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Pregnant women must eat a healthy diet. But often, to-be-mothers are concerned about the safety and side effects of the foods they consume during pregnancy. A superfood that is often recommended during pregnancy is spirulina, which is a biomass of blue-green algae or cyanobacterium which can be consumed by humans. Spirulina has the ability to photosynthesize and produce energy from sunlight, just like plants. In this article, we shall summarise the nutrient value of spirulina and also take a look at its benefits and side effects if any. So, can you consume spirulina during pregnancy? Let’s find out!
Can You Consume Spirulina During Pregnancy?
While some experts recommend spirulina due to its nutritional value, and its ability to support a hearty pregnancy and lactation, the postulation is still ambiguous. The impact of spirulina on pregnant women and their foetuses have not been studied expansively, and there is no clear data regarding the safety of spirulina for pregnant women. It is, therefore, debatable and the question remains if spirulina is good during pregnancy. Despite multiple successful studies conducted on animals, authorities are reluctant to make claims about the absolute safety of spirulina during gestation in humans.
Listed for reference, nevertheless, is the nutritional content for 7 grams of spirulina:
- 11 % of the recommended dietary allowance of Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
- 15% of the recommended dietary allowance of Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
- 4% of the recommended dietary allowance of Niacin (Vitamin B3)
- 21% of the recommended dietary allowance of Copper
- 11% of the recommended dietary allowance of Iron
- Trace amounts of manganese, magnesium, and potassium
- 7 grams of digestible carbohydrates
- 4 grams of high-quality protein and all essential amino acids
- Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
The recommended dosage for an adult is 1 to 2 tablets of 500 mg strength per day. The dose, when taken on a prescription, may show the benefits given below.
Benefits of Consuming Spirulina During Pregnancy
Spirulina has fabulous health benefits due to the number of nutrients it packs into a single tablespoon. Spirulina powder during pregnancy can help in the following ways:
- All the micronutrients are bio-synthesised through a natural pathway by this minuscule water organism. Therefore, the nutrients are readily absorbed by the human body as compared to artificially synthesised nutrients.
- Although spirulina grows in both salt and fresh water, it thrives better in freshwater and even contains a comparatively minute amount of sodium, which can help keep your blood pressure under check.
- Spirulina improves the haemoglobin levels of the body and prevents anaemia and fatigue during pregnancy.
- The proteins can offer additional nourishment to the foetus and augment its growth while helping pregnant women strengthen their bones.
- Spirulina is abundant in phycocyanin, an antioxidant that helps in preventing free radicals from causing oxidative damage and ageing of tissue and cells rapidly.
- Since it is loaded with chlorophyll, spirulina prevents toxins from accumulating in the body.
- Spirulina can also help reduce blood pressure which is a common pregnancy issue. This happens due to an increase in production of nitric oxide that assists relaxation and dilation of blood vessels.
- It may also help combat another common pregnancy issue, i.e. gestational diabetes. HbA1c has been known to reduce considerably due to the consumption of spirulina.
Are There Any Side Effects of Eating Spirulina During Pregnancy?
While there are no substantial studies describing the effects of spirulina on pregnant women, there are known dangers that need to be understood in depth by those who intend to take it as a supplement during pregnancy.
- Spirulina could be contaminated with mercury and other heavy metals, and harmful bacteria which could put your health at risk.
- Spirulina, if taken by a woman who has autoimmune diseases like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, can aggravate the symptoms.
- Spirulina contaminated with anatoxin, microcystin or cyanotoxin can cause difficulty in breathing, liver toxicity, inflammation of the pancreas, nerve damage, kidney failure, heart muscle damage, and seizures.
- Phenylalanine contamination can be dangerous for people with PKU (phenylketonuria), and pregnant women risk the fact that their foetus has not been tested for resistance to phenylalanine.
- Contaminated spirulina could also cause rapid heartbeat, excessive thirst, vomiting, weakness, nausea, and stomach pain.
Spirulina is a superfood with innumerable health benefits if it is of high quality. Healthcare professionals and medical experts are, however, divided on the use of spirulina during pregnancy. It is best for a pregnant woman to consult a medical practitioner and weigh the advantages over the potential risks before arriving at a conclusion.
Disclaimer: The content mentioned above is not be substituted for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your Doctor before consuming spirulina/supplements when pregnant.
Also Read: Essential Nutrients in Pregnancy