by Lynnea Shrief
IPEN Certified placenta specialist Laura Jones graces us with her placenta wisdom on Channel 4’s ‘Be Your Own Doctor’, (aired Monday, 24 October at 8:30pm) a program that looks at natural and alternative health remedies and treatments which they say are internet fads and have no research to back them up. So they put them to the test.
Placenta Pills in Britain
Although growing in popularity, especially in Britain, placenta remedies are not entirely mainstream and receive a far bit of criticism. Our placenta network of over 70 placenta specialists worldwide have supported over 4,000 mothers in the last 8 years. We are confident placenta remedies offer new mothers a wide variety of health benefits after birth. Our specialists constantly receive positive feedback from our clients and our daily requests for placenta services in our local areas speak for themselves, we are busy, very busy. The majority of PRN specialists collect between 4-8 placentas a month. Our busiest areas are London, Brighton and Co Cork in Ireland where our placenta specialists will collect between 8-20 placentas a month for encapsulation.
Placenta services were first offered in England by our specialists in 2008 and since then the pills have become a talking point for many mums-to-be both online and in their prenatal classes, which is why it has caught the interest of this Channel 4 program. It’s unlikely you will meet a midwife these days who has not placed a mothers placenta in her ‘take home’ container after birth for the making of placenta remedies by the mothers hired placenta specialist.
Iron found in placenta capsules
The program focused on the placentas iron content which when
analysed, with the help of the University of Reading, was found to contain less iron than the program’s host was hoping for. Each capsule was found to contain 2-4% of what Dr Ray says is our daily recommended iron intake or equal to that of a 10cm x 8cm piece of steak.
To be fair, I think that is a substantial amount of iron as many mothers are consuming between 3-6 capsules a day, so this would mean they are consuming a small steak or two a day’s worth of iron (and so much more) without all the negative side effects of eating so much meat (bloating, constipation and flatulence). However, equating the dietary needs of a non pregnant woman with the needs of a lactating woman is a common mistake and one Channel 4 didn’t realise they were making.
Lactating women need less iron than menstruating women and far less than when pregnant.
National Institute of Health iron recommendations for non menstruating ‘lactating women’ is 9mg per day compared to the 18mg recommended per day for non-pregnant woman and the whopping 27mg per day recommended for pregnant women.
|Birth to 6 months||0.27 mg*||0.27 mg*|
|7–12 months||11 mg||11 mg|
|1–3 years||7 mg||7 mg|
|4–8 years||10 mg||10 mg|
|9–13 years||8 mg||8 mg|
|14–18 years||11 mg||15 mg||27 mg||10 mg|
|19–50 years||8 mg||18 mg||27 mg||9 mg|
|51+ years||8 mg||8 mg|
* Adequate Intake (AI)
Our claim to ‘high iron in placenta pills’ and the benefits so many mothers report is based on our understanding of the bioavailability of iron. We know consuming iron from natural sources, especially animal meats, results in a higher rate of absorption in the body than consuming iron from synthetic iron tablets prescribed by a doctor or found in a supplement. In fact, as little as 10% of iron from most foods and supplements is actually absorbed by the body. Because iron found in the placenta is iron produced by the mother herself, we believe her body is likely to absorb a much higher amount of her own personalised iron, or in more scientific terms, we believe placenta iron will have an increased bioavailability, because her body is likely to recognise her iron as her own and may waste less through natural absorption.
The University of Reading stated that each capsule contained a little less than 0.5mg of iron. Assuming this is heme iron and being generous and assuming this iron has a higher bioavailability than steak, 0.5mg of highly bioavailable heme iron per placenta capsule is actually an incredible amount to fit into one little pill.
Not just a fad and certainly not a placebo
I think it’s unfair for Dr Ray of Channel 4 to conclude that a placenta pill containing 1/18 of the recommended daily intake of iron for a lactating mother is ‘just a placebo’. If a mother consumes 6 placenta pills a day, that’s nearly 3mg of heme iron which is most likely resulting in a higher bioavailability than animal meats. I think that’s a brilliant extra boost for a new mother who is likely to already be consuming her ‘daily recommended amount’ of iron through vitamins and a healthy balanced diet. It’s no wonder so many of our clients say their placenta pills gave them more energy and helped them be the best mothers they could be after birth.
Two placenta pills research studies coming soon
A double blind placebo trial conducted by UNLV in Las Vegas, Nevada on the benefits of placenta encapsulation is due to publish its findings sometime this year. You can view the teams other studies on human placentophagy here.
Jena University Placenta Lab are also conducting groundbreaking research by analysing the hormones, vitamins and minerals found in raw placenta and placenta pills. Comparing raw placenta nutrients with placenta pills nutrients will allow us to assess the loss of nutrients during the processing needed for placenta capsule production.
Pregnant and interested in placenta pills? Find a Placenta Specialist near you.