Posts Tagged ‘Vitamin D’

Preventing Childhood Obesity from the Womb?

August 6, 2012

Birgitta Lauren,  August 6th 2012,

Today, with 30% of U.S. children overweight –the war on childhood obesity is mostly centered on what children eat, the marketing and availability of unhealthy, processed foods and parental choices, rather than the much easier prevention of it. And as important as healthy school lunches and PE is for children, not starting healthy habit programs until school, like Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign is too late for prevention.  The problem has already been created, both genetically and in habits – habits can be hard to change.  Since obesity leads to all other diseases, from physical to mental, pediatric obesity experts now say intervention must begin early – very early, as risk factors begin before birth, necessitating changing the diet and lifestyle of the mothers themselves, before, during and after pregnancy and with very young children. It’s an interesting note that “pediatricians” are doing this as opposed to “gynecologists”…..

The Obesity Problem is Multipronged:

Statistics from the CDC, show that Hispanic, black, poor, publicly insured, and kids living in the southeastern states and those lacking outside school activities have the highest obesity rates.  This tells us culture and environment matters, and may be difficult to change. But we also know that less expensive food is much less healthy. The latter is the fault of Big Food, Big Pharma (hormone, vaccine and anti-biotic injections of animals) and Big Chemicals (preservatives, additives, colors and flavors, fertilizers, pesticides & GMO’s etc…) manufacturers wanting to keep people addicted to their foods and also the government subsidizing processed foods to keep them less expensive. The collaborations between Big Food, Big Pharma, Big Chemicals, and the FDA, the USDA, the EPA and the government are keeping America fat. According to The Guardian, obesity is getting worse, not only due to too much food but, what’s in the food we eat – or not. Fixing this would require tossing out the entire Congress, or voting with your money, buying only fresh, organic and locally farmed foods, avoiding nutrient void, and chemically processed foods.

Obesity Starts in the Womb.

Too many women gain excessive amounts of weight during pregnancy as they use pregnancy as an excuse to eat too much, says researchers in a Division of Nutrition in Ithaca, N.Y Cornell University study that showed that 38% of normal-weight women, 67% of overweight women, and 46% of obese women gained too much weight while pregnant. 56% of the women who became obese during the study could have avoided it by staying within guidelines.  But a Dutch study this year found that even after counseling 16% of obese women about to get IVF, refused to lose weight36. Since 96% of IVF patients face multiple risk factors – This is a big problem.


The 2009 Institute of Medicine advised weight gain during pregnancy is 11 – 40 lbs. depending on woman being obese, normal or underweight.  “Get to a healthy weight before you conceive”, says the IOM, but with 55% of childbearing age women overweight, uncommon preconception care, half of pregnancies unplanned, and half of women don’t follow advice – it’s unfortunately a tall order. This is a problem as a child’s fat cells increase in number from 30 weeks of gestation through 18-24 months old. Over eating during pregnancy and nursing or formula feeding may increase the child’s number of fat cells.

Poor nutrition in the womb causes permanent genetic changes in the offspring –                                              says study published in the FASEB Journal 4.13.09, increasing risk for diabetes, growth retardation, CVD, obesity, and neurodevelopmental delays, autism, among others, affecting multiple healthcare issues across generations. Study reiterates that prenatal care is far more important than anyone could have imagined a decade ago.  Too much body fat, during pregnancy often puts too much stress on the uterus, leading to premature delivery. However obese pregnant women that exercise can prevent prematurity. However, a child will develop tastes and eating habits depending on moms eating habits. Everything mom does gestationally, will affect the baby’s future health for better or worse.



Causes of obesity in children:


Before & During Pregnancy:

  1. Lack of exercise
  2. Processed food, (high fructose corn syrup, soda, sugar, High GI foods)2
  3. Genetically Modified foods (GMOs), I.e.: corn & soy
  4. Excessive prenatal weight gain
  5. Insufficient prenatal weigh gain / Dieting around time of conception and early pregnancy3
  6. High-fat diet16, – fried foods.
  7. Chemicals like BPA, Phthalates11, diesel and petrochemicals exhausts12, and pesticides4.
  8. Medications, especially anti-depressants5
  9. High birth weight (whether from overeating or diabetes)
  10. Low birth weight, (whether from early delivery or undernourishment)
  11. Lack of Vitamin D6, 10
  12. Lack of probiotics, good bacteria and therefore vitamin K production in the gut7.
  13. Premature Delivery
  14. Babies born too close together8 (< 12 months between labor and conception).
  15. Mom’s lack of sleep5, as insufficient sleep may affect cortisol production35
  16. Chronic stress via Cortisol production.
  17. Labor complications and C-sections.
  18. Thyroid problems and Iodine deficiencies9 or toxicity.


Epigenetic Metabolic Reprogramming:


Maternal diet and physical activity during pregnancy has a profound effect on both placental and fetal development17.  Nutritionally deprived newborns are at stem cells level “programmed” to “conserve energy” (store fat) and eat more by developing less neurons in the region of the brain that controls food intake, according to an article published in the Journal Brain Research, from a study by Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. Altered brain development suggests that fetal growth restriction may lead to cognitive and/or behavioral problems.

These findings that dieting at conception causes obesity and diabetes shows obesity is not inherited, it’s manufactured. – “It also shows that epigenetics is the ‘new genetics’: …our DNA is susceptible to binge eating and dieting — we are what our mother’s ate.” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal. Interestingly, infants born large, have less health problems than infants born too small despite both leading to obesity13.

Obesity may also have roots in 1950s when pregnant women smoked, spurned breast-feeding and restricted their weight during numerous, closely spaced pregnancies; says Melinda Sothern, leading fitness and nutrition expert at Louisiana State University.

