Does Collagen Really Increase Uric Acid? An In-Depth Look

Posted by Alerna Kidney Health on


  • High uric acid levels are often linked to the consumption of purine-rich foods, which can lead to gout, a painful medical condition.
  • Collagen, a crucial protein for the body's connective tissues, has gained popularity for its potential skin, joint, and bone health benefits.
  • Unlike purine-rich foods, collagen supplements are not directly associated with high uric acid levels, making them generally safe for those concerned about gout.
  • Tart cherries may offer properties that reduce inflammation, potentially benefiting those with gout, although more research is needed for conclusive evidence.  
  • While collagen is considered safe, those with kidney conditions or high uric acid levels should consult a healthcare provider before introducing supplements.
  • If prescribed, a balanced approach involving dietary changes, weight management, and medication can effectively manage and reduce uric acid levels.

Uric acid and collagen are two naturally occurring compounds in the human body, each serving its unique purpose. While uric acid is a byproduct of purine metabolism, collagen is a crucial protein supporting skin, hair, joints, and various tissues. Imbalances or alterations in either compound can impact health.

This article aims to understand both uric acid and collagen, their roles, sources, and potential interactions.1

What is Uric Acid?

Uric acid is a compound produced when the body breaks down purines – substances found in human cells and many foods. It usually dissolves in the blood and moves through the kidneys, then is expelled from the body in urine. However, if the body produces too much uric acid or doesn't eliminate enough, uric acid can accumulate, leading to hyperuricemia or elevated uric acid levels.1

What Types of Food Can Cause High Uric Acid?

Diet plays a significant role in the regulation of uric acid levels. When broken down in the body, high-purine foods lead to increased uric acid production. Some of these include:

  1. Meats: This category, especially red meat, can be high in purines. Specific examples include venison and veal.1
  2. Seafood: Some fish, such as trout, tuna, and sardines, and shellfish, including mussels, anchovies, and herring, are purine-rich.1
  3. Alcoholic Beverages: Excessive alcohol consumption, especially beer and hard liquors, can elevate uric acid levels.1
  4. Organ Meats: Liver, sweetbreads, and other organ meats are high in purines.1
  5. Other Foods: High-fat foods, sugary foods, and particular dairy products can contribute to increased uric acid.1

While not as potent, moderate purine sources still contribute to uric acid production. Deli meats, poultry, oyster, shrimp, crab, lobster, and even certain vegetables fall under this category.1

The Effects of High Uric Acid Levels on the Body

Elevated uric acid levels can have a range of effects on the body. The most common consequence is the development of gout, a form of arthritis where uric acid crystals deposit in joints, leading to severe pain and inflammation.1 Over time, high uric acid can also form kidney stones, affect kidney function, and potentially lead to other health conditions. Factors like obesity, gender, and other health conditions can also influence an individual's risk of developing gout or related conditions.1

What is Collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies, mainly found in skin, bones, muscles, and tendons.2 It provides structural integrity in many of our tissues and is often considered the 'glue' that holds the body together.2

  • Composition: Comprising long chains of amino acids, collagen forms strong fibers that offer structure and support for various tissues.3
  • Aging and Collagen: As we age, collagen production in our body diminishes, leading to wrinkles, sagging skin, and joint pains.2

Common Sources of Collagen

Collagen can be obtained through natural dietary sources as well as supplements:

  • Animal-Based Foods: Consuming parts of animals that we usually discard, like tendons and ligaments, can be rich sources of collagen.2
  • Bone Broth: A traditional source made by boiling animal bones for extended periods.2
  • Supplements: Often derived from animals, these can be powders, pills, or even drinks. The source of collagen (bovine, marine, etc.) and the processing method can affect its quality and efficacy.6

The Different Types of Collagen

Among the many types of collagen found in the body, three main types are predominant:

  • Type I: Constitutes a significant portion of our skin, bone, and other tissues.3
  • Type II: Mainly found in cartilage, playing a pivotal role in joint health.3
  • Type III: Found in skin, muscles, and blood vessels. Often associated with Type I.3

