Does Collagen Make You Poop? Here's What The Research Says
When considering taking a new supplement, you should certainly try to learn as much about it as you can. This is why we have such an extended inventory of educational articles for our readers and mbg supplement fans.
When it comes to collagen powder, there are a plethora of both beauty-centric and full-body benefits, some more extensively researched than others.* However, there's one unexpected question we''ve heard again and again of late: Does collagen make you poop?
Here, discover the research behind collagen and digestion and also, what's still preliminary science and needs to marinate a bit longer (before we have a definitive answer!).
Collagen and digestion.
Exciting strides have been made in the realm of collagen research in the past few years. One specific area that's been in the spotlight is collagen and digestive health, which may come as a surprise for some who only know collagen for its beauty-related benefits.
Earlier this year, a two-phase clinical study1 researched the effect of a daily collagen supplement on key aspects of digestive health. You can check out the full breakdown here for a deep dive into the study's process and detailed results. Otherwise, keep reading for a quick summary.
The beginning phase of this study showed that only about 30% of consumers knew that collagen even has gut health relevance and could potentially aid in digestion.* The second phase, however, is where the real action took place: This consisted of two weeks of baseline testing, measuring digestive health status, stool health (yes, bowel movements included), and participants' lifestyle factors before taking collagen. After the baseline was established, participants began supplementing with collagen.
In the study, 40 healthy women took 20 grams of bovine collagen peptides each day, split into two servings. The results? After eight weeks of collagen supplementation, 93% (13 out of 14 women) of those who completed the study experienced noteworthy improvements in digestion, including bloating and abdominal comfort.*
Additionally, poop came into play: 94% (15 out of 16 women) increased their bowel movement frequency. More specifically, 19% (3 out of 16 women) increased from historically going No. 2 only once per week or less to once per day since starting the collagen supplement.
The study notes that potential explanations for this change in bowel movement frequency could be a shift in the gut microbiome composition because of the increased protein load or simply because of an increase in water consumption (or some other exciting mechanism, so TBD!). This particular area of research is young, so more studies will help us really understand how collagen supplementation might assist with laxation (aka poops).*
Given this GI-focused collagen study, it's worth mentioning that mindbodygreen's beauty & gut collagen+ formula includes 17.7 grams of bovine collagen peptides, which certainly falls within the ballpark of magnitude of the research above. Plus, mbg's unique formula leverages seven other unique bioactives to bolster collagen's actions—including L-glutamine, which is a critical nutrient for the cells in the gut, supporting a healthy intestinal lining for GI barrier function and integrity.*
So does collagen make you poop?
While there is research studying collagen supplementation on bloating, abdominal comfort, and even bowel movements, it's not a bulky area of research yet. So does collagen make you poop? It might, but more clinical trial research is warranted to back up a hard yes or no.
However, the above clinical and other collective research has shown that collagen helps improve gut health. For example, science has demonstrated that levels of certain types of collagen are lower in individuals with digestive challenges2. And one of the main amino acids in collagen peptides, glutamate (aka glutamic acid), functions as a critical signaling molecule in the enteric nervous system (yes, your GI tract has its own neuronal connections) and is important for gut-brain axis communications, too.
Some collagen formulas (like mbg's beauty & gut collagen+), also include other gut-centric bioactives, like amino acid L-glutamine, which supports digestive health because it's a major fuel source for the cells in the intestine.*
"Glutamine3 has been shown to reduce inflammatory processes in the intestinal wall and improve intestinal permeability," thus supporting digestion, Amy Gonzalez, R.D., FNTP, CLT, of The Holistic Dietitian, tells mbg about collagen's benefits.* Meanwhile, glycine4 (a noteworthy amino acid delivered to the body via collagen peptides) "has been shown to support the stomach lining,"* she adds.
Other benefits and side effects of collagen.
Research on collagen supplementation and digestive health demonstrates promising results thus far. And as the body's most abundant protein, there are a plethora of other collagen benefits to know about. Here, a few notable perks:
- Promotes natural collagen production: Collagen and elastin production in the skin slows as you age5. This leads to signs of aging, like sagging and fine lines, which are usually most prominent on the face. Collagen supplementation has been shown to support natural production levels6 as you age.*
- Supports nail health: One study7 found that those who took collagen for 24 weeks reported better growth rates, reduced breakage, and overall improved appearance of the nails.*
- Nurtures bone health: This clinical trial found that postmenopausal women had enhanced bone density8 at 12 months after consuming collagen peptides daily for a year.*
- Muscle health: In one small human study, men who took collagen daily while participating in an exercise program gained more muscle mass9 than those who only did the exercise program.*
Read collagen's full list of benefits here.
In terms of short-term side effects, you may have heard anecdotal accounts of bloating, stomach upset, and fullness. This isn't common, and we suspect this might have more to do with the specific formula and additives on a brand-by-brand basis than collagen peptides in general. Meaning, this side effect may be triggered by another player in the specific brand's formula, not the collagen peptides themselves—especially because collagen itself is associated with gut and digestive health benefits, as we discussed above.*
It's important to learn about all the benefits of the supplements you take, especially those you're considering adding to your daily regimen. If you're thinking about trying a collagen supplement, you should know that there is research linking it to healthy gut function (including poops), in addition to its beauty-related perks.*
While there is good preliminary science on collagen and bowel movement regularity, larger studies are needed to increase the breadth of knowledge in this digestive health area. Research on collagen supplementation is ever-growing—and you can keep up with the robust science here.
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends, holistic skincare approaches, must-have makeup products, and inclusivity in the beauty industry. She currently lives in New York City.