Is It Safe to Consume Amino Acid during Pregnancy?

Is Amino Acid Safe for Pregnant Women?

Among the discussions surrounding pregnancy wellness, the role of amino acids has gained attention. Amino acids, the fundamental building blocks of proteins, play a vital role in the body’s growth, repair, and overall functionality. If you are planning to take amino acids during pregnancy, you’ll probably want to know if they are safe. Many tablets and powders available in the market claim that amino acids can improve the chances of having a healthy baby. However, very little information regarding the safety of amino acid supplements during pregnancy is available. Let’s delve into the safety of amino acids for pregnant women, addressing the potential benefits and considerations.

What Are the Benefits of Amino Acids for a Pregnant Woman and Her Baby?

The human body breaks down protein into amino acids to be delivered to the cells for functioning. To let you in on an important piece of information – there are nine essential amino acids that cannot be synthesised by the body and must be obtained through diet. Those nine essential amino acids include histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine + cystine, phenylalanine + tyrosine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Including a variety of protein-rich foods, like lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, nuts, and seeds, in the diet ensures a sufficient intake of amino acids.

Amino acids are one of the key building blocks that ensure the good health of a mother-to-be and the baby growing in her womb. Some major benefits can be reaped from amino acids during this phase.

  • A pregnant woman needs an ample amount of energy to support the baby’s growth and for the optimal functioning of the organs in her body. This can cause typical energy reserves to be depleted rather quickly within the body. Amino acids can act as a quick energy source to keep you going.

  • Amino acids can support the synthesis of haemoglobin, help develop antibodies and promote the functioning of various enzymes.

  • Several nonessential amino acids can come under the conditionally essential category only under specific circumstances, such as pregnancy, illness, infancy, or trauma. For example, amino acids like glycine, taurine, and arginine come under conditionally essential during pregnancy because a pregnant person needs more of these amino acids to support the health and development of the foetus and her as well.

Can You Take Amino Acids While Pregnant?

Can You Take Amino Acids While Pregnant?

During pregnancy, the demand for protein increases substantially for the development of the placenta, which provides essential nutrients and oxygen to the growing foetus. Amino acids also contribute to forming the baby’s organs and tissues. By this, we can be sure of the significant need for amino acids during pregnancy.

To answer the question of whether you can consume amino acids during pregnancy—well, you should not. It is best to stay away from amino acids during pregnancy. There is very little to no scientific evidence suggesting the safety of amino acids in pregnant women. Additionally, consuming amino acid supplements should also be avoided because of their concentrated amounts, which could do more harm than good.

Amino acids obtained through a balanced diet are essential for a healthy pregnancy. Therefore, to averse any risk as well as maintain a balance of this nutrient during gestation, the best approach would be to consume protein-rich foods safe to consume during pregnancy, such as lean meat, beans, tofu, nuts, yoghurt, poultry eggs, fish, and cheese.

Every pregnancy is different. While one pregnancy may demand a protein-rich diet, one may require something else. Therefore, to start on any nutrient, let alone amino acids or supplements, during pregnancy, you must consult your doctor and avoid any mishap.

Safety Concerns of Amino Acids During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, ensuring the safety of both the mother and the baby is paramount. While amino acids are generally considered safe, it’s essential to exercise caution and seek medical advice before taking any supplements, including amino acids, especially during the delicate phase of pregnancy. While many amino acid supplements are available in the market, their safety and efficacy during pregnancy might lack substantial scientific evidence. Limited research has been conducted on the direct effects of amino acid supplementation on pregnant women and their babies. Therefore, caution is highly essential. Some of the potential risks of amino acids include:

  • The regulation of amino acid supplements is not always regulated.
  • Amino acid supplements haven’t been tested; hence these are largely unregulated. The amount of amino acid in supplements is higher than what you would intake from natural sources, which can alter the balance in your body. Unregulated dietary supplements can put a woman at risk.
  • Unregulated supplements may contain hidden ingredients, which are to be steered clear of during pregnancy.
  • The effects of amino acid supplementation during pregnancy are unclear on foetal growth.
  • Amino acid supplements might contain traces of amino acids L-tryptophan, 5-HTP, and L-arginine. The former can cause liver or kidney disease or a white blood cell disorder, and there is little to no information on both regarding their safety during breastfeeding. Hence it is better to stay away from them.
  • While amino acids are essential, excessive intake can have unintended consequences. Some amino acids can interfere with nutrient absorption or interact with medications.
  • An imbalanced amino acid intake in pregnancy could potentially risk the adult offspring of developing hypertension.

Risks Associated With Lack of Amino Acids During Pregnancy

Amino acids are known to protect pregnant women from a lot of complications that might arise as a result of certain deficiencies. One of the major causes of concern with reduced levels of amino acids within the body is the onset of preeclampsia. The L-arginine amino acid is responsible for keeping blood pressure and protein levels in the urine to a minimum, cutting down the chances of preeclampsia by a major degree. In its absence, the chances of infant mortality, the low weight of the baby, and even premature birth tend to escalate.

