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.

Advertisements

Acupuncture for Healthy Pregnancy and Postpartum Care

PreggersIn our work with women eager to conceive, we are well aware of the power of acupuncture for balancing the body and aiding in establishing the ideal conditions for conception. Western medicine is even catching up with recent studies at the University of Maryland showing that when acupuncture is used to complement in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures,  there is improved rates of pregnancy.  But we knew that!

So what about once you’re pregnant? There are a lot of fears for expectant and first time mothers to juggle when it comes to their new little ones but when it comes to acupuncture, performed by a qualified and licensed acupuncturist,  there needn’t be any concern. In fact, as we’ve seen our practice, acupuncture is one of the safest ways to combat some of the toughest health issues facing pregnant and postpartum women.

Why Acupuncture in Pregnancy?

Why not?

Besides the fact that science is finally backing up what the Chinese have known for thousands of years, you can feel the benefits for yourself — without risk. Because this treatment is a natural, holistic approach, you don’t have to worry about dangerous side effects and possible drug interactions affecting the well-being of your unborn child.

Acupuncture treatments have proven effective for:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • GERD (reflux or heartburn)
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Insomnia
  • Stress/anxiety/depression
  • Constipation
  • Preterm labor
  • Breech baby

For best results, we recommend you begin treatment early and continue on monthly, during pregnancy,  increasing your sessions upon advice of your acupuncturist, as you near the end of your term. These visits help to prepare the body for labor, tonifying and balancing energy as well as optimizing the baby’s position, softening the cervix and readying you and the baby for birth. Following a protocol like this can make pregnancy more pleasant, calm and energized and childbirth easier, even extending to shorter labor times.

When used in conjunction with recommendations from your Obstetrician/Gynecologist (OB/GYN), acupuncture becomes one of the building blocks (along with diet and lifestyle changes, herbal remedies and supplements) of your and your baby’s health during and post-pregnancy. Allowing you to have the healthiest, most natural pregnancy and postpartum period possible.acupuncture

After your baby is born, acupuncture can help ease the nerves of new motherhood and is extremely effective in aiding milk production. It is also helpful in reducing:

  • Postpartum depression
  • Prolonged bleeding
  • Uterine infections
  • Fatigue

All of which, helps your body return, more quickly to its normal state of health.

Pregnancy and childbirth can take a toil on a woman’s body, make sure you take YOU into consideration in this equation. Every new Mama needs to focus on herself as well as the new baby — taking time to relax, breath, nourish herself with healthful foods and pleasant sensations (warm baths, soothing music, refreshing walks) as she integrates her new life, with the old. Acupuncture can also provide that quiet space and time necessary to rejuvenate.

If you’d like to learn more about acupuncture as part of your pregnancy, birth plan or postpartum care call or visit our office to schedule an appointment at 503.223.3741.

 

 

Breast Feeding Decreases Illness Risk

Breastfeeding IllustrationBabies who are exclusively breast-fed for at least the first 15 weeks of life have less respiratory illness during childhood. Those children tended to have lower blood pressure and were leaner than those who were started on solid food before four months of age.

The findings add to previous evidence of a link between adult disease and nutritional factors in the womb and during infancy.

As to weight, children who had been given solids before 15weeks were significantly heavier by age 7 than those given solids at 15 weeks or later, the researcher states. They also note that the percentage of body fat was greater among children who were started on solids earlier.
British Medical Journal (1998;316:21-25)

10 Ways to Increase Your Breast Milk Supply

Fenugreek Herb

Fenugreek Herb

1. Water: Drinking plenty of water is a direct way to increase your milk supply. Typically mothers who are breastfeeding need to increase their water consumption by one quart per day, totaling 2.5 to 3 quarts per day.

2. Oatmeal: Oats are a common lactogenic food. Start your day with a big bowl of oatmeal.

3. Fenugreek: Fenugreek can be taken in capsule (2-3 capsules 3x/day) or tincture form, and typically increase breast milk supply within 1-2days. Note: Fenugreek is often sold in combination with thyme—I recommend using the capsules of fenugreek alone.

4. Blessed Thistle: Blessed Thistle and Fenugreek work better when taken together. Blessed Thistle is also found in capsule (2-3 capsules 3x/day) or tincture form and is a galactogogue as well.

5. Mother’s Milk Tea: there are a variety of different herbal teas that help stimulate the production of breast milk. My personal favorite is “Milkmaid Tea” by EarthMamaBabyAngel. See earthmamababyangel.com

6. Brewer’s Yeast: aka ‘Nutritional Yeast’. 1-2 Tbsp/day added to food or water (it is bitter!!). Brewer’s yeast contains chromium, selenium and B Vitamins (except it does not contain B12). Brewer’s yeast is a natural food source that has immune enhancing, anti-oxidant, and wound healing properties.

