New mothers can find themselves iron depleted fairly easily once they have given birth to their baby. Iron deficiency anaemia is the most common single nutrient deficiency in the world and a leading cause of postpartum morbidity and contributes to the overall physical and mental health of mothers and babies (Beard et al.). Iron deficiency has been linked with postpartum fatigue and mood disorders in mothers, as well as slow weight gain and infections in babies (Verdon et al.; Bodnar, Cogswell, and McDonald). Beard et al. (2005) found that low iron strongly relates to depression, stress and cognitive functioning in postnatal mothers.
The placenta has been used over time to address mother’s iron loss and replenish the low stores (Young et al.). Limited and small population size research is available in regards to placentophagia and iron levels but there is some concluding evidence to suggest that consuming your placenta may increase iron levels.
A Thai study found that heat-dried placenta retained high levels of nutrients, iron included in this list (Phuapradit et al.). However, a small study by Schwering et al. (2017) found that there was no difference in iron levels with different methods of processing and surmised that some iron content may have been lost with encapsulation. Another study found detectable levels of iron in the placenta capsules after using a Traditional Chinese Method preparation and concluded that the capsules met 24% of the Recommended Daily Intake for iron in postnatal women (Young et al.). The study (Young et al.), however, failed to mention the bioavailability of the placental iron, which begs the question, would placental iron be better absorbed and metabolised by the woman’s body as opposed to alternate iron supplementation? In 2017, Gryder et al. conducted a randomised placebo-controlled trial measuring iron content of human placenta against beef placebo. The conclusion was that encapsulated placenta supplementation neither significantly improved or impaired postpartum maternal iron status for women.
So, based off the current research performed, placenta encapsulation may slightly improve iron status in women postnatally, which may lead to greater wound recovery, increased mood and healthier babies.