Most supplements focus on Type I and III collagens. When choosing supplements, it's essential to note the source and type of collagen being offered.6

Benefits of Collagen Supplements

Collagen supplementation has shown promising results in various areas:

  • Skin Health: There is some evidence that collagen supplements can improve skin hydration and elasticity and reduce wrinkles.3
  • Joint and Bone Health: Certain studies have suggested joint pain and osteoporosis benefits, though more research is needed.3,6
  • General Health: Some proponents claim benefits ranging from gut health to improved hair and nails, though these claims require more scientific validation6.

However, the body might not utilize ingested collagen directly to boost skin or joint health. Digestion breaks down proteins, including collagen, into amino acids that the body uses as needed.6

Does Collagen Increase Uric Acid Levels?

There is no direct evidence from the provided references that collagen supplements increase uric acid levels. Uric acid is primarily associated with the breakdown of purines found in certain foods7. While collagen contains amino acids, it doesn't consist of purines that contribute directly to uric acid levels.2,7

Does Collagen Have Side Effects on Kidneys?

Collagen is generally considered safe for consumption in its natural state or as a supplement. However, like with all supplements, there are potential risks associated with excessive or inappropriate intake. Overconsumption of protein, including collagen, might exert pressure on the kidneys, especially in individuals with pre-existing kidney conditions.6

Collagen supplements are usually derived from marine or animal sources and might contain contaminants. These contaminants, if present, could pose risks to overall health, including kidney function.2 Therefore, choosing high-quality supplements and consulting with healthcare professionals before starting any supplementation is essential, especially for those with kidney concerns or other health issues.6

Other Possible Causes of High Uric Acid

High levels of uric acid, medically termed hyperuricemia, are primarily due to the body either producing too much uric acid or excreting too little through the kidneys.7 Causes and risk factors include:

  • Dietary Choices: Consuming purine-rich foods can contribute to high uric acid levels. This includes certain seafood, meats, and sugary beverages.8
  • Medications: Certain drugs, such as diuretics and low-dose aspirin, can increase uric acid levels.8
  • Obesity: Being overweight can hinder the body's ability to process uric acid and increases the risk of gout, a type of arthritis caused by the accumulation of uric acid crystals in the joints.78
  • Medical Conditions: Some conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney diseases can influence uric acid levels in the body.7

How To Manage Uric Acid Levels

High uric acid levels, if not managed, can lead to various health problems like gout. Fortunately, both dietary and lifestyle changes can play a pivotal role in maintaining these levels.

Dietary Recommendations for Lowering Uric Acid

Managing uric acid levels often involves dietary modifications. Here are some recommendations based on your references:

  1. Limit Purine-Rich Foods: Purines metabolize into uric acid. Reduce intake of:
    • High purine foods: wild game, certain fish like trout and tuna, excess alcohol, high-fat foods, organ meats, and sugary foods 8.
    • Moderate purine foods: deli meats, ham, beef, poultry, and certain seafood like oysters and shrimp 8
  2. Incorporate Low-Purine Foods: Opt for:
    • Low-fat dairy products, peanut butter, nuts, fruits, vegetables, coffee, whole-grain rice, bread, and potatoes 8.
  3. Limit Alcohol and Sugary Drinks: They correlate with increased uric acid levels[8].
  4. Coffee Consumption: Some studies suggest drinking coffee might be associated with a lower risk of developing gout 8.
  5. Vitamin C: While vitamin C might lower uric acid levels, its direct impact on preventing gout attacks remains unclear 8.
  6. Cherries: They have properties that might reduce inflammation, but more research is needed on their direct effects on gout38 Tart cherries contain anthocyanins and other compounds, like quercetin, which possesses anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce uric acid levels, potentially offering relief from gout38.


