1. What are the nutrition requirements for pregnancy/breastfeeding?
During pregnancy and breastfeeding the consumption of adequate nutrients in the diet is essential to ensure both maternal well-being and growth of the developing foetus. Energy requirements from foods remain moderately the same with a slight increase of energy depending on the mother’s activity status. However, there are nutrients that are required in greater amounts that include omega 3 fatty acids, protein, iron, iodine, calcium, folic acid (b vitamin), and vitamin D.
2. Why are hemp seeds such a great addition to diet during pregnancy/breastfeeding?
Omega 3 fatty acids, in particular DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are fatty acids that constitute the majority of the human brain and eyes and are therefore essential for brain and eye development of the fetus during the pregnancy. Hemp seeds are a great source of plant-based omega 3 fatty acids that can be beneficial during pregnancy. Furthermore, hemp seeds do not contain high levels of mercury that can sometimes cause complications during pregnancy that can often be found in oily fish products (another source of omega 3).
Higher amounts of protein are also required during pregnancy to support protein synthesis and to maintain maternal tissue and promote fetal growth, especially during the third trimester. Protein requirements should be increased by 1 g/day in the first trimester of gestation, 8 g/day in the second trimester, and 26 g/day in the third trimester. Equally important is the type of protein, the great news is hemp seeds contain all 9 essential amino acids that can’t be made by the body further supporting it as a great addition to the diet.
Iron requirements for a woman are also increased as blood is transferred to the developing foetus from the mother to last it through the first five or six months after birth. It is important for pregnant women to eat iron-rich foods every day, such as meat, chicken, seafood, dried beans and lentils, and green leafy vegetables. The recommended daily intake (RDI) of iron during pregnancy is 27 mg a day (9mg a day more than for non-pregnant women). 100g of hulled hemp seeds (hemp hearts) contains roughly 8mg of iron, nearly a third of your daily iron requirements.
Calcium requirements increase during pregnancy (from 50 mg/day at the halfway point, up to 330 mg/day at the end) and lactation. By adding 1 cup of hulled hemp seeds (hemp hearts) to a dish, you can increase your calcium intake by 60mg in that meal alone.
Folate (known as folic acid when added to foods) is a B-group vitamin found in a variety of foods. Folic acid helps protect against neural tube defects in the developing foetus. For women who are planning a pregnancy, and during the first three months of pregnancy, a daily folic acid supplement of 500 micrograms is recommended, as well as eating foods that are naturally rich in folate or are fortified with folic acid. Hulled hemp seeds (hemp hearts) contain roughly 110.00 micrograms of folate.
3. Is Hemp seed oil safe to consume during pregnancy/breastfeeding?
Hemp seed oil is made from the seeds of the cannabis sativa plant. Hemp seed oil contains trace amounts (less than 1%) of cannabinoids eg. cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinols (THC). This is not to be confused with hemp oil (aka CBD oil) that is made from the flowers leaves and stalks of the cannabis sativa plant that usually contains THC and CBD in excess of 1%.
4. Is hemp seed oil harmful while pregnant or breastfeeding?
No! Hemp Seeds are completely safe to consume.
The U.S Food and Drug administration states that “Hemp seeds can pick up minuscule amounts of THC and CBD from contact with other plant parts, but these amounts are low enough to not raise concerns for any group, including pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.”
This means, you are free to get your nutrients from hemp foods, oils and seeds! Additionally, as pregnancy can deplete a mother's body of nutrients and hormone levels are are fluctuating, directly applying hemp seed oil may also have benefits for healthy skin cells in fighting against dry skin and breakouts.
This post is based on general knowledge and does not take into consideration your personal circumstances. You should always speak to your GP or physician to see if the information on this page is right for you.