Being pregnant comes with its own dietary do’s and don’ts. Caffeine and sashimi are frowned upon, while multivitamins and a balanced diet are greatly welcomed. But what about collagen supplements? Can you take collagen while pregnant?
If you, like many other expecting mothers, aren’t ready to chuck your supplements into the bin yet, keep reading to find out if it’s safe to take collagen when you’re pregnant.
Your Protein Requirements Increase When You Become Pregnant
When you’re eating for two, it makes sense to raise your dietary intake and keep up with your body’s increased nutritional needs. Case in point: Protein.
A 2016 study in the Journal of Pregnancy and Child Health specified that “The demand for protein during the second and third trimester of pregnancy increases to 1.1 g/kg/day or approximately 71 g, amounting to more than a 50% increase in protein that is necessary for fetal growth and maternal milk production.”
Another study in the Journal of Advances in Nutrition found that protein requirements for pregnant women can be as high as 1.2-1.52 grams per kilogram of body weight per day by late pregnancy (i.e., around the 32nd week). Of course, other factors like your weight and current protein intake will determine the exact amount you need.
Unfortunately, many pregnant women fall short of the recommended range of protein intake. This is a problem present even in developed nations like the United States. It’s usually a mix of the following reasons:
- You don’t know the ideal amount of protein to eat during different trimesters — your protein needs generally increase as your pregnancy progresses.
- You find it hard to eat enough protein in your diet, possibly due to factors like morning sickness.
The repercussions of a protein-deficient pregnancy diet are alarming, to say the least. To illustrate, a 2015 study based on rat models found that insufficient protein intake during pregnancy caused a loss in muscle mass in both mother and child.
But there’s a positive side to upping your protein intake when you’re expecting. Per the study in the Journal of Advances in Nutrition, adequate protein supplementation significantly reduced the risk of small-for-gestational-age babies, and may potentially prevent intrauterine growth restriction.
On top of that, protein may aid with wound healing. After all, it’s needed to make collagen and maintain your body’s immune system, which has spillover effects like preventing infections and blood clotting. This is a critical consideration for pregnant women, irrespective of the childbirth delivery method they choose.
A 2011 article published in the Journal of Gastroenterology Research and Practice backs up the importance of adequate nutrition before any kind of surgery, including that of women in labor. It highlighted that malnutrition is a “well-known major risk factor for poor postoperative outcome” in the form of infections, longer hospital stays, and higher costs.
Collagen Is One Way To Meet Your Protein Needs
So, what can an expecting mother do to meet their increased protein needs? Aside from incorporating protein-rich whole foods, like lean meats and fish, you can try collagen supplementation, too. But is collagen safe during pregnancy?
The answer is yes, you can take collagen when you’re expecting. The only thing you need to worry about is taking too much of it. As always, consult your doctor or OB/GYN before doing so.
The reason is that collagen is an important protein molecule naturally produced in your body (and the baby’s). It contains 19 amino acids, including high levels of glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. Collagen makes up 25-30% of all the proteins in your body, as well as that of your growing bump. Think the skin, muscles, connective tissues, cartilage, and blood vessels, to name a few.
Given how essential collagen is to maternal and fetal well-being, it only makes sense to ensure your body is supplied with enough collagen throughout your pregnancy. Because collagen levels decline with age and your body’s collagen needs surge with each trimester, you’ll need to rely on external sources like collagen supplements.
3 Reasons to Supplement With Collagen During Pregnancy
The beauty with collagen is that it excludes tryptophan, an essential amino acid that’s known to negatively impact your baby’s growth and development. On top of that, collagen has other pregnancy-related benefits as you’ll see below.
1. Minimize Stretch Marks and Sagging Skin
A growing bump and hormonal changes are the main reasons most pregnant women encounter stretch marks and dry skin. Thankfully, this is one area collagen can help with.
According to a 2020 article featured in the Journal of Plastic and Aesthetic Research, supplementing with collagen during pregnancy and breastfeeding does wonders for your skin texture. Collagen boosts your skin’s hydration levels and improves its elasticity to reduce the appearance of dry, loose skin.
2. Manage Joint Pain and Muscle Aches
Joint pain and muscle aches are common complaints among the expecting populace, no thanks to the budding baby weight. Besides regular exercise and massage therapy, a dose of collagen supplementation can help alleviate your discomfort.
Scientific evidence shows that long-term collagen usage (about 24 weeks) lessened joint pain and strengthened joint health in 147 athletic participants. Another 2019 study confirmed that collagen supplementation diminished post-workout muscle soreness. These findings suggest similar benefits may apply to pregnant women, too.
3. Alleviate the Risk of Pregnancy-Related Complications
Did you know that collagen may help lower your risk of pregnancy-related complications? An illuminating review in the International Journal of Biological Sciences explained that collagen plays “a critical role” in a successful pregnancy. Abnormal collagen expression has been associated with repeated miscarriages, diabetes, and preeclampsia (high blood pressure in expecting mothers accompanied by growth restriction of the baby).
How to Choose Collagen for Pregnant Women
So far, you’ve learned the answer to “Can you take collagen while pregnant?” But how do you choose a collagen supplement that’s pregnancy-safe?
Firstly, analyze the ingredient label and product packaging. Find out the types and origin of the collagen used in the supplement.
- Does the collagen come from pigs, cows, or marine sources?
- For beef collagen, is it extracted from 100% grass-fed and pasture-raised cows?
- In the case of marine collagen, does it come from wild-caught fish rather than farm-raised ones?
You’ll also want to look at the dosage of collagen per serving to make sure it can help meet your daily protein needs. Besides that, check if the product is purely collagen or if there are other ingredients like vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. If so, speak with your doctor to find out whether these extra ingredients are pregnancy-safe.
On top of that, you’ll want to steer clear of artificial ingredients like additives, sweeteners, fillers, and GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Besides a clean ingredient list, choose hydrolyzed collagen peptides as these are easiest on your digestive system, a boon for those struggling with morning sickness.
If you find it difficult to swallow pills, go with flavorless collagen powders. Not only are they drinkable, but their versatile form also goes well with pretty much everything — think soups, smoothies, and herbal teas.
Zen Principle May Have What You Need
If you’re looking for a collagen supplement that ticks all of the above boxes, Zen Principle’s collagen range of supplements may have what you need.
Between Beef Collagen Peptides Powder and Marine Collagen Peptides Powder, you’ll be sure to find one that meets your protein intake while you’re expecting. Just remember to check in with a licensed healthcare provider before adding collagen supplements to your everyday diet.