Does Collagen Help Relieve Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Symptoms?

Collagen is an essential protein that makes up the backbone of the connective tissue (skin, bones, tendons, cartilage, and muscles) of the body. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and is part of the noncellular components within all tissues and organs.

Collagen’s many roles in the body include:

  • Providing strength and flexibility for movement
  • Regulation of cell growth and metabolism
  • Physical protection of essential substances in the body
  • Serving as signaling molecules that help define cellular shape and behavior

The jury is still out on the effectiveness of collagen as a one-size-fits-all treatment for common ailments (like osteoporosis—progressive bone thinning). But some research has shown taking collagen supplements may provide a host of modest benefits from improving your gut health to helping alleviate pain from your achy joints and reducing the appearance of wrinkles.

Some people have shared anecdotal experiences of an improvement of their MS symptoms with collagen supplements, but early research has not proven the benefit or supported the use of collagen for MS.

This article briefly details the association between collagen and MS and the latest findings on the two. 

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What Is Collagen? 

Collagen is a protein created by fibroblast cells. It makes up the connective tissue throughout our body and is the most abundant protein in the body. It is found in skin, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, bone, and connective tissue.

Collagen plays various roles in the body from providing tissue strength and resiliency to providing a structural framework for bone, muscle, and skin attachment.

Types of Collagen

There are 16 types of collagen present in humans. They differ in their molecular makeup, how they are shaped, location, distribution throughout the body, function, and how they may be involved in disease. Six of these types of human collagen include:

  • Type I collagen is the most abundant variety in the body. It is most commonly found in your skin, bones, organs, tendons, and ligaments.
  • Type II collagen is the second most abundant type. It is found mainly in bones and cartilage. Mutations in genes responsible for type II collagen production can cause various skeletal conditions and malformations.
  • Type III collagen is most commonly found in hollow organs such as large blood vessels, the uterus, and the intestines as well as in muscles. Notably, type III collagen also plays a vital role in wound healing.
  • Type IV collagen is found in the basement membrane, a matrix that surrounds muscle, fat, and nerve cells and lies between layers of lining cells and connective tissue.
  • Type V collagen is dispersed throughout the body, adding strength to tissues and structures. It is most commonly found in the hair, cell surfaces, and the placenta.
  • Type VI collagen is present in the matrix around cells in the central nervous system and is needed to prevent demyelination (loss of the protective fatty sheath) of peripheral nerves. It also is needed for the regrowth of nerves after an injury.

Natural Collagen

Collagen is found throughout the body, especially in the noncellular components of tissues and organs (the extracellular matrix), making up 30% of your body's total amount of protein.

It is possible to boost your collagen production by eating collagen-rich foods and foods rich in nutrients proven to stimulate collagen synthesis. Some foods that have been proven to boost natural collagen production in the body include:

  • Protein-rich foods that include amino acids (the building blocks) of collagen, such as beef, beans, eggs, and dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and milk
  • Citrus fruits, especially those high in vitamin C, like oranges and lemons
  • Red and green peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Leafy greens like spinach and kale
  • Tree nuts 
  • Shellfish
  • Whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat bread

Collagen Supplements

Collagen supplements are usually found over-the-counter (OTC) in your local pharmacy or supermarket. They may boast claims of improving arthritic joint pain, the health of your skin and hair, and even your heart. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does regulate dietary supplements, it does not approve supplements as it would prescription drugs.

Collagen for supplements is extracted from animal sources, such as cows, pigs, and fish. Therefore, people who are vegan cannot use these supplements. Instead, they must find natural ways to boost collagen production in the body. 

Benefits in Multiple Sclerosis

No one knows for sure whether collagen supplementation is helpful for those with MS. More research needs to be done. Still, there is enough theoretical and anecdotal evidence for many to believe that collagen supplementation has a role in treating MS.

Interrupted nerve transmission (as is seen in MS) can lead to muscle damage and weak bones, resulting in immobility and the development of arthritis. Collagen supplementation may help strengthen your joints, which may become damaged in chronic MS.

Even more, changing your diet to increase your natural collagen production will likely result in healthier eating. This may help to lessen your overall MS symptoms, especially common gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea and constipation.

Notably, demyelination of axons (loss of the protective myelin coating of nerves) in the central nervous system characterizes multiple sclerosis. Therefore, stem cell-based remyelination therapies are a main focus of MS research.

This same research has also shown that pathologic MS lesions often have an increase in type IV collagen deposits, an important basement membrane protein. The reason for this is unknown.

Possible Side Effects

Collagen supplements are generally safe to take, but you should always check with a healthcare provider before starting any supplement, especially given that OTC collagen supplements are not regulated by the FDA.

Possible side effects include:

  • Allergic reaction (rare)
  • Upset stomach
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Increase in blood calcium levels (hypercalcemia)

Doses and Preparation 

Most collagen supplements are taken orally (by mouth) and have specific instructions on the package stating how much you should take. This amount may or may not be enough to help with your MS symptoms. Always consult a healthcare provider before taking collagen supplements. 


Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. Some people with MS may try boosting collagen production in the body and/or taking collagen supplements to improve MS symptoms. But more research needs to be done on the association between collagen intake and symptomatic relief. 

A Word From Verywell 

There is little research on the benefits of collagen in those with MS. The few existing studies are small and leave more questions than answers. Therefore it is not recommended that you use collagen as an alternative to standard treatment. If you are interested in collagen as a natural treatment for your MS symptoms, speak with your healthcare provider.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is collagen beneficial for MS?

    Early research does not support or refute the use of collagen for MS. More research needs to be done to deduce if there are any benefits of taking collagen for MS. 

  • Can collagen worsen multiple sclerosis?

    Taking collagen supplements has not proven to be harmful to MS, but more work needs to be done to show the potential harms and benefits of collagen supplementation in those with MS. 

  • What supplements can help with MS?

    Vitamin D, the antioxidant vitamins (vitamins A, C, and E), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), and vitamin B12 (cobalamin) may all help with MS. Vitamins are mainly consumed in your diet, such as in fruits and vegetables. They may also be taken as supplements, although dietary consumption is preferable.

  • Is collagen good for the brain?

    Collagen VI plays a key role in Schwann cell differentiation. These cells become glial cells (cells that support neurons) in the central nervous system and aid in the myelination of axons (adding the protective fatty sheath to this part of a neuron). Collagen VI has been shown to protect brain cells against amyloid-beta proteins in people with Alzheimer's disease.

  • Are there vegan sources of collagen?

    Currently there is no vegan collagen, but there are ways for those who are vegan to naturally boost their collagen levels. These include eating foods that are high in vitamin C and zinc, such as oranges, red peppers, nuts, and broccoli. 

10 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Shamard Charles, MD, MPH
Shamard Charles, MD, MPH is a public health physician and journalist. He has held positions with major news networks like NBC reporting on health policy, public health initiatives, diversity in medicine, and new developments in health care research and medical treatments.