Herbs and spices can be a source of confusion, between which aren’t safe, which are safe, and in what amount. Turmeric is no different and with its recent rise in popularity as both a food and dietary supplement, so has confusion over its safety during pregnancy.
When used in amounts typically found in foods, turmeric is safe to consume in both foods and drinks. Because there is some concern that large, medicinal amounts of turmeric affect hormones and can lead to miscarriage it is best to avoid turmeric supplements during your pregnancy.
Within the gray area of herbs and spice during pregnancy is one of the biggest considerations for turmeric’s safety- how much is too much. I’ll walk you through all of the ways turmeric is used in foods, drink, and supplements, as well as which ones can provide too much of this spicy seasoning.
Is Turmeric Safe During Pregnancy? Can it Cause Miscarriage?
The most common use for turmeric is as a culinary seasoning where it often lends spice and earthiness to curries. While it is a staple in Indian-style cooking, turmeric can also be found in egg dishes, hummus, soups.
More recently, food manufacturers are also turning to turmeric for its vibrant golden-yellow hue as a way to naturally color various foods.
Many women are wary of turmeric during pregnancy as they have heard that the spice can lead to miscarriage (source: Michigan Medicine). This warning came about because large, medicinal amounts of turmeric have been shown to affect estrogen levels.
Though hearing that large amounts of turmeric is likely unsafe during pregnancy, the same does not go for turmeric in foods. When used in amounts typically found in foods, turmeric is considered safe during pregnancy (source: American Pregnancy Association).
What exactly is an amount of turmeric “typically found in foods?” This phrase is used often to describe safe limits of herbs and spices, but understandably can be confusing. Not everyone cooks the same way, after all! When spices, like turmeric, are ingredients the recipe typically calls for no more than a tablespoon or two for the whole dish.
As a rule of thumb, these are herbs that are safe to consume in foods and drinks, but where dietary supplement versions are likely unsafe.
I will discuss medicinal amounts of turmeric more in-depth below.
Can I Have Turmeric Powder, Pills, or Supplements During Pregnancy?
Turmeric supplements come in a variety of forms, including pills, powder, and tablets. As I have already mentioned above, taking large, medicinal amounts of turmeric could be dangerous during your pregnancy (source: American Pregnancy Association).
Though some turmeric or turmeric-containing supplements are in powder form, which can be added into foods, turmeric supplements as a whole are considered to provide medicinal amounts of the spice. For this reason, it is best to avoid turmeric supplements of any kind while you are pregnant or trying to conceive.
What are the Benefits or Side Effects of Turmeric When Pregnant?
Turmeric has long been used in traditional medicine as an anti-inflammatory and there is even some research to back up its effectiveness, specifically when it comes to preventing chronic diseases (source: Molecules).
While chronic disease prevention may not be top of mind during pregnancy (when growing a baby is your goal), the anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants in turmeric can boost your naturally-lowered immune system.
Most of the research on turmeric has been done with turmeric supplements, which we know are best avoided during pregnancy.
While adding some turmeric into your foods may not lead to the same results as the larger medicinal amounts of the spice, sticking with food amounts may still offer some antioxidant benefits and is much safer while pregnant.
Is Turmeric Tea Safe to Drink In Pregnancy?
Out of all of the turmeric-containing foods and drinks available, turmeric tea seems to be the most queried. The yellow spice is typically included in warming or tummy-soothing blends alongside lemon and ginger.
With morning sickness and pregnancy-induced nausea, it is no surprise that these teas are a pantry staple for many women during their pregnancies.
Turmeric has a quite potent flavor and therefore many turmeric teas only use a small amount of the spice. The amount of turmeric in a cup of turmeric tea is considered to be a “typically food amount” making it a safe choice during pregnancy.
When it comes to choosing a tea during your pregnancy, be sure to double-check the ingredients list, as some tea blends may contain unsafe herbs. Most turmeric teas are herbal, which are naturally caffeine-free, though caffeine content is also worth a second glance at the label.
If you’re used to taking turmeric supplements, which are best avoided during pregnancy, a cup of turmeric tea is a safer alternative with a similar taste. A few widely available turmeric teas include:
- Simple Truth Turmeric Ginger
- Pukka Turmeric Agave
- Tazo Turmeric Bliss
- Yogi Honey Chair Turmeric
Are Turmeric and Ginger Products Safe When Pregnant?
Not only are turmeric and ginger a classic pairing in teas, but other goodies too. Candies, lozenges/cough drops, and juices are common places to find this yummy combo. Both turmeric and ginger are known to be anti-inflammatory and also have similar flavor profiles.
Because turmeric and ginger are both safe during pregnancy (when taken in amounts typically found in foods, of course), they are also both safe to use in combination with one another. Be cautious of juice “shots” also sometimes called “health shots.”
These small, drinkable “shots” are meant to be a fast way to up your nutrition but can be concentrated and can be sold as an unregulated supplement as opposed to a food.
Can Pregnant Women Have Turmeric Milk? Is It Safe?
Turmeric milk, Haldi milk, turmeric latte, and golden milk all refer to the same warm, yellow-hued, milk-based drink. No matter what you call them, turmeric milk is a fairly straightforward recipe. Typically, turmeric milk is made from milk (either dairy or non-dairy alternative), cinnamon, sweetener, and of course, turmeric.
Like turmeric teas, turmeric milk tends to be a caffeine-free beverage, making it a logical swap for your morning espresso-based latte if you are trying to cut out caffeine.
The amount of turmeric in a single serving of turmeric milk is fairly small, with most recipes online calling for 1 teaspoon or less. Abiding by the recipe and sticking to only 1 serving per day are both ways to stay within safe amounts of turmeric.
With the rise in popularity of turmeric milk, pre-prepared and bottled turmeric milk is more widely available on store shelves. Check the label for any unintended herbal ingredients before buying ready-to-drink turmeric milk.
Some packaged turmeric latte mixes are sold as a powder, similar to making a hot chocolate or instant coffee drink. While these are convenient, be sure to look for products with a “nutrition facts” label instead of a “supplement facts” label.
Only products with nutrition facts panels on their label go through the more rigorous process of FDA approval to be sold as foods instead of dietary supplements.
Turmeric is incredibly versatile, but along with its many uses comes equally as many ways to question its safety during pregnancy. Luckily for turmeric lovers, the spice is completely safe to use in foods and drinks.
Hopefully, this article has provided you with guidance and reassurance for all of the ways you can safely continue to spice up your cooking with turmeric.