5 Benefits of Taking Collagen Postpartum
Taking collagen postpartum can have a number of benefits to help you with your recovery journey. Read on to learn more.
By OBGYN and fertility specialist Dr. Kenosha Gleaton
Collagen is a building block for our skin, joints, bones, and more. Collagen not only improves skin elasticity and joint health, but has many benefits for postpartum healing as well.
Collagen is a type of protein that is composed of amino acids and is actually the most abundant protein in the body. Collagen is kind of like glue that supports our bodies abilities to move and function, and has an impressive resilience of around 90%. There are many types of collagen, but the majority found in the body are types I, II, and III.
This is the most abundant of the collagen family and plays a large role in wound healing, skin elasticity, and skin strength.
This type of cartilage is found in connective tissue such as the bone, ligaments, tendons, etc . This type of collagen provides resistance to pressure and cushions our bones and joints.
Type III collagen makes up a large portion of blood vessels, organs, and muscles. This type of collagen is also important for wound healing and tissue formation.
Not only is collagen necessary for the movement and structure of our bodies, but collagen affects skin elasticity and the appearance of wrinkles and stretch marks. To be clear, we think your stretch marks, wrinkles, and perfect imperfections are beautiful reminders of growth, but if you’re interested in reducing these, collagen can be a great solution!
Factors such as sun exposure, smoking, and high cortisol levels may contribute to decreased or damaged collagen fibers. Collagen has been sold in topical and oral products, but most scientists agree that oral supplementation is likely to be more effective.
Benefits of collagen
While more research is needed, early studies show that oral collagen supplementation can support skin elasticity and improve joint health. There have also been studies on collagen’s positive effects on skin hydration, skin strength, and wound healing.
Without collagen, our joints wouldn’t have the padding and support needed to aid in day to day movement. Research suggests that daily collagen supplementation can improve joint pain and mobility, specifically in osteoarthritis patients.
Collagen is often marketed for skin, hair, and nail health along with biotin, vitamin c, and other nutrients. Research is still limited to support some of these claims, but we do know that collagen has positive effects on connective tissue health (including skin) and that high levels of collagen can delay skin aging and stretch marks.
Available research deems collagen supplementation as healthy and shows no significant side effects. As with any added supplement or medication, you may experience some upset stomach, nausea, or bloating. If you notice any reactions or side effects while taking a supplement, monitor closely and talk to your doctor.
Collagen and hair loss
In recent years, collagen and biotin have been marketed as hair care supplements to strengthen, grow, and improve hair. Collagen does make up over half of the dermis, which is the layer of skin that holds the roots of our hair. With aging often comes a decrease in collagen production, which may contribute to thinning or graying hair. Research suggests that collagen may be helpful for hair follicle regeneration, targeting hair loss, and other skin-related diseases. Another double-blind placebo study found that oral supplementation of hydrolyzed collagen and other ingredients decreased shedding and increased hair growth. Not only is collagen helpful for skin and joint health, it can benefit your hair health as well.
Benefits of collagen during postpartum
It’s been established that collagen has many health benefits and is essential for our functioning and mobility. So how does this specifically relate to your needs during postpartum? I’ve compiled a list of five benefits you may notice from taking collagen supplements after giving birth:
1. Repairing hair and skin
It’s no secret that your skin, nails, and hair can suffer during pregnancy and postpartum. You already experience a delay in hair cycling during pregnancy which can cause excess hair loss after pregnancy, and research shows that a lack of collagen could exacerbate this. Oral collagen supplementation promotes healthy, resilient, hydrated skin from the hair root to the epidermis, and may even reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
2. Replenishing bone density
The amount of vitamins needed to support pregnancy and lactation can lead to short-term bone loss. Early studies show that some collagen peptides may help to replenish bone density loss, fighting off osteoporosis and potential fractures.
3. Promoting sleep
Sleep is hard to come by as a new mom. Not only is it hard to find time to sleep, but you may not be getting very restful sleep either. Glycine is the main amino acid found in collagen, and there’s a good amount of research that states glycine promotes restful sleep by regulating circadian rhythms and thermoregulation.
4. Reducing joint pain
As we discussed already, collagen is essential for joint health and can even help lessen joint pain. This can be especially helpful when recovering from childbirth and all the aches and pains that come with it.
5. Balancing hormones
It’s normal to experience fluctuations in hormones during and after pregnancy, and as many of us know, our hormone levels can play a huge role in things such as weight, acne, moods, and more. Studies show that estrogen and collagen are connected, and collagen supplementation can be very helpful for those with low estrogen levels when it comes to balancing hormones and preventing weight gain in some cases.
Foods that include collagen
Meat and bone broths are the best way to consume collagen through your diet. Thicker meats such as pot roast and brisket, as well as bone broth, and fish, are all high in collagen. Other high protein foods are likely to aid in collagen production and include things such as eggs, dairy, poultry, soy, and legumes.
There are no recommended daily intakes or upper limits, but some research suggests that anywhere between 2.5 to 15 g of peptides a day should be effective for collagens' intended health benefits. If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or have other dietary needs, make sure to speak with your healthcare provider about what dosage or daily intake is right for you. To ensure adequate intake of all essential nutrients after pregnancy, make sure you have a high quality postnatal vitamin.
- Connective tissue, AKA our skin, joints, bones, and muscles, are dependent on and made up of collagen
- There are many types of collagen, but three types that are found most abundantly in the body
- Collagen is found in foods such as brisket, pot roast, bone broth, and fish
- Skin health, including elasticity, hydration, and wound healing, all benefit from collagen
- Collagen is also an important part of joint health and preventing joint pain
- Collagen can be helpful during postpartum for replenishing bone density, promoting sleep, and balancing hormones