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Those Buzzy New Collagen Products Are Risky Business

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“After I had my last child, my hair was falling out and got really brittle, which Khloé said had happened to her, too, and she was helped by the product,” Mrs. Joseph said.

That didn’t happen. Instead, her normally clear skin broke out within days of adding the supplement to her drinks, a result she discovered was common after digging into Reddit threads. When she stopped taking it, her skin cleared up.

“I’ve tried so many supplements, and at this point, I’m over it,” she said.

Since many of these collagen products include a variety of other ingredients, including biotin and hyaluronic acid, it can be difficult to pinpoint what’s actually triggering a negative reaction. “Many of them are bundled with whey protein, which has lactose in it and can induce acne flares, as well as a lot of sugar,” Dr. Ivy Lee, a dermatologist in Los Angeles, said.

Collagen supplements that come from marine sources instead of the more common bovine-sourced collagen have become popular as many people lessen their beef intake, but they’ve brought with them a host of new issues. Experts report that they are more likely to ignite allergic reactions because of potential shellfish contamination.

Since collagen can lead to increased fullness and satiety, which is common with any protein source, some companies have attempted to frame it as a weight loss tool despite a lack of supporting evidence, per Dr. Lee. In some cases, these products can actually have the opposite effect because of their often high sugar and carbohydrate content, as well as a tendency to cause bloating.

And some of the most common side effects are gastrointestinal: Dr. Sonpal regularly hears patients who try them complain of diarrhea, heartburn and constipation.


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