Can Collagen Really Cause Kidney Stones? Here's What You Need to Know

Posted by Alerna Kidney Health on

  • Collagen is a crucial protein for skin, joints, and bones, with no direct evidence linking it to kidney stone formation.
  • Different types of collagen offer unique benefits to the body's structural components.
  • Collagen's amino acid, hydroxyproline, is essential for stability and structure, but high intake may increase urinary oxalate excretion.
  • When consumed moderately, Collagen supplements are generally well-tolerated, but consulting a healthcare provider is wise for personalized advice.
  • The combination of collagen and tart cherry extract shows promise in kidney stone prevention, with tart cherry's anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties potentially complementing collagen's benefits.

Collagen, a protein vital to skin, joint, and bone health, has gained significant attention. But could collagen be linked to kidney stones? This article will explore the world of collagen, kidney stones, and whether there's any cause for concern. So, let's clear the air and get the facts straight.

What Is Collagen, and Why Is It Important?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies, acting as the building blocks for our skin, bones, muscles, tendons, and more. It's like the glue that holds our body's structural components together. Our natural collagen production declines as we age, leading to various health issues like joint pain and sagging skin.

Common Sources of Collagen

Collagen has been recognized for supporting skin, joint, and bone health. Let's take a closer look at some common sources of collagen that can provide essential building blocks for a healthy you.1


Collagen-Rich Foods: Nutritional Powerhouses


  • Bone Broth: Crafted by simmering animal bones and connective tissues, bone broth is a nutrient-packed elixir cherished across cultures for centuries. Its collagen content imparts both flavor and health benefits.
  • Fish: Fish, especially varieties with skin and bones, offer a collagen-rich boost. Savoring fish with these elements intact delivers collagen and essential omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Chicken: Chicken provides a collagen infusion, particularly in the skin and connective tissues. Including chicken dishes in your diet can contribute to your collagen intake.
  • Egg Whites: While not as collagen-dense as other sources, egg whites contain proline, a key amino acid in collagen production. Combining them with collagen-rich foods further supports your body's collagen synthesis.

Collagen Supplements: Convenient and Concentrated


  • Collagen Powders: These powders, derived from animal connective tissues, supplement your collagen intake conveniently. Easily mixable into beverages, protein shakes, or foods, they deliver a concentrated dose of collagen.
  • Collagen Capsules and Tablets: For a straightforward supplement experience, capsules and tablets offer simplicity and precision in collagen consumption.

Plant-Based Collagen Alternatives: Supporting Synthesis

While animal sources dominate collagen content, plant-based alternatives can aid collagen production in your body. Plant-based foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals contribute to skin health and collagen synthesis. These include berries, citrus fruits, and leafy greens.

Kidney Stones and Their Causes

Kidney stones are solid masses that form in the kidneys, often causing intense pain when they pass through the urinary tract.2 They're usually composed of minerals and salts that crystallize and stick together. The causes of kidney stones are multifaceted and can include dehydration, a diet high in sodium and oxalates, and certain medical conditions.

Can Collagen Cause Kidney Stones?

Now, let's address the big question: can collagen cause kidney stones? While there's no direct evidence suggesting that collagen consumption leads to kidney stones, it's important to understand certain aspects related to collagen composition.

A key component of collagen is hydroxyproline, an amino acid that plays a pivotal role in the stability and structure of collagen fibers. However, hydroxyproline's presence raises a consideration when discussing kidney stone risk.3

Consuming collagen in high amounts could lead to increased urinary oxalate excretion.4 Oxalate is naturally present in various foods and is also produced by the body. Excessive oxalate, when combined with calcium, can contribute to the formation of kidney stones, particularly in susceptible individuals.

However, it's important to emphasize that the overall impact of collagen consumption on urinary oxalate excretion is influenced by multiple factors, including the type and quantity of collagen ingested, individual metabolic processes, and dietary oxalate intake.

Can Collagen Help Prevent Kidney Stones?

While hydroxyproline's potential to influence oxalate excretion might raise concerns, keeping things in perspective is vital. Moderate collagen consumption, as part of a balanced diet, is unlikely to pose a significant risk for kidney stone formation. In fact, incorporating collagen-rich foods and supplements, when done mindfully, can provide essential amino acids that support overall health.

Interestingly, some sources indicate that collagen might even benefit kidney health. For instance, when combined with collagen, tart cherry extract could help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress – factors that could contribute to kidney stone formation. However, more research is needed to establish a clear link between collagen and kidney stone prevention.

Tart cherry extract, renowned for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, introduces an intriguing dynamic when combined with collagen.5 While research is ongoing, there's a hypothesis that this duo could collectively contribute to kidney stone prevention. It contains compounds such as anthocyanins, associated with reducing inflammation and neutralizing harmful free radicals. This combination could present a holistic approach to overall wellness when coupled with collagen's potential benefits for skin, joints, and bones.

It's important to note that while the potential benefits of collagen and tart cherry extract are exciting, they're just one facet of kidney stone prevention. Staying hydrated, managing dietary oxalate intake, and adopting a balanced lifestyle remain essential to maintaining kidney health.

