Collagen is the most commonly found protein in the body. It’s found in the hair, cartilage, bones, tendon, skin, and nails. Scientists estimate that collagen makes up 30-40% of the protein found in the human body. Collagen production starts to decline during your mid-20s. This leads to skin losing elasticity and joint integrity deteriorating as you age. As a result, many people start supplementing collagen using bone broth, gelatin, or supplements.
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However, some people experience low mood and anxiety after taking collagen.
How does it cause low mood and anxiety?
Collagen contains all essential amino acids except tryptophan. These are amino acids that have to be supplemented by your diet. Tryptophan is a building block of serotonin—a neurotransmitter that affects brain functions like memory, learning, and happiness.
Taking collagen as your main source of protein can lead to decreased tryptophan which causes lower serotonin levels. This results in anxiety, mood swings, and depression. It’s also more likely to occur if you have pre-existing mood disorders.
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Research also shows that taking gelatin reduces the tryptophan load. When you consume gelatin, tryptophan competes with other amino acids to cross the blood-brain barrier, where serotonin forms in the brain. Gelatin floods the brain with amino acids, which reduce tryptophan uptake. It loses to the other larger amounts of amino acids that flood the brain because they flood the barrier easily. This makes tryptophan go elsewhere for metabolization.
The pathway that tryptophan ends up on is known as the kynurenine pathway. However, some of the metabolites in the pathway are neurotoxic and can trigger an anxiety response. It’s theorized that the process triggered by tryptophan in the pathway leads to feelings of depression when you take collagen.
Another potential reason why consuming collagen can lead to low mood is because of a histamine reaction. This may affect people who have taken marine collagen. However, studies found that depression-related symptoms are more likely when you take gelatin. People with genetic depression disorders, previous use of antidepressants, smokers or former smokers, and women who have used Ecstasy are likelier to experience low mood. But more research is needed to confirm this.
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How long after stopping collagen do you stop feeling anxious?
Some people feel anxious after taking bone broth. Due to the aforementioned impact of tryptophan depletion, it’s possible to get a temporary low mood. However, symptoms are individualised, and they can also be affected by previous depression treatments or your genes.
In addition, seasonal allergies can affect your mood regardless of whether you’re taking collagen. You can also experience anxiety, low mood, frequent urination, and worsened gut problems can be a result of taking collagen. It may be more of an allergic reaction than low serotonin.
What should you do if you experience low mood on collagen?
If you experience low mood, anxiety, or depression when taking gelatin, bone broth, or other sources, try stopping it for a while. If your mood stabilises, it’s likely because you’re experiencing the effects of tryptophan deficiency resulting in low serotonin.
You can also add foods rich in all essential amino acids to your diet. They include nuts, eggs, beef, poultry, dairy, and soy.
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