Eating a nutrient rich diet is essential to living a healthy & happy life but is even more so during (and post) pregnancy where nutrient needs are amplified to nourish not only your own body, but that of the little life you are growing.
Not only is nutrition essential in aiding proper growth and development of your baby, but there is an increasing body of evidence indicating that nutrition during pregnancy can have an ongoing impact on the health of your child throughout their life.
Although many women understand the importance of additional nutrients whilst pregnant or breastfeeding (often choosing to integrate a pre-natal supplement), there is much that can be said for the power of nutrition from nutrient-dense, wholefood sources.
This blog will specifically explore some of the key nutrients found in beef liver and their important contribution to healthy growth and development during pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding.
Key Vitamins for growth and development
We get asked multiple times a week if beef liver is safe to consume for pregnancy, and although beef liver is incredibly nutritious, this still seems to be a question shrouded in controversy.
We’ll begin by firstly acknowledging that beef liver is one of the MOST nutritionally dense foods on the planet, containing a combination of nearly all vitamins and minerals in their perfect ratios. Beef liver contains vital nutrients that are necessary for growth and development during pregnancy including Folate, Vitamin B12, Vitamin A, Iron,& Selenium to name a few.
Let’s review some of these key beneficial nutrients to include during pregnancy and breastfeeding and the many benefits of eating liver during pregnancy.
Beef liver is the MOST abundant source of Vitamin A found in nature! The vitamin A found in beef liver is a natural form of Vitamin A called ‘preformed Vitamin A’, or ‘Retinol’. This is the active form of Vitamin A that is bioavailable and ready for your body to use.
This active form of Vitamin A is ONLY found in animal sources of food and plays an essential role in growth and development, making this a crucial nutrient whilst pregnant or breastfeeding. Vitamin A plays a role in:
Building your developing baby’s immune system
Developing healthy skin & good vision
Assisting with developing the millions of tiny air sacs, called alveoli, in your baby’s lungs
Not all vitamin A is created equal, and most supplements contain synthetic vitamin A. It is in fact the synthetic form of Vitamin A that has earned Vitamin A’s controversial reputation for use during pregnancy, specifically resulting from studies that used extremely high doses of synthetic vitamin A with negative results.
The Australian Reference Values (Vitamin A | Nutrient Reference Values (nrv.gov.au)) state the recommended daily intake of Vitamin A to be:
800mcg whilst pregnant
1100mcg whilst breastfeeding
Verified nutritional testing has shown that each serve (6 capsules or 1 tsp of powder) of Cell Squared Freeze-Dried Beef Liver contains:
960mcg (3200IU) of Vitamin A (Retinol)
The Australian Reference Values notes the upper limit of Vitamin A daily intake to be 3000mcg whilst pregnant or breastfeeding, however it is worth noting that this is based on the intake of synthetic vitamin A and not that from natural food-based sources (such as beef liver) where studies are lacking. Even based on this upper limit, it is possible to consume fresh liver during pregnancy a few times a week, or to integrate a daily serving of freeze-dried beef liver capsules or powder.
Folate (Vitamin B9)
Vitamin B9, AKA ‘Folate’, is an essential nutrient well known for its role in cell growth & DNA formation, and for being particularly important during periods of rapid growth such as pregnancy.
The demand for folate increases during pregnancy due to its important role in:
- Foetal development
- Preventing neural tube defects in newborns
- Proper organ development on a developing baby, and
- Producing healthy red blood cells.
Although the terms ‘Folate’ and ‘Folic Acid’ get used interchangeably, there is a distinct difference between the two. ‘Folate’ is the naturally occurring form of Vitamin B9 that is found in food sources, where ‘Folic Acid’ is the synthetic form of Vitamin B9 found in supplements and fortified (artificially added) into foods.
When Folate is consumed through natural food sources such as beef liver during pregnancy, the folate is readily converted to the active form of vitamin B9, ready to be used by the body.
The Australian Reference Values (Folate | Nutrient Reference Values (nrv.gov.au)) state the recommended daily folate intake to be:
- 600mcg whilst pregnant
- 500mcg whilst breastfeeding
One of the best natural food sources of folate is fresh beef liver or freeze-dried beef liver. Verified nutritional testing has shown that each serve (6 capsules or 1 tsp of powder) of Cell Squared freeze-dried beef liver contains.
- 68 mcg/ug of Folate (Vitamin B9)
One of the benefits of consuming Folate from a wholefood source such as beef liver is that it is paired with the perfect ratio of other nutrients that help it perform in the body, such as Vitamin B12.
Like Folate, Vitamin B12 is also important in the DNA formation of your developing baby. Folate depends on Vitamin B12 to be absorbed, stored, & metabolised, making it essential for cell growth during pregnancy.
Some of the key functions of Vitamin B12 in the body during pregnancy and breastfeeding include:
Maintaining the health of both the mother’s & baby’s nervous system
Helps iron to work better in the body
Helps to prevent neural defects
Essential for baby’s neural tube formation, brain and spine development
Support healthy immune function
Improve energy & mood during pregnancy
The Australian Reference Values (Vitamin B12 | Nutrient Reference Values (nrv.gov.au)) state the recommended daily intake of Vitamin B12 to be:
2.6 mcg whilst pregnant
2.8 mcg whilst breastfeeding
Verified nutritional testing has shown that each serve each serve (6 capsules or 1 tsp of powder) of Cell Squared freeze-dried beef liver contains:
10.8 mcg of Vitamin B12
As Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, the body will excrete excess amounts rather than store them in the body. Meaning that even at large doses, Vitamin B12 is generally considered safe, with very low potential for toxicity. There have been no adverse effects associated with exceeding the recommended daily intake of Vitamin B12, and no upper limits established. If you’re interested in learning more about Vitamin B12, head to our blog here >> The Health Benefits Of Vitamin B12 — Cell Squared Australia
Something to consider - most people are often very surprised to discover that some of the most commonly used synthetic B12 supplements have upwards of 80,000% RDI per serve. Often these synthetic supplements are over compensating, as synthetic B12 is not as easily absorbed and with much lower usability when compared to the natural form found in beef liver.
How much beef liver to consume during pregnancy or breastfeeding?
Consuming high doses of vitamin A retinol during pregnancy can be unsafe. Beef Liver has a high vitamin A content, so it is important to understand the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) and MOST importantly the Tolerable Upper Intake Limit (UL) which is 3000 mcg of preformed vitamin A (retinol).To not exceed the nutritional Upper Intake Limit during pregnancy, beef liver during pregnancy should be consumed cautiously by weighing portion sizes. Using nutritional data, we suggest eating no more than 55g raw liver or 80g of cooked liver per day.
Quality fresh liver is not always easily sourced, and neither does everyone enjoy consuming fresh liver during pregnancy. That’s why we created our freeze-dried beef liver capsules and powder supplements, so that you can conveniently access the benefits of this true superfood!
Also taking our beef liver capsules or powder makes it so easy to monitor and stay below the Vitamin A Tolerable Upper Intake Limit by taking our recommended dosage per serve/day.
Our liver supplements are a 100% wholefood with nothing added, freeze-dried to preserve nutrients, and sourced from ACO certified organic beef, regeneratively raised in the heart of Australia.
A general daily serving size is 6 capsules or 1 tsp (3g) of powder and has anutritional value equivalent to eating 18g of raw liver or up to 34g of cooked liver.
Some of the key nutrient values in each serving are:
- Vitamin A (Retinol):960mcg (3200IU)
- Vitamin B12:10.8 mcg
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin):0.27 mg
- Bioavailable Iron:1.02 mg
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid):0.4mg
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin):0.93 mg
Our recommended serving sizes have been informed through independent nutritional testing, where we work with one of Australia’s leading labs to verify the nutritional content in our freeze-dried liver. When compared with fresh beef liver, our beef liver capsule supplements are much easier and a more convenient way to measure out your daily beef liver intake.
We always recommend speaking with your health practitioner for specific nutrition advice and to ensure the nutrients in the liver are complimenting the rest of your diet & supplement intake, as well as individual nutritional requirements.
There are so many benefits to eating liver during pregnancy and breastfeeding including getting many of the nutrients your body needs during your pregnancy.
Wholefood sources should always be considered in the first instance to support nutritional intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Beef liver for pregnancy is undeniably a naturally bioavailable source of nutrients to support growing life, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, & Folate, each in their perfect form.
Liver is important to purchase from a quality source, so whether you are eating it fresh or freeze-dried, always look for a reputable, 100% grass fed, and certified organic source to ensure the best nutrients available for yourself and growing bub. Cell Squared liver powder has attained full ACO organic certification and our liver capsules used the same certified organic powder in them!
Learn more about our liver capsules and powder.
++ DISCLAIMER: The information in this blog is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content is for general informational purposes only and does not replace a consultation with your own doctor/health professional
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