Collagen is a naturally occurring protein in the body. In fact, it is the most abundant protein in the body.
Collagen forms the building blocks that provide structure, strength and support to the skin, muscles, bones, tendons and other connective tissues.
Many women wonder whether adding collagen to a balanced diet will help support a healthy breast milk supply.
The 7 most common question from nursing mothers about taking collagen while breastfeeding.
Taking Collagen While Breastfeeding #1. Are there benefits of taking collagen during the postpartum period?
There is emerging research into the health benefits of taking collagen to aid postpartum healing and recovery.
The potential benefits of taking collagen for postpartum women include:
- Wound healing
- Improved skin health and elasticity (it might improve the appearance of stretch marks)
- Stronger nails and shiny, healthier hair (it might help with postpartum hair loss)
- Support for bone health (it might help relieve joint pain)
- Digestive system support and improved gut health
- Balanced blood sugar levels
- Satiety and reduced cravings.
Taking Collagen While Breastfeeding #2. Can you take collagen while breastfeeding?
Although there are many different dietary supplements that are commonly recommended for breastfeeding mothers, collagen isn’t usually one of them. Despite that, taking collagen while breastfeeding is generally considered safe.
Collagen supplements are derived from animal products and are sourced and created differently, depending on the manufacturer.
Various collagen supplements can be absorbed by your body in different ways. Hydrolyzed collagen and collagen peptides, found in the form of a collagen protein powder, are smaller fragments of collagen that are more easily absorbed.
Taking Collagen While Breastfeeding #3. What are the benefits of taking collagen while breastfeeding?
Caitlin Murphy, RN, RM, Nutrition Consultant and founder of Maternally Happy, states that collagen turnover is incredibly high in pregnancy, for both maternal and fetal demands, as well as in the post partum period, particularly with regard to maternal milk production.
In order to produce breast milk, the human body is in a state of physically altered calcium metabolism, which significantly affects bone health. The average breastfeeding mother produces about 600-100 ml of breast milk per day. Studies have shown that exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months (as recommended by the World Health Organization) can result in a loss of bone mass of up to 10% in breastfeeding women.
Other studies have found that specific collagen peptides can improve bone mass measurements.
Murphy also states that most women do not meet their protein requirements throughout pregnancy and in the postpartum period. The recommended daily intake of protein for lactating women is 67 grams per day, compared with 46 grams per day for non lactating women. A collagen supplement can help breastfeeding women meet this requirement.
Taking Collagen While Breastfeeding #4. Are there different types of collagen?
There are 5 different types of collagen:
- Type I collagen; which makes up 90% of hair skin and nails and is also found in organs, bones and ligaments
- Type II collagen; which forms a major part of the lining of the gut and helps digestive and immune system function
- Type III collagen; which forms arterial walls and, in smaller amounts, is found in bone cartilage and tendons
- Type IV collagen; which helps form cell membranes and placental tissue
- Type X collagen; which plays a crucial role in bone formation.
Taking Collagen While Breastfeeding #5. Can you get collagen from food?
In food, collagen is found naturally in animal products. To make sure you have an adequate collagen intake, it isn’t as simple as eating collagen rich foods.
To absorb collagen, your body must break it down into amino acids, which then travel to where protein is required.
Eating a healthy and balanced diet that’s rich in essential vitamins and minerals will help maintain overall health.
Eating foods that contain Vitamin C, proline, glycine, copper and zinc will help collagen production in the body.
Some of these foods are:
- Citrus fruits (vitamin C)
- Mushrooms, egg whites and fish (proline)
- Red meat and poultry (glycine)
- Shellfish, leafy greens, tofu and dark chocolate (copper)
- Chickpeas, nuts, whole grains and dairy (zinc).
For more inspiration about foods to eat when breastfeeding, you can read BellyBelly’s article What Foods Should l Eat While Breastfeeding?
Taking Collagen While Breastfeeding #6. What are the best collagen supplements to take while breastfeeding?
To date, there isn’t enough research or scientific evidence to recommend particular daily collagen supplements for breastfeeding mothers.
There is evidence to suggest that oral supplementation with hydrolyzed collagen can improve the effects of ageing on the skin.
Most collagen supplements are derived from animal sources, such as bovine (cattle) or marine creatures, such as fish and jellyfish. Hydrolyzed bovine collagen has been found to support type I and III collagen production, and marine collagen has been found to support types I and II collagen production.
Talk to your healthcare provider about which collagen supplement is appropriate for your individual circumstances.
Taking Collagen While Breastfeeding #7. Can collagen boost breast milk supply?
For breastfeeding mothers, taking collagen helps meet recommended daily protein intake.
Extra daily protein can help to support a healthy breast milk supply; however, taking collagen while breastfeeding will not directly increase your milk supply.
Breastfeeding is initiated hormonally, beginning during pregnancy and continuing with the onset of mature milk production after a baby is born. Although hormones continue to play an important role in breast milk production, breast milk supply is maintained on the principle of supply and demand.
For information on how to boost your breast milk supply, you can read BellyBelly’s article How To Increase Milk Supply | Fast! 9 Best Things To Do.