DHA in Pregnancy: Fetal and Newborn Health

DHA: Omega 3 fatty acids for you and your baby

A recent article in Time magazine called  Fish Oil During Pregnancy Fights Colds Among Newborns highlights the benefits of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil and its affects on the health of a developing fetus’ immune system and how that translates to a healthier newborn up to 6 months old.
According to the research study, at Emory University and in Mexico, which was featured in the article and released in Pediatrics, pregnant women who took 400mg a day of DHA , helped their newborns to fight off more cold symptoms than moms who took the  placebo and the effects seem to last for six months. After the initial 6 months post-birth, the DHA-protected infants began to experience roughly the same rate of symptoms (though they were for a shorter duration) as those babies whose mothers did not take DHA.
This, of course, is NOT news to those of us in the holistic community. We always encourage our moms-to-be to take DHA along with a good prenatal vitamin during pregnancy. We find that pairing these supplements, along with acupuncture can greatly benefit both baby and  mom, including in helping to prevent postpartum issues.

DHA: Flowering a healthy immune system and vibrant brain for your baby

Other Proven Benefits of DHA Supplementation:

  • More advanced attention spans into the child’s second year of life
  • Greater infant brain development
  • Higher IQs at four years of age than children of mothers not supplementing DHA
  • Decreased potential risk  for depression and particularly, postpartum depression in mothers
  • Longer average gestation periods, allowing for greater development of baby

Besides being great during pregnancy, Omega 3 oils containing DHA found in food sources like cold water fish, flaxseed, spirulina and walnuts can help protect your heart, lower blood pressure and reduce rates of clinical depression.

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Balancing Brain Chemistry Naturally

Feed your brain and feed your ife

 

If you are someone battling depression, anxiety, panic disorders, obsessive behavior, addiction or even memory loss, you can bet your brain chemistry is out of balance.  Depression and anxiety can often be caused by a wide variety of disease conditions and imbalances, including anemia, blood sugar imbalance, adrenal fatigue, sex hormone imbalances and hypothyroidism.

The underlying cause for these types of issues is nearly always a deficiency in certain nutrients that are key in nourishing and supporting the brain’s chemistry and its functions.

You’re not Alone

Roughly 20.9 million Americans  (9.5 percent of the population) have mood disorders but what many don’t know is that making some significant changes in your diet and exercise routine can often help to rebalance your brain, either eliminating or reducing the need for pharmaceuticals.

Neurotransmitters and YOU

Neurotransmitters are chemicals that transmit nerve impulses that affect the way your brain and body function . If imbalanced, you may find yourself feeling depressed, anxious or stressed. You may also see issues in your sleep patterns and behavior. Some of the most important chemical neurotransmitters are:

  • Serotonin: Affects mood, memory, sexual functioning, learning and social behavior.
  • Dopamine and noradrenaline: These chemicals facilitate overall brain function, helping you to “feel-good,” energized, focused and motivated.
  • Epinephrine (adrenaline) and Norepinephrine: Responsible for the “fight or flight” response to stress.
  • Endorphins: Promote a sense of euphoria like those experienced by runners, or can take the edge off of pain or stress in emergencies  injury.
  • Acetylcholine:  Increases  memory, cognition and concentration.
  • Insulin: Regulates carbohydrate and fat metabolism, this hormone encourages cells to take up glucose from the blood and store it as glycogen in the liver and muscle.

How Can Your Naturopath Help?

The human brain
Image via Wikipedia

By helping you balance brain chemistry with Naturopathic and Chinese medicine modalities. We treat underlying causes by first, taking a complete history then, running labs as necessary and finally considering neurotransmitter/hormone/adrenal testing through Neuroscience, Inc.

After receiving all results back, we then begin treatment through acupuncture, amino acid therapy like L-theanine and 5-HTP, herbal (Western and Chinese), hormone balancing, tonification and balancing of adrenals,  focusing on sleep issues as well as diet changes and of course, exercise.