Weight gain is a known side effect of many drugs, including powerful anti-psychotics, anti-histamines, anti-depressants, diabetes drugs, beta blockers, corticosteroids and contraceptives5.Except the later, all of which seems to be freely doled out to pregnant women despite side-effects. As well as anti-nausea medication, which prohibit moms Folate absorption – with resulting ill effects and growth retardation of baby. I even see moms using serious painkillers like OcyContin (sick). With these painkillers now being the biggest cause of accidental deaths, and the constant exposure to chemicals through environment, household and body products and the food supply – is there any wonder children have problems…?

But metabolic epigenetic changes also extend to what fathers and grandfathers eat. If your paternal grandpa went hungry, or your dad ate a low-protein diet, you are more likely obese, according to the 12.23.2010 issue of Cell. This University of Massachusetts study also linked dad’s high-fat diet to their daughter’s health problems. Another study of the Swedish Sami population a century ago showed an 11 year old boy going from famine to feast prior to puberty caused a propensity for higher weight in his future children34. This means we are never off the hook of eating healthy.

  1. Postpartum:
  2. Lack of Exercise
  3. Formula feeding14
  4. Early introduction to solid foods before 6 months14.
  5. Baby’s lack of sleep14,35
  6. Processed food, GMOs, or a high-fat16 diet consumed by mom while nursing or baby later.
  7. Dieting (insufficient calories and nutrients)
  8. Chemical exposure to BPA, Phthalates, diesel petrochemical exhausts, fertilizers and pesticides.
  9. Medications, especially anti-depressants
  10. Lack of Vitamin D
  11. Lack of probiotics
  12. Eating too fast15
  13. Mom & baby’s chronic stress (including neglect & abuse)
  14. Thyroid problems and Iodine deficiency9 or toxicity.

The growing obesity epidemic, will double diabetes and triple medical costs by 203420, costing $168 Billion annually (individually $2800) says Cornell University 2010. These medical costs will rise 36% a year. This is double the cost of smoking33 and bankrupting America.

How do We Prevent Obesity?

Excellent nutrition of fresh, natural and organic foods and sufficient intake of all micronutrients at all times from preconception through nursing is crucial to establish baby’s proper metabolism, as baby growths and develops throughout. Extra prenatal supplements are vital to help baby’s metabolic system. Mom needs to be “fully stocked up” nutritionally, preferably one year before conception says the FDA. All nutrients work together, and with DHA and EPA from fish-oil; there are 32 necessary nutrients for proper health.  Prenatal nutrition is like baking a cake: if you omit one ingredient or more, the cake or baby won’t be as healthy, so with most prenatals being incomplete, moms must be choosy.

Fit Moms Make Fit Babies

Exercise is a must during pregnancy. Moms who exercise produce children that are healthier on all levels: physically, mentally, better academically and athletically and are 5% leaner, says James F. Clapp MD Professor of OB/gyn Cleveland Metropolitan Health Medical Center.

Before & During Pregnancy & Nursing

  1. Loosing weight prior to conception if overweight.
  2. Exercise (3-6 x a week, 30-60 minutes a day).
  3. Avoid ALL processed & fried foods, white carbohydrates, sugar, soda and GMO’s.
  4. Eat ONLY FRESH FOODs (lean meats, fish, whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruits and vegetables), preferably ORGANIC whenever possible.
  5. Sufficient Vitamin D3, preferably from sun exposure. (Whites: 10 min/day, blacks: 45 min/day minimum).
  6. Avoid all medications, drugs and chemicals if possible.
  7. Eating nuts like almonds21
  8. Apple peel’s ursolic acid may curtail obesity by increasing muscle mass and boosting calorieburning22
  9. Seaweed23
  10. Green Tea improves metabolic rate and reduces fat accumulation24.
  11. Proper protein intake above 15% of daily calories25
  12. Taking a good comprehensive prenatal supplement26
  13. Probiotics
  14. Getting enough sleep (7-9 hrs.)35 and going to bed before 11 pm to allow for Melatonin production (hormone secreted by the pineal gland 27 and found inmustard, Goji berries, almonds, sunflower seeds, cardamom, fennel, coriander and cherries).
  15. Colder weather activates brown fat burning28.
  16. Eat slowly15
  17. Reduce stress with meditation, breathing and naps.
  18. Breastfeeding prevents obesity.
  19. Positive Parenting through Parent Corps and other programs that promote effective parenting and prevent behavior problems.


With 90% of women deficient in vitamin D, iron 40%, Folate 24% and B12 4%, supplementation, dietary and lifestyle interventions31 in pregnancy is vital before conception30 for reducing weight gain, to reduce risk of preeclampsia, diabetes, hypertension, prematurity, still birth29,birth-defects and poor growth of babies31.


Breastfeeding is crucial in obesity prevention. Yet, breast-milk is only as good as moms’ diet.


Solid Food Introduction:

After 6 months introduce a little rice cereal mixed with breast milk. A few weeks later, oat cereal, then cooked & pureed vegetables & fruits. Later chicken or beef can. An ideal serving size would start with 1-3 tbsp.… offer toddlers a variety of fruits, vegetables, and freshly cooked foods. Avoid using food as a reward. Children will not get a “taste for foods” they aren’t introduced to. Keep TV watching to a minimum32 and get kids active joining you in exercise or take advantage of kid’s gyms and parks. Introduce kids to many sports until they find what they like so they stick with it.

Creating healthy kids is a parent’s responsibility, and will improve your family’s health for generations to come. There are NO excuses.


