Obviously, it’s important to eat healthy while you’re pregnant. Eating plenty of dark, leafy greens, among other veggies and fruits, are things you hear recommended in a healthy diet whether you’re pregnant or not. Which means you've probably heard of the company, It Works!, and its product, It Works! Greens, which claim to give you your daily greens and antioxidants on the go through its special formula. It sounds great, especially if you're expecting, but can you take It Works Greens while pregnant?
Acupuncturist and clinical herbalist Kristen Burris, L.Ac, has more than four years of training as a clinical herbalist, and she tells Romper right off the bat, “The added ingredient of silica alone makes this product potentially unsafe during pregnancy. Add in the ingredient listed as ‘natural flavor,’ which is vague and could mean just about anything, and that alone raised a big. red. flag. It is always unwise to take herbs just because you read about them, or your friend tells you it’s ‘good for you.’ This is not how herbal medicine works.”
According to Burris, "herbal medicine is a precise, sophisticated, ancient form of medicine that requires years of education and practice to be used effectively and safely, especially during pregnancy. Most supplement companies recommend you ask your doctor, but most doctors have no herbal medicine training, nor nutrition or supplement training, so their answer almost always is: avoid it." She recommends asking a certified herbalist or acupuncturist who has received proper training before trying any dietary herbal remedies and supplements, whether or not you're pregnant.
Burris also adds that any product showing a “proprietary blend” with a generic 1,475 milligrams total of more than 40 ingredients must be considered unsafe during pregnancy. “There is no way to know how much of each ingredient is being used, therefore, I would never recommend this product to my pregnant patients,” she says.
Additionally, of the ingredients is rosemary leaf, and Burris says when consumed as an herb on food, it is generally considered safe during pregnancy, however, rosemary leaf used therapeutically in larger amounts is potentially unsafe due to its ability to move menstrual blood. And it could cause a miscarriage, “as it has been historically used to purposely induce abortions,” she says.
Ginger is typically safe to take while pregnant, and is even encouraged to help with nausea, but Burris says ginger is only safe when administered under 2 grams daily. “Anything more is considered unsafe during pregnancy and this product does not list how much is included in this ingredient,” she adds. Additionally, not enough is known about willow bark during pregnancy, Burris says, and it is assumed to be unsafe during breastfeeding. “Therefore, that is another ingredient I’d be leery of during pregnancy and breastfeeding."
If you’re really itching to get some additional vitamins and nutrients, why don’t you go the homemade green smoothie route? They’re fun to make, completely customizable, and are a lot “purer” than the pre-made powders. Plus, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper. Burris suggests using a variety of ingredients, and “think rainbow” when you make your recipes. “I prefer butter lettuce, as it is more sweet than spicy and less earthy than spinach or bitter greens. It matches well with mango, blueberries, and a little lemon,” she says. “Get creative and use cooked sweet potato, (a little goes a long way in a smoothie), coconut milk, white beans, and raspberries.”
While Burris doesn’t recommend taking It Works! Greens during pregnancy, she’s not totally anti-powdered greens. “I actually think greens powdered drinks can be a wonderful way to enhance your already healthy diet. In fact, I have several different greens drinks I recommend in my practice, depending on what condition I am treating,” she says. “Most people do not eat enough vegetables daily, so this is a benefit to those who struggle with their vegetable and fruit intake. It is often easier to get a therapeutic value from compressed drinks than eating fresh salads every day, but I prefer both options. However, I only suggest ones that are organic and safe during pregnancy.”
If you really want to make sure you're getting all your daily recommended servings of veggies and fruits, instead of buying expensive pre-made products, try hitting your local farmer's market and stock up on produce so you can make your own green smoothies. There are millions of recipes and combinations out there on Pinterest. And if you're really fancy, take the money you'd spend on a supply of It Works! Greens and buy a juicer, which can be an awesome investment for your healthy journey. No added preservatives and sugars? Yes, please.