Series: Supplements for a Healthy Pregnancy

pregnant 1Last week I wrote about some common problems many women experience when they are pregnant, and this week I am going to talk about what supplements you should take for a healthy pregnancy. Things can seem very complex for moms-to-be, but my advice is simple. Eat whole foods and take key supplements to make sure you are getting the nutrients you and your growing baby need. Before taking any supplement, consult with your primary care practitioner.

Multivitamins/minerals: Take a high quality multivitamin/mineral with folic acid while you are pregnant to provide significant benefits for you and your baby. Continue reading “Series: Supplements for a Healthy Pregnancy”

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Nutrient Depletion: Oral Contraceptives

Many people do not know that prescription medications can deplete your body of important nutrients, leaving you susceptible to other heath problems. Every week, I will post a blog about a commonly prescribed drug and what depletions it may cause.

First off, oral contraceptives. Prescribed to prevent pregnancy, regulate menstrual cycles and, for some women, provide relief of painful periods. Whatever the reason, these tiny tablets can rob women of critical vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

Nutrient Depletion

Folic acid – works closely with vitamin B12 in the metabolism of amino acids, and the synthesis of proteins, vital to healthy cell division and replication and to tissue growth, plays an important role in cervical health and preventing birth defects.

Magnesium – activates hundreds of enzymes, plays a role in healthy bones and teeth, muscle health, mood and sleep, cardiovascular and menstrual health.

Continue reading “Nutrient Depletion: Oral Contraceptives”

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Prenatal Vitamins Linked to Decreased Autism

Thinking of becoming pregnant? Well, don’t wait until the two pink lines show up on your home pregnancy test to start preparing. It’s important for a woman to start taking a good quality prenatal that contains 800 mg of folic acid as well as iron, calcium and vitamin D3, as soon as she starts trying to conceive (and ideally 3 months before conceiving).

Prenatal vitamins are specially formulated vitamins that help support a woman’s body during pregnancy. The most important reason in the past to take a prenatal was for the increased amount of folic acid. Folic acid combined with a B group vitamin, not only before pregnancy, but during, significantly reduces the possibility of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. This condition can develop in an embryo very early in pregnancy, perhaps even before a woman knows she is carrying a fetus.

However, a recent study has given even more importance to prenatal vitamins. Continue reading “Prenatal Vitamins Linked to Decreased Autism”

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10 Facts About Folic Acid

Folic acid is a B vitamin that can help reduce the risk of neural tube defects by as much as 70% if taken before conception. Folate and folic acid are different terms for the same B vitamin. Folate is found naturally in foods and folic acid is the synthetic form of the vitamin found in multivitamins and supplements.

So why is folic acid important?

Here are 10 facts from New York State’s Department of Health:

1. Each year, about 130 babies who are born in New York State have neural tube defects (NTD). Nationwide, there are 4,000 NTD-affected pregnancies each year. NTDs are disorders of the development of the brain and spinal cord. The most common NTD is spina bifida, or opening of the spine. The most serious NTD is anencephaly, failure of the brain to develop.

2. Up to 70% of NTDs can be prevented if all women who can become pregnant consume 0.4 mg/day of folic acid at least a month prior to conception and during the first trimester of pregnancy. Continue reading “10 Facts About Folic Acid”

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Restless Legs Syndrome

People who suffer from this condition often complain of creepy-crawly sensations or itchy burning feelings, especially at night. RLS can wreak havoc on sleep and disrupts people’s work and social lives, because there is an almost irresistible urge to move their limbs to relieve the sensation, if only temporarily. Although the causes of Restless Legs Syndrome are still only presumed, the majority of studies are focusing on a combination of iron and dopamine deficiency.

Here are some supplements to try:

Iron: If you have RLS, have your ferritin levels tested. About 20% of sufferers are deficient in ferritin (the form in which your body stores iron). Iron supplementation is generally recommended when ferritin levels measure less than 50ng/mL. For those with a deficiency, studies have shown that taking 200 to 300mg of oral ferrous sulfate up to three times per day can improve RLS symptoms if taken over several months. Before you start chowing down on iron tablets, talk to your doctor about this and have your iron levels monitored regularly if you are supplementing.

Folic Acid: For those who have family history of RLS, high doses of folic acid seem to alleviate symptoms. Dennis Neary Jr., ND suggests that, “Perhaps there is some deficiency that gets passed from gene to gene that causes malabsorption on the folic acid end.” Recommended doses are pretty high, so it best that you work with a health care provider.

Magnesium: Sometimes RLS seems to be caused by an electrolyte imbalance. Patients with eating disorders, or who have undergone gastric bypass surgery, often develop RLS. Both these conditions disrupt electrolyte balance. If this is the case, magnesium may help because it promotes muscle and nerve health. Taking 200-800mg of elemental magnesium per day at night, may help those twitches.

L-theanine: This amino acid found in green tea promotes wave activity associated with deep sleep and is a precursor to the relaxing neurotransmitter GABA. Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum recommends it is a natural remedy for sleep, even though there is little evidence that it may help directly with RLS. He recommends 200mg of L-theanine 1 hour before bedtime to help you relax and sleep well.

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