  1.  2007 National Survey of Children’s Health
  2. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology  April 2009
  3. FASEB Journal  4.1.2012
  4. FASEB Journal  7.2012
  5. Dr. Julie Lumeng, University of Michigan, 2007
  6.  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 7.2012
  7. British Journal of Nutrition 2.2010.
  8. LA Times 12.19.11
  9.  Newstarget 2005 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 7.2012
  10. Presented at The Endocrine Society’s 94th Annual Meeting 7.2012
  11. The Research Council of Norway’s Program on Environmental Exposures and Health Outcomes
  12. American Academy of Pediatrics  10.4.2004
  13. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2007
  14. British Medical Journal 2008
  15. The International Association for the Study of Obesity
  16. OHSU School of Medicine
  17.  UC Davis MIND Institute 4.2012
  18. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 11.2007
  19. Diabetes Care 12.2009
  20. North American Association for the Study of Obesity
  21. PLoS ONE 6.2012
  22.  A Danish study in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
  23. Polish Research, April 2011
  24. University of Sydney, Australia  11.11
  25. Multivitamin International Journal of Obesity  2.2010
  26. Journal of Pineal Research 5.2011
  27. National Institutes of Health  6.12
  28. BMJ 5.17 2012
  29. Journal Seminars in Perinatology, 12.2011
  30. Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, CDC 5.5.2003
  31. Mayo Foundation 1.2010
  32. American Journal of Preventative Medicine 12.2009Origins
  33.  Uppsala University, Sweden  study  8.12
  34. Journal of Advanced Nursing 5.12

Post Partum Depression Prevention Naturally

May 30, 2011

I’m here to talk to you about preventing Post Partum Depression (PPD) naturally.  There are many ways to prevent PPD and if this condition can be prevented and stopped there would be less need for heavy duty mind altering drugs which can be so harmful to both mother and the baby.  What if I told you that just 30 min of exercise decreased PPD scores on the Edinburg Post Partum Depression scale; a scale developed to see if a woman is suffering from PPD.  Exercise along with fatty acids or fish oil, a healthy diet, and psycho or talk therapy has been shown in studies to be more effective than SSRI’s or anti depressants.  ACOG says 1 in 10 new moms experience some depression postpartum, 10% of these have severe depression.  Depression is a symptom of the stresses that women may face during pregnancy, child birth, and a change in life style that the arrival of a new baby brings.  It’s not an illness itself that can be cured with a pill – anti depressant is only a temporary Band Aid while the underlying issues will still have to be addressed.  The stresses of becoming a new parent can be a rough transition.  Imagine if you will a small person quite literally living of a mother’s body.  The baby requires a lot of the mother’s nutrients and energy leaving little or any left over for mom.  There is a severe dip in progesterone and omega fatty acid levels right after birth which can affect the mother’s moods.  When the baby comes the mother makes breast milk and her life changes drastically, as she must give her utmost attention to her baby leaving her with little time or sleep for herself.  It’s no wonder she might experience some mood swings all the way to sever depression.

Now that is what happens in most pregnancies.  If you add on top of that financial and/or domestic problems or possibly an unwanted pregnancy, the issues can really take a toll on some mother’s moods. Other things that might cause PPD are fertility treatments, multiple pregnancies, food allergies, intestinal flora imbalances, lifestyle choices such as lack of exercise, poor food choices, nutritional deficiencies, food additives, such as aspartame which is an artificial sweetener, glutamic acid, MSG, common food additives like artificial flavors, colors, thickeners, moisteners and preservatives that are all neurotoxins that can block serotonin production in our bodies. Medications such as anti depressants, anti inflammatory medication, pain medication, anti-histamines to birth control, illicit street drugs, alcohol, smoking caffeine, Candida problems, cranial compression, stress from emotion, intuitive and spiritual issues can also drain nutrients. So can too, various other medical conditions and/or exposure to environmental chemicals and toxins, whether they are at home, work, food, in your garden, in your teeth, such as mercury fillings or in the air.  30% of stress and neurotic disorders are caused by a chemical toxicity according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

Anti depressants and their side effects.

Untreated pregnancy depression may have severe consequences in the form of suicide, miscarriage, hypertension, preeclampsia, low birth weight and PPD leaving the child at risk for depression and other health problems later. Untreated PPD also leaves moms at risk for violent behavior in addition to the above risks. However with the growing mountain of risk to the off spring from the use of anti depressants during pregnancy and postpartum, the FDA and Health Canada have required drug manufacturers to issue warnings on their labels. A report on SSRI’s use and birth defects by Swedish, Danish and American research find that all SSRI’s have been implicated in congenital heart malformation. But the most worrisome evidence concerns the drug Paxil.

According to the University of Montreal Canada, 1st trimester use of anti depressants is associated with major congenital and cardiac malformations. Other research shows increased risk for suicide, violence, homicide, heart disease, and high blood pressure, putting moms at risk for early delivery and preeclampsia, uterine and gastro intestinal bleeding, decrease in bone density, fertility problems, sexual dysfunction, sever withdrawal problems, miscarriage, early delivery. And for the newborn; low birth weight, lower APGAR scores, or increased admition to the neonatal care unit or NCU, jitteriness, tachycardia, hypothermia, vomiting, hypoglycemia, irritability, and constant crying, increased tonus, eating and sleeping difficulties, convulsions respiratory distress and pulmonary hypertension are seen in newborn from prenatal anti depressant exposure in utero through the 3rd trimester.

There are also problems with sudden discontinuation of anti depressants, whether during pregnancy or after delivery. The drugs implicated include Zylexa, generic Fluvoxamine, Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac and Zymbiax.  The FDA advises very careful individual consideration of the risks and benefits of anti depressants. Andy adverse events should be reported to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

So with anti depressants coming 2nd after only Vioxx having THE MOST side effects, the MOST law suits due to the concealment of studies showing adverse events and overstating the efficacy of the drug by the manufacturers,  as well as a recent big push by doctors , psychiatrists, celebrities and mental health institutions, mostly supported by the big drug manufacturers advocating for depression screening and treatment with SSRI’s and therapy of pregnant and new moms without any consideration or education of natural prevention or alternatives to anti depressants… What is a New Mom to Do?

