- Spirulina has been studied for a variety of proposed health benefits such as its powerful antioxidant properties
- Currently, there is not enough evidence that spirulina can be taken safely during pregnancy
- Ask your OB/GYN, doctor or dietitian before taking spirulina if you are pregnant
What Is Spirulina?
Spirulina is a blue-green microalgae found in lakes, saltwater, freshwater and marshes.
It has been around for centuries but has recently been studied in the scientific literature for its possible health benefits of using spirulina.
Are There Health Benefits To Taking Spirulina While Pregnant?
Spirulina has been studied for a variety of health benefits. It is mainly known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Some studies show that it could also be beneficial for reducing blood lipid levels and cholesterol levels.
Some specific benefits of spirulina for pregnant women lie in its nutritional content.
Just 7 grams of spirulina, or one tablespoon, provides 4 grams of protein. It is high in B vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin and niacin.
Additionally, there is evidence that spirulina supplementation could be effective against anemia and improve some of these blood markers.
This could be important as the amount of iron you need increases during pregnancy since your blood volume increases. One tablespoon of spirulina has about 2 mg of iron.
Women who are not pregnant need about 18 milligrams of iron per day, and women who are pregnant need 27 milligrams.
Can You Take Spirulina While Pregnant?
There is currently not enough evidence in human studies that shows spirulina can be taken safely during pregnancy. Because of this, professionals often advise against taking spirulina while pregnant.
There are a few animal studies done though this should not be immediately translated into safety for human pregnancies.
One main reason it would be advised to avoid spirulina while pregnant is the possibility of it containing toxins that could harm both mom and baby. Microcystins are a toxin produced by blue-green algae in the presence of water contaminated with bacteria, pollution, or other harmful elements.
Consuming spirulina contaminated with microcystins is dangerous for everyone, not just those pregnant. They can cause serious liver damage if ingested and possibly act as a carcinogen.
Additionally, the study above shows that spirulina could be effective against anemia in older adults, so no studies show that spirulina can provide enough iron for pregnancy or protect against anemia during pregnancy.
Can You Take Spirulina While Breastfeeding?
The same recommendation for pregnancy goes for breastfeeding.
There is not enough evidence to show whether taking spirulina while breastfeeding is safe.
Can You Take Green Powders While Pregnant or Breastfeeding?
A healthy diet is one of the most important aspects to consider for both mom and baby during pregnancy.
That said, green powders should not be used as a substitute for a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains during pregnancy.
Often, green powders contain spirulina and other ingredients to provide vitamins, minerals, and some proposed health benefits like an improved immune system, improved energy levels, and increased nutrient density.
However, green powders should also be avoided during pregnancy. They could contain doses of vitamins and minerals that are too high or too low for pregnancy or other ingredients like adaptogens.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen that is generally safe for most people, though like spirulina, ashwagandha has not been proven safe during pregnancy.
In pregnancy or not, some consumers may be concerned about heavy metal content in green powders, which is why it is always important for users to do research on the company they are purchasing from and ensure that they are third-party testing their products.
For example, Supergreen Tonik has been third-party tested and contains no proprietary blends so consumers can know the exact amount of each ingredient that they are consuming.
There is currently a gap in research regarding spirulina and its safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Speak with a doctor or dietitian before adding any new supplements to your diet to assure it is safe especially if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Nicole is a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Dietitian / Nutritionist. She completed her bachelors degree in Food and Nutrition with a concentration in Dietetics. She is passionate about taking evidence-based nutrition research and transforming it into an easy to read format for everybody to understand. She has experience working in a variety of different settings such as acute care, long term care, school nutrition education and community nutrition. Nicole has spent most of her career working as a Clinical Dietitian in hospitals, providing nutrition education to those managing chronic diseases.