Pre-eclampsia, oxidative stress, and Celiac sprue

Pre-eclampsia is a serious complication of pregnancy which can become life threatening to the mother and baby. High blood pressure and severe swelling of the lower legs and face are symptoms of pre-eclampsia. If the condition worsens it is called eclampsia and seizures may be the life threatening risk. The swelling can become severe enough that toxin removal by the kidneys is reduced.

What causes pre-eclampsia is not yet well understood. Providing IV solutions of magnesium sulfate just prior to delivery helps reduce risk of seizures and usually delivery of the baby causes the rest of the symptoms to resolve. However people who’ve experienced IVs of magnesium sulfate shared with me that it feels like fire running through their veins. Background information — magnesium is an electrically active mineral that during normal health is kept in a very narrow range within the blood and is largely found within the interior of cells and within the bones. Calcium is also electrically active and it is in higher concentration within the blood than within the interior of cells.

Skipping ahead, oxidative stress prenatally has been shown to be involved in pre-eclampsia and it causes an increase in calcium flow in the placenta. [1]

While looking for more information about pre-eclampsia I found a Celiac Sprue forum [2] that included questions and comments about whether anyone else with celiac gluten intolerance had also experienced pre-eclampsia or HELLP complications of pregnancy and if so any ideas why they might co-occur. HELLP is a blood coagulation problem which I didn’t look into but Celiac sprue and pre-eclampsia may be likely to co-occur because both involve oxidative stress:

Hi, I’m a dietitian with an autoimmune condition and previous work experience with prenatal health. I’ve been researching why the advice I gave when I was working helped so many women at the time worked – but isn’t in the mainstream medical treatment yet. Increasing magnesium rich foods such as beans, nuts, and seeds helped women that had a history of preeclampsia or high blood pressure to have a normal pregnancy.

In a nut shell – oxidative stress causes the placenta to increase flow of calcium. Too much calcium can cause other cellular reactions and fluid changes. And oxidative stress can be caused by gluten exposure when there is an underlying celiac autoimmune condition or probably other autoimmune conditions.

Re oxidative stress, and calcium channels in the placenta: Reactive Oxygen Species Inhibit Polycystin-2 (TRPP2) Cation Channel Activity In Term Human Syncytiotrophoblast [1]

Re Celiac Sprue and oxidative stress, “long chain omega 3 fatty acids, plant flavonoids and carotenoids” were suggested as antioxidants that may help reduce the “oxidative stress, gene expression & production of inflammatory mediators”:  Celiac disease, inflammation and oxidative damage: a nutrigenetic approach.   Carotenoids include beta-carotene from carrots. Orange, red and dark green fruits and vegetables are generally good sources of carotenoids and plant flavonoids are also found in a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Omega 3 fatty acids are found in fish oil supplements or salmon, tuna, sardines – limit as a mercury source however during pregnancy or child bearing years. Vegetarian sources of a precursor omega 3 fat include flax seed meal (ground is digestible, whole flax seeds aren’t really), walnuts, and hemp seed kernels.

Sesame seeds, or tahini, sesame paste, has been shown in sports research to help reduce oxidative stress. The trial subjects ate 2 tablespoons per day of the seeds. Effects of Sesame (Sesamum indicum L.) Supplementation on Creatine Kinase, Lactate Dehydrogenase, Oxidative Stress Markers, and Aerobic Capacity in Semi-Professional Soccer Players.

Dark chocolate has also been shown to be beneficial antioxidant source.

Best wishes to any Celiac sufferers – I avoid gluten due to intolerance, initially for fibromyalgia like symptoms, and later autoimmune thyroid  antibodies were found but not antibodies for Celiac Sprue.

A dietitian can help work out more balanced diets when major food items have to be excluded for health purposes. A professional organization offers a search feature for helping to find a Registered Dietitian


One more link that didn’t make it into the comment, magnesium deficiency in combination with elevated calcium levels may be involved in increasing oxidative stress: Magnesium deficiency and oxidative stress: an update, 2016,  [3]

Who am I? What is my purpose? I am a sick person, with professional health experience, who reads and writes about sickness for my own health and for other sick people — they are the ones who realize just how valuable health is and who may appreciate information whether it has a large price tag & an expensive office — or is shared freely out of love and concern. Pain hurts.

One more link because they’re so informative, the inflammatory system seems to be connected to both pain receptors and other nerve receptors so inflammation, (which leads to oxidative stress) activates pain receptors (nociceptors) – /speculation/ which could be part of the reason fibromyalgia and other inflammatory conditions cause pain – they may simply be causing pain receptors to be over-active due to inflammation: Neurogenic Inflammation – The Peripheral Nervous System’s Role in Host Defense and Immunopathology [4]

The inflammatory process causes oxidative stress: Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress as a major cause of age-related diseases and cancer. [5]

Adequate oxygen intake and flow to all the cells throughout the body is also necessary to prevent oxidative stress. Obesity can make it more difficult for oxygenated blood to reach all cells. [6]

Moderate exercise and deep breathing relaxation exercises may be helpful for improving oxygen intake and blood flow.

A previous article I wrote regarding magnesium and pre-eclampsia also includes information from a research hypothesis suggesting that intrauterine pressure itself may also be a trigger for worsening pre-eclampsia symptoms. [7] Not included in the hypothesis was why — which is likely to be due to the fact that physical (osmotic) pressure can cause TRP ion channels to open. TRP channels are a large group of specialized proteins which control flow of minerals such as calcium into the interior of cells. TRP channels include the ones that were shown to be dysregulated by oxidative stess in the placenta which allowed an increase of calcium to enter, which is described in the research article: Reactive Oxygen Species Inhibit Polycystin-2 (TRPP2) Cation Channel Activity In Term Human Syncytiotrophoblast [1]

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

  3. A.A. Zheltova, et al., Magnesium deficiency and oxidative stress: an update, Biomedicine (Taipei). 2016 Dec; 6(4): 20.
  4. Isaac M. Chiu, et al., Neurogenic Inflammation – The Peripheral Nervous System’s Role in Host Defense and Immunopathology,  Nat Neurosci. 2012 Jul 26; 15(8): 1063–1067.
  5. Khansari N, Shakiba Y, Mahmoudi M., Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress as a major cause of age-related diseases and cancer. Recent Pat Inflamm Allergy Drug Discov. 2009 Jan;3(1):73-80.
  6. N. Netzer, Hypoxia, Oxidative Stress and Fat., Biomolecules. 2015 Jun; 5(2): 1143–1150.

Magnesium might help protect against beta amyloid placques

Working on experimental medications for a prenatal population places the infants at risk in addition to the female patients. In my professional experience instructing clients about raw pumpkin seeds and the DASH diet frequently helped prevent preeclampsia or high blood pressure problems from reoccurring for patients with a history of having had the problem during a previous pregnancy. Pumpkin seed kernels are similar to sunflower seeds, both are good sources of magnesium and many other nutrients. The DASH diet promotes eating a serving of nuts, seeds or beans daily as a source of magnesium. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. [1]

Additional note: *Raw pumpkin seeds were my recommendation because the toasted salted ones can be very salty which would dilute the amount of magnesium naturally available in the seed compared to the large amount of sodium available from the added salt. Excess sodium can cause increased urinary losses of magnesium in the average person and may increase risk of high blood pressure in people who are salt sensitive. [5]

In a recent study conducted in 19 hypertensive patients after 2 months of adherence to a low (50 mmol/d) and high (200 mmol/d) sodium intake, the investigators observed an increase in intracellular (erythrocyte) calcium and sodium concentrations and a reduction in magnesium concentration during salt loading, primarily in salt-sensitive subjects.82 [5]

Nutritional strategies recommended to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease include increasing intake of magnesium. Research has found that low levels of magnesium promoted build up of  beta amyloid protein while high levels of magnesium promoted breakdown of the misshapen proteins.

“Lab studies show that magnesium modulates enzymes involved in amyloid beta production; at low levels, magnesium favors amyloid beta buildup, while at higher levels it favors amyloid beta breakdown.101,102″ [2]

That article also contains good news for coffee drinkers; drinking 3 to 5 cups of caffeinated coffee per day is associated with reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease. The article suggests that the caffeine content itself seems to provide the protective effects. [2] Coffee is also a good source of magnesium, perhaps that is a coincidence. However three to five cups of coffee is more than is recommended during pregnancy; one cup per day is likely safe while six cups of coffee per day may be harmful for pregnancy. The article also recommends blueberries and curcumin (found in turmeric which is commonly used in mustard and in curry powder) which would be safe during pregnancy.

The misshapen proteins have a protective effect against bacteria and the yeast Candida albicans so a chronic lowgrade infection may be an underlying cause of the accumulation of beta amyloid placques. [3] [4]

/Disclaimer: This information is for educational or entertainment purposes, see a health professional for individual medical guidance./

Good news about the deficit and about preeclampsia

With so many sad stories in the news it was nice to read an opinion piece with a positive tone. The deficit may seem huge but  it was encouraging to read that in relation to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the national deficit has stabilized over the last few years. [1]

More jobs leads to more income which allows more people to buy more products and services which leads to more jobs to create more products and services  — which increases the GDP.

There was also good news in the prenatal health industry – an inexpensive diagnostic test has been discovered that can detect preeclampsia during early stages of the prenatal condition. Misshapen proteins similar to those found in Alzheimer’s disease were found to be present in the urine of women with preeclampsia. The beta-amyloid proteins have an unusual folded shape which can’t be broken down by enzymes and instead collect in the placenta and disrupt blood flow to the growing infant. [2]

Discovery of an accurate and inexpensive diagnostic test may add to the GDP through direct sales of the paper-based Congo Red Dot urine test and by helping prevent sick days during pregnancy. Preeclampsia can be life threatening for the woman and child but more typically the condition is associated with high blood pressure and increased protein losses in the urine. It is a leading cause of premature delivery which increases risk of low birth weight and other birth defects. [3] The discovery of the presence of beta-amyloid proteins in preeclampsia may also help researchers identify possible causes the condition, which are not known at this time.

Following the clue about the special type of protein found in common between Alzheimer’s and preeclampsia led me to a third condition that is associated with both conditions and with amyloidosis, which is a non-specific term referring to an excess of the misshapen proteins.

Cardiomyopathy can be a diagnosis  or symptom found with Alzheimer’s, preeclampsia, amyloidosis and it also may be associated with hypo- or hyperthyroidism or with infectious conditions such as sarcoidosis. Cardiomyopathy may also occur with starvation and with deficiencies of potassium and magnesium or taurine, carnitine, selenium and thiamine (vit. B1). [4] The amino acid taurine has also been found useful for preventing damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease. [5]

Starvation is certainly bad for pregnancy and so are nutrient deficiencies but at least those problems have known solutions – increase intake of healthy foods. A prenatal person with severe nausea and vomiting might not easily be able to increase their intake but use of targeted supplements or nutrient dense foods might help reduce the severity of symptoms or prevent worsening of an underlying condition.

Detecting who is at risk for preeclampsia before symptoms are severe could provide time to test and treat autoimmune thyroid disease which may not have been detected by standard thyroid lab tests. If sarcoidosis were present then excessive use of vitamin D and calcium might increase risk of there being a deficiency of magnesium and potassium.

Babies are made from nutrients not from medications. So discovering a medication that helps break down beta-amyloid protein might be helpful but finding out why the body is producing the folded malfunctioning protein and how to stop their production would be more helpful.

Interesting news from the pet food industry – It may be better not to feed cats raw fish more than three times per week because some species, when fresh and unheated, may be a source of an enzyme, thiaminase, which can  cause excessive break down of the B vitamin thiamine. And taurine is frequently added to processed foods for pet cats because heat processing causes destruction of the essential amino acid. [6]

/Disclaimer: This article is for educational or entertainment purposes and is not intended to be used in place of individual medical guidance for humans or cats./

A catfish perhaps,
and raw, a source of thiaminase;
limit raw fish for cats to three times per week.