Congratulations on expecting! Motherhood is a joyous and challenging experience all tied into a thrashing, spinning tornado. There is much information surrounding pregnancy – don’t eat this, take this prenatal, you need to supplement iron, etc. However, much of this information is wrong and is being blindly followed. We believe healthcare practitioners are doing what they feel to be best with the information they have been taught. This is where the problem lies, in the information being taught. Our approach toward pregnancy: what is normal during pregnancy and how to help you as an expecting mother, is very different than the standard of care. Our goal is to help you, the momma, fully understand pregnancy and empower you to take control of your health during and afterward.
Click on any item below to learn more about pregnancy and nutritional testing.
The most significant misunderstanding surrounding pregnancy is iron. Iron is not necessarily your friend We understand this is a heavy hitter in the world of pregnancy health. Often many women, especially pregnant women, are prescribed some form of an iron supplement to avoid or treat anemia. There is strong literature highlighting iron levels in the blood are not iron levels in the tissue – the amount of iron stuck in the tissue (organs) can be up to 10 times higher.1 Taking a one-sided approach when looking at iron creates a huge problem – it creates a logical fallacy. Iron has become ‘stuck’ in the tissue and is not being mobilized. This is an iron re-cycling issue, not a low iron or anemia issue. Our reticuloendothelial system, AKA iron recycling system, is 95% efficient at recycling.2 If this is true, and iron has been fortified in almost all our food products,3 it does not make sense to be low in iron. It only makes sense that there is a recycling issue. This is one area we address through our nutritional counseling.
Healthcare has made another logical fallacy regarding laboratory readings. Women have blood work done during pregnancy and will be given information back regarding their results. Sometimes women will be diagnosed as ‘anemic or borderline anemic’ and therefore advised to take an iron supplement. This is a logical fallacy. To mobilize iron into hemoglobin (protein which carries oxygen) of red blood cells (RBCs) there needs to be an enzyme called ferrochelatase.4 This enzyme is a copper-controlled enzyme. This enzyme moves iron into the RBC. The iron does not simply do it by itself.
As an easy visual, imagine you are building a factory. Iron is used as a raw building material. To move iron into place to build the factory, a crane operator (ferrochelatase) picks up the iron and puts the iron where it needs to go. As it relates to the body, to mobilize iron into hemoglobin correctly within the RBC, you need a balance of copper to iron5 6 – not just supplementing with iron. Supplementing with something – iron – that is also enriched in all food products, should make a person stop and question. Is the valuation of iron of which I am being told, correct?
So far, iron sounds terrible. But without iron, we would die. We do need it. The problem comes with the quantity we consume in our daily eating habits already plus supplementation. We are not working to balance iron levels – through bio-available copper – or working to restore the recycling system, which is 95% efficient at recycling iron. All of this allows iron to create massive distress inside your body.
Too much iron or improper recycling of iron in the body causes rusting – AKA inflammation. As an illustration, think of an iron rod outside in your yard left alone. Under the presence of oxygen and water, the iron begins to rust. This rusting - oxidizing – is also what occurs inside your cells. Stuck iron is bad.
Inflammation is noted as ‘oxidative’ stress. This is what causes free radicals within our body. Free radicals or Reactive Oxide Species (ROS), come from the improper handling of oxygen being converted into energy for our cells. Dysregulation of iron causes free radicals before anything else.
Almost all women hear, ‘wait a couple years at least between pregnancies. The reasoning behind this is a baby will significantly drain the mother of minerals within the last two months of pregnancy. Add the physical stress of carrying more weight, restless sleep, learning to nurse a newborn and this leads to more mineral loss. Pregnancy is hard on the mineral balances of a momma. Having adequate mineral balances – for women – is very important to sustain life within. One single mineral of great importance is magnesium. Magnesium is known to regulate 3,751 known enzymes, proteins, and hormones. ATP, our bodies energy source, does not become activated without magnesium. Having adequate levels of magnesium is vital for life of both mother and child. The typical reference ranges on labs for ‘normal or adequate’ magnesium for RBCs is too little in reality. This brings us back to the fallacies we have seen with reference ranges on lab testing and our societies trust in these lab test reference ranges.
There is much more to the picture surrounding pregnancy and health. Hopefully, this information gives you a taste of the difference in our information and the standard. If you are ready to maximize your and your baby’s health starting now, please reach out and schedule. We offer in-person and Telehealth services.
Content written by Dr. Rachel Sparks, DC | Root Cause Protocol (RCP) Consultant, Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS) Certified Exercise Trainer, Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT) Practitioner
Content reviewed by Dr. Keith Sparks, DC | Root Cause Protocol (RCP) Consultant, Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS) Certified Exercise Trainer, Selective Functional Movement Assessment Certified (SFMA) Certified
1 2 Waddell and Elvehjem, 1928, “Iron in nutrition. VII. Copper as a Supplement to Iron for Hemoglobin building in the Rat.” Jrl Biol Chem 77: 797-812
3 4 Cartwright and Wintrobe, 1958; Ames et at,2005
5 Sharp P, 2004, “The Molecular Basis of Copper & Iron Interactions” Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 63: 563-569
6 Source: Rich PR, 2017-June15, “Mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase: catalysis, coupling and controversies” Biochemical Society Transactions; 45(3):813-829
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