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Is Spirulina Safe During Pregnancy?

Spirulina During Pregnancy

Spirulina, a blue-green algae that is grown in the US, Asia and Latin America, is rich in numerous nutrients that are believed to be particularly important for pregnant women and their unborn babies. Therefore, it is not surprising that many pregnant women who worry they may not be getting enough nutrients like iron, calcium and protein to support their pregnancies have shown interest in spirulina supplements. But are spirulina tablets actually safe to take during pregnancy?

While high-quality spirulina that is free from heavy metals and other harmful contaminants has been associated with few side effects and is usually considered generally safe or possibly safe for adults in general, pregnant and breast-feeding women should not rush to the health food stores to buy spirulina supplements. While animal studies suggest that spirulina is safe for pregnant rodents, the effects of spirulina in pregnant women and their unborn babies have not been extensively studied. Therefore, if you want to be on the safe side, you might want to avoid spirulina supplements if you are pregnant, or at least talk to your doctor before using spirulina during pregnancy.

Spirulina Appears to Be Safe During Pregnancy – in Rats

Several animal studies suggest that spirulina supplementation does not negatively affect the growth and/or development of the embryo and fetus. In one such study, administration of spirulina to pregnant rats with increasing doses (from 0 to 30g/100g body weight) did not change the maternal and fetal weight, and no disturbances in the development of the embryo/fetus were linked to the consumption of spirulina, even with highest dose and longest duration. In another similar study, administration of spirulina at doses much higher than any anticipated human consumption did not cause any signs of embryotoxic effects in pregnant rats.

In yet another study, carried out to assess overall reproductive performance in male and female rats, spirulina supplementation did not change the rats' body weight, and no signs of toxicity or any other adverse effects on reproductive performance were observed. The measures of reproductive performance in this study included fertility, gestation and abnormalities in the baby rats.

Human Studies Needed to Assess the Safety of Spirulina in Pregnant Women

Despite the promising results of the animal studies that suggest spirulina is safe for pregnant rodents, authorities are reluctant to make claims about the safety of spirulina during pregnancy before there is sufficient evidence based on human studies suggesting that spirulina is safe for pregnant women and their unborn babies. The U.S. National Institutes of Health, for example, state on their website that not enough is known about the use of spirulina during pregnancy and breast-feeding, and therefore it is best to stay on the safe side and avoid use if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Last updated: June 2015


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