Can you eat liver when pregnant?

In this article we are going to answer: can you eat liver when pregnant, what is liver, is it healthy to eat liver when pregnant, what is the risk of eating liver when pregnant, and what can you substitute liver for when pregnant. 

Can you eat liver when pregnant?

No, liver or any liver product should not be eaten when pregnant. According to the NHS, the liver contains high levels of vitamin A which can be harmful to an unborn baby. Even if the liver is one of the most nutritious organs of an animal, eating it when pregnant can be very dangerous. 

What is a liver?

The liver is a large meaty organ. It is one of the largest and most sensitive organs, especially in mammals. The liver receives most of the intestinal blood and it is part of the regulation of blood levels. 

The primary functions of the liver are to maintain the homeostasis of the whole body and glucose and lipid energy. It is the place of storage of a lot of nutrients and it synthesizes plasma proteins. 

No animal can live without a liver. It creates complex molecules that are involved in the key processes so the body can function. The liver ensures detoxification and excretion of endogenous and exogenous waste and it is a major factor in the immune system because it is the first barrier to all antigens. 

Is it healthy to eat liver when pregnant?

The liver is one of the main organs where vitamins and minerals are stored. It is one of the most nutritionally dense foods. It contains high amounts of vitamins such as folate, iron, vitamin B, vitamin A, and cooper. 

Eating a single serving size of the liver can meet your daily recommended amount of these vitamins and minerals. 

According to some studies, beef liver is the most nutritious and healthy meat you can eat. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food database 100 grams of beef liver contains 133 calories, 21 grams of protein, 5 mg of iron, 17,000 IU of vitamin A, 1.1 mg of vitamin C, and 274 mg of cholesterol. 

As the nutritional information shows, liver beef has numerous amounts of vitamins. It can give a high amount of health benefits such as

  • Support the immune system with zinc and vitamin C
  • Support proper hemoglobin production with iron
  • Aids bone and tooth health with phosphorus 
  • Support metabolic and enzymatic routes with selenium
  • Energy production with copper

The liver is also an excellent source of complete amino acids and a complete protein.

What is the risk of eating liver when pregnant?

Even if the liver is a very nutritious organ, when pregnant, it can have a high risk of harming the unborn baby. Vitamin A is an essential vitamin for good health but if you consume too much it can cause toxicity or hypervitaminosis. This overconsumption of vitamins can harm the unborn baby.

Vitamin A toxicity can lead to

  • Liver damage
  • High Pressure on the brain
  • Vision problems
  • Skin changes
  • Bone pain
  • Congenital malformations in the central nervous system and cardiovascular system
  • Spontaneous abortion

The National Research Council’s recommended dietary allowance for vitamin A for pregnant women of 3,000 retinol or 5,000 IU of vitamin A obtained from the diet of vegetables (carotenoids and beta carotene). 

Just 100 grams of beef liver can give you 17,000 IU of retinol. That is why the liver is forbidden to pregnant women. The risk of hypervitaminosis is too high. 

What is the difference between retinol and carotenoids?

Vitamin A is present in animal products and in vegetables. Vitamin A present in animals can be more dangerous than the one present in vegetables. The two types of vitamin A are

  • Retinol: it can be found in animal products such as liver, milk, and cheese
  • Carotenoids (pro-vitamin A): include beta-carotene, they are found in plants and fruits and the body naturally converts them into vitamin A, they are less toxic. 

What can you substitute liver with when pregnant?

The liver doesn’t need a substitute and you don’t need to eat the liver to have all the vitamins you need. A healthy and balanced diet is enough. If you feel that you are missing some vitamins, take a high-quality prenatal vitamin as it will work perfectly for you. 

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. A few nutrients need special attention during pregnancy, like folic acid, calcium, vitamin D, and omega 3 fatty acids. 

  • Ideally, 2 servings of fruit and 5 servings of vegetables every day
  • Increase your intake of whole grains and cereal foods. Choose high fiber options
  • Milk, hard cheese, and yogurt are great options because they are high calcium foods.
  • Choose low-fat options and good fats: fats from vegetable sources like almonds, olive oil, and avocado. 
  • Choose lean proteins and choose low mercury fish options. 
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Always stay active


This article answered can you eat liver when pregnant, what is liver, is it healthy to eat liver when pregnant, what is the risk of eating liver when pregnant, and what can you substitute liver for when pregnant. 


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Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.