Can You Take Collagen While Pregnant? (Safety, Risks, & Benefits)

August 17, 2023

You want to eat right when you’re pregnant, but sometimes it can be hard to know just what that means.

Which foods are safe? Which foods do I need to avoid? What vitamins do I need more of?

These are all questions you might be asking yourself. So with all your new food and supplement guidelines, should you still be taking collagen? In this blog, we breakdown how collagen fits into a healthy prenatal routine, plus what you should look for in a collagen supplement.

Are Collagen Supplements Safe During Pregnancy?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. It makes up a significant portion of your hair, skin, nails, bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments (it’s even in your eyes and teeth!). Because it’s a naturally-occurring protein in the body and in several foods, collagen supplements are generally considered safe during pregnancy.

That said, one of the main challenges in determining the safety of collagen supplements during pregnancy is the limited amount of research available. Many supplements, including collagen, haven’t undergone extensive clinical trials specifically involving pregnant women. As a result, healthcare professionals rely on general principles of supplement safety and the existing body of scientific knowledge to provide guidance.

Knowing this, always consult a healthcare professional before starting or continuing collagen supplementation while pregnant. Obstetricians, midwives, or registered dietitians can provide personalized advice based on your health status, dietary preferences, and specific pregnancy-related concerns.

Once you get the go-ahead from a medical professional, it’s important to supplement with the right type of collagen—and the right dose.

How to Choose the Right Collagen Supplement

Safety is key—especially during a complex time like pregnancy. When it comes to finding a safe collagen supplement for you and your baby, there are some factors to take into consideration:: No unnecessary fillers (it should just contain collagen). It’s ideal if it only includes type 1 and 3 collagen fibers. And if it’s sourced from bovine, for the best quality it should be grass-fed and pasture-raised. (Because as the old adage goes: you are what you eat eats.)

Dosage is equally important. Several studies confirm that a daily dose of 2.5 to 15 grams of collagen is effective. Our most popular collagen supplement here at NativePath has 9 grams of collagen per scoop and we generally recommend taking one to two scoops per day.

Can you take too much, though? Good question.

Based on a 2019 study, you can safely get 36% of your protein needs from collagen (1). So if you’re aiming for a daily protein intake of 100 grams, 36 of those grams can come from collagen!

A woman pouring a scoop of NativePath Original Collagen peptides into a coffee mug from the 56 serving value bag.

Good Health Starts Within

Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body and essential for the health of your bones, joints, skin, hair, nails, digestion, and more.

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Benefits of Collagen Supplements During Pregnancy

Here's a look at how your body may use collagen during pregnancy, to help you make a safe, informed decision that's right for you and your baby.

Increases Daily Protein Intake

It’s no secret, protein is an essential nutrient, especially during pregnancy. The building blocks of protein, called amino acids, play countless roles in the body, from maintaining the structure of our muscles, skin and bones to producing critical hormones for growth.

Since amino acids are required for normal cell growth and function, eating enough protein during pregnancy helps support your baby's development. Meeting your daily protein needs may also lower the risk of complications like fetal growth restriction and preterm labor (2).

The amount of protein you should eat while pregnant depends on a few different factors: how far along you are, your physical activity, and your weight. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein during the first trimester of pregnancy is estimated at 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight and 1.1 grams per kilogram body weight during the second and third trimesters (3).

May Aid in Fetal Growth

Collagen in particular is involved in helping the uterus prepare to receive and support an embryo, and it's needed to support fetal organ development and growth (4). 

During pregnancy, collagen is essential for the growth and formation of the fetal body, including the development of the skin, bones, and connective tissues. By providing an additional source of collagen through supplementation, expecting mothers may help support the optimal development and growth of their baby. 

A woman pouring a scoop of NativePath Original Collagen peptides into a coffee mug from the 56 serving value bag.

Good Health Starts Within

Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body and essential for the health of your bones, joints, skin, hair, nails, digestion, and more.

Add to Cart

Helps Maintain Bone Health

During pregnancy, the mother’s body has both a higher demand for calcium and lower estrogen levels, which theoretically may contribute to bone density issues over time (5).

Collagen counteracts this by adding strength and structure to your bones. One of the ways it does this is by weaving together the proteins found in your extracellular matrix (ECM). Think of the ECM as the beams that create the scaffolding on the side of a building. Without these strong beams, it's nearly impossible to support the internal structure (6).

When collagen connects these proteins, a sound structure is created, helping to hold your body together and protect vital organs and joints. 

Collagen is involved in regulating a number of processes that contribute to bone growth. These processes include (7, 8):

  • Regulating the ability of your cells to bind to one another (cell adhesion)
  • Assisting in the growth and transformation of cells, including cell differentiation
  • Inducing the production of new bone by upregulating structural cells (osteoblast cells)
  • Supporting the healthy breakdown of bone

Eases Joint Discomfort

As your pregnancy progresses, your body bears an increasing load of weight on your joints.