The mantra is that babies are better off with moms on drugs rather than not. – How far from the truth have we come?

At the American Psychiatric Association 2007 annual meeting it was said that for patients and their physicians opposed to prescription medications during pregnancy and nursing there’s an increased awareness of alternative treatment for depression. Psychotherapy, bright light therapy and psychological interventions have all been successful. Maria Corrall MD at Reproductive Health at St. Paul’s Hospital, Vancouver, Canada also mentions herbal, music, aroma, infant massage, exercise and yoga therapy that all seem to increase dopamine and serotonin levels while reducing cortisol and norepenephrine.

Fit moms have Healthier Babies.

Studies from the University of Birmingham UK, says there is now a lot of evidence to support the anti depressant effect of exercise in general and in the clinical populations. Data shows Australian and other studies supports walking as a very useful treatment for PPD. Studies comparing exercises with SSRI’s and talk therapy show that exercise is as effective as, and sometimes better than SSRI’s in treating and preventing PPD. In combining exercise with talk therapy, it shows a marked improvement over the anti depressants without the any side effects.

Dr. James F. Clapp III, MD and emeritus professor of reproductive biology at Case Western Reserve University and Research Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Vermont College, who has probably done most of the research in the world on prenatal fitness. He has found that there is a substantial reduction in pregnancy depression and PPD for those moms that continue to exercise through pregnancy and resume immediately post baby. Dr. Clapp also found that depression soars from obstetrical complications, and that exercise reduces obstetrical complications, and thus reduces chances of PPD.

On a personal note I have never in 19 years working with pregnant women seen pregnancy depression or PPD in a fit healthy mom, where all lifestyle factors were considered.

Exercise produces endorphins; it’s the feel good hormone that really helps prevent depression. On a separate note, anti depressants also have the effect of lowering the endorphin output of exercise according to the Department of Human Physiology and Sports Medicine at the Vrije University in Belgium. Thus that would reduce and negate the anti depressant effect of exercise. However, exercise is only half the battle; probably one the most promising methods in prevention of PPD lie in nutrition.

You and your baby are what you eat.

In a study published in the American Journal of clinical Nutrition in 2000 by McCrechs and Gibson noted that there is much interest in the needs of preterm delivery and preterm infants of Omega 3 fatty acids for proper development, but also in the need for the pregnant and nursing mother. Biochemically there seems to be a small reduction in fatty acids during pregnancy, but a much sharper drop postpartum, independent of lactation. Supplementation increases gestation, birth weight or both. The 2002 annual meeting of the American Chemical Society summarized many studies to DHA fatty acids supplements as improving infant development and reducing PPD. Dr. David Kyle Phd. From Advanced Bio-nutrition Corp. in Columbia Maryland , The Mother and Child Foundation, and  The Institute of Health says;  – “We believe the high incidence of PPD in the US may be triggered by a low dietary intake of DHA and the higher the intake of DHA the lower the incidence of depression”.  Dr. Hibbeln, another doctor also found a significant correlation with lower levels of DHA with both clinical depression and that of DHA content of breast milk and postpartum depression. While pregnant, the placenta pumps DHA from the mother to the fetus increasing the mothers risk for depression. The mother’s diet influences the breast milk levels of DHA.

Dr. Kyle said that the DHA content of mother’s milk in the US is actually among the lowest in the world. US women only have 40-50 mg in their breast milk, European women, 200 mg, and Japanese women who eat a lot of fish, 600 mg.

Toddlers from moms taking extra DHA perform significantly better on standard neurological motor function tests than those whose mothers don’t.  A recent Lancet issue quotes authors of another long term study by Dr. Joseph Hibbeln from the US national Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: -“Maternal seafood consumption of less than 340 mg / week did not protect children from adverse outcomes, rather the recorded beneficial effects on child development is on maternal seafood intake of more than 340 mg a week. “

These benefits also extend to learning difficulties, behavioral problem, Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder, ADHA in Children.

Michelle Judge writes in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that DHA supplementation during pregnancy improved problem solving abilities for the infants first year. Dutch research from the Maastricht University also advocates the association of low Omega fatty acid levels with PPD, and that supplementation with DHA could reduce and prevent the often debilitating symptoms.  – “Our finding highlights that diet can enhance or inhibit depression related inflammation “, wrote Jamie K. Glazer in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine. These behavioral dietary interactions have important implications for physical and mental health. The benefits of Omega 3, proteins essential vitamins and minerals from oily fish outweigh the risk of pollutants say American experts as well as British scientists who have found that pollutant levels are falling. At the recent meeting of the American Association of the Advancement of Science, – “ The best studies coming out over the last 2 years have overwhelmingly been in favor of the benefits of seafood consumption”,  said Michael Morresy from Oregon’s State Seafood Laboratory.  –“There is no need to avoid fish, just some fish, like; shark, sward fish, mackerel, halibut and (sushi)  tuna come to mind”. Choose salmon, preferably the wild kind to avoid the red food coloring that may cause ADHD, and other various white fishes and trout.

Brain function depends on exercise for production of “feel good” chemicals such as dopamines and the reduction of cortisol. When proper foods including these selective omega fatty acids accompany a good exercise program positive outcomes prevail, and my clients seem to rebound from postpartum difficulties. DHA and exercise also play an important role in reproductive health witnessed time and time again in neural and cognitive development of the child, especially when the DHA supplements during nursing is included. DHA supplementation and exercise should be a preconceptional through postpartum strategy, recommended by all OB/Gyn specialists as well as primary care practitioners says Jem Welsh CNC from Jem Welsh Nutrition in Orange County CA,. Welsh also recommend the Healthy Baby prenatal vitamins containing 1000 mg of DHA and EPA.

