In this article we will talk about the benefits and use of lecithin in pregnancy and breastfeeding. We will also share the nuances of choice and a list of the best products that you can buy in a pharmacy or order over the Internet.
Benefits of Lecithin for pregnant women
Lecithin is the main source of phospholipids, which plays an important role in the growth and reproduction of living organisms and it is important in a woman’s pregnancy. As both a synthesizer of energy and building material of cells, these substances are involved in all vital processes and regulate lipid metabolism. Nutrient deficiency leads to exhaustion of vital forces, chronic fatigue, depression, and nervous irritability.
Prophylactic intake of lecithin during pregnancy has the following effects:
- Increases the level of red blood cells and hemoglobin;
- Regulates fat metabolism, not allowing you to gain excess weight;
- Relieves back and joint pain in the last weeks of pregnancy;
- Improves heart and vascular function;
- Hepatoprotective effect;
- Lowers “bad” cholesterol;
- Stimulates the immune system of mom and baby;
- Reduces the risk of death of premature babies;
- facilitates the course of childbirth.
Lecithin is necessary to maintain the health of hair and nails during pregnancy, improve skin appearance, prevent stretch marks and stretch marks. The nutrient is also useful for breastfeeding: it prevents mastitis and increases the amount of milk.
Recently, in obstetric practice, pregnant women suffering from uterine myoma have been encountered more and more often. According to doctors, it is lecithin that helps slow down the growth of the tumor and reduce the risk of complications by 20-40%.
See also: Omega-3 During Pregnancy
How Lecithin Affects the Fetus
For the unborn child lecithin is no less important than for the mother. The correct formation of the fetus, especially the CNS and brain cells, depends on the sufficient amount of the substance in the body of a pregnant woman. Specialists from Columbia University have proven that the amount of phospholipids obtained during intrauterine development determines the ability to learn in the future and giftedness.
Lecithin intake during pregnancy is important for surfactant formation. This substance is contained in the alveoli of lung tissue and prevents the development of respiratory failure in premature infants. Phospholipids have a positive effect on the liver and heart muscle of the fetus, strengthen the digestive system, and prevent failures in the formation of tissues of the eye and hearing apparatus.
Read also about Dietary Iron Intake During Pregnancy
Lecithin in pregnancy: side effects and precautions
Natural lecithin derived from food is prohibited only if hypersensitive. The product manufactured industrially has more restrictions on its use. Pregnant women should take it with caution and on the recommendation of a doctor.
Contraindications can be such pathological conditions:
- cirrhosis of the liver.
The first trimester of pregnancy is also a relative contraindication. At this stage the mother’s reserves of essential lipids are not exhausted yet and there are enough to provide for the child and herself. Therefore, lecithin can be taken only under indications and after consultation with a gynecologist.
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What are the natural sources of Lecithin in pregnancy?
Natural phospholipids are very few in the human body – about 300 grams. Of these, 65% are in the liver and are actively used for cell building. During pregnancy the need for this substance increases dramatically, so it is important to replenish the nutrient on a regular basis. You can get lecithin from everyday food.
Table 1 – Top 10 foods with high phospholipid (Lecithin) content
|Content (g per 100 g)
|Fat cottage cheese, cheese
|Peas and lentils
|Nuts and seeds
|Cabbage of different varieties
To get the necessary amount of the nutrient, a woman would have to eat a lot of cholesterol-rich food. Therefore, to replenish the substance during pregnancy, doctors recommend taking dietary supplements. They do not contain heavy fats and are well absorbed by the body.
See also: Can I Eat Plums During Pregnancy?
How to take Lecithin supplements
Lecithin, despite its natural origin, refers to the means of medical use and if the dosage and frequency of use are not observed, it can be harmful. Before taking the nutrient, pregnant women should read the instructions carefully, paying special attention to contraindications and side effects, as well as consult a gynecologist.
When to start taking Lecithin dietary supplements
Most specialists avoid prescribing lecithin-containing products in the first trimester. The best time to start taking phospholipids is from the 17th to the 24th week of pregnancy. It is during this period that active fetal growth, the formation of visual and hearing organs, the process of fossilization of the skeleton begins and the interaction of thousands of neurons is established. The work of the brain is perfected, sexual organs are laid down, and the gastrointestinal tract develops intensively.
At 13-24 weeks of gestation uterine myoma growth occurs. That is why lecithin administration during the second trimester of pregnancy is more than justified.
Until what period to take
If there are no gynecological problems and marked deficiency of phospholipids, stop taking the drug after the 24th week. With unstable hormonal background lecithin can be taken until the 35-36th week. The need for such a long course is determined by the doctor.
Is Lecithin allowed during breastfeeding?
Consumption of phospholipids has a beneficial effect on the body of the mother and the baby during breastfeeding. Nutrient improves the composition of breast milk, restores metabolism in a woman’s body, speeds up the absorption of vitamins and prevents the development of mastitis.
The benefits of lecithin during breastfeeding are obvious:
- a woman’s psycho-emotional state is normalized, she becomes calmer, less tired and sleeps better;
- the baby is less naughty, grows quiet;
- the mother and child strengthen their immune systems;
- The baby does not suffer intestinal disorders, well gaining weight and grows quickly.
- The use of lecithin supplements during pregnancy helps women cope with a lack of polyunsaturated fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins that have accumulated over nine months. The drug improves complexion and skin condition, makes hair shiny and nails strong.
During breastfeeding it should be borne in mind that granular and powder lecithin is absorbed very quickly and is in the blood, and therefore in the mother’s milk. Capsules are absorbed more slowly: the effect of administration occurs after 2-3 hours.
Lecithin dosage during pregnancy
The daily dose of lecithin during pregnancy increases by 30-40% and is approximately 8-10 grams, but to compensate for the lack of the substance only with food can not. The dosage can vary slightly, depending on the purposes of intake (prevention or treatment), the period of gestation and the woman’s characteristics.
Table 2 – Dose of lecithin intake for different periods of pregnancy and breastfeeding
|Daily rate, g
|As prescribed by the doctor. The dose is adjusted individually, but not more than 10 g per day.
The method of administration depends on the dosage form of the supplement. Capsules are taken 2-3 times a day 30-40 minutes before meals. If there are discomfort in the stomach, lecithin can be taken with food. The powder and granules are taken in 0.5-1 tsp., pre-dissolved in a cool liquid or seasoned meal. The daily dose is divided into 2-3 servings. Duration of use determines the doctor.
If intake of nutrient is necessary for therapeutic purposes and falls in the first or third trimester of pregnancy, for each pathology is its own treatment regimen.
Signs of an excess of phospholipids appear only in case of long-term excess of the recommended rates. An overdose is indicated by symptoms such as:
- increased salivation;
- abdominal pain, diarrhea;
- discomfort in the liver area;
If the dose is increased several times over, pancreatic function is impaired and the risk of cardiovascular disease increases. In the last trimester of pregnancy, excess nutrient can lead to premature birth.
If you have any discomfort you should immediately stop taking lecithin and consult a doctor. In order to eliminate excessive phospholipids from the body, you should take activated charcoal or other sorbent before visiting a specialist.
Side effects and allergies
Quality lecithin rarely causes adverse reactions in expectant mothers. Various disorders of the digestive tract are possible only with a significant overdose. If at the beginning of the course there is heaviness in the right subcostal area and nausea, it is necessary to change the time of consumption of the drug.
More unpleasant for women during pregnancy and breastfeeding is the occurrence of allergies. The reaction most often develops on soy proteins, so you need to choose your dietary supplement very carefully. Opened preparation in powder or granules should be kept in a refrigerator, capsules should be kept in a dry and dark place, away from children.
How to choose the best lecithin supplement for pregnant women
For women who take lecithin for preventive purposes, it is better to take sunflower or egg supplements. For therapy of hormone-dependent disorders, soy is more suitable. The set of ingredients included in the supplement depends on the manufacturer and the form of release.