There are many, many things that soon-to-be-parents worry about: Relatively major questions such as whether or not their child will be born healthy with all ten fingers and ten toes, or other inconvenient things such as congenital heart defects, mental retardation, autism, inborn genetic errors, and so on. As if those questions were not enough, there are also concerns about the child’s mental ability and whether it will be prone to minor health problems such as allergies. The good news is that most, if not all of these aforementioned issues can be reduced to zero by taking the proper steps for natural health. An ounce of prevention is worth far more than expensive birthing wards and drugs to your baby!
Step 1 – Optimize your Vitamin D Levels
Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive should seriously consider having their vitamin D levels checked immediately. Vitamin D is important for fetal brain development, healthy skeletal formation, prevention of asthma and allergies, protection against type I (insulin-dependent diabetes), and is believed to play a preventative role in the risk of autism.
Healthy and safe levels for pregnant women is in the 50 to 70ng/ml range. Ideally, women should begin optimizing vitamin D levels 6 months prior to conception, but any time during pregnancy is better than never.
Step 2 – Folate Prevents Neural Tube Defects
Neural tube defects occur when a neural tube, the structure that gives rise to the central nervous system, fails to form properly. The most common neural tube defects involve the brain and spinal cord, such as anencephaly and spina bifida.
Folate, a water-soluble B vitamin, is required for the production of DNA and RNA, and healthy levels can prevent neural tube defects. To ensure that you do not have a folate metabolism issue or low folate levels, it is recommended that you first take a neutrophilic hypersegmentation index test. Ask your doctor about this test.
Proper supplementation is between 200 mcg and 1 mg (1,000 mcg) of folate per day but this prenatal complex has the correct amounts along with B12 and zinc, other important factors in cellular division. It also contains vitamin A for brain, eye, and gut development, selenium for the production of crucial enzymes, and more.
Understand that proper folate levels are essential to how DNA is arranged during critical stages of development, namely cell division gone wrong. Also, due to various environmental conditions that exist today, a problem of folate metabolism can occur to a much greater extent than just a paltry 5%.
When in doubt about folate issues or if you suspect a problem, the type of folate to take is called 5-methyl-tetrahydrofolate. Special note about folate supplementation. Insure that you have an adequate intake of vitamin B12 and the mineral zinc, which are important in cellular division. Ultimately one can switch to this prenatal when they are ready to conceive, which contains an effective form of folate along with, B12, zinc and other essential nutrients. These other essential nutrients are vital for other reasons, such as vitamin A for brain, eye and gut development, selenium for the production of crucial enzymes, etc.
Step 3 – Iodine for Your Baby’s Brain
Take 12.5 mg of iodine per day. In case there is any confusion, this level is nearly 100 times the RDA, which is typically 150 mcg (micrograms) for a pregnancy. The use of 12.5 mg has been shown to be very effective in optimizing IQ. The potential boost in IQ could range from 10 to 30 points, along with many other benefits. The simple advantage of this effect should be obvious, as it can save a future parent a lot of aggravation.
The dosage of 12.5 milligrams is available in tablet form called Iodoral. While everyone wants to have intelligent children, the primary benefit of sufficient iodine intake is not merely for IQ. Adequate iodine levels in the mother helps to prevent attention deficit disorder (ADD), mental retardation, autism, and other mental anomalies. Most of these conditions stem from insufficient thyroid hormone, the production of which is hampered by low iodine. It is estimated that over 96 percent of people are deficient in this mineral. If you’re wondering when to begin taking iodine, prior to conception or at the time of conception. Although it’s better late than never. If it is preferred to use a liquid form, there is also Iosol. Each drop is 1.8 mg, so the dosage is about 7 drops.
Step 4 – High Quality Protein
Dangerous conditions such as preeclapsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy) or eclampsia (seizures and/or convulsions) can be precipitated by a diet lacking in quality protein. Quality protein is from animal sources, preferably grass-fed or free-range, not soy, vegetable or grains. Non-animal protein is of a different structure than animal protein and therefore is less effective for development.
Therefore, if one is vegetarian be sure to eat consume plenty of eggs, raw, grass-fed milk or cheese. If one is a vegan, they might consider taking bovine colostrum. While this might be considered an animal product, it is in some fashion more acceptable because of how it is made. A good product provides the highest quality of nutrition available.
Edema (water retention), high blood pressure, and protein spilling in the urine are serious warning signs of inadequate protein intake. To be sure this is not a problem, one can order this test called microalbumin urine test.
How much protein to consume?
As a general rule divide your body weight in half, and eat that amount of protein each day in grams. This works out to be at least 70 grams of protein per day for most women.
Step 5 – Quality Fats and Oils
It is important for pregnant mothers to consume quality fats while avoiding processed and hydrogenated oils. Almost all vegetable, nut and seed oils on grocery store shelves are detrimental because their processing has destroyed the structure of the oil. Even when organic and unprocessed, they can become problematic once heated or cooked. The reason is that these oils are subject to oxidation (free radical production) due to light, heat, or oxygen exposure, and have a very limited shelf life.
Fats and oils that are safe to consume are animal fats, coconut oil, palm oil, and organic, unrefined, raw (uncooked) nut or seed oils. Extra virgin olive oil is neutral but should also not be used for cooking. Quality saturated and polyunsaturated fats are essential to proper nerves and brain development, prostaglandin balance, and protection against autoimmune disease and cancer.
Step 6 – Calcium and Magnesium
After the first trimester, new and developing fetuses require additional calcium and magnesium than most prenatals offer. Consider supplementing with higher levels of these two minerals in a ratio of 2:1 at this stage. Do not forget magnesium as it is more difficult to obtain even with a perfect diet and consider that it is helpful in preventing preeclampsia.
During the third trimester, supplement with an additional 200 mg of Calcium (preferably as citrate) and 100 mg of magnesium. Adhering to all of these steps will vastly improve one’s chances of avoiding not just birth defects, but also conditions such as gestational diabetes and C-sections.