Yes, you do need the meat's vitamin A! But experts advise moms-to-be to minimize the amount.
If you've been choking down liver and onions for their supposed health benefits, you can—and should—take a breather. Both vitamin A deficiency and excessive intake may cause health problems, the Finnish Food Safety Authority recently reported.
Because an average portion of liver can contain four to 12 times the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin A (too-high amounts of which can cause urinary tract and central nervous system anomalies in the fetus), some experts recommend avoiding this organ meat in early pregnancy. Others suggest limiting your intake of liver and liver products (such as duck liver pí¢tés and some sausages) to 4 ounces per week during pregnancy.
The Finnish food agency also said that although rare, a fetus is extremely sensitive to the effects of vitamin A. Doses that cause no symptoms for the mother-to-be can result in fetus malformation or miscarriage, the report said. In addition, the Finnish experts note that women expecting should also avoid vitamin and beauty products that contain vitamin A in retinoid form, as well as consumption of cod liver oil.
Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor.