Is Drinking Matcha Tea Safe During Pregnancy?

Coffee consumption during pregnancy should be moderate. Alcohol is bad. Cigarettes are bad. When pregnant, so many things are off the table! In an effort to substitute all of the above, we grasp at other more familiar comforts to fill in the gap. For many, it is matcha tea. many expecting mothers turn to tea; it is healthy, provides all the necessary antioxidants and vitamins, and it gives you energy. Especially teas like black or green tea are famous with expecting mothers. However, it is important to raise some questions, such as, is drinking matcha green tea really safe to drink during pregnancy? If so, how much of the tea is it okay to have in a day, and does it affect the baby?

When it comes to pregnancy and matcha tea, a few issues should be noted. Folate, iron, and caffeine are all found in matcha tea. Both iron and folate are praised for their health benefits but, apparently, can be as harmful as caffeine during pregnancy.

Folate, also known and folic acid or vitamin B9, is used by women during pregnancy and helps reduce the risks of birth defects, especially neural tube defects (NTD, such as spina bifida). Regular B9 supplementation in pregnancy is highly recommended. Green teas, such as matcha tea, however, are known to be the main culprits when it comes to low levels of folate vitamin in expecting mothers. A study has shown that regular consumption of green tea can lower the bioavailability of folic acid and increase the risk of having an NTD-affected pregnancy. Expecting mothers who drink more than 2 cups of green/matcha tea a day have the highest risk of developing birth defects.

The recommended daily intake of caffeine for expecting mothers is less than 200 mg. Caffeine intake during pregnancy can increase the risk of pregnancy loss, low birth rate neonates, and preterm birth as numerous studies have shown. Therefore, it is important to reduce caffeine intake as much as possible. The reason for that lies in the fact that during pregnancy, caffeine clearance from the blood slows down drastically. Matcha green tea is known for its high concentration of caffeine. Because matcha tea is a powder made from a whole green tea leaf, all of its components’ levels are increased, when compared to regular, loose leaf tea. A teaspoon of matcha green tea can concentrate up to 70 mg of caffeine. It is important to mention that one teaspoon of matcha powder equals one cup of tea; this is where matcha tea can create a problem. In order for the expecting mother to stay within the recommended levels of caffeine intake, and to make matcha tea consumption safe, it is important to have two cups a day, maximum. One cup of matcha tea should be enough, two on special occasions, but more than that can cause a problem for the mother and the baby. Matcha releases caffeine into your bloodstream much slower than coffee, but we always err on the side of safety. It’s not always simple to take into account the other foods and beverages containing caffeine that you might eat and drink during the same day.

Pregnant women need iron more than anything. Iron transports the much-needed oxygen to the baby. Without iron, babies are more likely to develop anemia, and its long-term deficiency can lead to heartbeat increment, pale skin, breathing problems, and fatigue, not just in the baby but in the mother as well. Now, matcha tea is known for its ability to restrict the absorption of iron that is non-meat sourced. Some studies have shown that matcha can reduce the iron absorption up to 64% since the polyphenols and tannins in the tea hinder the process of absorption. Some polyphenols alone can reduce iron absorption by up to 70% and 5 mg of tannin can increase iron inhibition by up to 20%.

Matcha is yummy and often a comforting way to enjoy a moment relaxing. However, if we learn anything from pregnancy it is everything in moderation. Don’t have too much or too little of anything and strive to keep a comfortable and nutritious balance in your life. If you have any doubts make sure to contact your local healthcare professional!

Shoshi S.
Shoshi is a graduate from Stern College for Women in New York City. Her areas of interest include policy, non-profit organizations, and administration. During winter 2018, she was a White House intern. Shoshi has also interned at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and at Save the Children in New York. As a millennial, Shoshi brings a young and fresh perspective to the worlds of pregnancy and lactation.

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