Collagen powder supplements are growing in popularity, and you might wonder whether collagen is high in histamine and whether It’s safe to take if you have histamine intolerance. Is collagen powder high histamine?
First, let’s look at why people are more interesting in supplemental collagen these days and how taking it might affect histamine sensitivity symptoms.
If you have histamine intolerance or sensitivity, you know how important it is to choose foods that aren’t high in histamine and that don’t trigger histamine release based on the available data. If you choose foods that overwhelm your body’s ability to break it down, it will break it down.
Choosing Low Histamine Foods is Challenging
Knowing what to eat and not eat with histamine intolerance is tricky since not all foods are tested to see how much histamine they contain and whether they trigger histamine release. It would be easier to treat histamine intolerance if they did!
For some foods, you must judge how other people with histamine intolerance respond to the same foods. Since everyone has differing levels of diamine oxidase, the enzyme that breaks histamine down, it’s important to keep a food dairy and know what your individual tolerance to each food is.
Plus, there may be other compounds in the foods you eat, like other amines, that can trigger or worsen histamine intolerance symptoms. With collagen, things are tricker since makers of collagen powder don’t test their powder for histamine. The amount of histamine may vary too, depending on how the manufacturer makes the collagen powder.
What is Collagen Powder?
Collagen is a structural protein that makes up connective tissue, the tissue that makes up various tissues in your body, including the cartilage inside your joints, tendons, the outer layer of blood vessels, and even bone.
Collagen also lies in the dermal layer of your skin where it gives skin firmness and resistance to wrinkling. (5) Collagen also aids in wound healing. Based on its many functions, collagen can be very firm, as in bone tissue or less rigid, as in the collagen that surrounds blood vessels.
Collagen powder is a supplemental form of collagen. It comes in several forms. The most popular are collagen hydrolysate and gelatin. Collagen hydroxylate is hydrolyzed collagen, collagen broken down into amino acids that your body can more easily absorb.
Potential Health Benefits of Collagen
Collagen powder supplements are popular as small studies show supplementing with collagen may have health benefits, although its an area that needs more research. As with most supplements, too many people jump on the bandwagon before there’s enough evidence that there’s a benefit.
Collagen is an important component of cartilage, the tissue inside your joints that keeps the bones within your joints from rubbing against each other. The most common health joint-related health problem is osteoarthritis, a degenerative form of arthritis caused by damage and breakdown of the cartilage inside joints.
What if you provide the joint with more collagen? The hope is that supplying more collagen to joints will help rebuild damaged cartilage and either improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis or slow its progression.
The Science Behind Collagen Supplements for Osteoarthritis
Is there science to support the joint health benefits of collagen supplements? One review that looked at multiple randomized placebo-controlled trials relating to collagen supplements and osteoarthritis symptoms found that subjects who took a collagen supplement experienced improvements in two scales that measure arthritis symptoms. Participants who took collagen reported less pain, stiffness, and enjoyed improvements in function. (1)
Another study concluded that collagen hydrolysate and undenatured collagen may be of benefit for joints ravaged by osteoarthritis. (6) Many people are turning to collagen supplement because there are so few treatments for osteoarthritis.
Collagen for Skin Aging
Another reason collagen supplements are increasing in popularity is as a nutraceutical for skin aging. Collagen is a structural protein in the dermis, the layer just beneath the epidermis, in the skin. It’s collagen that gives your skin support and resistance to wrinkling and laxity.
Some studies show supplemental collagen improves some aspects of skin aging. For example, a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial of 120 individuals found benefits. (2) The subjects consumed a collagen supplement or a place for 90 days.
The results? Those who consumed the collagen supplement experienced improvements in skin elasticity. When skin is more elastic, it’s firmer and appears more youthful. Plus, participants who took the collagen supplement showed improvements in skin texture.
So, people are using collagen powder supplements mainly for joint issues, like osteoarthritis, and to support skin health and healthy skin aging. However, it’s an area that still needs more research, as the studies showing benefits are small. Yet they are randomized controlled trials, the highest quality type of study.
Is Collagen Powder High Histamine?
Despite the potential health benefits of collagen for osteoarthritis and skin aging, collagen powder and collagen supplements worsen histamine intolerance symptoms in some people. There are reports of histamine intolerance sufferers who tried collagen powder or bone broth, another source of collagen, and claim their symptoms worsened.
