Pregnancy comes with some lifestyle changes to give your baby the best environment to grow and thrive. For many, this means paying more attention to what you eat and drink.
If you’re taking supplements, it’s important to learn which are safe to continue taking, and which ones you’re better off putting on hold until the baby is born.
In this article, we’ll talk about collagen and its safety during pregnancy. However, this is not medical advice and you should always consult your provider before continuing to take collagen while pregnant. Use this article as a starting point to make your decision.
Collagen Is A Type Of Protein
There isn’t anything harmful about collagen itself, because it’s simply a type of protein. Your body actually makes collagen, and supplemental collagen is most often made from animal tissue.
Collagen provides structure within the body. You can find it in nearly every tissue of the body, but it’s especially known for its role in the skin and connective tissue.
Benefits of Taking Collagen
As far as what does collagen do, it is a supplement that has grown popular because of its anti-aging benefits. In some studies, taking collagen has been shown to improve skin elasticity and hydration, which decreases the appearance of wrinkles.
Collagen is also widely used for its potential joint health benefits. In some studies, taking collagen is associated with better mobility and improved arthritis symptoms.
Other less science-backed benefits of collagen supplementation include improved gut health, bone health, and heart health.
Can Collagen Benefit Pregnancy?
Since collagen is tied to better skin health, some decide to take it during pregnancy in hopes to prevent stretch marks. However, this benefit hasn’t been proven in any studies.
The most important, proven benefit of collagen during pregnancy is how it helps meet the increased demand for protein while pregnant.
To support fetal growth and development, the protein recommendation for pregnant women is around 1.1 grams per kilogram of body weight, daily. Most people meet their protein needs without even realizing it, but collagen could help fill the gaps for people who struggle to eat adequate protein consistently.
Collagen is also rich in specific amino acids like proline that play important roles in pregnancy. However, studies on how supplementing these amino acids, especially by taking collagen, benefit pregnancy are limited.
Risks of Taking Collagen While Pregnant
Remember, collagen is just a type of protein. In general, taking collagen as a supplement seems to be safe for healthy pregnancies.
That being said, Mayo Clinic warns pregnant people against taking any kind of supplement during pregnancy, due to lack of regulation. There is a risk that some companies could lack in their procedures for testing for contaminants. Other supplement brands may include additional ingredients in their products that aren’t safe for pregnancy.
If you decide to continue taking collagen during pregnancy, choose a reputable product with stringent testing and responsible sourcing. Take time to read the ingredient label and be sure that the product you choose only contains collagen (or other pregnancy-safe ingredients).
Also consult with a doctor or nutritionist about how much collagen you should take each day.
Other Ways to Get Collagen
Supplements aren’t the only way to increase collagen in your diet.
Bone broth is a popular alternative. Made by simmering bones and connective tissue over a long period of time, bone broth contains collagen that has broken down into gelatin. It’s not only an excellent source of protein but also amino acids that help your body produce collagen.
Whether or not you decide to take collagen while pregnant, you can include some foods in the diet that support your body’s natural collagen production. They’re more common than you might think!
Vitamin C is vital to the production of pro-collagen, which is a precursor to collagen. You actually need more vitamin C during pregnancy anyways, so meet your needs and support collagen production with foods like berries, citrus, tomatoes, and colorful bell peppers.
Finally, you can increase collagen by being intentional to eat foods that contain amino acids used for collagen production - proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline. Eggs, beans, and other high-protein foods are great sources.
Consult Your Provider First
The safest way to take supplements while pregnant (not just collagen) is to include your medical provider in your decision. They can properly advise you about what’s safe and what, if any, changes need to be made to your normal intake based on your medical history and pregnancy.