If there are any greater underlying health issues we will help to treat these accordingly and are open to prescribing pharmaceuticals as necessary.

Here at Bloom, we work in partnership with The Seed Center, which offers Gyrotonics. We find this form of exercise very calming and balancing and it has the resistance component we feel is necessary for optimum health.

Our goal is to help people improve the effectiveness of any medications they may already be taking, by optimizing your health. Many times this approach to overall health, leads to the elimination or reduction of anti-depressants and other medications, if appropriate.

Many of these therapies are safe and effective during pregnancy and nursing too. This is a wonderful option for women who want to be drug-free during this time but still may be in need of mood balancing.

If you’d like to work towards a greater emotional and chemical balance, please give us a call today to schedule your evaluation.

Vitamin D & Your Health: What you Need to Know

sunlight and vitamin D

Earlier this month, the Endocrine Society revealed their Clinical Practice Guidelines for prevention and treatment of vitamin D deficiency. While these guidelines are news in the world of western medicine, they are business as usual in our integrative medicine practice. But for those of you still unaware about the need to supplement, especially living here in the Pacific Northwest, we’ve put together an easy to use guide on why and how to supplement your vitamin D levels.

What is vitamin D?

Although it’s commonly referred to as a vitamin, vitamin D is actually a hormone. Vitamins, though processed and utilized by the body, are not manufactured by the body. Vitamin D on hand other hand, is  produced by the skin of the body but only when sunlight is present to carry out the synthesis. A fat-soluble vitamin that exists in several forms, each with a different biological activity, it is the body’s only source of calcitrol (activated vitamin D),  the most powerful steroid hormone in the body.

What does vitamin D do?

Vitamin D is involved in the making of hundreds of enzymes and proteins crucial to good health and disease prevention. It enhances muscle strength and builds bone and has anti-inflammatory effects. It is also known to boost immunity and insulin functions.  Because of this, vitamin D deficiency is thought to play a role in most major diseases.

Many people don’t realize that one of the country’s biggest epidemics is vitamin D deficiency. But how will being deficient in vitamin D really affect you? Well, we have only to look at the list of diseases in which vitamin D deficiency plays a role to recognize the importance of this supplement.
  • Osteoporosis & Osteoarthritis
  • Cancer (including breast, prostate and colon)
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Infertility and PMS
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Psoriasis

What can I do to get enough vitamin D?

Since sunlight is the only way for the body to generate vitamin D itself, getting adequate exposure to the sun is, obviously, one of your best sources of vitamin D. Remarkably, the human body, if unshielded by clothing, sunscreen and other blockades to ultraviolet rays, can produce in the realm of approximately 20,000 units of vitamin D in 20 minutes of summer sun.

Since only 10% of your body’s vitamin D comes from food sources like fish oils,  fatty wild caught fish (mackerel, salmon, halibut, tuna, sardines and herring), fortified foods (milk, orange juice and cereals), dried Shitake mushrooms and egg yolks, the only other reliable source is through supplementation of vitamin D3.

Because you’d need to eat a minimum of 5 servings of fatty fish a day or drink 20 cups of fortified milk to get the amount of vitamin D necessary to maintain overall health, supplementation with vitamin D3 becomes crucial when living in low light climates, like we do here in the Pacific Northwest.

Our thoughts on Vitamin D

  • Vitamin D is and has been a part of our basic treatment guidelines.
  • We ALWAYS include vitamin D testing in all our regular blood work and the MDs we routinely work with usually do, too.
  • We prefer liquid, emulsified vitamin D3. It’s easier to take and  more highly absorbable than other forms. Our favorite brands have 1000 IU’s per drop.
  • We like the new guidelines, because they’re pretty much in line with what we’ve already been doing and advising our patients to do. The new guidelines just mean that more people will begin to educate themselves about the very important need to include this supplement (along with adequate sun exposure) in their daily diets .

If you’d like more information on vitamin D supplementation or would like to be tested for a deficiency, please contact our office for an appointment.