Side Effects of Bovine Collagen: Is it Safe?

Anju Mobin
By Anju Mobin
Kirsty Mac Dougall
Edited by Kirsty Macdougall

Published May 24, 2022.

Collagen powder and a glass of water on a blue table

Bovine collagen is a collagen supplement that is derived from beef cattle. It's a naturally occurring protein found in the cartilage, joints, and bones of cattle. Bovine collagen is rich in Type I and Type III collagen.

Here's everything you need to know about bovine collagen, including its benefits and side effects.

Benefits of Bovine Collagen

The different sources of collagen offer a range of benefits. More specifically, bovine collagen increases your Type I and Type III collagen, which offers the following benefits:

  • Youthful skin As your skin is specially made of these two types of collagen, bovine collagen is especially helpful in reducing wrinkles, improving elasticity, and increasing skin moisture. A study published in 2014 in the Journal of Skin Pharmacology and Physiology observed 114 women between the ages of 45 and 65. They were randomly assigned 2.5 grams of bovine collagen or a placebo once daily for eight weeks. At the end of the eight weeks, there was a notable reduction in wrinkles in women taking bovine collagen—a reduction of 20%, which is a significant result (1).
  • Reduction in osteoarthritis symptoms Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that manifests in chronic pain and stiffness of the joints. Areas such as the hands, hips, knees, and lower back are mainly affected. Age and excessive use of the joints lead to the degeneration of cartilage, which is the coating on the surface of the bones in joints. Loss of cartilage means the protective cover over the bone is gone. They would then rub directly against each other, causing inflammation (2). We recommend you read our article on inflammaging to learn more about inflammation and its connection to age.
  • Cartilage is strengthened Bovine collagen stimulates cartilage production and helps increase bone formation and mineralization. This helps reduce joint pain, thereby giving relief from osteoarthritis symptoms.
  • Bone loss prevention Type I collagen has been shown to improve bone density and strengthen bones. Since bovine collagen has a substantial amount of this type, it helps prevent bone loss.
  • Better sleep quality Bovine collagen enhances restorative sleep by triggering the release of the “happy hormones.” Read our article on the best natural ingredients to improve sleep if you currently experience difficulties sleeping.

Side Effects of Bovine Collagen

Generally, bovine collagen is safe to consume orally. It is considered safe for most people, and there is no standardized upper limit. However, in rare cases, gastrointestinal disorders have been reported, including diarrhea and nausea.

When administered as a shot in the muscles, there are very few side effects. As can be expected with an injection, individuals may experience slight pain on the puncture site, with occasional swelling, local redness, or itching.

How Do You Know if You Have Taken Too Much Collagen?

Not everyone needs to take collagen supplements for glowing skin and strong joints. But there are certain individuals who will definitely benefit from taking it. For example, people with osteoarthritis who suffer from joint pain and inflammation or those who wish to look younger.

Collagen is a type of protein. The protein requirements of most people are between 45 and 56 grams of protein per day. So, unless you are taking too much collagen or too much protein in your diet along with collagen, you will not cross the danger limit. However, in some people, it may cause stomach problems. Although rare, symptoms of allergy to collagen supplements can also occur.

Studies have stated that 2.5–15 grams of hydrolyzed collagen per day is safe (3).

How Long Can Collagen Be Taken?

How long you need to take collagen depends on your requirement. For those with a collagen deficiency, taking it for a few days or a week will not make much difference. You need to consume your collagen supplements regularly for a month to start seeing changes in your skin, joint health, and more.

Just 2.5 grams a day for three months has been found to significantly improve skin health, elasticity, and hydration (4). 15 grams of collagen peptide supplementation over three months improved body composition by increasing fat-free mass and muscle strength (5). Even 10–15 grams of collagen taken daily for six months is known to be safe and very effective.

However, it is best to talk to your doctor for the right guidance, depending on your health condition.

The Final Verdict

In recent times, bovine collagen has been criticized for not being effective. In contrast, marine collagen is becoming popular. It is highly bioavailable and more sustainable. It is commonly available in powder form, which can be used in baking, or added to shakes or smoothies.

You should always make sure to buy collagen from a reputed source, as this will guarantee purity. Approved Science® Collagen Pills are very effective as they have marine collagen powder derived from the wild Alaskan pollock.

Understanding the different types of collagen and their specific properties will help you make the right choice of collagen supplements for improving your health.