food and nutrition, pregnancy, vitamin A, birth defect, liver, folic acid, prenatal vitamins, meat

Liver is a good source of protein and is rich in certain vitamins and minerals. These include:

  • The B vitamin folic acid, which helps prevent certain birth defects
  • Iron, which helps prevent anemia
  • Vitamin A, which is needed for normal fetal growth and development

However, there are several concerns with eating products made from liver while you're pregnant.

Liver products have been associated with an increased risk of infection from listeria.

Liver has a high amount of vitamin A, a vitamin that's been associated with birth defects, and though it is not proven that eating liver causes birth defects, the safest approach is for pregnant women to minimize their consumption of liver.

Liver is the only food that provides very high amounts of vitamin A. The amount of vitamin A found in liver varies. For example, a 3-ounce serving of beef liver may contain 27,000 IU and chicken liver, 12,000 IU.

You should also make sure that your multivitamin or prenatal supplement contains no more than 5,000 IU (international units) of preformed vitamin A (some prenatal vitamins contain no preformed vitamin A, substituting beta-carotene or omitting vitamin A entirely), and not take any vitamin A supplements beyond that amount.

Also, liver products such as pate have been associated with an increased risk of infection from listeria. There are dozens of medical publications reporting on the association between eating pate and becoming infected with listeriosis. Listeriosis is an infectious disease which can specifically affect pregnant women and their fetuses leading to miscarriages and stillbirths.

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