Placentophagy, the act of eating the placenta, has become an increasingly popular trend among new mums. Advocates of placentophagy often point to the organ's high iron content as a primary benefit. However, a first-of-its-kind placebo-controlled pilot study has found no iron benefit from the practice.
According to the research, encapsulated placenta supplementation neither significantly improved nor impaired postpartum maternal iron status for women consuming the recommended daily allowance of dietary iron during pregnancy/lactation.
A total of 23 women completed the three-week study, with 10 women taking placenta capsules while 13 women were given a placebo pill containing dehydrated beef. Blood tests were taken just before and soon after childbirth and at roughly one and three weeks postpartum. The tests revealed no significant differences in iron status between the groups over the three-week postpartum period.
Laura Gryder, lead author of the paper, said the findings are especially important for women who are iron deficient postpartum and for those whose only source of supplemental dietary iron is encapsulated placenta. She said by foregoing other sources, these women are likely not getting the supplemental boost they need to help iron levels rebound to normal levels.