While there are no specific studies of pregnant people and joint health, research has shown that oral collagen supplementation accumulates in the cartilage—helping promote cartilage formation and joint comfort (9, 10).

A six month clinical trial in athletes showed improved joint health related to exercise-induced joint pain (11).

May Reduce Gastrointestinal Discomfort

Gastrointestinal (GI) issues are some of the most common complaints during pregnancy (my mom still brings up the heartburn my full head of hair caused her). Collagen plays a crucial role in the health of your gut, and can help with issues like indigestion, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and leaky gut.

Two major benefits of collagen to your gut health are supporting your gut wall integrity and the potential to aid in repairing gut lining.

It doesn’t stop there though. Collagen also helps move the food you just ate to your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. As it moves through your GI tract, it assists in breaking down proteins and carbohydrates. Lastly, collagen can also enhance the absorption of nutrients and may help prevent you from feeling bloated (12).

Helps Support Skin Elasticity

Collagen provides structure, stability, and strength to the many dermal layers of your skin. Collagen proteins have a shape similar to a rope—wound tightly together holding water and moisture as well as providing elasticity to your skin.

Stretch marks are a completely normal part of pregnancy and they occur when the skin stretches (or shrinks) rapidly. This sudden change causes the proteins—collagen and elastin—to break. Having more elasticity in the skin can help the body cope with the swift stretching of the belly.

Collagen may be supportive for managing the visibility of stretch marks since it improves skin moisture, elasticity, and hydration (13). It also helps to work against the weakening impact of cortisol, which weakens elastic fibers in the skin.

A woman pouring a scoop of NativePath Original Collagen peptides into a coffee mug from the 56 serving value bag.

Good Health Starts Within

Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body and essential for the health of your bones, joints, skin, hair, nails, digestion, and more.

Add to Cart

May Reduce Hair Loss

During pregnancy, there’s an increase in the level of estrogen hormones. Estrogen causes hair to remain in a growing phase and stimulates the growth of your hair. While you’re pregnant, you should expect a full, luxurious head of hair.

However, about 3 to 4 months after delivery, your hormones return to normal levels, which allows the hair to fall out and return to the normal cycle. The normal hair loss that was delayed during pregnancy may fall out all at once (14).

Collagen provides structural support to the hair follicle, which is the tiny pocket from which each hair strand grows. By maintaining the health and integrity of the hair follicle, collagen ensures optimal conditions for hair growth.

Can Strengthen Brittle Nails

Just like with hair, nails also grow thicker and stronger during pregnancy, but may become brittle after giving birth. This is due to hormonal changes, but also to lower levels of nutrients in your body which have been passed on to your baby for optimal development. 

Collagen helps feed our nail beds with the amino acid, arginine, which helps promote nail growth and overall health. 

A small study revealed that those who took 2.5 grams of bioactive collagen peptide each day for 24 weeks showed promising nail health results (15). Those who took daily doses of collagen peptides saw a 12% increase in nail growth and a 42% decrease in the frequency of broken nails.

Want to Take a Food First Approach to Collagen?

It’s completely understandable if you aren’t comfortable with adding a new supplement to your routine during pregnancy. Luckily, there are plenty of foods you can eat while pregnant to help boost your collagen production.

These foods include:  

  • Bone Broth is made of bones and connective tissue and is one of the few foods that is naturally high in collagen. It also contains calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, glucosamine, chondroitin, amino acids, and many other nutrients.
  • Skin-On Chicken contains ample amounts of collagen. (If you’ve ever cut up a whole chicken, you’ve probably noticed how much connective tissue poultry contains.)
  • Fish like salmon, herring, or mackerel with the skin on are some of the best options during pregnancy—they're rich in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids while being low in mercury.
  • Organ Meats like the liver, heart, brain, and kidneys are full of collagen. 
  • Berries are rich in vitamin C, as well as anthocyanins, ellagic acid, and other antioxidants that can support healthy levels of collagen.
  • Citrus Fruits are packed full of vitamin C, which is known for its many benefits. One of the benefits of vitamin C is that it plays a significant role in producing the precursor to collagen, while it also helps to link amino acids during collagen production.
  • Leafy Greens are a great source of healthy inflammation-supporting compounds, antioxidants, and vitamin C.
  • Eggs are some of the top collagen foods thanks to their content of the amino acids that make up collagen, including glycine and proline.

Frequently Asked Questions

Collagen is also considered safe while breastfeeding. Just be sure to choose a high quality supplement, and always talk to your doctor or midwife before starting any supplements.

A woman pouring a scoop of NativePath Original Collagen peptides into a coffee mug from the 56 serving value bag.

Good Health Starts Within

Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body and essential for the health of your bones, joints, skin, hair, nails, digestion, and more.

Add to Cart
Kat Kennedy
Article by

Kat Kennedy

Kat Kennedy is the Fitness and Nutrition Editor at NativePath. With a NASM CPT, NCSF CPT, and NCSF Sports Nutrition Certification, she has a passion for giving people the tools they need to feel healthy, strong, and confident.

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    Medical Disclaimer

    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.

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