Tag Archive | vitamin D

Building a Strong Foundation for Your Pregnancy

Contemplating pregnancy?  Nutritional and optimal health should be priority number one!  Women contemplating pregnancy must keep in mind that healthy eating habits and healthy lifestyle behaviors should be established before pregnancy to make sure proper nutrient levels for early embryo development and growth.

Eating a balanced diet that includes the proper amount servings of protein, grains, fruit, and vegetables is key. Protein is essential to the very foundation of your baby’s growth. Eating enough protein ensures that your little one, from the very beginning, is getting adequate food stores to support cell growth and blood production.  Regular exercise should also be incorporated in your daily routine to prepare your body for the demands of pregnancy. Habits such as drinking or smoking must be avoided to allow for optimal health and development of the child during pregnancy and after birth.  Good habits should  include taking a daily multivitamin or a daily prenatal vitamin.  Even if you are consuming healthy foods daily, you can miss out on key nutrients.  A daily prenatal vitamin — ideally starting three months before conception — can help fill any gaps.  A quality, fast absorbing prenatal vitamin is necessary for all the basic micronutrients needed during pregnancy.eat-well-teaser

Through the course of pregnancy there is an increased need for nutrients and calories to make sure proper fetal growth. The increased need for vitamins and minerals such as folate, calcium and iron is necessary to prevent birth defects, ensure proper bone formation/retention, and to reduce the risks of preeclampsia or anemia. Folic acid intake increases to a daily amount of 800 mcg, calcium to 1200 mg, and iron to 30 mg. Your Vitamin D levels should be checked with your initial prenatal labs to be sure you levels are not insufficient or deficient.  Fetal needs for vitamin D increase during the latter half of pregnancy, when bone growth and ossification are most prominent. Vitamin D travels to the fetus by passive transfer, and the fetus is entirely dependent on maternal stores. Your body needs vitamin D to maintain proper levels of calcium and phosphorus, which help build your baby’s bones and teeth. A vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can cause growth retardation and skeletal deformities. It may also have an impact on birth weight.  Therefore, maternal status is a direct reflection of fetal nutritional status.

Researchers believe that a vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can affect bone development and immune function from birth through adulthood.

Blog by Shelia Kirkbride

It’s Flu Season Again- Recommendations For Pregnancy

The Advisory Committe on Immuinization Practices (ACIP) recommends that pregnant and postpartum women recieve the seasonal influenza vaccine this year, even if they received the 2009 H1N1 or seasonal influenza vaccine last year. Lack of awareness of the benefits of vaccination and concerns about vaccine safety are common barriers to influenza vaccination of pregnant and postpartum women. To overcome these barriers, some key points have been provided in this document.

Influenza is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in women who are not pregnant. Changes in their immune system, heart, and lungs during pregnancy make pregnant women more prone to severe illness from flu as well as hospitalizations and even death. Pregnant woman with flu also have a greater chance for serious problems for their unborn baby including premature labor and delivery. Flu shots will protect pregnant women, their unborn babies and even protect the baby after birth.
The Flu Shot is the Best Protection Against Flu
Getting a flu shot is the first and most important step in protecting against flu. The flu shot given during pregnancy has been shown to protect both the mother and her baby (up to 6 months old) from flu. Pregnant women should receive the inactivated vaccine but not receive the live attenuated vaccine (nasal spray). Postpatum women, even if they are breastfeeding, can receive either type of vaccine.

The Flu Vaccine is Safe for Pregnant Women Flu shots are a safe way to protect the mother and her unborn child from serious illness and complications of flu. The flu shot has been given to millions of pregnant women over many years. Flu shots have not been shown to cause harm to pregnant women or their babies. It is very important for pregnant women to get the flu shot. The flu vaccine can be given in any trimester.

Pregnant women respresented 5% of the 2009 H1N1 influenza deaths in the U.S., while only about 1% of the population was pregnant. Severe illness in postpartum women was also documented. 2009 H1N1 is expected to continue to circulate this flu season and is included in the seasonal trivalent influenza vaccine this year.

It is best to get your flu vaccine as soon as it is available in your community. That’s because it can take two to three weeks for your body to develop antibodies to the flu virus after vaccination. If you get vaccinated in the fall, you will be protected by the time the flu season peaks, which is usually December through March. You will also be better prepared for the start of the flu season, which can begin as early as September or October.

One common myth about the flu vaccine is that it can actually cause the flu. Although the live vaccine does contain viruses, those in the flu shot have only inactivated pieces of the virus, and therefore, cannot cause infection.

Other Preventive Actions
In addition to getting the flu shot, pregnant women should take additional everyday preventive actions. Keep your distance from those who are ill; avoid crowds during peak flu season, if possible. That’s because flu viruses travel through the air in droplets when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes or talks. You can inhale the droplets directly or pick up the germs from common objects such as tabletops or doorknobs. Frequently wash your hands and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. It is best to wash with soap and warm water for 15-20 seconds. YOu can also use an alcohol-based gel containing ast least 60 percent alcohol. Eat right and get enough sleep. A poor diet and lack of sleep can lower your immune system and make you more prone to infections.

Be sure to get your Vitamin D!! Get some sun exposure. A few times a week, 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure on your face, arms, hands or back can help your skin create vitamin D naturally. The best dietary sources of vitamin D include liver, egg yolks, oily types of fish (salmon, tuna and sardines) and fortified milk. If you want to take a supplement, the US National Institutes of Health recommends the D3 form of Vitamin D which is much more effective than other types. D3 is a safe flu remedy and is available in 1,000 iu increments, over-the-counter, and at pharmacies and online retailers. Take 5,000 iu of D3 per day, for adults, when healthy to boost the immune system and prevent flu. Increase the D3 dose at the first sign of illness to 10,000 iu for adults. Drink water while taking D3. While unconfirmed, there have been rare reports of kidney stones as a result of vitamin D supplementation. This can be avoided with adequate fluid intake to maintain proper hydration.

