Tag Archives: prenatal care

The herbicide glyphosate is similar to glycine, an amino acid

The herbicide glyphosate was originally patented as an antibiotic and as a mineral chelator (a protein that can bind and transport minerals). It has been in use as an agricultural herbicide since 1975. However it’s use greatly increased in the last ten years since genetically modified Round-Up Ready crops were developed. A professor from Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been researching glyphosate and it’s possible role in the development of autism.

Professor Seneff gave two presentations at an Autism One conference earlier this year. The PowerPoint slides to the lectures are available in links included in the Tweets below, click these links for the pdfs to each video: people.csail.mit.edu/seneff/2016…

The first video includes more information about the chemical similarity between glyphosate and glycine. Glycine is an amino acid that provides methyl groups. Glyphosate is very similarly shaped but has an extra side chain and it wouldn’t provide methyl groups. It is possibly similarly shaped enough, however, for glyphosate to be incorporated into the structure of proteins instead of glycine. It would be like a puzzle piece that fits into another piece but won’t allow any other pieces to be added. Glyphosate may fit in glycine’s spot within a protein but then wouldn’t provide any methyl groups and the extra side chain could interfere with receptor function – like having an extension cord with prongs that no longer can fit into an electric socket because the socket is already blocked with something else.

The risk to health if this is true could be significant. Many proteins contain glycine and any one of them might be important in a variety of ways which glyphosate could disrupt. This is in very early stages of research but the impact could also affect vaccinations because the collagen used to culture material for vaccinations could contain glyphosate instead of glycine if the animals from which the collagen was obtained had been raised with feed containing glyphosate residue.

Zika virus that grew in an environment that contained glyphosate might have it incorporated into proteins instead of glycine which could be making the disease far more dangerous prenatally than it had been in past decades before glyphosate became widely used. Zika infections had not been associated with microcephaly until recently. The second video goes into more detail about how glyphosate could be making Zika more dangerous.

Professor Seneff explains in more detail about the glycine/glyphosate similarity in the first video:

I will get back to this topic after rewatching the videos and taking notes on the recommendations she makes about food and lifestyle strategies for reducing glyphosate exposure or reducing glyphosate levels that may be stored within the body.

9/20/2016 Update: See the following posts for more about glycine and glyphosate:

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.

Environmental toxins and neurodevelopmental disorders in children

A consensus statement has been released by the Project TENDR group regarding environmental toxins and the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders in children which include ADHD, autism, and learning and other neurodevelopmental disabilities.  Read more: http://scienmag.com/scientists-physicians-and-advocates-agree-environmental-toxins-hurt-brain-development/

An excerpt lists the environmental toxins the group has identified as potentially  increasing children’s risk of developing ADHD, autism or other neurodevelopmental or learning disorders (the bold font was added by me):

The chemicals and pollutants highlighted in the consensus statement as contributing to children’s learning, intellectual and behavioral impairments are:

* Organophosphate (OP) pesticides

* Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) used as flame retardants

* Combustion-related air pollutants, which include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter

* Lead, with primary sources of water pipes and paint

* Mercury

* Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), industrial chemicals that were commonly used in electrical equipment and now pollute landfills and water

More information on each of these compounds and how families can protect themselves from them is on the Project TENDR website: http://projecttendr.com.

A comparison to  a checklist on one of my older post’s for toxins to avoid in the hopes of preventing autism included four of the groups: 2. PBDEs, 6. PCBs, 4. lead and 5. (methyl) mercury. And 3. formaldehyde is also a combustion-related air pollutant but I will need to add the other combustion-related air pollutants and 1. Organophophate pesticides.

Other risks for neurodevelopmental disorders developing in children may include:

A list of toxins to avoid can be useful for generating a list of foods and lifestyle choices that may be more beneficial or more of a risk for an expectant infant.  Note the phrases “May be,” “might help,” or “might harm” are suggestions rather than firm claims; there are no guarantees in life. Evidence based medicine likes to suggest that there is enough evidence to support a recommendation as being conclusive but the evidence typically does not provide guidance that is clearly 100% for or against something and generally is averaging results for a large group of people so the “average” patient may not even exist in real life. Results might have been clustered at extremes, with a group that was helped and a group that was harmed by the research substance. The average statistic would be from the middle of both groups and might suggest that all people will be helped that middle amount of a little bit rather than that half the people may be helped a lot and half the people may be harmed a lot. People vary in their body’s ability to detoxify and in their body’s supply of nutrients available for detoxifying or for growth and repair. Evidence based medicine frequently looks at the averages of all patients rather than looking at individual results.

Preventative health guidance can suggest that something may help or may be more harmful ,but on an individual basis a health suggestion can not be guaranteed to prevent ADHD or autism in every case, anymore than vaccinations can be guaranteed to be safe for every individual or to never have been associated with autism as an adverse reaction in a few individuals. Vaccinations have been associated with encephalitis as an adverse reaction that leads to autism like symptoms over time.

Rates that are increasing exponentially are likely to plateau or slow down at some point but do we really want to find out how much worse an exponential rate can get before trying to do something about it? Autism used to occur at a rate of about 4.5 children in 10,000 just a few decades ago (1966), in 1994 the rate was as high as 15-40 children per 10,000, and now it is somewhere closer to 1 child in 68 or 1 child in 45 depending on which study or group of children you’re looking at. In 2012 the rate was 1 child in 88.

Excerpt:

Clinicians can identify ASD in children as young as two years old, although children from ethnic minority groups are usually diagnosed at a later age than their Caucasian counterparts. ASD is commonly comorbid with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety disorders, intellectual disability, epilepsy and other genetic conditions like fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, neurofibromatosis, congenital rubella syndrome, Down syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, and Angelman syndrome. Until recently, there was little, if any, epidemiological research focusing on the prevalence of ASD in adults. In 2011, one study reported the prevalence of ASD in an adult sample to be 1%, with higher rates for men (1.8%) than women (0.2%) (Brugha T et al, Arch Gen Psych 2011;68:459–466).

Similarly, there are few studies evaluating outcomes and prognosis for adults with ASD. Given current prevalence rates, the population of adults with autism is expected to rise 625% by the year 2030, and the estimated lifetime cost per individual with autism, including caregiving costs and lost productivity, can reach up to $3.2 million (Ganz M, Arch Ped Adol Med 2007;161(4):343–354).

White male children seem to be the group most at risk for developing autism, currently, and Asian children may be the group least at risk (the iodine content in sea weed may be a protective dietary factor and rice may have less risk of having the pesticides that are suspected of being neurodevelopmental toxins than wheat or corn).

The 2010 U.S. census showed a total of 138,053,563 males (49.1% of total population) and 143,368,343 females (50.9% of 281,421,906 total population). http://www.infoplease.com/us/census/data/demographic.html

If approximately 1.8% of adult men have autism and 0.2% of women have autism that would mean approximately 2,484,964 men and 286,736 women may have autism (2,771,700 total) and which might cost up to  $8,869,440,000,000 dollars in lifetime caregiving costs and lost productivity (almost 9 trillion dollars) — and that estimate would just be for the 2010 total. The rate of autism occurrence has increased since 2010. If the rate increases 625% by 2030 then we may expect 17,323,125 adults to have autism at a cost up to $55,434,000,000,000 in caregiving and lost productivity costs (55 trillion dollars)(and approximately 90% would be males, 15,590,812, (with a 1.8% incidence rate) and 10% females, 1,732,312 (with an 0.2% incidence rate)).

Males are more at risk and white males in particular are at greater risk for developing autism. Female hormones may be helping protect the female infants brain development or a milder form with less behavior changes may not be being diagnosed based on the current diagnostic criteria. If we would like infants to have traditional health expectations in the future then it might be worth considering that the baby factories (pregnant women) are malfunctioning at increasing rates, (autism seems to be set up during the prenatal stage that flairs up in the child later in life), and with a personal cost of increasing rates of autoimmune disease (one in nine women of childbearing years are estimated to be diagnosed with some type of autoimmune disease – (see excerpt below). Glyphosate may be inhibiting the ability to activate vitamin D which is essential for the pregnancy and the baby’s development and the woman’s autoimmune risk. Taking Vitamin D supplements can be great but expected benefits might not be seen if the CYP enzymes necessary for activating the vitamin aren’t functional due to glyphosate.

Iodine, zinc, and folate and B12 deficiencies during pregnancy also seem to be involved in increased risk of autism developing in the child later in life. And vitamin D is involved in autoimmune disease risk. Vitamin D receptors work within the immune system and help the body to be less allergic to self or for the mother to be sensitized to the expected infant’s DNA. Low vitamin D in the mother could be increasing her risk for autoimmune disease later in life (microchimerism – a few cells with infant’s DNA in the mother or cells with maternal DNA in the infant may be involved in autoimmune antibodies developing) and increasing the infant’s risk for developing autism later in life. Just giving more vitamin D might not be helping as expected if the herbicide glyphosate is inhibiting the enzymes necessary for activation of the vitamin.

Depending on which diseases are called autoimmune disease, minimally 23.5 million people in the U.S. have some type of autoimmune disease. Excerpt:

Or slice these statistics another way: while one in 69 women below the age of fifty will be diagnosed with breast cancer, according to estimates, as many as one in nine women of childbearing years will be diagnosed with an autoimmune illness, which strike three times as many women as men — and most often strike patients in their prime. According to the National Institutes of Health, autoimmune disease affects far more patients than the 9 million Americans who have cancer and the 16 million with coronary disease.

Rates of type 1 diabetes are perhaps the most telling. Data over the past forty years show that type 1 diabetes, a disease in which immune cells attack the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, has increased fivefold. The story regarding childhood-onset type 1 diabetes is more disturbing. Studies show that the number of children with type 1 diabetes is skyrocketing, with rates increasing 6 percent a year in children four and under and 4 percent in children aged 10 to 14.

Type 1 diabetes researchers insist that today’s rapid rise in this disease cannot be explained by either better diagnostics or by more people suddenly becoming genetically susceptible to type 1 diabetes; rather, a change in environmental factors is the “more plausible explanation.”

The average patient with autoimmune disease sees six doctors before attaining a correct diagnosis. Recent surveys conducted by the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association reveal that 45 percent of patients with autoimmune diseases have been labeled hypochondriacs in the earliest stages of their illnesses. Some of this, no doubt, has to do with the fact that 75 percent to 80 percent of autoimmune disease sufferers are women, who are more easily dismissed by the medical establishment when hard-to-diagnose symptoms arise. In half of all cases, women with autoimmune disease are told there is nothing wrong with them for an average of five years before receiving diagnosis and treatment. Patients — most especially women — are often left feeling both confused and marginalized, or worse, labeled as psychosomatic malingerers.

http://www.alternet.org/story/80129/the_autoimmune_epidemic%3A_bodies_gone_haywire_in_a_world_out_of_balance

Also from that article: the rates of autoimmune disease have been increasing in many industrialized countries, not just the U.S.. And autoimmune disease seems to be more associated with living in urban areas than rural ones. Rates of Type 1 diabetes in children under four years old  has increased six percent and four percent for older children — that is just not right, not traditional, and not fair to our children or their future world. They will have to take insulin shots for the rest of their  (potentially shorter than expected) lives.

If glyphosate inhibits CYP enzymes then it may be affecting the pancreas as CYP enzymes play a role in detoxifying toxins within the pancreas. Chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer may be associated with malfunction of CYP enzymes in the pancreas.  http://www.flandershealth.us/chronic-pancreatitis/the-role-of-enzymes-in-pancreatic-diseases.html

Inhibition of the CYP enzymes might not be involved though, another reference suggests the CYP enzymes in the pancreas of patients with chronic pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer are elevated — but maybe the levels are elevated because the enzymes are not functioning as normal and the body may be making extra to try to compensate for the malfunction – we don’t know what we don’t know until we learn it or admit that we already learned it a long time ago but have been in denial.  https://books.google.com/books?id=J38lUlOxgoEC&pg=PA143&lpg=PA143&dq=CYP+enzymes+role+in+the+pancreas&source=bl&ots=EMkv-013SF&sig=ONq1DMQh6NaVs3uZc77Ay9cKHL0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjsqZ6G1NzNAhXE2R4KHaWLBAAQ6AEIJTAB#v=onepage&q=CYP%20enzymes%20role%20in%20the%20pancreas&f=false


/Disclosure: This 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./

The voices that people with schizophrenia are hearing are probably their own inner thoughts

This is kind of breaking news — new news: A research scientist, with the aid of a powerful microphone, was able to record a patient with schizophrenia speaking to themselves in a sub-vocal voice. The patient was not aware that they were speaking at the time.

The research is very early, a first in its field perhaps, but the theory seems to suggest that the patient’s with schizophrenia symptoms may have some disconnect with the normal ability to identify internal thoughts and sub-vocal speech as being self generated and instead are interpreting the internal thoughts as coming from some external source of whatever type the person might think.

(Example of my interpretation of sub-vocal speech: the almost silent muttering under your breath that you don’t notice yourself doing, until suddenly you do notice that you’re talking to yourself, and then you stop because you don’t want anyone to notice. The brain of a someone with schizophrenia may no longer recognize the voices of self-talk, or those of voices in memories or in imagined conversations, as being internally self-generated and instead probably tend to make up some explanation for  whatever or whoever might be doing the talking that is being heard — hearing voices. Our internal chatter can get busy and sometimes pretty mean, it would be scary to not realize that it is just yourself. )

Read more, of the actual article:  [http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2016/03/schizophrenia_and_subvocal_speech_why_schizophrenics_hear_the_voices_of.html]

This seems like very important news — patients with schizophrenia may be able to be gently reminded that those voices are just brain mumbles, and to try to ignore them.

People with schizophrenia are generally not associated with violence unless there is also a history of violent behavior, alcohol or drug abuse, or more persecutory fantasies. [citation missing, I don’t remember where I read that recently, but I posted it in a comment somewhere.]

Mental health symptoms sometimes may be due to underlying issues that could be easily fixed, rather than considering the patient as being ‘mentally ill’ for the rest of their life and likely being placed on medications that tend to have severe side effects. Effective health care would seek for any underlying causes that can be returned to a state of normal function with the simplest solutions possible, “Let food be thy medicine,” the first part of the quote by Hippocrates may be the most important part.

There are several different nutrient deficiencies that can cause symptoms similar to schizophrenia or may be involved in an underlying cause for the condition, this information was from an older post of mine but it was not grouped together:

/Disclosure: This 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./

Aluminum toxicity and acute onset Alzheimer’s Disease

An industrial worker developed early onset Alzheimer’s Disease after working for several years exposed to air that was contaminated with aluminum dust. Another woman had developed early onset Alzheimer’s years after her local water source had been contaminated with a significant amount of aluminum. [1]

The link between Alzheimer’s Disease and aluminum has been suspected for many years because brain autopsies of patients who died with the disease were often found to have elevated levels of aluminum compared to average. Not all studies found the same increase in aluminum however: “Some studies have reported that the aluminium concentration in the bulk brain samples, neurofibrillary tangles (NFT) and plaques was higher in AD subjects than controls. Other studies have found no difference.” [2]

As a potential neuro-toxin — a brain toxin — aluminum could also be adding to the risk of neurological problems developing in children. Aluminum is used as a preservative in many vaccinations and children are getting more vaccinations in total now than were given in the 1970’s. “In the 1970s, children got only four aluminum-containing vaccines in their first 18 months of life, but now they typically receive 17.” The following article includes a list of sources of aluminum in food and other products, Read more: [1]

I’m tagging this prenatal care because women who are pregnant or who might conceive would be advised to avoid sources of heavy metal toxins such as aluminum. “Modest evidence of an effect exists for reproductive toxicity following oral exposure, for neurological toxicity following either oral or injection exposure, and for bone toxicity following injection exposure. All other effects were judged to be supported by either limited evidence or no clear evidence at all.” [2]

  1. Mercola.com, Aluminum Toxicity and Alzheimer’s Disease, [http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/03/22/aluminum-toxicity-alzheimers.aspx]
  2. Human Health Risk Assessment for Aluminum, Aluminum oxide, and Aluminum hydroxide, [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2782734/] *Low iron intake might increase risk of absorption of aluminum. bone abnormalities are more prevalent than symptoms of cognitive impairment in cases of people with aluminum exposure. However, “Occupational aluminium exposure was significantly correlated with a variety of neuropyschiatric symptoms including; loss of coordination, loss of memory, and problems with balance.” “The majority, but not all, of epidemiological studies identified, reported a positive association between aluminium levels in drinking water and risk of cognitive impairment dementia, or AD. There is some evidence to suggest silica in drinking water is protective against the development of dementia.
  3. Siegfried Gursche, MH, Silica – The Forgotten Nutrient, [http://www.alive.com/health/silica-the-forgotten-nutrient/] (I forgot about it, but pregnant woman might want to remember silica: “Pregnant women benefit greatly from adding silica to their diets, as it prevents stretch marks.” According to this article the nutrient silaca might also be helpful for people suffering from Crohn’s Disease, diarrhea, and other intestinal problems. And silica may be protective against cancer, and is important for healthy hair and skin. Food sources include: oatmeal, millet, barley, potatoes, whole wheat, Jerusalem artichoke, red beets, corn asparagus, and rye.)

/Disclosure: This 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./

Pre-eclampsia, Magnesium Deficiency, or Grass Staggers?

Pre-eclampsia is a frequent and life threatening problem for pregnant and postpartum women that can occur prenatally or up to 48 hours after delivery. The primary cause of the syndrome has been unrecognized in the medical field. However, the treatment and prevention of magnesium deficiency has been well understood in the dairy industry and the symptoms of the two conditions are very similar.

We study animals in medical research because it is unethical to experiment on humans. Farmers and vets care for dairy animals because it is ethical and profitable to help maintain their health. What they learn can help us understand other mammals too – such as humans.

Hypomagnesemia, also known as grass staggers, can occur in the pregnant or postpartum cow, but it can also occur in herds feeding on low magnesium fields. Weakness and falls occur in the cattle and they recover when feed is provided that contains adequate magnesium. The best treatment is prevention by providing extra magnesium if the feed has low levels. [1]

Magnesium deficiency can cause leg cramps, constipation, weakness, falling, cardiac arrythmias, edema and hypertension, anemia and poor immune health, ringing in the ears, irritability and headaches, and when severe seizures are possible. [2] I have had some of these symptoms – including the “wobbles” – feeling weak in the legs and almost stumbling. These symptoms are quite similar to those described for pre-eclampsia and at its most severe seizures are also a risk.

Current care for a human with pre-eclampsia might involve calcium channel blocker pharmaceuticals prenatally for controlling hypertension and intravenous doses of magnesium sulfate in the ER or delivery room for preventing or treating eclamptic seizures. Calcium causes muscle fibers to contract and magnesium allows them to relax.

Calcium channel blockers are patent-able pharmaceuticals trying to perform the job nature assigned to magnesium. The movement of potassium and sodium through ion channels in nerve cell membranes is well understood. A similar interaction is known about calcium and magnesium in the contraction of muscle fibers. Magnesium is the main gate keeper inside of the cell; it can prevent entry of calcium. When low on magnesium the muscles may be flooded with calcium and the constant contraction of the muscle fibers can turn into early labor cramps and possibly seizures.

Puffy ankles (edema) means intracellular fluid is leaking out and more calcium channel blockers are necessary, but more magnesium please. The prenatal woman is low in magnesium because she has been using extra to grow a baby – she can’t grow a baby out of pharmaceuticals.

Eight percent of pregnancies may be affected by pre-eclampsia/eclampsia and the current medical recommendation suggests that calcium and aspirin might help. [4] A different source states that the condition is a problem for up to 10% of women in developing nations and affects between 3-5% of pregnancies for women in the USA. [9]  Pregnant people are already told to consume extra calcium in their diets. If that strategy were working then why do eight percent of pregnancies still have pre-eclampsia problems?

Magnesium supplements have been reported to be helpful for preventing leg cramps during pregnancy in one study but results from another study didn’t replicate the results. [5]  A large study has begun based in Brazil that plans to provide the trial group of prenatal participants with two 150 mg magnesium supplements per day throughout the pregnancy in the hopes of preventing pre-eclampsia and reducing the number of infants born prematurely or at a low birth weight. [10] Another study focused on assessing the difference in long term mineral status of patients who had pre-eclampsia prenatally compared to those who didn’t. The results found that long term calcium status was the same which does not support the current theory that calcium deficiency is involved in the condition. [11]

A different study focused on the difference in current trace mineral status between patients with pre-eclampsia and those without. Blood levels of copper, zinc, selenium, calcium and magnesium were measured. Copper was the only mineral found to have similar levels between the two groups. The blood level of the other four minerals was significantly lower in women who had pre-eclampsia then in the group without the condition during their pregnancy. [12]

When the body is too low in magnesium then the body will increase hormone levels that cause a drop in calcium levels. Too much calcium and too little magnesium in the blood can cause heart symptoms so there are several ways the body can prevent an imbalance between blood levels of calcium and magnesium. A study that looked at whether magnesium sensitive genes were involved in blood pressure control during pregnancy did find that one was more active in pregnancy compared the non-pregnant group.  The gene TRPM6 was more active in the pregnant group than in women in the control group. [13]

Other research regarding the condition has noted an increased risk among close family members (mothers, daughters, sisters – if one has pre-eclampsia, other close female relatives are statistically more likely to also experience it in their pregnancies.)

A study that measured the vitamin D, hormone D, parathyroid hormone, albumin, and calcium blood levels of postpartum women who had had pre-eclampsia and those wh0 hadn’t during their pregnancies and found no significant difference in any of the levels between the two groups. Both groups had low vitamin D levels but normal levels of hormone D, parathyroid hormone, albumin and calcium. [15]

A study at the University of Benin found a significant correlation between low magnesium and increased prevalence of pre-eclampsia. The study concludes with a clear recommendation that consuming magnesium rich foods during pregnancy may improve the outcome:

“Pre-eclampsia and pre-term birth are associated with hypomagnesemia in pregnancy; hence, magnesium supplementation or magnesium-rich diet consisting of green leafy vegetables, soy milk and legumes may improve outcome.  [14]

A review of research regarding magnesium and prenatal health also concluded with a recommendation for pregnant women to consume adequate magnesium rich foods:

This review provides recommendations for further study and improved testing using measurement of red cell magnesium. Pregnant women should be counseled to increase their intake of magnesium-rich foods such as nuts, seeds, beans, and leafy greens and/or to supplement with magnesium at a safe level. [16]

Magnesium sulfate is used during labor and delivery to help prevent seizures in women with pre-eclampsia/eclampsia. I was told that the large dose feels painfully like fire in the veins. Which makes sense because it is an electrically active ion typically found in large amounts only within cell fluid rather than also freely available within the blood plasma. Some clients were very motivated to eat better if it would help prevent blood pressure problems from reoccurring and reduce the possibility of IV magnesium from being necessary. Simple solutions like pumpkin seeds and the DASH diet may be safer too. The high dose of intravenous magnesium sulfate can lead to cardiac problems and patients who receive the treatment are carefully monitored which takes additional staff time and other medical resources. [6]

Ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NAISDs) may help protect the infant during pregnancy if an infection is also part of the problem underlying pre-eclampsia. The ibuprofen helps reduce an increase in cytokines. The cytokine flood is an inflammatory reaction that may be associated with an increased risk to the infant for mental health problems developing later in life. [7]

Pre-eclampsia can be prevented by eating more magnesium rich foods throughout pregnancy. Beans, nuts, seeds and dark green vegetables are rich in magnesium. Chocolate is a good source, and there is a little magnesium in most foods. Whole grains are also good sources except the phytate content reduces mineral absorption. Shelled pumpkin seed kernels are similar to sunflower seeds in texture but they are greenish in color. Both are good sources of magnesium and other nutrients. Pumpkin seeds are a good vegetarian source of zinc, an essential trace mineral.

Mom and baby need magnesium daily. Having a moderate calcium intake will actually help both nutrients to be more usable to the body, baby, and bones. Frequent use of carbonated drinks, coffee, black tea, and acidic juices can cause the kidneys to waste magnesium. A diet high in meats and dairy products is also acid producing during breakdown and bone stores of magnesium may be used during excretion of the waste products if magnesium isn’t available from the diet. Our kidneys actively save calcium while using magnesium to remove the excess acid or excess calcium. Use of calcium rich OTC drugs like Tums or Rolaids frequently may decrease magnesium.

The intestines may not be absorbing magnesium well. Calcium is rare in nature except in dairy products. Our bodies expect lots of magnesium and not much calcium from our day’s intake. Too much vitamin D, when active, can cause even more calcium absorption in the intestines.

Magnesium containing skin creams may reduce leg cramps and other prenatal discomforts. Epsom salt foot soaks or baths can be soothing and nourishing as well.

Herbal teas are very nourishing in general – a few would not be recommended with pregnancy but raspberry leaf tea has been used successfully for generations.

“Raspberry leaves as well as the fruit contain many valuable vitamins needed during pregnancy. As well as containing iron, they are rich in vitamins A, C, B, E, calcium, manganese and magnesium. Magnesium particularly contributes to the strengthening of the uterine muscles.” [18]

The DASH diet was designed for helping prevent or manage high blood pressure rather than for pregnancy but pre-eclampsia can involve high blood pressure and the diet includes more emphasis on magnesium rich foods than the standard diet plans. The DASH diet plan includes a group for beans/nuts/seeds which are all good sources of magnesium. [8]

A prenatal diet plan is primarily different from a standard woman’s diet plan by having one additional dairy serving for extra calcium and the equivalent of one additional mixed snack during the second and third trimesters. During the first trimester calorie needs are similar to standard. Make the additional mixed snack a magnesium rich snack and pre-eclampsia might not become a problem. Corn chips and bean dip, peanut butter toast, or pumpkin seed kernels in a trail mix would all be snacks containing magnesium and other nutrients.

Continuing a diet with more magnesium, zinc, selenium, and adequate calcium intake may also help protect women with a history of pre-eclampsia from experiencing heart disease symptoms later in life. An association has been observed in medical research between a history of having had pre-eclampsia and increased risk of heart disease. [17] The DASH diet was designed to help reduce cardiovascular risks associated with high blood pressure. Continuing to follow the diet plan may help protect against heart disease.

Differences in the TRPM6 gene may underlie both the risk for pre-eclampsia and for heart disease risk. In an animal based study providing adequate magnesium helped protect the animals with differences in the TRPM6 gene. [19] TRPM6 channels are more prevalent in epithelial cells (type of cell that forms the skin and the lining of the GI tract) while TRPM7 channels are common throughout the body. Both types transport magnesium. Evidence suggests the TRPM7 type are involved in hypertension. [20] TRPM7 channels may be more involved in risk of heart attack (myocardial ischemia). [21]

More information about TRP channels is included in this post about Irritable Bowel Syndrome: http://transcendingsquare.com/2016/03/30/and-what-do-osmomechanical-stress-changes-of-temperature-chili-powder-curry-powder-ginger-benicar-hormone-d-steroids-and-cannabinoids-have-in-common/

Which led me to wonder if there is any association between IBS and pre-eclampsia – one study found some co-occurrence that was not statistically significant. There was an increased risk (25-30%) found for miscarriage and having a diagnosis of IBS  and depression/anxiety prior to becoming pregnant (how severe the symptoms was not assessed). [22]

A hypothesis regarding intrauterine pressure and pre-eclampsia mentions that it is associated with cell stress and decreased magnesium levels were noted:

“Jarosz et al. reported that in lab animals exposed to IAH of 25 mmHg, histology of the brain demonstrated evidence of ischemic neuronal cell stress and decreased magnesium levels [73].” [23]

A brief background regarding TRP channels – they act as pressure release valves so that organs leak rather than overfill. As a visual picture think of blowing up a balloon, eventually you have to stop or it will pop. The TRP channels would allow the balloon to leak instead of popping. The channels are located throughout the body and are formed from a large protein or group of proteins that cross the cell membranes. Magnesium is an electrically active mineral that provides the energy required to keep the channels closed and only allow transport of desired chemicals through the channel.

Having too little magnesium available leaves the channels without energy to stay closed and prevent fluid or other chemicals from crossing through the channel. Depending on the difference in pressure fluid and chemicals might rush into the cell from the surrounding fluid (extracellular fluid) or fluid and chemicals might rush out of the cell (intracellular fluid) into the surrounding fluid.

The hypothesis about intrauterine pressure and pre-eclampsia includes background information on the condition but magnesium is only referenced (see the excerpt above), its role in TRP channels was not discussed.

Emergency guidance suggested having the woman experiencing severe symptoms physically get into a kneeling position or lay horizontally on their left side:

Within the limitations of this analysis, data suggest that IAP may be altered throughout pregnancy by modifying the maternal position (altering the force direction), with the lowest pressure values obtained in knee–chest and left lateral positions. The negative pressure values obtained in the knee–chest position are important, as inversion of the maternal abdomen may provide an easily available and effective emergency intervention for PE, should this hypothesis be confirmed.” [23]

The article doesn’t provide further description of the position. My guess is a position that was recommended at the time I was pregnant for helping prevent breech delivery – get on hands and knees and then lower the chest and head to the floor, and then relax and stay there a while, having a pillow and watching TV is okay. Yes, see here, scroll down the page: [24]

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.

  1. Grass Staggers In Cattle & Sheep, http://www.dairy-direct.co.uk/?p=2868
  2. Magnesium Fact Sheet for Health Professionals, NIH,  https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
  3. Effects of Antenatal exposure to Magnesium Sulfate on Neuroprotection and Mortality in Preterm Infants :Maged M. Costantine, MD, Steven J. Weiner, MS, Obstet Gynecol. 2009 August; 114(2 Pt 1): 354-364
  4. Magnesium deficiency-induced spasms of umbilical vessels: relation to preeclampsia, hypertension, growth retardation. Pub:Science, 221 (July 22, 1983): pp376(2)Burton M. Altura, Bella T. Altura and Anthony Carella
  5. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-998-magnesium.aspx?activeIngredientId=998&activeIngredientName=magnesium
  6. http://www.webmd.com/baby/tc/pregnancy-and-epilepsy-topic-overview
  7. http://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2011/09/12/in-the-magazine/health-in-the-magazine/viral-link-mental-illness.html
  8. http://dashdiet.org/default.asp
  9. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/preeclampsia/conditioninfo/Pages/risk.aspx
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4096428/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24102858
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23825993
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26104253
  14. Enaruna NO1, Ande A, Okpere EE., Clinical significance of low serum magnesium in pregnant women attending the University of Benin Teaching Hospital. Niger J Clin Pract. 2013 Oct-Dec;16(4):448-53. 
     https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23974737
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24853885
  16. Dalton LM, et al., Magnesium in Pregnancy, Nutr Rev. 2016 Sep;74(9):549-57.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27445320
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25721023
  18. Ferguson, Patricia. “Turning over a new leaf for pregnancy: London-based medical herbalist and ‘living food educator’ Patricia Ferguson discusses how raspberry leaves can help pregnancy.(Raspberry leaves).” Royal College of Midwives Journal. Ten Alps Publishing. 2009. HighBeam Research. 16 Feb. 2011 .
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27991852
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18192217
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24445530
  22. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/761575
  23. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306987714002722
  24. https://www.glowm.com/section_view/heading/Umbilical%20Cord%20Prolapse%20and%20Other%20Cord%20Emergencies/item/136
  25. edited by Richard A. King, Jerome I. Rotter, Arno G. Motulsky  The Genetic Basis of Common Diseases, page 539 https://books.google.com/books?id=xKC4swxJC1UC&pg=PA539&lpg=PA539&dq=intrauterine+pressure+in+black+women%27s+pelvic+structure&source=bl&ots=M9TWK8OdYd&sig=YRYuD908NTDc-CChVhIDWKE1l6c&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjA6qicgsbTAhVHxlQKHWyWBigQ6AEIQDAE#v=onepage&q=intrauterine%20pressure%20in%20black%20women’s%20pelvic%20structure&f=false
  26. G. Ghosh, Racial/ethnic differences in pregnancy-related hypertensive disease in nulliparous women,
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4171100/