Among patients I’ve talked to, the most common symptom mentioned was diarrhea. It’s impossible to say whether it was the collagen powder or some other factor that triggered the diarrhea, but it went away once they stopped the collagen supplement.
Taking a collagen powder has the potential to unleash a number of histamine intolerance symptoms if you have very low diamine oxidase level or you’re sensitive to the amines in collagen powder or some other component.
A few people with histamine intolerance experienced a constant headache after they began a collagen supplement Since diarrhea and headache are non-specific symptoms that have many causes, it’s hard to say whether the collagen powder was responsible for the symptoms. Still, it’s a sign that you should approach supplemental collagen with caution.
Bone Broth is Rich in Collagen Too
It’s a similar story with bone broth. When manufacturers make bone broth, they add animal bones and what’s in the bones of animals? Yep! Collagen. So, approach bone broth with caution too. It’s possible that during the making of bone broth, histamine enters the broth from the animal flesh and bones used to make it.
The amount of histamine that enters the broth would increase when the bones are simmered longer. So, bone broth would contain varying amounts of histamine based on how long you simmer the bones.
Because everyone is a little different, I’ve talked to people with histamine intolerance who have no problems with collagen powder or bone broth. If you have osteoarthritis and are determined to try it, keep a food diary, and track your symptoms closely.
If you have histamine intolerance, it’s best to avoid collagen supplements unless you have a strong reason to take one. For example, unless you have symptomatic osteoarthritis, it’s safest to avoid taking a collagen supplement since you don’t have a strong indication to use it. A lot of people are taking collagen now and drinking bone broth because it’s trendy.
Other Concerns about Collagen Powder if You Have Histamine Intolerance
Beyond the histamine content of collagen powder, there are other reasons to be cautious about taking supplemental collagen. Independent testing of some collagen powders show they contain harmful impurities like heavy metals. When you take a supplement, you have no assurance that it contains what’s on the label. It’s best to select supplements that are independently tested by a third party for purity.
According to Harvard Health, bone broth poses heavy metal risk too. (3) A study showed that bone broth contains harmful heavy metals like lead and cadmium and only contains small quantities of minerals, like calcium and magnesium. (4) It’s not surprising that bone broth contains lead, since animals who take in lead from the environment store it in their bones. Animal bones can also store other toxic metals.
When you consider the fact that bone broth also contains histamine, it’s a no-go for most people with histamine intolerance.
The Bottom Line
Is collagen powder high histamine? One thing most people with histamine intolerance learn early is foods that are healthy for other people can cause reactions if you have histamine intolerance. For some people that includes collagen supplements and foods that are high in collagen like bone broth.
- García-Coronado JM, Martínez-Olvera L, Elizondo-Omaña RE, Acosta-Olivo CA, Vilchez-Cavazos F, Simental-Mendía LE, Simental-Mendía M. Effect of collagen supplementation on osteoarthritis symptoms: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. Int Orthop. 2019 Mar;43(3):531-538. doi: 10.1007/s00264-018-4211-5. Epub 2018 Oct 27. PMID: 30368550. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30368550/
- Genovese L, Corbo A, Sibilla S. An Insight into the Changes in Skin Texture and Properties following Dietary Intervention with a Nutricosmeceutical Containing a Blend of Collagen Bioactive Peptides and Antioxidants. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2017;30(3):146-158. doi: 10.1159/000464470. Epub 2017 May 20. PMID: 28528342.
- “Collagen | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School ….” https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/collagen/.
- Hsu DJ, Lee CW, Tsai WC, Chien YC. Essential and toxic metals in animal bone broths. Food & nutrition research. 2017 Jan 1;61(1):1347478.
- Schönborn K, Willenborg S, Schulz JN, Imhof T, Eming SA, Quondamatteo F, Brinckmann J, Niehoff A, Paulsson M, Koch M, Eckes B, Krieg T. Role of collagen XII in skin homeostasis and repair. Matrix Biol. 2020 Dec;94:57-76. doi: 10.1016/j.matbio.2020.08.002. Epub 2020 Sep 2. PMID: 32890632. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32890632/
- Honvo G, Lengelé L, Charles A, Reginster JY, Bruyère O. Role of Collagen Derivatives in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage Repair: A Systematic Scoping Review With Evidence Mapping. Rheumatol Ther. 2020 Dec;7(4):703-740. doi: 10.1007/s40744-020-00240-5. Epub 2020 Oct 17. PMID: 33068290; PMCID: PMC7695755.