Similarly, a healthy percentage of amino acids is essential within the amniotic fluid surrounding the child. A deficiency in that can result in a congenital disorder affecting the development of the spine in the foetus. This is termed spina bifida. Lack of amino acid intake during pregnancy might lead to 

Food Sources of Amino Acids

Amino acids can be obtained from foods that are rich in proteins. The popular ones among those are:

Food Sources of Amino Acids

Recommended Daily Intake of Amino Acid While Pregnant

At present, there is no available precise calculation of the necessary amino acid intake during pregnancy. Nevertheless, recent studies conducted on animals indicate that the essential amino acids threonine, lysine, isoleucine, and tryptophan show an augmented requirement as pregnancy advances. However, this increase in requirement is not proportional to the rise in protein needs observed during the initial stages of gestation.

Since amino acid is mostly acquired through food items that are rich in protein, it is important to stick to the proper intake of protein in the first place. For a pregnant woman, around 75-100 g of protein-rich diet on a daily basis is usually recommended.

Which Amino Acids Are Specifically Considered Unsafe When Pregnant?

When wondering about amino acid infusion during pregnancy or any other intake of amino acids, it is important to know which types are safe and which ones should be completely avoided when pregnant.

1. Amino Acids As L-Arginine and 5-HTP

Both of these are supplements for amino acids. However, there doesn’t exist enough research, study, or information that can deem them safe to be used by women when they are pregnant or even when they are breastfeeding their children. Therefore, it is better to avoid taking these supplements completely.

2. Amino Acids Via L-Tryptophan

While this is a popular amino acid supplement, and its effect on the body during breastfeeding is not yet determined, there is conclusive evidence to suggest a high likelihood of it being harmful if taken during pregnancy. This supplement has a tendency to cause eosinophilia in the body, which results in a disorder of the white blood cells. While its side effects are vomiting and nausea, it can internally harm the liver and kidneys, too.

Should You Take Amino Acid Supplements During Pregnancy?

The role of amino acids in fetal development is significant. They contribute to the formation of the baby’s organs, tissues, and muscles. However, a well-rounded diet can meet most pregnant women’s amino acid needs. Supplements should only be considered if advised by a healthcare professional. Furthermore, self-administration should be strictly avoided.

What Happens If You Consume Too Much Amino Acids During Pregnancy?

While the presence of amino acids in a healthy amount for a good pregnancy cannot be debated, the same can be quite harmful if consumed in excess. Studies have observed women suffering from preeclampsia triggers and abnormal pregnancies due to excessive consumption of amino acids.

In conclusion, the question remains: Can you take amino acids while pregnant? The safest approach is to prioritise a balanced diet that provides the necessary nutrients, including amino acids. If considering amino acid supplements, consult your doctor to make informed decisions that prioritise the well-being of both you and your baby. They will check your pregnancy progress and recommend the required supplements in the right dosage if needed.

References/Resources:

1. Elango. R, Ball. R. O; Protein and Amino Acid Requirements during Pregnancy; Advances in Nutrition
Volume 7, Issue 4, Pages 839S-844S; ScienceDirect; https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2161831322007712; July 2016

2. 19, Protein and Amino Acids; Nutrition During Pregnancy: Part I Weight Gain: Part II Nutrient Supplements;  Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Nutritional Status During Pregnancy and Lactation; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK235221/; 1990

3. Terstappen. F, Tol. A. J. C, Gremmels. H, et al.; Prenatal Amino Acid Supplementation to Improve Fetal Growth: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis; Nutrients; PubMed Central; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7551332/; August 2020

4. Morris. C. R, Hamilton-Reeves. J, Martindale. R. G, et al.; Acquired Amino Acid Deficiencies: A Focus on Arginine and Glutamine; Nutr Clin Pract.; PubMed; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28388380/; April 2017

5. Rasmussen. B. F, Ennis. M. A, Dyer. R. A, Lim. K, Elango. R; Glycine, a Dispensable Amino Acid, Is Conditionally Indispensable in Late Stages of Human Pregnancy; J Nutr.; PubMed; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32939556/; February 2021

6. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Military Nutrition Research; Marriott BM, editor; Food Components to Enhance Performance: An Evaluation of Potential Performance-Enhancing Food Components for Operational Rations. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 23, Regulation of Amino Acids and Other Dietary Components Associated with Enhanced Physical Performance; PubMed; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK209051/; 1994

7. Rozance. P. J, Crispo. M. M, Barry. J. S, et al.; Prolonged maternal amino acid infusion in late-gestation pregnant sheep increases fetal amino acid oxidation; the American Physiological Society; https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/ajpendo.00192.2009; September 2009

8. Hsu. C-N, Tain. Y-L; Amino Acids and Developmental Origins of Hypertension; Nutrients; MDPI; https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/6/1763; June 2020

9. Avagliano. L, Garò. C, Marconi. A. M; Placental Amino Acids Transport in Intrauterine Growth Restriction; Journal of Pregnancy – Hindawi; https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jp/2012/972562/; July 2012

10. Hussain. T, Tain. B, Murtaza. G, et al.; Role of Dietary Amino Acids and Nutrient Sensing System in Pregnancy Associated Disorders; Frontiers in Pharmacology; https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2020.586979/full; December 2020

Also Read:

Is It Safe to Eat Dry Fruits during Pregnancy
Foods to Eat in Pregnancy for Healthy Baby
Best Foods to Eat in Pregnancy for an Intelligent Baby

Previous article «
Next article »