Naturally, expecting mothers are more likely to rethink their health habits now that their choices can affect their pregnancy. Supplements are a hot topic during pregnancy to ensure good health for both mom and baby.
While there are many routine supplements recommended by doctors such as prenatal vitamins, some may be left wondering if there is anything else they can take to boost their health. One such supplement that often finds its way in the mix is collagen.
This article will explore what collagen is, if it’s safe for pregnancy, and the potential benefits it may offer for expecting mothers.
What is collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the human body. It’s responsible for the structure and support of bones, joints, muscles, connective tissues, and skin.
The body makes collagen naturally, but we can also get collagen from meats, fish, and supplements.
Also, as people age, collagen production naturally declines. Collagen production seems to start declining when people are in their mid to late 20s. While this is a natural part of aging, there is some research to suggest that taking supplemental collagen can help increase our collagen intake and therefore optimize our health.
When it comes to skin health, collagen is touted to improve skin hydration, elasticity, and texture, as well as reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
However, professionals have conflicting views on whether or not collagen supplements are truly effective.
Things to consider when supplementing while pregnant
You may be wondering if it’s safe to take collagen supplements when you’re pregnant. Of course, it’s important to keep a close eye on what you’re consuming during pregnancy to support your growing fetus.
There are certain supplements that are recommended and encouraged during pregnancy, such prenatal vitamins, particularly for their folate content. Collagen supplements are not necessary during pregnancy, because after all, it’s not essential that we supplement with collagen at all.
However, if you’ve been supplementing with collagen before pregnancy to support your hair, skin, and joints, it makes sense that you would want to continue with your normal wellness routine. Luckily, research doesn’t indicate that there’s any issue with taking collagen supplements during pregnancy.
However, dietary supplements in general are not regulated by the FDA, meaning not all supplements are created equal. First and foremost, it’s always a good idea to check with your healthcare provider before taking any supplements, especially if you’re pregnant.
Additionally, if you do choose to supplement with collagen it’s important to ensure you’re getting it from a good quality source. Be sure to purchase the most pure form of collagen peptides, free of additives, flavorings, or any artificial ingredients.
Collagen can come from different sources such as chicken, fish, or beef, so be aware of where your collagen is coming from especially if you have an allergy or are trying to avoid certain animal products.
Benefits of collagen while pregnant
While it’s likely safe to take collagen supplements while pregnant, you might also be wondering what the benefits are from doing so.
While there are many researched benefits to collagen in general, research is lacking to support benefits of collagen during pregnancy. Some women take collagen supplements to prevent stretch marks, but the research isn’t there to support this. In general, more studies need to be done to better understand how collagen may be beneficial.
However, given that collagen is involved in many systems throughout the body, it makes sense biologically that collagen might be helpful.
Here’s what we know – and what we don’t know – about how collagen may be beneficial for pregnancy:
- Helps increase protein status
Collagen is a protein and including a collagen supplement can be helpful to boost your overall protein intake. However, it’s important to note that collagen is not a complete protein, meaning it does not contain all nine essential amino acids, as it’s low in tryptophan. Nonetheless, if you are consuming other sources of protein in your diet, collagen can help boost your overall intake.
During pregnancy, protein needs are a bit higher, at about 1.2 to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This means a woman weighing about 150 pounds would require about 82 to 102 grams of protein daily (1).
Because protein needs are higher, adding a collagen supplement is one way to help meet your daily protein needs while pregnant. You can take up to 20 grams of collagen per day safely.
- May improve skin health
Most of the research on collagen is related to skin health. Research shows that consuming collagen may improve skin elasticity and overall skin hydration. Plus, it’s been found that taking collagen supplements may encourage the body’s natural collagen production.
Collagen may help in reducing the appearance of stretch marks on the stomach and support the skin as it stretches, both of which are common concerns for pregnant women. However, this is mostly supported anecdotally and more research is needed.
- May benefit joints
As pregnant women gain weight throughout pregnancy, there is increased pressure and stress on their joints. Collagen is one of the main proteins found in joints and may help reduce joint inflammation and repair cartilage.
Although there isn’t research on pregnant women and joint health specifically, there is research to support that those who consumed collagen supplements for six months experienced improvements in joint mobility and comfort (2).
Pregnancy-friendly collagen smoothie
If you choose to consume collagen while pregnant, here is a tasty and nutritious smoothie that will provide nutrients to support a healthy pregnancy.
This orange-mango collagen smoothie will provide a boost of vitamin C to support your immune system as well as boost your collagen production. In addition to vitamin C being integral for immune health and warding off sickness, it’s also a precursor for collagen production. That’s right, consuming collagen can actually help you make even more collagen.
Orange-mango collagen smoothie
- 2 scoops of collagen peptides from Naked Nutrition
- ½ cup frozen mango
- ½ banana
- 1 cup of orange juice
- 2-3 ice cubes
- Blend all ingredients together until well combined.