Collagen and Kidney Stones: Things to Consider

Types of Collagen

When considering the potential impact of collagen on kidney health, it's essential to recognize that not all collagen supplements are the same.6 Different types of collagen offer specific benefits for various aspects of the body. Let's take a closer look at some of the key types of collagen:


  • Type I Collagen: Supports skin, bones, and tendons and enhances skin elasticity, bone strength, and joint health.
  • Type II Collagen: Found in cartilage and joint tissues, it aids joint flexibility and reduces inflammation.
  • Type III Collagen: Supports skin and blood vessels and enhances skin suppleness and blood vessel strength.
  • Type V Collagen: Present on cell surfaces and in tissues like hair and placenta. It ensures cell adhesion and tissue integrity.
  • Type X Collagen: Found in bone formation areas and supports bone mineralization and development.

Selecting a collagen supplement aligned with your health goals is crucial. Although no specific collagen type is directly tied to kidney stones, opting for a variety that matches your needs is wise.

Are Certain Types of Collagen More Likely to Cause Kidney Stones?

Remember that these collagen types often work synergistically to support various bodily functions. While there's no definitive evidence that a particular collagen type directly causes kidney stones, opting for a collagen variety that best addresses your individual needs can be a smart choice.

Remember, it's always recommended to consult a healthcare professional before introducing new supplements into your routine, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions. They can provide personalized guidance based on your medical history and goals.

How Much Collagen is Kidney-Friendly?

The optimal collagen dosage varies from person to person. It's generally recommended to follow the dosage instructions provided by the manufacturer or consult with a healthcare professional to determine the right amount for your individual needs.

Overall Diet and Health Status

Remember that multiple factors influence kidney stone formation, including diet and overall health. Maintaining a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and managing your health conditions are essential to preventing kidney stone development. [1]

Can I Take Collagen Supplements If I Have a History of Kidney Stones?

If you have a history of kidney stones, you might wonder if collagen supplements are safe. While there's no concrete evidence linking collagen to kidney stone formation, discussing your concerns with a medical professional before adding collagen supplements to your routine is advisable.

When to Seek Medical Advice?

If you experience symptoms like severe abdominal or back pain, pain while urinating, blood in urine, or frequent urinary tract infections, it's essential to seek medical attention promptly. These could be signs of kidney stones or other urinary issues that require professional evaluation.

Conclusion

In the grand scheme of kidney health, collagen has more potential benefits than risks. While no current evidence suggests that collagen causes kidney stones, it's always wise to approach supplements with caution and consult a healthcare provider if you have underlying health conditions.

Remember, maintaining a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and living an active lifestyle are some of the best ways to support your kidney health naturally. And if you're considering collagen supplements, make an informed choice based on your unique needs and circumstances.

Collagen and Kidney Stones: FAQs

IS COLLAGEN GOOD FOR THE KIDNEYS?

Yes, collagen is crucial for various bodily functions, including skin and joint health. No direct evidence suggests collagen harms the kidneys, but moderation and consulting a healthcare professional are recommended, especially if you have kidney concerns.

WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF TAKING COLLAGEN?

Collagen supplements are generally well-tolerated. Possible mild side effects include temporary gastrointestinal discomfort like bloating. If you have concerns or unusual effects, consult a healthcare provider.

WHO SHOULD AVOID TAKING COLLAGEN?

While collagen is safe for many, those with allergies to collagen sources, a history of kidney issues, or who are pregnant/breastfeeding should be cautious. Consult a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

IS COLLAGEN SAFE FOR THE LIVER AND KIDNEYS?

Collagen supplements are generally safe for liver and kidney health. However, consult a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement, especially if you have existing liver or kidney conditions, to ensure suitability for your health needs.

Medical Disclaimer:

The information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new dietary supplement, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, have a medical condition, or are taking other medications. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.

References:

  1. The Nutrition Source - Collagen. (2021). Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Accessed from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/collagen/.
  2. Khan SR, Pearle MS, Robertson WG, Gambaro G, Canales BK, Doizi S, Traxer O, Tiselius HG. Kidney stones. Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2016 Feb 25;2:16008. doi: 10.1038/nrdp.2016.8. PMID: 27188687; PMCID: PMC5685519.
  3. Srivastava, A. K., Khare, P., Nagar, H. K., Raghuwanshi, N., & Srivastava, R. (2016). Hydroxyproline: A Potential Biochemical Marker and Its Role in the Pathogenesis of Different Diseases. Current protein & peptide science17(6), 596–602. https://doi.org/10.2174/1389203717666151201192247.
  4. Fargue S, Milliner DS, Knight J, Olson JB, Lowther WT, Holmes RP. Hydroxyproline Metabolism and Oxalate Synthesis in Primary Hyperoxaluria. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2018 Jun;29(6):1615-1623. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2017040390. Epub 2018 Mar 27. PMID: 29588429; PMCID: PMC6054332.
  5. Li R, Tan Y, Li Y, Zhu X, Tang X, Zhang L, Chen J. Effects of Tart Cherry Powder on Serum Uric Acid in Hyperuricemia Rat Model. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2020 Jul 22;2020:1454305. doi: 10.1155/2020/1454305. PMID: 32774405; PMCID: PMC7396008. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7396008/
  6. Collagen. (2022, May 23). Cleveland Clinic. Accessed from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/23089-collagen.

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