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April 26, 2022
Is Collagen Safe During Pregnancy? Here's What You Need to Know
Collagen is a powerful protein that can transform your health and make you feel like you’ve turned back the clock.
(Seriously, thousands of women in the NativePath Community have reported feeling 10 to 20 years younger!)
We love seeing the ways our collagen supplements have changed women’s lives. From healthier joints and stronger bones to glowing skin and thicker hair, collagen has proved itself time and time again.
There are certainly benefits of collagen that appeal to women in all walks of life. But can you take it the same way throughout all the phases of your life? Can you take collagen while pregnant? Here’s what to know.
What Is Collagen?
Collagen is a protein found in your joints, bones, skin, hair, nails, connective tissue, and elsewhere in the body. It’s the most abundant protein in your body, and it even makes up the majority of your bones (1).
It’s often thought of as a “glue” that holds the body together, but as you age, collagen production slows down. A continuing decrease in collagen over the years results in weaker bones, joint aches, and less elastic, youthful-looking skin (2).
The Most Popular Benefits of Collagen
Collagen benefits your hair, skin, nails, bones, gut health, and many other parts of the body. As we get older and our natural collagen levels drop off, supplementing with collagen is one of the best ways to replenish some of the benefits you’ve been missing out on.
Here’s what collagen does best...
1. Bones & Joint Health
Making collagen part of your daily routine can help keep your bones strong and healthy to help prevent osteoporosis (3). Research points to collagen as a powerful line of defense against bone density loss and reducing your risk of fracture (4).
In addition to playing a key role in the makeup of your bones, collagen is vital to the integrity of your cartilage, the tissue that surrounds your joints. As collagen decreases in your body, your risk of degenerative joint disorders rises (5).
Supplementing with collagen, on the other hand, can help improve joint pain and symptoms of certain joint disorders. It’s the key to unlocking easier, smoother movement without soreness (3).
2. Glowing Skin, Hair, & Nails
Collagen is central to your skin’s elasticity and hydration (5). According to several studies, supplementing with collagen can help slow down your skin’s aging. That means fewer wrinkles and less dryness (6). The boost of elasticity that collagen provides means that taking it before pregnancy can help prevent stretch marks, too (13).
People who supplement with collagen also point to another result: an “it-factor” glow that makes them look energized and vibrant. It’s the kind of shift that makes people in your life stop you to ask what’s different. They can’t pinpoint exactly what has changed—all they know is that you look amazing.
But skincare isn’t the only collagen beauty perk. You can also take collagen for hair growth and to make your nails stronger—and this really comes in handy postpartum (7)!
Thanks to the hormonal changes your body experiences during and after pregnancy, many new moms experience postpartum hair loss, especially in the first four months after giving birth (15, 16). Collagen can help! In studies, many women taking collagen reported an improvement in hair volume, scalp coverage, and thickness. (17) They even reported shinier locks!
3. A Happier Gut
During pregnancy, your body produces more of the hormone progesterone, which can relax the muscles in your body—including your digestive tract (18, 19). That means a likelihood of constipation, bloating, and other digestion issues that can stick around well into the postpartum period.
Thankfully, collagen helps keep your gut running smoothly in more ways than one. Here’s how…
Collagen contains an amino acid called glycine, which is known for its anti-inflammatory effects (8, 9).
Inflammation is behind multiple autoimmune issues, like irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease. When there’s more glycine in your system, it can help reduce your risk for inflammation-related health problems, keeping your gut happy and healthy.
Another benefit of collagen is that it helps your body detoxify more easily. Collagen is what’s called a hydrophilic molecule. That means it attracts acidic molecules and water, two ingredients that help your digestive process. In turn, collagen helps proteins and carbs break down in the intestines, and helps food move quickly through the digestion process for a faster excretion of toxins (10).
4. And (Much) More!
So, Can You Take Collagen While Pregnant?
So, what should happen to your collagen routine when you’re expecting?
Taking collagen before pregnancy may help reduce pregnancy stretch marks by improving your skin’s elasticity (13), so it’s a great habit to have in advance!
As for during pregnancy itself, there’s not much research on the effects of collagen during pregnancy. You’ll want to consult with your doctor before adding it to your diet when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
But Wait…There Are a Few Things to Consider
Not all collagen supplements are created equal.
To ensure the utmost safety and quality, there are three things to consider before adding a collagen supplement to your shopping cart…
1. Where It’s Sourced From
Look at the Supplement Facts to see where the collagen is sourced from. For a clean, pure, zero-toxin supplement, we recommend choosing grass-fed bovine collagen.
Collagen can also be sourced from the skin of fish. However, the species of fish is rarely specified. That, plus the fact that marine collagen comes with a high probability of contamination with heavy metals, it’s best to stick with a clean collagen supplement like grass-fed bovine.
2. How Many Ingredients It Has
Your collagen supplement should have just one ingredient: Collagen.
The one exception is if it’s a flavored collagen powder. If it is, in fact, flavored, then it’s okay for it to have natural flavors and a natural sweetener like stevia or monk fruit.
3. What “Types” of Collagen It Has
Believe it or not, there are actually 28 different types of collagen. They’re listed as Type 1, Type 2, Type 3, and so on…all the way up until Type 28.
However, the majority of collagen found in your body is made up of Type 1 and Type 3 Collagen. So in order to experience maximum benefits with your supplementation, choose a collagen powder with both Type 1 and Type 3—and nothing more.
Side Effects of Collagen
Collagen has very few known side effects. Some people who take collagen may experience digestive symptoms like heartburn or feeling more full than they expected (14).
Beyond that, collagen is usually well-tolerated and seamless to take. For most people, it’s an incredibly safe and easy supplement!
The Bottom Line
Collagen has many health benefits, but when you’re going through the magical experience of pregnancy or breastfeeding, ask your doctor whether you should continue taking it.
Before your pregnancy, supplementing with collagen may lay a foundation to help reduce stretch marks, and after pregnancy or breastfeeding, collagen can help you amp up your energy and overall glow. But in the midst of those special motherhood moments, seek out your doctor’s advice on what’s best for you.
As a writer, editor, and wellness seeker, Claire has written for Self, Health, Prevention, CNN, Mic, Livestrong, and Greatist, just to name a few. When she's not writing, she specializes in traveling, getting lost in health-related research rabbit holes, and finding new ways to spoil her cat.
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.