    Lifestyle Changes to Manage Uric Acid

    Beyond dietary changes, certain lifestyle habits can help in managing uric acid, promoting better overall health:

    1. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Obesity is a significant risk factor for gout. Adopting a balanced diet and staying active can help manage weight and thereby reduce uric acid levels.8
    2. Avoid Certain Medications: Some medications can elevate uric acid levels, including diuretics and low-dose aspirin. Consult a physician before making any changes to medication regimens.8
    3. Hydration: Drink plenty of water to help the kidneys flush out excess uric acid.7
    4. Consider Supplements: Some supplements help reduce uric acid levels, such as vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid, and turmeric capsules. It's crucial to discuss this with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplements.8

    When to Seek Medical Help For Uric Acid?

    It's essential to recognize when high uric acid levels might be causing health complications:

    1. Gout Flare-Ups: Intense joint pain, particularly in the big toe, could indicate a gout attack. Gout results from uric acid crystal buildup in joints.78
    2. Persistent Discomfort: Continued discomfort in joints or kidneys might be due to elevated uric acid levels.7
    3. Kidney Stones: Uric acid can crystallize in the kidneys, forming stones. If you experience sharp pain in the back or side, blood in urine, or frequent urges to urinate, it might indicate kidney stones.7

    Possible Treatment Options for High Uric Acid Levels

    Once diagnosed with high uric acid levels, various treatment options are available. The best approach often combines medication with lifestyle and dietary changes:

    1. Medication: Some individuals may need medications to manage uric acid levels or treat gout symptoms.8
    2. Dietary and Lifestyle Changes: Modifying diet and lifestyle can significantly impact uric acid levels.8
    3. Consultation: Regular consultations with a healthcare professional can help monitor uric acid levels and adjust treatments as necessary.7

    Conclusion

    Understanding the relationship between collagen and uric acid levels provides valuable insights into managing and promoting overall health. While collagen offers numerous health benefits, particularly for skin and joints, it's crucial to be informed about its potential side effects and interactions, especially concerning uric acid levels and kidney health. Moreover, maintaining a balanced diet and adopting specific lifestyle changes can be pivotal in managing uric acid levels. 

    Anyone concerned about uric acid levels, collagen intake, or kidney health should consult a healthcare professional to ensure they're making the best decisions for their circumstances. 

    Collagen and Uric Acid: FAQs

    Is collagen powder high in purines?

    No, collagen powder is not derived from purine-rich sources. Unlike certain meats and seafood, collagen supplements are not known to contain high amounts of purines, which are compounds that can raise uric acid levels when metabolized by the body.

    Is collagen OK for kidney disease?

    Collagen supplements are generally safe, but individuals with kidney disease should consult their healthcare provider before taking them.

    Is collagen OK for those who already have high-uric acid levels?

    While collagen doesn't directly raise uric acid levels, individuals with high uric acid should always consult their doctor before adding any supplements to their regimen.

    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. Collagen. (2021, May 26). The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/collagen/
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Xu, H., Zhang, B., Chen, Y., Zeng, F., Wang, W., Chen, Z., Cao, L., Shi, J., Chen, J., Zhu, X., Xue, Y., He, R., Ji, M., & Hua, Y. (2023). Type II collagen facilitates gouty arthritis by regulating MSU crystallisation and inflammatory cell recruitment. Annals of the rheumatic diseases82(3), 416–427. https://doi.org/10.1136/ard-2022-222764
    5. MD, P. P., & Senna, MD, M. M. (2023, April 12). Considering collagen drinks and supplements? - Harvard Health. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/considering-collagen-drinks-and-supplements-202304122911
    6. C. (n.d.). Hyperuricemia (High Uric Acid Level): Symptoms, Causes & Treatment. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17808-hyperuricemia-high-uric-acid-level
    7. 11 natural ways to lower uric acid. (n.d.). 11 Natural Ways to Lower Uric Acid. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325317
    8. Gout - Symptoms and causes. (2022, November 16). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gout/symptoms-causes/syc-20372897
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