If you’re an expecting mother, it is completely common and responsible for you to look into your dietary habits and whether they need to change or improve. Pregnancy is a rather sensitive state for your body, so taking care of what you eat and drink is a way to make the process easier on you, and the baby. During pregnancy, of course, you will look into a diet that is both healthy and energizing as well, which is sometimes hard to achieve simultaneously.
Therefore, 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, like; 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? In the following paragraphs, we will tackle this topic and try to answer these important questions.
The Main Concerns
So, when it comes to the relation between pregnancy and Matcha tea, few concerns should be noted. The first one is related to folic acid (Folate vitamin), and the second one is related to caffeine, and the third one to the iron absorption. Both praised for their health benefits apparently can be harmful during pregnancy, and both can be found in Matcha tea. Let’s see what problems they might cause and how they actually interact with the body during pregnancy.
- Folate, Matcha and Pregnancy
Folate vitamin, also known and folic acid or vitamin B9, is usually used by women during pregnancy as it helps reduce the risks of birth defects, like neural tube defects (NTDs). Low levels of vitamin B9, or Folate, can be responsible for half of NTDs cases, so regular B9 supplementation in pregnancy is highly recommended. This is the part when we start turning to B9 vitamin connection to Matcha; green teas, and Matcha tea, in general, 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
- Caffeine, Matcha and Pregnancy
The recommended daily intake of caffeine for expecting mothers is less than 200mg. 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 70mg 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.
- Iron absorption, Matcha and Pregnancy
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 5mg of tannin can increase iron inhibition by up to 20%.
Matcha Health Benefits
Now, apart from the three main concerns in the Matcha-pregnancy relation, the consumption of this tea should not be causing problems, if done correctly. Matcha green tea is exceptionally good for one’s health and is considered to be the source of antioxidants and vitamins. The compounds in this tea are also active ingredients whose presence and levels are increased.
Matcha tea is made from the whole tea leaf, so you get the best tea has to offer, flavor– and healthwise. Matcha tea is rich in proteins, vitamins, especially vitamin C and vitamins B 1,2 and 6. This tea also contains L-theanine, which is an amino acid that is linked to the reduction of anxiety, stress and high blood pressure in not just expecting mothers, but seemingly anyone. Some studies have even shown that mothers who have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes had better pregnancy outcomes if they have consumed Matcha during pregnancy. This is because Matcha tea is rich in a polyphenol called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which is also known for inflammation reduction, prevention of heart and brain disease and helping weight loss.
Matcha Consumption Made Safe
So, it should be safe for expecting mothers to drink it, right? After all, one cup of Matcha tea has 70mg of caffeine, compared to one cup of coffee, which has about 150mg of caffeine. So, yes, Matcha consumption during pregnancy can be made safe. It is just important to stay within the recommended caffeine intake levels; and not just with Matcha, but any other caffeinated drink. Moreover, it is important to know that the effects of caffeine in Matcha last longer, from 3 to 6 hours, so one cup a day should be more than enough. Furthermore, having in mind the iron absorption issue, it is recommended for expecting mothers to drink a cup of tea before a meal, and not after or during the meal. This way, the mother can avoid issues with iron absorption.
Again, expecting mothers should not be taking in more than 200mg of caffeine daily, regardless of whether it is via tea, coffee or other drinks. And, of course, other dietary habits need to be in line with the pregnancy, not just the caffeine intake.
More on Matcha and Pregnancy Relation
There are many other ways in which Matcha tea can be related to pregnancy and raise questions. For example, many expecting mothers wonder if Matcha or green tea, in general, should be consumed during breastfeeding. The answer to this question; it is completely okay for mothers to consume green tea during breastfeeding. No adverse effects have been associated with green tea filtering into breastmilk (actually, less than 1% ends up filtering into breastmilk at all).
Moreover, many expecting mothers also wonder if there is a way to have decaffeinated Matcha during pregnancy. The answer to this question; unfortunately, no, there is no way that Matcha green tea can be decaffeinated. Because this is not loose-leaf tea, but powder, Matcha green tea cannot be stripped of caffeine, as it is made to offer high levels of caffeine.
However, there is a way caffeine levels of Matcha can be reduced. Expecting mothers should try cold brew Matcha or green tea if they want to avoid high caffeine intake. Cold-brew tea is brewed with cold water, usually about 8 hours before consumption. Because there is no hot water tea infusion, the tea does not release caffeine as it usually does. This is a much safer way for expecting mothers to consume Matcha or any other tea as a matter of fact.
So, overall, Matcha green tea is safe to consume during pregnancy. It sure can cause several problems and affect the baby negatively, but only if the consumption is high and regular. Therefore, it is important for expecting mothers to follow the official World Health Organization recommendations and stick to the less-than-200mg-caffeine-daily rule. This way, there should be no adverse effects or risks occurring during and after the pregnancy. However, it is always important to consult a medical professional before making any decisions. If you have any questions regarding Matcha (or green tea) consumption during your pregnancy, make sure to consult your doctor and not just the Internet.