During pregnancy, it’s very important for your body to get all the nutrients it requires. Here is why collagen might be an answer for your health: how and why should you take it?
Most women don’t stop taking care of their bodies and health once they conceive or even get further along in their pregnancy. Many are still concerned about getting the amount of nutrients and vitamins and minerals needed for everything from normal development to preventing diseases later on in life. While there may never be a one-size-fits-all option, the evidence is overwhelming that collagen may be just what your body needs while pregnant.
What is collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It’s a strong fibrous protein; one of its commercial uses is in sausage casings. Its other main function is to provide structure. Collagen is found in the bones, muscles, skin, and tendons. It is the substance that holds the body together. Collagen forms a scaffold to provide strength and structure. Endogenous collagen is natural collagen, synthesized by the body. Exogenous collagen is synthetic. It comes from an outside source, such as supplements. Endogenous collagen has a number of important functions. Breakdown and depletion is linked to a number of health problems such as bone weakening (osteoporosis), cardiovascular disease, diabetes, liver disease and even autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus erythematosus. However endogenous collagen production decreases with age after reaching its peak in early adulthood. Loss of endogenous collagen makes one susceptible even to minor health problems like stiff joints in the morning, or cellulite on the thighs rather than just skin that sags under gravity as it gets older. Exogenous collagen is used for cosmetic purposes including skin smoothing and plumping up lips and eyes to appear youthful looking without resorting to plastic surgery.
What are the different types of collagen?
- In certain parts of the body, such as the bones, hair and nails, type I collagen is the main component. This makes it a vital component of any diet or wellness routine — especially if you’re staying active while pregnant. Collagen Peptides and other popular dietary supplements are primarily composed of type I collagen. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need protein from your diet in order for your body to synthesize collagen. This can be confusing for people trying to arrange their diets because it’s easy to assume that supplementing with amino acids like glycine and proline (the two primary components of collagen peptides) means that those proteins must be coming from food. However, the amino acids in collagen come from protein stores in your body; they aren’t derived from plant or animal sources. So what does this mean? If you want healthier skin, hair and nails, supplementing with collagen peptides is a convenient and effective way to ensure you’re getting enough type I collagen everyday during your pregnancy.
- Cartilage is a vital part of the human body. It is found in joints throughout the human body, giving both flexibility and strength to the human skeletal system. Inflammation can severely damage this collagen barrier, causing pain, swelling and much more. Many pregnant women suffer from discomfort due to chronic inflammation during their pregnancy and find relief with cartilage-based supplements. Type II collagen is essential for healthy cartilage!
- Type III collagen is more prone to fragmentation and degradation than Type I or II. Consequently, supplementation with Type III may promote repair of tissues degraded by these fragments. A healthy bone matrix depends on adequate amounts of both types of collagen. By supplementing your diet with collagen peptides you may be replenishing your body’s reserve store of natural collagen and helping restore youthful suppleness to your skin and joints.
- Type V collagen is a protein found on the surface of cells. It provides structure to bone, skeletal muscle, liver, lung, and, most notably, the cells of a pregnant woman’s placenta. A pregnant woman’s blood contains high levels of type V collagen during pregnancy. This is beneficial because it gives the fetus some protection against viruses and bacteria that are found in the mother’s blood. Type V collagen production depletes during childbirth, which is why contracting an infection after giving birth is so common; this type of infection was named after the bloody discharge (lochia) women experience.
- Type X collagen is important in the creation of both bone and cartilage. But chondrocytes are not the only cells that use type X collagen, it is also found in the matrix around a growing bone. The matrix is composed mainly of type I collagen and proteoglycan. Type I collagen, which represents 95% of all collagens, is present in all connective tissue in the body as well as cartilage, blood vessels, tendons and skin. These macromolecules work as a kind of biological cement, providing structure for cells and tissues. This structure forms between type X collagen molecules giving strength and rigidity to cartilage and bone.
The main types of collagen, types I, II and III are the most common ones you’ll find in supplements. They can be found in bone broth and bone-infused foods, such as eating cartilage directly off the bone, consuming bone-in fish, and eating organ meats.
Is collagen safe to take while pregnant?
Collagen, in its natural form found in foods such as grass-fed beef and wild-caught fish, is safe for pregnancy. Collagen is not synthetic or injected in any way. It appears naturally in almost all food products that we eat on a regular basis. Since collagen is a food supplement, not a drug, there aren’t any strict guidelines for how much to take. But as long as you and your doctor or midwife agree that you can safely use collagen during pregnancy, it can be an affordable, delicious way to keep your skin extra-youthful during this time of change.
Pregnancy causes a lot of changes to the body, but one of the most visible is the skin. Stretch marks are very common in pregnancy and many women also gain weight in certain areas causing a change to their skin within these regions. Collagen is a protein that is a natural component of human tissue. It not only gives skin its structure; it is found in our connective tissue, cartilage, bones, joints, blood vessels, organs, hair and nails. It’s no surprise that collagen supplementation during pregnancy can be beneficial to support the immense amount of changes in the body. Here are some benefits of using collagen during your pregnancy:
- Many pregnant women consume over 75 grams of protein a day as prescribed by various pregnancy authorities. But sometimes this is difficult to achieve, especially in the first trimester. Collagen peptides are also used in supplements to add protein to smoothies, post exercise snacks, and other foods instead of protein powder. Collagen is said to not just help those with morning sickness but it may also help those of you that have a hard time digesting the meals you do have. Collagen peptides are said to be quickly absorbed and digested into amino acids.
Increased nutrient intake
- One way to find extra nutrients when you are pregnant is to take collagen. Collagen supplements are usually rich in some of the most important vitamins and minerals that a growing baby needs. Some of these nutrients include vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium, and zinc.
Potentially prevent stretch marks
- Consuming peptide collagen can help pregnant women prevent stretch marks and get back in shape after pregnancy. Peptide collagen is a Type I collagen. It’s derived directly from chicken sternum cartilage, and has undergone a mechanical extraction process that removes impurities, including potential allergens like gluten, lactose, and preservatives. Collagen will help keep your skin’s elasticity and prevent loose skin.
Keep hair healthy
- Pregnancy can increase hair growth, but hormone fluctuations and hair loss from shedding can make the postpartum period a big shock to many women. Up to 50% of all women suffer from some degree of hair loss in the months following childbirth.Collagen is the main protein in connective tissue, and has been shown to be necessary for strong and healthy hair.
Relieve joint pain
- Physical changes during pregnancy leave many women with limited mobility. Babies and their paraphernalia can become an unwelcome addition to the load. You may feel less than your usual self and look forward to a new you, the post-baby you. Looking good is important. Thankfully, collagen can support healthy joints, ligaments and muscles. It’s proved effective in easing many aches and pains of expectant mothers.
Bottom line? This collagen peptide is a simple, safe product that is usually loaded with additional nutrients (especially if vegetable-based protein is chosen). There is little or no evidence of any harm when taken as directed. That said, pregnant women still must talk to their doctors about any new supplements.