Eating placenta actually doesn’t help with iron deficiency, says groundbreaking study

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The study revealed that, contrary to what advocates of the practice say, eating placenta does nothing to remedy iron deficiency.

A few years ago, most women would balk at the idea of eating their own placenta. But lately, eating your placenta—or placentophagy—is becoming more and more prevalent. One might even call it a trend.

Moms who choose to eat their own placenta do it for many reasons. According to What to Expect, they do it to battle postpartum depression, increase their milk supply, and relieve their pain. Some do it for the said nutritional benefits—placenta is supposedly rich in iron.

While there has been no evidence to prove the benefits of eating placenta, one recent study has found that eating placenta, in fact, does not have any iron benefits. The study, which was the first of its kind on placentophagy, was conducted with 23 women. 10 women took placenta capsules for 3 weeks, while 13 women were given placebo pills. The results revealed that there were no differences in the women’s iron levels.

“Almost no clinical studies have been conducted to assess [placentophagy’s] possible health benefits or risks”

eating placenta

Photo: Jonny Hunter/Flickr

“Human placentophagy appears to be an increasingly popular practice in the US and abroad, and yet almost no clinical studies have been conducted to assess its possible health benefits or risks,” senior co-author Daniel Benyshek said in a media release.

“While there may indeed be other benefits for women who eat their placenta after birth, the common practice of consuming the placenta in capsule form in the first few weeks after delivery does not appear to significantly improve iron levels for new mothers.”

This study and its findings are important because the body demands much more iron during pregnancy, and so postpartum iron deficiency is a common occurrence. Though taking placenta pills isn’t harmful, women shouldn’t depend on them to battle iron deficiency.

On the next page: more on iron deficiency and remedies that (unlike eating placenta) actually work.

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