Other nutrition issues are also implicated in PPD. Michael Biomonte CCN reported in a 1997 that estrogen and copper levels usually increase during pregnancy, but they should return down to normal postbaby, but may remain elevated.  Excess copper has been implicated in PPD. When pregnancies are close together, copper remains high increasing chances of PPD.

Zinc, vitamin B6 and other nutrients can reverse this. Zinc deficiencies can also give rise to copper excess. Progesterone who works closely with zinc also plummets after delivery. Progesterone creams and supplements can be very effective in eliminating depression just like zinc. An ABC story on a 2005 Penn State University study on maternal iron deficiencies causing “bonding difficulties” for mom and child said: -“Experts say that women who forgo vitamin supplementation commonly experience iron deficiency after child birth”. They say iron deficiency is easy to correct and could be a big part of PPD with mother and child interaction. A lack of bonding may also increase PPD as the mother/child bonding produces the hormone “oxytocin”, which is another “feel good“hormone.

Amino acids, vitamin B1, B3, B6, B12, vitamin C, E, Folate, Inositol and calcium / magnesium supplements has been shown to help PPD as well.

In the last few years, much attention has been paid to our increased knowledge of the importance of Vitamin D. Vitamin D’s role as the “sunshine vitamin” since our bodies produce this vitamin when our skin is exposed to the sun is becoming vital. Vitamin D is found to avert pregnancy depression and PPD, and help in most other nutrient absorption and thus preventing most health problems and diseases, from the common cold to cancer.  Vitamin D deficiencies from excessive use of sunscreen and sun avoidance are causing osteoporosis and cancer. Every minute of sunshine for a Caucasian person produces 1000 iu’s of vitamin D.  However all things in moderation: Caucasian people need a minimum of 10-15 minutes of unprotected sunshine a day, darker skin tones 30 minutes, and black skinned people at least 45 minutes. In winter when this is difficult to achieve in colder climates, supplementation becomes vital for normal health.  Eating an otherwise unbalanced or unhealthy diet can affect mood swings and the health of an unborn baby, such as; too much sugar, and processed, foods such as; thickeners, preservatives, emollients, flavors and colors.

A pregnant mom only need about 300 extra calories a day while pregnant or about 5-600 if she exercise. This is only a couple of bananas. But she needs double and triple of many nutrients. That’s tough to fit into a couple of bananas. If these bananas turn into donuts or French fries, then neither mom nor the baby has any substantial sustenance to thrive on. It’s of utmost importance that a mom consumes as health of a diet as possible for her baby and herself during pregnancy and nursing.

Herbal remedies that have also shown promise in PPD reduction is St. Johns Work, Sam-e, although they do not work for everyone.

Otherwise reducing toxic exposure, allergens from food or airborne , mold (try not to clean with dangerous chemicals such bleach which is actually a “food source” for mold – use products coming soon from, Candida, food additives, processed and junk foods, checking your nutritional hormonal levels, increasing your light or sun exposure, managing your stress with meditation or exercise and normalizing the body’s energy balance with acupuncture, homeopathic or electromagnetic therapy should all be considered for depression prevention.

In a summary

In general a mother with healthy lifestyle habits, from preconception through postpartum, is much less likely to suffer from depression. And in accordance with the “Citizens Commission on Human Rights” we need to be more responsible in the case of depression and educate moms to practice a healthier lifestyle, with the alternative treatments and prevention methods that exercise and good nutrition and taking prenatal vitamins and especially Omega fatty acids supplementation before any pharmaceutical drugs are prescribed.

Drugs need to be our very last resort for mom and baby’s sake.

Birgitta Lauren

Antidepressant drugs cause premature births

March 25, 2010

A study in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology showed a five-fold increase in premature delivery when pregnant women take anti depressants (SSRIs) during their second or third trimesters, than those not taking them. Study included Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac and Benzodiazepines. The latter causing the most damage.

Dr. Ronit Calderon-Margalit, lead researcher from Hebrew University’s Hadassah School of Public Health, said it was unclear whether or not the benefit being derived from taking the drugs is worth the significant increase in birthing complications. He believes that further studies needs to evaluate the necessity of pregnant women needing to use such drugs.
SSRIs have been implicated in causing all sorts of mental problems, like psychosis, paranoia, and abnormal behavior. However withdrawal from taking SSRIs is often more dangerous that actually taking them, requiring careful supervision.

According to a 2001 report in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, over 200,000 people are admitted to U.S. hospitals for antidepressant-associated mania or some other type of psychosis. Shootings, murders, suicides, and other bouts of violence have been documented in thousands of cases as a result of people taking SSRIs. We still don’t know how SSRI usage will affect children from prenatal use through their school years and by the time they become adults.

Antibiotics during pregnancy:

March 25, 2010

3.23.10 – Taking antibiotics during pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects, according to a study by the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities and published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

About 30 percent of women take at least one antibiotic between three months before conception and the date of delivery, despite that many of the drugs have not been extensively tested for their safety on developing infants.

18,000 women participated in study that showed that the antibiotics most strongly linked with birth defect risk were the nitrofurantoin and sulfonamide ( “sulfa”) families, including the brand-name drugs Bactrim, Furadantin, Macrobid, Macrodantin and Septra.

Children were born with fatal skull and brain malformation, respiratory problems such as blocked nasal passages (choanal atresia) and abnormal diaphragm openings (diaphragmatic hernia); heart defects such as an abnormally narrow (coarctated) aorta or underdeveloped left side of the heart (hypoplastic left heart syndrome); and shortened or missing limb bones (transverse limb deficiency), cleft lip or palate, congenital heart defects, eye defects and being born missing one or both eyes (anophthalmia).

