Issue #32: Should you eat liver if you are pregnant? - Heart & Soil Supplements

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Issue #32: Should you eat liver if you are pregnant?

Hey Radical Health Seekers 👋 

Last week we released Nourished – Nutritional Wisdom For A Healthy Pregnancy, our mini-doc all about animal-based diets during pregnancy.

Following it’s release, many of you have asked about taking our supplements during pregnancy, and whether you should be concerned about eating liver because of Vitamin A…

Well we’re going to address all in this week’s newsletter, including:

  • Is it safe for pregnant women to take our supplements?
  • Should you be concerned about getting too much Vitamin A from liver or our supplements?
  • Why the RDA for Vitamin A is flawed, and why 10x the amount is probably better for you and your baby to thrive…

Heads up, we might get technical at times, but this is a nuanced and important subject that requires it 🤓

First up…

Is it safe to take our products while pregnant?

The answer is yes! ✅👌

While we can’t give specific medical advice for expecting mothers, thousands of women have found our supplements to be very beneficial before, during and after pregnancy…

And it’s important to remember that although we call them supplements and they come in a capsule…our products are still just real food!

They undergo the strictest quality control procedures for safety and contamination… in fact we can reassure you that they are more rigorously tested than any food you’ll find in a grocery store or restaurant!

But what about liver and Vitamin A?

Expecting moms are told to avoid liver because it’s high in Vitamin A, which is believed to increase the risk of birth defects…

But this belief is based on poor science which we will detail in this newsletter.

The key point is that eating reasonable amounts of liver during pregnancy (whether fresh or in our products) will not deliver excess amounts of Vitamin A to cause concern…

And is in fact the best way to ensure sufficient Vitamin A and other micronutrients so that mom and baby can THRIVE 🤗

You need Vitamin A for a healthy pregnancy

One of the reasons Vitamin A is so important during pregnancy is because of its role in cell differentiation…

That’s the process where stem cells transform into differentiated cells like heart cells, bone cells, and brain cells… 

And for this differentiation to occur, Vitamin A needs to be available in sufficient quantity, and in the proper form (retinol).

🥕 The best source of Vitamin A isn’t carrots… 

Liver is one of the best (if not THE best) sources of Vitamin A for both the quality and quantity of Vitamin A in it.

The Vitamin A in liver comes in the super bioavailable retinol form that our bodies expect…

And if you thought you could get Vitamin A from carrots, think again…

Because carrots and other plant foods like sweet potatoes don’t contain true Vitamin A. 

Instead, they have a precursor called beta-carotene, and it’s a crappy form of Vitamin A.

Because not only must your body convert it from beta-carotene to vitamin A, but the conversion factor is poor, ranging from 3% to 10%

Yet mainstream nutritional advice fails to make this important distinction…

And still recommends pregnant women (and everyone else) get their vitamin A from vegetables (or synthetic supplements) instead of real bioavailable sources like beef liver 😩

Okay so now that we’ve covered the whys and wheres of Vitamin A, let’s look at how much pregnant moms should be getting…

How much liver to meet your RDA requirements?

The official RDA (recommended daily allowance) of Vitamin A for women during pregnancy is approximately 2500 IU (international units). 

And if you eat 3 oz of fresh liver once a week you will easily meet this RDA…

Because in that small palm size amount is about 22,000 IU of vitamin A, a daily equivalent of 3142 IU.

And how much Vitamin A is in our supplements?

Well here’s Kelli with our Prenatal Stack:

This incredibly nourishing stack provides about 6300 IU of the highest quality Vitamin A to expecting moms each day… 

And that’s not even to mention all of the other nutrients like Choline, Folate, Iron, B Vitamins and Essential Fatty Acids… 

Yowza!!!

But is that not TOO much Vitamin A??? 🤔

No! See the thing about RDAs is they sort of suck… 

They were originally created during World War 2 as a bare minimum to help soldiers avoid disease…

And yes, meeting your RDA will help you avoid a deficiency disease, but it isn’t enough for you and your growing baby to thrive. 

And we aren’t soldiers looking to avoid a deficiency disease, we are moms looking to grow healthy babies!!!

And in fact, we believe somewhere in the region of 10x the RDA may be a more optimal amount to shoot for (we’ll show you why)…

But what about too much Vitamin A causing birth defects?

Buckle up Betty, this gets technical 🤓

The worries about Vitamin A causing an increased risk of birth defects comes from a 1995 study where nearly 23,000 women got 10,000 IU+ of Vitamin A from supplements or processed foods during their first trimester and an increase in birth defects was observed… 

But there were multiple flaws with the study (which you can read about here)…

And the biggest problem was that it ignored the multiple studies that contradicted it:

Contradictory Study #1

This 1990 study found that among 25,000 births, doses of vitamin A over 40,000 IU per day carried a 2.7-fold higher risk of birth defects, but doses of vitamin A up to 20,000 IU or between 20,000 and 40,000 IU both carried a 50 percent lower risk of birth defects compared to no supplementation at all…

Contradictory Study #2

This 1996 study of 522,601 births found that the children of women supplementing with at least 10,000 IU of vitamin A in addition to a multivitamin had a lower risk of birth defects than those of women who did not supplement, although the association could not be distinguished from the effect of chance…

Contradictory Study #3

This 1997 study of 1,508 births found no relationship between birth defects and use of vitamin A supplements, fortified breakfast cereals, organ meats or liver.

Contradictory Study #4

This 1999 prospective study of 311 mothers who consumed between 10,000 and 300,000 IU of vitamin A in the first trimester and a similarly sized group that did not supplement with vitamin A found no evidence of an increased risk of major malformations with increasing dose. The median dose was 50,000 IU. The group as a whole had a 50 percent lower risk of major malformations than those who did not supplement, and there were no major malformations in offspring born to mothers consuming more than 50,000 IU.

So yes, too much Vitamin A might be a problem (or might not based on those studies)…

But not enough Vitamin A is definitely a problem. 

And taking all the evidence into account, we believe 10,000 – 20,000 IU of vitamin A during pregnancy is not only probably safe, but is also probably going to reduce the risk of birth defects and improve overall health outcomes for mother and baby.

We’re going to wrap this one up now, but before we do, here are some links you might find useful:

Further Resources:

Recommended Reading:

Weston Price Foundation: Vitamins for Fetal Development: Conception to Birth

Recommended Viewing: 

Nourished – Nutritional Wisdom For A Healthy Pregnancy here

Recommended Listening: 

Fundamental Health Podcast #161: Using an Animal-Based Diet to optimize fertility and pregnancy with Lindsey Meehleis

Fundamental Health Podcast #76: Fertility, Pre-natal, Pregnancy, Breast Feeding and Peri-menopause with Jaime Seeman, MD

Recommended Purchase:

Our Prenatal Health Stack

Besides plenty of Vitamin A, this stack is jam-packed with other nutrients like iron, essential fatty acids, Choline and Folate to help you and your baby THRIVE.

We hope you found the information in this week’s newsletter useful, and please pass it on to any expecting moms you think it can help…

And if you have any further questions you can contact us!

The Heart & Soil Team

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