Collagen peptides have become popular recently for their purported skin benefits. Are collagen peptides safe while pregnant? Is there a benefit to taking collagen peptides in addition to the very necessary prenatal vitamins?
What are Collagen Peptides?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. It is found in your skin, bones, cartilage and more. It is naturally produced by your body. In the past collagen became known for its use in cosmetic injections to ease wrinkles. However, today collagen is becoming popular for its use as a powder in supplements as well as in creams and lotions.
As you age your levels of collagen naturally decrease. This leads to the appearance of wrinkles, stiff and achy joints and muscle weakness. Sounds alot like aging.
Collagen peptides are simply the subunits of collagen. You get collagen peptides from breaking down collagen. Collagen peptides are the building blocks of collagen
What are the Benefits of Collagen Peptides?
A decline in collagen does lead to undesirable effects, such as wrinkles and joint pain. However, the primary question is, does supplementing with collagen actually increase your body’s available collagen?
The answer to this is unknown since there is no clear way to measure your body’s supply of collagen. However, some preliminary studies have shown promising results. Keep in mind, these studies are typically either funded by collagen supplement producers, have small sample sizes or are analyzing animals. For example, a recent study from 2017 in China evaluated the effects of collagen on skin aging in 70 mice. This study found that collagen supplementation improved skin aging in mice. Sounds promising, right?
However, what is known is that the main cause of low collagen is linked to poor diet. So the best way to maintain high collagen levels is to improve your diet.
To boost your natural collagen levels, select a diet high in protein, such as beef, fish, dairy, eggs and beans. Collagen also requires vitamin C, zinc and copper. As you probably already know, vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, tomatoes, melon, broccoli and greens. You can find zinc in meat, shellfish and beans. Copper is found in liver, oysters, leafy greens and nuts.
How Can I Supplement Collagen?
In addition to improving your overall diet, you can consume more collagen in the form of gelatin and collagen peptides.
Gelatin is partially broken down collagen. It is most widely found in desserts such as jello. However, it is also found in animal broths. The collagen in animal broths comes from the bones. This is where the name “bone broth” comes from. Bone broth contains collagen that comes from slowly boiling animal bones in water for days. However, drink bone broth in moderation. It is often high in sodium.
The other source of collagen are collagen supplements. This collagen is in the form of collagen peptides. These come in pill and powder form.
Collagen Peptide Pills
Collagen peptide pills are easy to take. They are tasteless and relatively cost efficient. They have the same benefits as collagen powder so it comes down to personal preference. If you are looking to start a collagen peptide pill, I’d recommend trying Multi Collagen Plus.
Collagen Peptide Powder
Collagen peptide powder is essentially the same as the pill. It has the same benefits. However, you can mix collagen peptide powder into hot or cold beverages. Some people prefer to take collagen peptide powder because they like to mix it into their smoothies or morning coffee. In fact, collagen peptide powder is more popular than collagen peptide pills.
It is important to look for collagen peptide powder with no additives. Some powders contain sweetener. You should look for a powder with one ingredient- collagen peptides. If you are interested in trying a collagen peptide powder, I’d recommend trying Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides.
Is it safe while pregnant?
You might be unsure as to whether you should supplement with collagen peptides during pregnancy. And for good reason!
On the one hand, your body is growing in every direction during pregnancy (except maybe in height). Your skin is stretching and everyone is dreading those nasty stretch marks. It makes sense that collagen could help your skin stretch.
On the other hand, during pregnancy everything you eat goes straight to your baby (after being carefully filtered by your placenta). And as caring moms we want to make sure we only give baby the best and the safest. Are supplements safe? There are no great studies evaluating the safety of any supplements, including collagen peptides. Prenatal vitamins are safe! Everything else… might be safe.
So is collagen peptide safe? Most likely. Of course everything in moderation. But since collagen peptides are broken down collagen and collagen is found naturally in your diet, it is most likely safe. However, I always recommend checking with your doctor or midwife before starting any supplement.
Do Collagen Peptides affect fertility?
There is most likely no effect on fertility. However, I always recommend trying to get pregnant without any additional supplements except prenatal vitamins initially. As months go by with no success, you can add a CoQ10 supplement to improve your fertility. Collagen Peptides likely have no effect on fertility. If you are already taking collagen peptides you most likely can continue without any effect on your fertility. However, if you are having trouble becoming pregnant, you may want to consider stopping collagen peptides to remove any unknown variables from the equation.
Bottom Line: Should I supplement?
It is up to you. As with any supplement you have to weigh the risks and benefits. In this case there is likely minimal to no risk. Many women take collagen peptides during pregnancy and no risks have yet been identified. The benefits are also unclear. However preliminary studies have shown some benefit to skin aging as well and joint pain.
If you are concerned about taking a supplement, your best bet would be to improve your diet. Consume a high protein diet with lots of vitamin C, zinc and copper. You could also increase your consumption of gelatin from bone broth.