate or throat.

Calcium Overload

Side effects of collagen supplements may also include risk of hypercalcemia. This may be the case if the tablets contain marine sources, such as shellfish or shark cartilage, which usually also contain high amounts of calcium. Symptoms of calcium overdose include chronic fatigue, nausea, and abnormal heart rhythms.

It should be reiterated again, though, that you’re only at risk if you consume far beyond what the dosage suggests or are already hypercalcemic. Most Americans, however, are actually calcium-deficient. According to one study, 68% of Americans do not get the daily recommended calcium intake from food.

Skin Irritation

The side effects of collagen supplements also include minor skin irritation if taken as a topical agent. The skin is mostly made up of water and collagen. This is why collagen, particularly type 1, is common in anti-aging and wrinkle-reducing creams. Upon application, some users have reported minor irritation, such as itchiness, redness, and a stinging sensation. Others have also reported the skin becoming soggy, much the same way the skin becomes when you’re in the shower too long. Bear in mind that collagen creams are often loaded with secondary active ingredients and scores of inactive excipients. The irritations are far more likely due to one of those other ingredients, especially if they’re synthetic.


We briefly mentioned this already, but it bears repeating. You may experience side effects if you have existing allergies, particularly to eggs or fish. If you know you are allergic to said foods, we recommend trying a very small dosage, perhaps an eighth to a fourth of a serving to see if you experience the usual symptoms associated with your allergy. If not, then gradually increase the serving until you know you can safely consume the recommended dosage without any unpleasantries.

The Pros Outweighs the Cons

While side effects  of collagen hydrolysate certainly exist, they are rare, relatively minor, and easily avoidable. If you’re allergic to a particular collagen source, then there are plenty of alternatives.

We want to make it clear that Total Collagen does contain a variety of collagen sources. This includes hydrolysate collagen from bovine, chicken, fish, and eggs. If you’re allergic to any of these, start small and slowly build your way up. The vast majority of users have great results with Total Collagen and experienced zero negative effects.

Remember, collagen production occurs naturally in the body and is the second-most abundant compound next to water. Just as nobody (except in extreme cases) is allergic to water, nobody should be allergic to collagen. Any adverse effects are due to the source itself.

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