7. Sleep: Sleep is essential to optimal health, and recovery post partum. Breast pumping offers a lovely solution to allow your partner to take over a feed and allow for you to sleep, recover and heal.

8. Breastfeed or Breast Pump more Frequently: Your body creates breast milk due to basic “supply and demand”. The more stimulation the breasts have, the more milk your body will attempt to supply. In the first few weeks post partum, I recommend breast-pumping 10-15minutes after breast-feeding, to bring in your milk, prevent painful engorgement and increase your milk supply to help your newborn baby grow!

9. Relaxation: Relaxing while breastfeeding or breast pumping is integral in how much milk your body produces. If you are pumping, try not to look and tally how much milk you are making during the process, so that your body stays nice and relaxed and your milk is able to properly let down.

10. Prescription Drugs: After speaking with your Doctor, you may decide that prescription drugs are necessary for your situation. However, make sure you check and understand all side effects before taking this route. The presence of an appropriate level of the hormone prolactin permits lactation to proceed normally. There are several prescription drugs that have been used to increase milk supply: Metoclopramide (Raglan), Domperidone (Motilium), and Sulpride (Eglonyl, Dolmatil, Sulpitil, Sulparex, Equemote).

Dr. Meaghan H. Woodruff ND, LAc

Nutrition for Fertility

A Healthy Body Is A Fertile Body…

Optimum nutrition increases fertility, supports a healthy pregnancy, and improves the chances of giving birth to a thriving, healthy baby. Below are some recommendations on healthy eating for fertility as well as during pregnancy. The following ways of eating will help your

body to function at its best, balance hormones, and create a healthy reproductive system. You will feel energized, while building a healthy foundation of nutrients for you and your baby.

EAT A WHOLE FOODS DIET (unprocessed, unpreserved, organic food): The quality of the food you put into your body has a major impact on the functioning of your hormones, cellular activity and overall health. The processing most food undergoes depletes much of the natural nutrition present in the original fruits, grains, and vegetables. Living foods (fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds) are nutritionally superior to packaged processed foods.

  • Eating whole foods can ensure that you are giving your body healthy nutrients, while avoiding chemical additives.

EAT ORGANIC, GRASS FED MEAT WITHOUT HORMONES: The journey to pregnancy is an intricate balance of hormones, so it is important to avoid anything that might create imbalance. Pesticides, chemicals and hormones used to treat produce and animal products contain synthetic estrogen-like substances, which can occupy estrogen receptor sites in the body and may have a negative effect on the organs and our endocrine system.

REDUCE YOUR INTAKE OF SUGARS AND REFINED CARBOHYDRATES: Eating an excessive amount of sugar may lead to an imbalance in blood sugar levels, obesity and a higher potential for inflammation and diseases. When your blood sugar is out of balance your cortisol and insulin levels also become unbalanced. Increased cortisol levels are linked with hormone dysregulation.

  • Limit your intake of breads and pasta, all of which convert to sugar or glucose in your blood stream, particularly white bread products.
  • Alternative sweeteners: stevia, agave, honey, molasses or brown rice syrup.

CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES: Cruciferous vegetables contain indole 3 carbinol (I3C) and di-indolylmethane (DIM), compound that stimulates more effective use of estrogen by increasing metabolism of estuarial. Excess estrogen may often be associated with the symptoms of PMS such as breast tenderness, moodiness, abnormal uterine growths and weight gain.

  • Sources: Kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy.

BONE BROTH: Eating nourishing stews and soups is a wonderful way to combine healthy vegetables and protein and is easy to digest. Using bone broths can supply calcium, minerals, protein and immune system boosters. You can make stocks/broth in a crock-pot using the bones from organic chickens or beef.

  • Use bone broth as a base for soups, sautéing vegetables or cooking your grains.

ESSENTAIL FATTY ACIDS (EFA’S): Essential fatty acids are incredibly important to consume when trying to conceive, as well as during pregnancy. EFA’s have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and can act as hormone regulators. Omega-3 and Omega-6 are important structural components of cell membranes, body tissue, and brain development in the fetus. A newborn baby’s brain and central nervous system is composed of over 70% omega 3 EFA’s (DHA). DHA in particular has been shown to greatly improve fetal brain development, which may ultimately affect the baby’s IQ, hand eye coordination, motor skills, verbal ability and general comprehension skills.