A Chocolatty Valentines for Mom.

February 13, 2010

Valentines Day conjures up images of chocolate. But please don’t feel “guilty” about indulging. Chocolate is good for you. It is also good for mom and baby during pregnancy. Science has shown that babies that com from moms who ate chocolate while pregnant came out “happier” than other babies – and so were their moms.I am sure you’ve heard of it’s nutrients: anti-oxidants, polyphenols, & flavinoids, but chocolate also contains Tryptophane (helps you sleep – what mom doesn’t need that), and various vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Together they block oxidative stress and improve your cardiovascular circulatory system including your placenta, where a Yale U study found chocolate to ward off Preeclampsia by 40% if consumed 5 days a week. Chocolate is of course known as a “feel good” food where it helps stabilize hormones and lessen depression and ward off fatigue. It’s moms perfect snack. However, moderation is important:  1/2 – 1 1/2 oz is plenty. It is caloric, does contain some sugar and caffeine….And DARK chocolate is the way to go. All of the above benefits will disappear with milk chocolate as the milk prevents absorption of all these nutrients. Milk chocolate also has much more sugar and therefor  calories…..
For additional info please see a wonderful article by Lisa Gache from Beverly
Hills Manners on how to eat chocolate….I never met a chocolate i didn’t like…

Have A Sincerely Chocolatty Valentine’s Day

Birgitta Lauren

Folate vs. Folic Acid: Benefits and risks.

January 5, 2010

Appropriately, the first week and month of the New Year begins with Folic Acid and birth defect awareness. Folic Acid being the most famous anti-birth defect vitamin in the B family.  However, there is confusion and misunderstanding about this vitamin, its benefits and risks.

This awareness week should be renamed FOLATE WEEK.

Folic Acid is a synthetically made vitamin. Folate, or B9, is the natural form of this B vitamin. It is found in green leafy vegetables, whole grains like brewer’s yeast, legumes like lentils and liver. Unfortunately, most people are still lacking in this B vitamin and many are not aware of how important Folate supplementation is in birth defect prevention.                                                                                               Issues that may arise in a child, from a Folate deficient mother are neural tube birth defects (spina bifida and anencephaly),  mentally retarded children, cleft palate, brain damage, preeclampsia, premature birth, after birth hemorrhaging, anemia in both mom and child, breathing issues, learning or developmental disabilities, premature delivery, and less likely to survive than those born closer to 40 weeks’ gestation.                                                                                                                                                .                                                                                                                                             Spina bifida birth-defects occur within the first 22 to 28 days of pregnancy, when many mothers-to-be may not be aware they are even pregnant. Since half of all pregnancies are unplanned, and half of all unplanned pregnancies occur to women using birth control, it’s important to recommend Folic Acid supplements to ALL women of childbearing age. Studies show that Folic Acid supplements can also help reduce the chance of a premature birth by 70%.

Folic Acid food fortification has reduced birth-defects (spina bifida and anencephaly) by approximately 30%. There has however, been shown this fortification of processed grain foods in 1998 in the Canada and the US, with the synthetic Folic Acid is now causing problems.  An increase in breast and prostate cancer risk by 20-30%, as well as asthma and respiratory tract infections in children by 25%. This has caused Ireland, the UK, Sweden, Italy and the Netherland to rethink plans of fortifications.

Unlike the more easily absorbed natural Folate, Folic Acid is not bioactive as it is proclaimed to be, and must be converted by the intestines and liver before it can be used for critical Folate dependent actions. Many people (< 25%) do not have the ability to convert Folic Acid. These people are particularly vulnerable to Folate deficiency, which is linked to an increased risk of birth defects and cancer. Un-metabolized Folic Acid may store in tissues and possibly increase genetic mutations. Insufficient Folate may lead to blood vessel damage,  abnormal blood clotting, oxidize LDL cholesterol, promote inflammation adversely affecting cardiovascular, neurological, skeletal, endocrine, and digestive health.

Food fortification of processed foods with a single or few synthetic nutrients after they have milled out all of its natural nutrients is problematic. Supplementing with a single nutrient is like trying to bake a cake with just flour….it doesn’t work. Nutrition is like a cake recipe, all nutrients (about 31 including omega fatty acids), work together, and if all nutrients are not present we will not get the same cake or in pregnancy, the healthiest possible baby. An imbalance may cause toxic levels of some nutrients and deficiencies of others. Synthetically produced supplements just do not work the same way as those nutrients found naturally in food.

It would be ideal if all women would eat natural whole grain foods (no need for fortification), fresh vegetables and beans, which have not had their natural Folate and other nutrients milled out of them, as well as take their prenatal supplements.

However, many pregnant women neglect taking vitamins, especially those in low social status, and eat processed foods, never quite achieving full nutrition.

Unfortunately most prenatal supplements contain Folic Acid rather than Folate, as it is much cheaper and neither do they contain the full range of all nutrients.

The general population would also benefit tremendously by avoiding Folic Acid fortified processed foods such as white bread, cookies etc.., that are otherwise nutrient void (useless foodstuff, in my not so humble opinion).  I would venture to bet, that if all men and women consumed sufficient natural Folate and all other nutrients, by eating healthier foods, without synthetic Folic Acid, that these birth defects could be 80-90% prevented. In addition, our overall cancer and heart disease rate would severely decline.

Birgitta Lauren

What is driving the surge in US premature births? $$ ?

November 11, 2009

This week the CDC published yet again a scathing report card for moms and their yet again higher premature delivery rate, the reason for the US infant mortality rate being worse than most developed countries both in Europe and Asia. 21 countries rate better than the US.

