Spanish man wondering if collagen has side effects on liver

Collagen Side Effects on Liver Explained

Are there any collagen side effects on the liver? Can collagen supplements cause liver damage? And if there is any evidence to support this, are there any benefits that might outweigh the risks of collagen supplementation? 

The truth is, there’s very little research when it comes to collagen supplementation and the liver specifically. This can make it even harder to find solid information you can use to make the best decision for your own healthcare. 

Fortunately, there have been some studies on how the collagen within your body interacts with your liver, as well as how some of the specific compounds in collagen interact with the liver. This means that we can draw some evidence-based conclusions about how collagen might interact with your liver health. So let’s dive in, starting with a closer look at collagen itself.

Granddaugher giving medical-grade collagen for liver to her grandfather

What is collagen?

Collagen is the most common protein in the human body. There are 29 types of collagen currently identified, all with slightly different makeups and functions. 

Organs, like your liver, are rich in type 3 collagen, one of the most elastic types of collagen your body produces. So-called “collagen side effects” on the liver are rare partly because collagen is already in your liver!

All collagen, like other proteins, is made of amino acids – tiny molecules that come together to form a protein. There are nine essential amino acids: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. These amino acids cannot be created by your body and have to come from food. 

There are also 11 non-essential amino acids: alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine. Your body can make these, but it’s often a good idea to include them in your diet, as well, to ensure your body has enough nutrients to make all the protein it needs. 

What does all this have to do with collagen side effects on liver? Side effects often come into play not with natural collagen, which is already in your liver, but with collagen supplementation.

What is collagen supplementation?

Collagen supplementation is using daily supplements to increase your collagen intake. It’s one of the most popular daily supplements to take, and for good reason! Collagen supplements have been linked to better hair, skin, nails, bone, and joint health. Collagen can also help build muscle and reduce inflammation. 

When it comes to collagen side effects on the liver, most people will be concerned that their supplement is causing the side effects. 

If you suspect any supplement or medication you’re taking is causing negative side effects, talk with your doctor about it as soon as possible. If you suspect you’re having an anaphylactic reaction – a severe allergic reaction to your supplement – call 911 immediately, as these can be life-threatening.

Fortunately, collagen allergies are very rare. The chances of collagen causing a negative interaction with another supplement or medication are also slim, so where does the idea come from that there are negative collagen side effects on the liver? Can collagen supplements cause liver damage, really?

How could collagen affect your liver?

Collagen is already in your liver! Remember, when people talk about collagen side effects on liver, they’re mostly concerned about collagen supplementation. There’s currently no research to suggest that collagen supplementation could have adverse effects on your liver. 

Collagen supplements are generally regarded as safe by the FDA. This means that there isn’t anything to suggest that regular usage in a normal dose causes any harm. The only thing to look out for is filler ingredients. 

Supplements aren’t regulated very strictly by the FDA, which means that you’ll want to keep an eye out for filler ingredients like salt, sugar, and calcium. These may be the source of “collagen” side effects on liver when consumed in large quantities over time, so you’ll want to choose a high-quality, medical-grade collagen supplement that doesn’t have fillers to avoid any potential damage to your liver. 

Patient standing with the support of a walker

Collagen side effects on liver

As we look more closely at collagen side effects on the liver, let’s also look at the symptoms of liver damage. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to follow up with your healthcare provider as soon as possible. They’ll be able to run tests to help you determine the cause of your symptoms and put you on the best path for treatment. 

One of the most common symptoms of liver problems is jaundice, or yellowing on the skin and the whites of your eyes. The darker your skin tone, the more difficult this can be to notice, so it’s important that this isn’t the only thing you look out for. 

People who have liver problems might also notice pain and swelling in their belly, legs, and ankles. You may also notice a loss of appetite, along with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Dark urine, easy bruising, and constant exhaustion can also be signs of liver damage or disease. 

If you’re experiencing intense pain or can’t keep any food down, seek medical attention immediately.  

Can collagen supplements cause liver damage?

When people talk about collagen side effects on liver, there’s a bit of misunderstanding between collagen supplementation and natural collagen production. 

This is due to a condition known as liver fibrosis. In someone with liver fibrosis, too much collagen accumulates in the liver. Excess collagen can lead to scar tissue forming and prevent your liver from doing its job of detoxing your body. 

Can collagen supplements cause liver damage and liver fibrosis? Liver fibrosis is not known to be among the collagen side effects on liver. Liver fibrosis is caused by injury and inflammation in your liver. After severe or sustained injuries or inflammation, your liver loses the ability to effectively heal and repair itself, resulting in liver fibrosis.  

