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Natural ideas, options and diet recommendations

Iron

How do I get enough iron?

Recommended daily intake during pregnancy is 30-50mg.

Sources include
  • Ensure you have an abundance of dark green leafy vegetables, seaweed, kelp, parsley, nettle tea, watercress, beets, asparagus, carrots, cucumber
  • 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds, sesame and sunflower seeds
  • Dried fruit particularly apricots, figs, raisins, currants, prunes. Soak a handful over night and eat with breakfast.
  • Chickpeas, black eyed beans, aduki beans
  • Fish and meat,  organ meats especially liver are rich in stored iron but may also contain waste toxins so it is recommended to find an organic source if possible. Try 50g lambs fry
  • Raspberry leaf tea after 36 weeks of pregnancy or consult a Naturopath, your Midwife or Doctor if you wish to take it sooner.
  • Herbal infusions made from yellow dock, stinging nettle, watercress, parsley, dandelion,)
  • Use molasses as a sweetening agent instead of honey and sugar.
  • Other ideas, 1 cup cooked spinach, 1 cup cooked chickpeas, 1 cup cooked kidney beans, 1 cup cooked soy beans, 1 cup wheat flour, 100g steamed mussels, 1tbsp blackstrap molasses, 1 tbsp kelp granules, 100g dried apricots.
Absorption of Iron

Vitamin C helps iron to be absorbed. Vitamin C is found in most fresh fruits an d vegetables like kiwifruit, potatoes, fresh oranges, parsley leaves, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.  Molasses is a good source of iron because it contains calcium, copper and an organic form of ferrous sulphate which also helps you to absorb iron.

Animal protein, ie, meat, are the richest dietary source or iron. Vegetarians therefore need to be more diligent about ensuring adequate iron intake, especially during pregnancy.

Iron is depleted by
  • smoking, tea, coffee
  • additives in soft drinks, ice cream, commercially baked goods, sweets and beer
Supplements
  • Chelated iron and vitamin C (cheated iron has been bound to protein molecules so it passes easily through the walls of the intestines into the blood).
  • Kelp
  • Molasses
  • Floradix which is a useful iron preparation from vegetable sources.
  • You could try Cell salt: Ferrum Phos


Vitamin B6

Functions include
  • Essential for the production of antibodies and red blood cells, therefore need increases during pregnancy
  • Deficiency contributes to nausea in early pregnancy and increases the likelihood of postnatal depression
  • Deficiency may lead to anaemia, oedema and toxaemia
Symptoms of B6 deficiency
  • Butterflies in stomach
  • Bloated abdomen; abdominal soreness and cramps
  • Passing of excessive gas
  • Bad breath
  • Dandruff
  • Leg cramps; muscle twitching 
  • Lethargy; depression; mood changes; headache
Sources
  • Green leafy vegetables, cabbage
  • Whole grain cereals, brown rice
  • Corn oil, prunes
  • Egg yolk, kidney, heart
  • Brewers yeast, molasses, honey
Depleted by
  • A diet high in deep fried foods. During the deep frying process polyunsaturated fats oxidise producing by products which interfere with normal B6 metabolism.
  • Contraceptive pills.
Notes
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) must be present for the B6 in food to be converted into its biologically active form.
  • Large doses of B6 during the postnatal period can reduce prolactin levels, which may cause a decrease in the amount of breast milk a women can produce and will hasten the return to fertility.
 

Folic acid (vitamin B9)

The bodies need for folic acid doubles during pregnancy. It is vital for cell production, and when the body is deficient, "area's which have rapid cell production rates are the first to suffer- fetal, placental, and intestinal wall cells and the cells in the bone marrow that produce red blood cells." Many women are deficient in folic acid before becoming pregnant, and the increase need is often unmet. It is likely that in New Zealand many women diet are similarly low in folic acid. Perhaps it is not coincidence that many of the signs and symptoms of folic acid deficiency are also common complaints of pregnancy- the mask of pregnancy , fatigue, oedema, insomnia, irritability, heartburn and constipation.

Eat raw, fresh uncooked (or cook lightly) green vegetables, saving the cooking water for soups or cooking grains. 

Essential for
  • Effective utilisation of iron
  • Normal development of blood cells
Sources include
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Whole grains, lentils, beans
  • Brewers yeast
  • Egg yolk,
  • Teas made from leafy greens such as, dandelion, lemon grass, nettle, parsley, plantain and watercress

 

Vitamin B12

 A lack of this vitamin inhabits the production of red blood cells, leading to low iron levels and anaemia.
Its absorption is dependent on folic acid and calcium (Both from green vegetables), gastric hydrochloric acid (for which vitamin B1 is essential), and also normal thyroid function (the iodine content of kelp insures a healthy thyroid). Because the utilisation of vitamin B12 depends on these factors, and injection of vitamin B12 can be both ineffective and dangerous. 

Sources include
  • Spirulina
  • Kelp
  • Raw bran
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
Depleted by
  • Refined sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Excessive sun light
  • Coffee
  • Laxatives; deficiencies of calcium, iron and vitamin B6.

 

Vitamin B15

Functions include
  • Prevention of hypoxia in living tissue
Sources include
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Brown rice
  • Brewer yeast
  • organ meats