Premature delivery is blamed on deficient prenatal care, obesity, smoking, early C-section, induced labor and fertility treatments. Even though that’s not the whole story, and all of these are preventable, at least to a degree. Moms low on the socioeconomic scale does not get enough prenatal care.  This could be minimized if health insurance coverage for maternity care was more affordable.

Obesity: absolutely preventable if women exercised more and ate healthier foods. Obesity also starts in the womb for the child if mom eats too much or too little while pregnant.

Smoking; definitely preventable! No woman in this day and age should be smoking. No man should be smoking near a pregnant woman.

Early C-sections for any other reason than medical necessity should be banned.  Induced labor: for any reason other than medical necessity should be banned.

Fertility treatments are a necessity for many women and makes focusing on maternal health so much more important, especially if mom is carrying multiple babies. It is not necessarily the fertility treatments that cause premature birth; it is the lack of good health habits in the mother. However, no woman should be allowed to carry more than three, as the health problems created for the babies are too great. Moms are having a tough enough time carrying one healthy baby, 4 or more is impossible. Our number one priority must be that of the health of the babies.

However, even “high risk” moms can have full term pregnancies if proper care is taken to exercise and eat right. In 17 years, I’ve seen many “high risk” moms deliver full term; twins, placenta previa, incompetent cervix, diabetes, hypertension, sever obesity, etc….with proper exercise and nutrition. Of course, there are instances that cannot be helped, nor foreseen, but most premature births can be prevented and pregnancies prolonged. Every extra day and week is a good thing.

With the preemie rate now at almost 13% and rising, we need to focus on the “Lifestyle Factors” of women to prevent premature babies. A healthy vaginal full term delivery cost about $1,500, a C-section can cost $5,000-15,000. The first year of a healthy child costs about $5,000, and the first year of a preemie can cost up to $1.5 million. Not counting food, clothing, diapers etc…

In the last week, several articles were published on how micronutrients reduce prematurity and infant mortality (micronutrient: all individual vitamins and minerals, macronutrient: carbs, protein and fats) , omega fatty acid fish oils are needed for a healthy baby, Vitamin C, D and B vitamins are needed while pregnant, moms veggie rich diet helps baby prevent diabetes, prenatal exercise prevents premature delivery, and even the American Psychological Association came out with “A little know epidemic”: Stress may account for many preterm births.

Stress can be a big problem in pregnancy and can be minimized with exercise, meditation and proper eating and sunning habits. Exercise, meditation, B vitamins, vitamin D (sunshine) and Omega fish oils all improve stress and possible depression levels.  Both stress and nutrient deficiencies are major causes of preeclampsia and prematurity, and must be addressed. Moms must exercise, eat better and take good complete, prenatal supplements. Unfortunately most women take prescription vitamins that only contain half of the needed nutrients and in synthetic form rather than natural forms as the synthetic versions are less expensive.  Many moms are unduly scared of fish and therefore deficient in omega fatty acids needed for a healthy baby. Vegan sources of DHA are not as good for baby’s development as fish sources that also contain the important EPA’s.

Processed foods, fried foods, artificial sweeteners, sugar and white carbohydrate foods, rob women and their babies of vital nutrition and harm metabolically, increasing the likely hood of gestational diabetes and hypertension. Personally I would ban all things sugar, fried and cola sodas as they are pure poison for pregnant moms and their growing babies.

Other issues that can be detrimental to the health of a growing baby are environmental toxins, but even with those, getting enough B vitamins like Folate and B6, and Selenium can counteract harmful effects of unfortunate exposure of the chemicals BPA from plastics and/or mercury.  Other consumed toxins can be medications. Such as commonly prescribed anti-nausea drugs, that has a side effect that prohibits absorption of Folate….the most important nutrient during pregnancy.

Even hygiene and especially dental hygiene can have tremendous effect on the health of a pregnancy. Gum disease has been shown to cause premature delivery.

With all this information at our disposal why is the preemie rate increasing in the US? Why is the US number 22 on the infant mortality rate list of developed countries with more than double the mortality rate than most European countries? Why are moms not taking better care of themselves in the US?

Last week, a premature infant summit was held in Los Angeles by MedImmune for doctors, NICU nurses, charity organizations, government entities and other health care professionals in the maternity field. My first concern was that it was FREE. From Valet parking, to breakfast, snacks, lunch and presentation… all my past conferences needed payment….Listening to presentation after presentation of statistic after statistic on our detrimental prematurity rate and talk of the need for more money to care for these infants without a single hint to the prevention of this problem, I not only got suspicious, I got angry. What was the point of wasting a whole day with all this we already knew…?  Without a solution…. Could all these people that care for preemies deliberately wanting to keep the preemie rate up to stay in business?

A professor of a very well regarded CA University raised his hand and voice for the need of prevention and helping moms to be healthier during pregnancy.  He was ignored, subject changed…. I raised my hand and voice for more effort on prevention and was met with the same treatment.  During the breaks between sessions, several other likeminded health professionals met with me with the same concerns.   Halfway through, I had enough, left and decided to check out MedImmune. It was not an organization, but a drug company that makes drugs for preemie babies…..with no vested interest in reducing the preemie rate.   This drug apparently reduces RSV, a respiratory virus that may happen to preemies. Preemies may need this drug, but I’d prefer if there were less preemies…. The drug’s side effects are: respiratory infections, ear infections, fever, sinus problems, abnormal heart rhythms, anaphylaxis, bruising, skin reactions etc…. or generally compromise the immune system of these children, leaving them vulnerable to flu’s and cancer later. But wait…the same company also makes flu vaccine and cancer drugs…..

