There’s a lot of buzz in the health and wellness world around the benefits of eating liver. In fact, we’re even seeing some people suggest that desiccated liver supplements can replace a prenatal vitamin.
So can desiccated liver supplements replace your prenatal? Let’s take a look.
What we love about liver
There’s a lot to love about liver! It contains optimal forms of Vitamin A, Choline, Iron, Copper, Zinc, Folate, and Vitamins B2, B6, and B12. It truly is a superfood. But is it enough to replace an entire prenatal vitamin?
Let’s take a look at what liver is missing
But even though liver is an incredibly nutrient dense food, it still doesn’t contain all that you need. For example, a 3 ounce serving of beef liver only contains 215 mcg of Folate (900 is optimal) and 5 mg of Iron (27 mg is needed!).
Liver is also still missing meaningful amounts of a ton of nutrients needed during pregnancy, including Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Calcium, Magnesium, Iodine, Selenium, and Chromium.
Sure, you’ll get some of these nutrients in your diet. But realistically, it's unlikely that you’ll get an optimal amount of each vitamin or mineral every day. Not because you aren’t conscious and thoughtful about your diet. But because it’s HARD! Nutrient needs are higher during pregnancy and postpartum than during any other stage of life. And getting in meals that are super nutrient dense multiple times a day is tough with work, other kids, pregnancy aversions, and more.
And these are the nutrients in liver itself, not those that make it to desiccated liver supplements. Processing liver down to a supplement by drying and encapsulating it doesn’t give you a full serving of liver and doesn’t give you all of the same nutrients.
Supplements are missing even more
Taking desiccated liver supplements is not the same as eating liver. Processing liver down to a supplement by drying and encapsulating it doesn’t give you a full serving of liver and doesn’t give you all of the same nutrients.
Here’s how desiccated liver supplements stack up
Because desiccated liver supplements don’t contain a full serving of liver, many of the nutrients included are still well below what’s needed in pregnancy and the perinatal stages. And because liver doesn’t contain meaningful amounts of a number of other nutrients, they don’t even show up on nutrition labels.
Take a look:
*Ancestral Supplements are not tested for nutrients. Instead they note: “Nutrients listed here are based on established vitamin and mineral content found in about one ounce of the respective organs / glands referenced.”
The bottom line
Liver is an incredibly nutrient dense food and we encourage mamas to incorporate liver into their diets when pregnant.
However, even alongside a healthy diet, a liver supplement alone simply cannot provide all of the nutrients that are needed during the important stages of preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum.
Does that mean you should ditch them? Nope. If you like taking desiccated liver supplements, go for it. They can be a nice supplement to add on to a less complete prenatal. That said, if you’re taking a comprehensive and thoughtful prenatal vitamin like our Prenatal Multis, there’s really no need. Save your money for some postpartum self care.