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Nutrition Insurance .... Darrell Miller 10/21/05



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Nutrition Insurance ....
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Date: October 21, 2005 10:25 AM
Author: Darrell Miller (dm@vitanetonline.com)
Subject: Nutrition Insurance ....

Nutrition Insurance

All authorities agree that taking prenatal vitamins is a smart idea. Especially important nutrients include:

-Folic Acid. This B vitamin helps prevent neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida, in which a malformed spinal cord can cause everything from fluid on the brain to paralysis. “The great news is that supplemental folic acid decreases the risk of neural tube defects pretty significantly,” says Higdon. “It’s recommended that women who are planning to become pregnant take a supplement that supplies 400 mcg.” Low folate is also associated with high levels of metabolic byproduct called homocysteine; it’s not clear whether high homocysteine is a symptom of folate deficiency or a cause of birth defects. To help folate control homocysteine, add vitamins B-6 and B-12 to your regimen, especially if you are a vegan.

-Iron. Iron deficiency is the most common micronutrient deficiency in the US, especially among women of childbearing age, and “has been associated with poor child development after birth along with increased risk of miscarriage and premature delivery,” according to Higdon. “Also, if you’re deficient you’ll get really tired-you get less oxygen delivered to your tissues an the baby’s” A supplement should supply 30mg; vegetarians have to pay particular attention to their iron levels. Eating foods rich in vitamin C can make it easier to absorb iron, as can eating such fermented soy goodies as tempeh and miso.

-Calcium. Building baby’s bones requires plenty of calcium; Jones and Hudson recommend getting 1200mg a day. If you are lactose intolerant-that is, you can’t properly digest milk products-they suggest you “try yogurt made with live active cultures, whose bacteria releases lactose-digesting enzymes.” Supplemental calcium is another option, preferably in gluconate or chelate form for better absorption. (Calcium can also help cut the leg cramps caused by the pressure of a growing baby.)

-Vitamin D. It doesn’t matter how much calcium you take if you’re not getting enough of the vitamin D that lets your body utilize calcium properly. “Vitamin D deficiency is increasingly common,” says Higdon, “and the RDIs (Reference Daily Intakes) might not be high enough for people who don’t get sun exposure.” Spending 15 minutes a day in the sun can restore your body’s supplies, but “the farther north you live, the longer that period in the winter you can’t make vitamin D, and it’s actually not in too many foods.” Taking 400 IU daily can make up the shortfall.

Believe it or not, iodine deficiency is a growing concern in the US as people cut back on salt, which is commonly fortified with iodine. Higdon says that most prenatal vitamins contain 150mcg.

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