Early Treatment is Important for Pregnant Women. If you get sick with flu-like symptoms call your healthcare provider right away. If needed, your provider will prescribe an antiviral medicine that treats the flu.
Having a fever caused by flu infection or other infections early in pregnancy can lead to birth defects in an unborn child. Pregnant women who get a fever should treat their fever with Tylenol® (or store brand equivalent) and contact their provider as soon as possible.

When to Seek Emergency Medical Care
If you have any of these signs, call 911 right away:
• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
• Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
• Sudden dizziness
• Confusion
• Severe or persistent vomiting
• High fever that is not responding to Tylenol® (or store brand equivalent)
• Decreased or no movement of your baby

Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the influenza vaccine.

Info provided from http://www.CDC.gov/flu
Mayo Clinic Women’s Health Source, Oct. 2010,. Volume 14, number 10

Osteoporosis Prevention

Osteoporosis is a “silent” disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break. If not prevented or if left untreated, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks. These broken bones, or fractures, occur typically in the hip, spine, and wrist. Spinal or vertebral fractures also have serious consequences, including loss of height, severe back pain, and deformity. Women are four times more likely than men to develop this debilitating disease.

Five Steps to Bone Health and Osteoporosis Prevention:
Get your daily recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D
Many women and young girls consume less than half the amount of calcium recommended to grow and maintain healthy bones. Adults under age 50 need 1,000 mg of calcium daily, and adults age 50 and over need 1,200-1500 mg of calcium daily. If you have difficulty getting enough calcium from the foods you eat, you may take a calcium supplement to make up the difference. Calcium citrate is absorbed when taken with Vitamin D or Magnesium.

Vitamin D – Vitamin D is needed for the body to absorb calcium. Without enough vitamin D, you will be unable to absorb calcium from the foods you eat, and your body will have to take calcium from your bones. Vitamin D comes from two sources: through the skin following direct exposure to sunlight and from your diet. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) recommendations, adults under age 50 need 400-800 IU of vitamin D daily, and adults age 50 and over need 800-1,000 IU of vitamin D daily. There are two types of vitamin D supplements. They are vitamin D3 and vitamin D2. Previous research suggested that vitamin D3 was a better choice than vitamin D2. However, more recent studies show that vitamin D3 and vitamin D2 are equally good for bone health. Vitamin D allows calcium to leave the intestine for absorption, and works in the kidneys to reabsorb the calcium that would otherwise be excreted.

Engage in regular weight-bearing exercise
Exercise is also essential to good bone health. If you exercise regularly in childhood and adolescence, you are more likely to reach your peak bone density than those who are inactive. The best exercise for your bones is weight-bearing exercise such as walking, dancing, jogging, stair-climbing, racquet sports and hiking. If you have been sedentary most of your adult life, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise program.

Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol
For men, alcoholism is one of the leading risk factors for osteoporosis. In men and women, excess consumption of alcohol reduces bone formation and interferes with the body’s ability to absorb calcium.

Talk to your healthcare provider about bone health
Speaking with your healthcare professional about osteoporosis will help you better understand your own risk for the disease as well as available prevention or treatment options. Listed below are several questions that are intended to help you discuss osteoporosis with your healthcare professional:
• Based on my medical history, lifestyle and family background, am I at risk for osteoporosis?
• How do I know if someone in my family suffered from osteoporosis? (What physical signs or symptoms should I be looking for?)
• Am I currently taking any medication that puts me at higher risk for developing osteoporosis?
• How do I best prevent (or treat) osteoporosis?
• How do I know if my bone density is low?
• How much calcium is right for me? How do I best obtain this calcium?
• Should I engage in exercise? What kind of exercise is best? How often should I exercise?
• How do I know if I have fractured a bone in my spine?
If you have osteoporosis or if your healthcare provider believes you are at high risk for the disease, you may want to ask the following questions:
• What medications are available to help me?
• What are the benefits/side effects of these medications? Will these medications interact with other medications I am already taking for other conditions?
• How do I know that my prevention or treatment program is effective?
• Do any of the medications I am taking for other conditions cause dizziness, light-headedness, disorientation or a loss of balance that could lead to
• When appropriate, have a bone density test and take medication

Osteoporosis testing is performed by measuring bone mass using a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry machine (DXA). DXA is the best method of obtaining an individual’s bone density which is critical to prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis. While the use of DXA scans is recognized the World Health Organization, the US Surgeon General and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as the gold standard for the testing for osteoporosis, only about one in four Medicare women receive their DEXA scan every two years. Without early diagnosis and treatment, osteoporosis can lead to debilitating fractures, loss of mobility, permanent disability, costly nursing home stays, and even death .A recent study by Kaiser Southern California’s Healthy Bones program found that increased utilization of DXA testing and subsequent treatment resulted in a 37% decrease in hip fracture rates and a $30.8 million savings among its 3.1 million members in one year alone. Patient access to DXA testing is threatened as inadequate reimbursement forces more physicians to stop providing this critical preventative service. Medicare reimbursement has been reduced by 50% since 2006 and more budget cuts are scheduled for 2010. More information regarding this issue can be attained at http://www.nof.org.

Information from the National Osteoporosis Foundation: www. NOF.org and ACNM.org

For more info on risk factors of osteoporosis: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/osteoporosis/DS00128/DSECTION=risk-factors