The most common causes of liver fibrosis are alcoholic liver disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, hepatitis, and iron overload. All of these causes are conditions your doctor would discuss with you further, as well.   

What to do if you suspect you have liver fibrosis

If you suspect you have liver fibrosis, you’ll want to speak with a doctor as soon as possible. They’ll be able to diagnose you with liver fibrosis and rule out any other possible causes of your symptoms. Your doctor will also help you put together a treatment plan to help prevent your liver fibrosis from progressing to a life-threatening point. 

This treatment plan often involves treating the underlying condition causing the fibrosis, but might also include anti-inflammatory drugs, oxidative stress inhibitors, or other medicines. While putting together this plant, you may want to ask your doctor if they have any concerns about collagen side effects on liver fibrosis alongside your current medical history. 

Your doctor may not recommend any changes to your supplement routine, especially since collagen can have whole-body health benefits that extend to your liver. 

Happy family with healthy liver thanks to medical-grade collagen

Collagen benefits to liver

Could there be any positive collagen side effects on liver? Yes, actually! Collagen has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, both of which can help reduce the strain on your liver. 

Aside from collagen, what supplements are good for your liver? There are a number of them, and we won’t go into too much detail here, but suffice it to say, the most effective ones are all either anti-inflammatory or anti-oxidant.

This is because your liver’s main job is to filter out any toxins and waste from your body. During this process, it can create molecules called “free radicals”. These free radicals have been linked to several health problems, and antioxidants combat them, keeping your liver in balance

Aside from acting as an antioxidant, collagen can also be good for your liver because it’s naturally high in the amino acid glycine, which is essential to your liver. 

Glycine: your liver’s shield 

Glycine is one of the non-essential amino acids. Remember, this means that your body can make glycine on its own. However, adding foods rich in glycine to your diet or supplementing with collagen or glycine can help support your body’s supply. 

Like many other foods that heal the liver, glycine can be an antioxidant. On its own, glycine isn’t necessarily an antioxidant. However, it’s used to make glutathione, one of your body’s most powerful antioxidant tools. 

This is where those positive collagen side effects on liver come in. Collagen is naturally high in glycine, helping your body create that anti-oxidant and shielding your liver from free radical damage so it can keep detoxing your body every day.

How to safely supplement with collagen for liver health

Safely supplementing with collagen is the best way to avoid any of the collagen side effects on the liver that can be damaging. Again, there’s no evidence that collagen causes liver damage, but fillers in supplements may.

Taking collagen supplements in doses that are too high may also lead to adverse side effects. It’s important to follow the package instructions, as with any other supplement or medication. 

Another key thing to remember is that no supplement can replace lifestyle changes. Collagen side effects on liver – positive or negative – can never cancel out things like alcohol intake, smoking, diet, and exercise. Your liver is a filter, so any toxins from alcohol, smoking, drug use, or poor diet will end up in your liver. 

You can support your liver best by eating a healthy diet rich in fiber, exercising regularly, consuming little to no alcohol, and quitting smoking or excess drug use. You can reach out to your healthcare team for support in these positive lifestyle changes! 

And, of course, if you have any concerns about a supplement or medication, those are best addressed by your healthcare provider directly. Your healthcare provider will be most familiar with your unique medical history and nutritional needs. They can use this information to help you make the best decision for your health. 

ProT Gold sugar-free collagen protein for liver

Choosing a collagen supplement 

When choosing a collagen supplement, you’ll want to look for medical-grade collagen peptides. Medical-grade supplements go through more rigorous quality control compared to other supplements. This quality control process includes ensuring the nutrient content matches the label exactly, and more frequent inspections of the company and its facilities. 

The result? Medical-grade collagen peptides are much less likely to contain the harmful fillers that can cause collagen side effects on the liver. 

You may also see medical-grade “hydrolyzed collagen” or even “hydrolyzed collagen peptides”. These are all referring to the same product. Collagen supplements go through a process called “hydrolyzation” that breaks the longer collagen protein chains into smaller “peptides” for easier digestion. 

Whether you get “hydrolyzed collagen” or “collagen peptides” doesn’t matter, but whether you get medical-grade collagen or non-medical-grade absolutely does!

ProT Gold medical-grade collagen liquid protein

Collagen and your liver

Can collagen supplementation cause liver damage? So far, the science says no. When it comes to collagen side effects on liver, collagen’s antioxidant properties and naturally high glycine content mean they’re mostly positive! 

Supporting your liver is a lifestyle choice, and liver problems can be complex. If you suspect you have liver problems, be sure to follow up with your healthcare provider. But if you’re just looking to boost your overall health, a medical-grade collagen supplement can give the support you need in seconds.