This question brings a lot of visitors to my blog, so today I’m answering, is collagen safe for toddlers?
One of my very first blog posts was on collagen peptides/collagen powder (both terms can be used, it’s the same thing) and it is a must-read if you want the real low-down on collagen.
In this post you’ll learn whether collagen is safe for toddlers and young children, whether it is recommended, and what considerations you should make when deciding whether to serve it to your kids.
Is Collagen Safe for Toddlers and Children?
Okay, let’s get right to it. When used in small amounts and sparingly, collagen should pose no danger to your child. However, if you have concerns, please discuss them with your pediatrician or registered dietitian. Every child has different needs and circumstances. With appropriate use, these products should be safe for young children.
Appropriate use is the key phrase! Let’s talk about the amount and the type of product that you might let your kids have.
How much collagen is appropriate
The maximum daily total protein intake for toddlers is in the range of 50 to 70 grams. One serving size of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides has 18 grams of protein. That’s a lot of protein! Because of the high protein content, serving protein supplements could take your child’s daily protein intake too high. Excess protein could cause dehydration or even kidney problems. While these effects are rare, you must be aware of the potential risks if your child does eat lots of high protein foods or supplements.
How much protein toddlers need
If you’re worried about your little one getting enough protein in their diet, you can typically increase their protein with real foods, instead of relying on supplements. Toddlers only need around 15 grams of protein per day. To calculate for your child, divide their body weight in pounds by 2. They can get that from about two cups of milk, for example. Read more on protein needs for toddlers here and here.
Therefore, MOST toddlers and kids easily get enough protein, even without eating meat. So if it’s protein you’re worried about, it is unlikely that they need a protein powder to get enough.
Food Sources of Collagen and Note for Vegetarians
If you have an interest in the health benefits of collagen, serve collagen-rich bone broth instead of supplements. Beef, chicken, and turkey all contain collagen.
Food sources of collagen are all animal-based. If your family does not eat animal products, do not freak out! Our bodies do not need to ingest collagen in order to produce it. When we digest proteins, they break down into individual amino acids. Then our bodies, which are SO smart, use those amino acid building blocks wherever they are needed.
If your kids eat a variety of protein sources, whether they are animal-based or not, their bodies will get the full range of amino acids they need.
Is Collagen Recommended for Toddlers?
I would encourage you to include real, whole foods in their diet as often as possible. Most toddlers do not require collagen or other protein supplements of any kind. If you really struggle to get them to eat any protein foods, and you want to try adding a supplement, start small. One tablespoon of collagen is a more appropriate serving size for a small child than a whole scoop.
Is it okay if you make yourself a smoothie with collagen and share it with your toddler? Yes. But I do not recommend getting in the habit of serving protein supplements every day to your toddler. If you’re looking to maximize their nutrition and health, the way to do that is with real foods, not with supplements. Contact me if you are struggling to get them the right nutrition.
Note: While most of the collagen supplements I have seen appear to be from reputable brands, the supplement industry is not as regulated as the food industry. That means you have to be more skeptical of whether the label is an accurate description of what is inside the container. Be selective when you decide what to put in your kids’ bodies! Choose products sold at a reputable location, like Whole Foods.
You could also try something like Nutrikid shake, which has no added sugar, and is specifically formulated for young kids’ nutritional needs. It even has probiotics, digestive enzymes, omega-3s, vitamins, and fiber. I love to use it in smoothies to make it a complete meal or snack. Use code MAMAKNOWSNUTRITION15 to get 15% off!
Have a picky eater?
Grab my free Picky Eater Starter Guide which walks you through the first steps to take to get picky eating under control. When you feel like your little one is calling the shots on what you serve them, they refuse all the healthy options you try to give them, and you get into power struggles with them over meals, it’s time to make a change. This guide will get you moving back in the right direction. Get it here!