With all this talk about the need for lower cost health care, our babies need to be born healthier, to reduce health cost of the future. This starts in utero.  Create healthier children and all of our costs will go down.

With drug companies spending 45% of their budget on advertizing and the above type of “meetings”, (never did I think I would end up in one), drug prices could be almost halved if drug promotions were banned. Don’t let drug companies fool you with their R&D expense. Apparently they only spend 14% of their budget on R&D, as 90% of all drug research is done by medical schools, private research and the government that the drug companies then buys and sells…

Women, moms, whether pregnant or contemplating pregnancy, for a healthier baby your lifestyle is of utmost importance. Everything you do or don’t do, will affect the health of your baby. For fertility and a full term pregnancy and the healthiest baby; exercise, eat healthy, take your  vitamins, avoid all chemicals and toxins possible, drink lots of water, get plenty of rest and sleep. Don’t worry, be happy!

Yours in health, Birgitta Lauren

Resources: American Psychological Association; ;; Health Day News; Nutra Ingredients Europe;  The Truth about the drug companies.  By Marcia Angell.


April 21, 2009

The beginning of year 2009 through March, the National Nutrition Month, leading up to the American Diabetes Alert Day of March 24 saw many studies came out in favor of the “Happy Vitamin” D. Researchers from Bristol University, UK, found that moms who get more sunshine and vitamin D during pregnancy have taller children with stronger and thicker bones than those moms who get less. The study followed moms that delivered either late summer or early spring. Babies born in late summer were slightly taller with thicker bones. Scientist Jon Tobias thinks that anything that affects early bone development is significant in regards to preventing osteoporosis later. Vitamin D3 is produced in the body upon sun exposure and aids in the absorption of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus that all aid in tissue and bone maintenance and metabolic actions.

In the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers from the University of Manchester report: – “Our study found that vitamin D is positively related to muscle power, force, velocity and jump height in adolescent girls.” supporting the above findings on the bone and muscle strengthening benefits of vitamin D.

Calcium and vitamin D have also been shown to improve insulin levels and to protect against diabetes. In the Journal of Nutrition1, Tianying Wu, Walter C. Willet, and Edward Giovannucci from the Harvard School of Public Health wrote: -” The results suggest that calcium intake and systematic vitamin D status, after adjustment for intake of dairy products, is associated with decreased insulin secretion.” Data from the Nurses’ Health Study was used showing the benefits from increased calcium and vitamin D intake. However no benefit was found when considering dairy intake. This was in contrast to earlier studies. Diabetes is growing rapidly; 19 million Europeans and 20 million Americans suffer from diabetes.

With diabetes also being connected to a high incidence of perinatal and postpartum depression in especially low — income mothers, nutritional efforts have to be addressed especially in regards to vitamin D and calcium. Omega fatty acids also play an important role in diabetes and depression. Postpartum depression has been shown to affect babies negatively and should be prevented.

Diabetes is in addition associated with obesity and a new study by the Medical College of Georgia’s Yanbin Dong and Inger Stallman-Jorgensen, presented at the American Heart Association’s Joint 49th Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention and Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism, is showing that higher intakes of vitamin D again is linked with less overall body fat and especially lower abdominal fat in kids. African – American girls had the lowest Vitamin D levels and are at increased risk of osteoporosis and obesity. Vitamin D comes in 2 forms: D3 which is produced from sun exposure and the most bioactive and D2 found in foods like liver, fatty fish and fortified milk. Stallman-Jorgensen said: -“As humans, our largest source of vitamin D should be the sun. But we don’t spend enough time outdoors to get enough sun exposure and when we do, we’re often covered up and wearing sunscreen.”

Vitamin D is also according to Dr. Christine Olson, professor of nutrition at Cornell University in NY, linked to a mother’s weight gain during pregnancy and is therefore associated with increased likelihood of childhood obesity and diabetes too, if mom gains too much. (More than 25-35 lbs.) Experts are warning that preventing obesity starts before conception with mom’s weight. The trend toward bigger babies is of concern to experts. Today babies are born 59% more likely to be overweight than 20 years ago. Even the child’s father’s weight can predict an overweight baby. ACOG has more on this.

Oxford-based researchers, in collaboration with researchers from the University of British Columbia in Canada also found that Supplements of vitamin D and sunshine at ‘critical time periods’ may be key to reducing the risk of multiple sclerosis3.

With these studies adding to a growing body of science linking vitamin D-deficiency to osteoporosis, muscle weakness, fractures, several common cancers, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases, the FDA has just allowed for vitamin D fortification of soy-based foods (Food Additives Rule 21 CFR part 172). However, your best source is still the sun so, with spring here and summer around the corner, Vitamin D will be plentiful. To safely get sufficient vitamin D Caucasians should get 10-15 minutes of daily unprotected sunshine (no sun screen). Dark skinned people need up to 45 minutes of daily sunshine to produce enough vitamin D due to the higher melanin content in their skin. The sun does dry our skin so it is always prude to protect your face from the sun while any other body part soaks up the sun.
-Birgitta Lauren

pS. i also just found some science on vitamin D deficiencies linked to autism – more on that later..

1 Journal of Nutrition 2009, Volume 139, Pages 547-554, doi:10.3945/jn.108.089920 “Plasma C-Peptide Is Inversely Associated with Calcium Intake in Women and with Plasma 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D in Men” – Authors: T. Wu, W.C. Willett, E. Giovannucci

2 JAMA 2009;301(8):842-847

3 PLoS Genetics 5(2): e1000369. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000369 “Expression of the multiple sclerosis-associated MHC class II allele HLA-DRB1*1501 is regulated by Vitamin D”, Authors: S.V. Ramagopalan, N.J. Maugeri, L. Handunnetthi, Lincoln MR, Orton S-M, et al.