  • Sources: fish, non-hydrogenated cold-pressed oils such as flaxseed, eggs, raw nuts and seeds, dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables.
  • Start taking EFA’s with a higher concentration of DHA at least 3 months before you try to get pregnant. I recommend that women consume 300-600 mg of DHA daily while pregnant and breastfeeding.
  • **Pregnant women should limit their fish intake to 12oz per week; to avoid any possible affects of mercury contaminated fish.

SLOW DOWN: Putting intention into the preparation and eating of meals, reduces stress and allows you to take time and enjoy the process of cooking and remember that you are nurturing and healing your body. Traditional Chinese diet advocates chopping vegetables and meat to allow for the release of more energy when they are eaten, and lightly cooking vegetables rather than eating them raw to make them more easily digestible, and micronutrient available.

  • Limit your microwave usage: also a good idea to stay away from the microwave. Microwaving food affects its molecular structure and, and according to TCM, decreases the Qi energy available in the food. Make sure to eat your food in a calm environment and try and refrain from eating in your car, on the run or while working.

Optimal Guidelines for Enhancing Fertility

See an Integrative Fertility Specialist: A physician or practitioner who specializes in Fertility can help guide your choices, and educate you on the importance of preconception healthcare. Acupuncture greatly increase your chances of fertility and IVF rates of success.

Reduce Stress: Stress can delay ovulation and by switching on your sympathetic or “fight or flight” nervous system. The increase in sympathetic response shunts blood flow to the extremities and thus can reduce the amount of blood flow to the ovaries, uterus and intestines.

Avoid Alcohol: Just two drinks per week has the potential to elevate prolactin levels and thus inhibit ovulation. A 1998 study in Fertility and Sterility showed a 50% reduction in conception rates in women who drank compared to the abstainers. Research has also shown that drinking alcohol causes a decrease in sperm count, an increase in abnormal sperm and a lower proportion of motile sperm. Alcohol also inhibits the body’s absorption of nutrients such as zinc, which is one of the most important minerals for male fertility.

Eliminate caffeine: Caffeine increases the sympathetic tone of your nervous system, thus increasing cortisol levels and ultimately causing hormone dysregulation.

Avoid Xenoestrogens: Xenoestrogens are environmental estrogens, coming from pesticides and the plastic industry. When you are trying to conceive, one of the most important things you need to do is to balance your hormones. It is extremely important to avoid anything that might cause an imbalance, and one of the main culprits is the xenoestrogens.

  • One of the best ways to eliminate an excess intake of xenoestrogens is to buy organic produce, and avoid drinking or consuming products contained in plastic.

Exercise: Balance and moderation is key. Too much vigorous exercise is associated with poor ovulation and lower sperm counts. While too little exercise can lead to elevated estrogen levels which prevents ovulation and inhibits the corpus luteum’s functions. Finding the right balance is important with exercise, as you definitely want to be healthy and fit before pregnancy.

  • Moderate exercise increases blood flow, and decrease stress: two very important factors in increasing your fertility.

Stop Smoking: Even second hand smoke can have a negative impact on both male and female conception rate. Smoking has been linked to increased risk of miscarriage and impaired fertility rates. In men, smoking can decrease sperm count, decrease motility, and it can increase the number of abnormal sperm.

The Effects of Heat on Sperm Count: A 2004 study in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health showed that a rise in scrotal temperature of just 1 degree (C) can reduce sperm counts by 40%. Men who worked with their laptop computers balanced on their lap for one hour had an average scrotal temperature increase of 2.7 degrees (C).

  • Causes of increased scrotal heat: tight underwear, hot tub exposure, bicycling, seat heaters in cars, lap top usage (resting laptop on lap).

Written By: Dr. Meaghan H. Woodruff ND, LAc

Blooming!!

bloomlogo_horizont_color.small sizeWelcome to Bloom Natural Healthcare!!

We are a team of Integrative Healthcare Practitioners that offer you a well rounded approach to optimal health and living.  Together as a community of skilled Practitioners who individually embody a balanced lifestyle, we intend to actively pass this on to our clients and patients. When you come to visit us, you will be infused with elements that are natural, modern and creatively sophisticated in our blend of Preventive and Proactive Healthcare.

Services Offered:

  • Naturopathic Medical Care
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic
  • Massage
  • GYROTONIC (R) & GYROKINESIS (R) 

Our Specialties Include:

  • Integrative Fertility Healthcare
  • Endocrinology
  • Pain Management & Injury Prevention
  • Motor Vehicle Accident Rehabilitation
  • General Family Medicine
  • Exercise Rehabilitation and Therapeutics through the use of the GYROTONIC (R) Exercise Expansion System

We look forward to seeing you soon……..