Can I Take Collagen While Pregnant?

Pregnant woman drinking a glass of water and taking a pill.

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Nearly every decision when you're pregnant feels like it’s up for debate, especially when it comes to what you ingest. Every food is questioned, every medication scrutinized, and every supplement eyed with suspicion.

Some supplements, like folic acid, are often recommended during pregnancy and are included in prenatal vitamins. Others, like collagen, might have been a part of your daily regimen before you became pregnant. With a reputation for improving the look of skin, hair, and nails, it would be understandable if you wanted to continue taking collagen throughout your pregnancy. And generally speaking, many experts don't think it would be harmful to do so.

However, collagen supplements, like other dietary supplements, are not regulated for safety by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before their market release. The FDA cautions people to only take them with the guidance and supervision of a healthcare provider. And if you’re pregnant and already taking supplements or medications, it’s all the more important you consult with your healthcare team before making the decision to take collagen.

What Is Collagen?

Simply speaking, collagen is a protein, and your body actually contains more of it than any other type of protein. There are several different types of collagen, and they can be found working in different parts of the body.

Collagen has a hand in keeping your skin and body tissues strong and easing the movement and performance of joints. But as people age, collagen production slows down. Lifestyle triggers, like excessive sun exposure, can also negatively impact collagen in the skin.

What Is a Collagen Supplement?

A collagen supplement is a type of collagen that’s made or extracted. Depending on the supplement you buy, you can be ingesting collagen from sources like bovine or marine life like fish cartilage. “Common sources of collagen include cow skin, chicken sternum (collarbone), fish cartilage, and fish scales,” says Jessica Wu, MD, a dermatologist in Los Angeles, and author of "Feed Your Face."

Ingestible varieties of collagen can come in powder and pill form, and often aim to improve the appearance of skin and to ease joints. It’s also been said they may strengthen bones and improve the overall quality of your nails.

Collagen can supposedly improve the health and appearance of your skin by increasing hydration and supporting it structurally to minimize sagging. “Specifically, some studies have shown that collagen can help improve skin hydration, roughness, and elasticity,” says Dr. Wu. 

But some professionals note the lack of unequivocal fact-based studies to support that collagen supplements work.

Is it Safe to Take Collagen Supplements When Pregnant?

Whether or not it's safe to take collagen supplements during pregnancy varies among professionals and supplement brands. While some collagen brands claim their supplements may be fine to take during pregnancy, it’s a question you should discuss with your healthcare provider.

“People often take collagen supplements to help with their hair, skin, and nails,” says Sarah Yamaguchi, MD, who is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology and works at DTLA Gynecology in Los Angeles. “Some pregnant women take them in hopes to help prevent stretch marks,” though Dr. Yamaguchi notes that those benefits can lack the support of proof in studies. “In general, collagen supplements have not been proven to be of benefit in pregnancy. However, [they] are thought to be generally safe in pregnancy."

While noting the lack of studies on taking collagen supplements while pregnant, Leslie Baumann, MD, cosmetic dermatologist and textbook author, says, “Collagen is a protein, it’s in our diets, and has no risk to the baby.” 

Some medical establishments, like the Mayo Clinic Health System, share information stating that pregnant people would be best served avoiding all dietary supplements during pregnancy, primarily due to their lack of regulation.

With that said, it's important to note that supplement safety and their use during pregnancy is a topic without a wealth of researched studies. Some pregnant people might be advised by healthcare providers to take certain supplements or vitamins, while others are advised to not take them. Talk to your healthcare team before taking any supplements.

Outside of the question of safety is the question of necessity: Do you need to take a collagen supplement? Many professionals agree that available studies don’t support this notion. “I have a nutritionist friend and we looked into this,” says Dr. Baumann. “Homemade bone broth made from real bones has more collagen than these supplements.” (Though remember, not every collagen supplement on the market is the same.)

If you want to take collagen supplements in an effort to preserve your skin health and appearance, you can get the benefit of improved hydration if you ingest a lot, says Dr. Baumann. But the dermatologist notes that doing so might be expensive, and you can use a bottled moisturizer for that, too.

Safety Precautions

Not all collagen supplements are created equally. Not only can you find them in various delivery forms, from chewable gummies to pills and powders, but producers can also add other ingredients in the overall supplement formula.

Choose Your Supplement Mindfully

If you're considering taking a collagen supplement, not only do you want to know every ingredient that you'd potentially be ingesting, but you'd want to identify what kind of collagen you’d potentially be taking. “The source of collagen is very important, so read labels carefully to know where your collagen is coming from, especially if you have an allergy or wish to avoid certain animal products,” says Dr. Wu.

Question the Quantities

Each supplement will likely offer a suggestion as to how much to take a day (which could range from one or two "scoops" of powder to three capsules). Especially if you’re looking to take the supplement while pregnant, this is a point you’ll want to bring up and discuss with your healthcare provider. Examine how much of every ingredient you'd potentially be ingesting per day.

Think About Your Reasons

Consider why you want to take the collagen supplement, and discuss it with your healthcare team. There may be another way to achieve your goals (perhaps through diet modification) that you can effectively implement during pregnancy.

A Word from Verywell

Collagen is a protein found in our bodies that offers support to skin, joints, and tissues. However, as supplements are not safety regulated by the FDA before market availability, you’ll want to take this topic very seriously. Not every collagen supplement on the market is made the same way; they won’t all carry the same ingredients or potential additives.

Before you take any supplement, especially while pregnant, talk to healthcare providers, ask questions about a particular supplement and its potential dosage, and see if it’s right for you. Consider other medications or supplements you may be taking and incorporate those into your conversations. Even if a supplement hasn’t been unanimously proven harmful, it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

6 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Angelique Serrano
Angelique Serrano is an independent journalist, award-nominated writer, reporter, and editor. She specializes in beauty, wellness, and lifestyle content, and has expanded into parenting, family, and health. Her work has been published in many publications, both print and digital.