Is going low carb dangerous?

At the initial patient visit, I try to learn about any special dietary restrictions my patients may have. A common diet is going “low carb” in an effort to lose weight. Emerging research, however, suggests that this could be dangerous when trying to conceive.

Folic acid is a vitamin that reduces the risk of having a child with a problem with it’s spinal cord, known as a neural tube defect. Folic acid is added to many common meals, like cereal, in order to fortify the food. Women who intentionally avoid carbohydrates, thereby consuming fewer fortified foods, may not have adequate dietary intake of folic acid.

This study found that women eating low carb had significantly lower dietary intake of folic acid. Women eating low carb were 30% more likely to have an infant with a severe neural tube defect such as anencephaly or spina bifida.

What you should do:

  • Talk to your doctor about any special diets you have before trying to conceive
  • Women should take a daily prenatal vitamin in addition to having a well-balanced diet while trying to conceive

Iodine deficiency may reduce pregnancy chances

A common question asked in a new fertility evaluation is: “Which prenatal vitamin is best?” We have previously tried to provide some guidance in choosing the best vitamin.  The ingredient list in your prenatal vitamin needs to be considered.

In particular, iodine is an often-overlooked but extremely important component that should be considered in a prenatal vitamin. Iodine is a mineral used by the body to regulate metabolism; it is also very important for brain development in children. It is often found in seafood, iodized salt, dairy, and some fruits and vegetables.

A new study shows that women who have low iodine levels take longer to get pregnant than women who have normal iodine levels.

Take home points:

  • Iodine is important in pregnancy and when you are trying to conceive
  • Boost your fertility naturally with iodine
  • Make sure you are on a good prenatal vitamin
  • Talk to your doctor about what levels of iodine are best for you

Worried about BPA? Your diet might help!

Bisphenol A (BPA) is commonly found in plastics and the majority of us are exposed to this hormone disruptor multiple times daily. We previously introduced BPA and the negative health impacts here. We know that BPA exposure when trying to conceive can negatively impact multiple aspects of your health, including your fertility and the likelihood of your children having health problems.

New data suggests that something as simple as getting enough folate through your diet can help protect you from the damaging effects of BPA. This study looked at the dietary habits of couples with infertility who were going through IVF treatment. They found that women with high urinary BPA concentrations had lower pregnancy rates and live birth rates if they didn’t consume enough folic acid (<400μg/day of food folate) compared to similar women with high BPA exposure but adequate folic acid intake. They found that women who ate enough folate in their food had higher pregnancy rates, despite the fact that they had high BPA exposure. This suggests that folate intake may somehow protect women from the negative impact of BPA on fertility.

Take home points:

  • Avoid BPA as much as possible
  • Make sure you are eating a well-balanced diet to get adequate folate intake while trying to conceive

Workout supplements in 2018

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With the coming of every New Year, many make resolutions. One of the most common resolutions relates to health and fitness. Many people consider the use of supplements to boost their workout or diet regimens.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) compiled fact sheets of the most common supplements used to boost exercise and athletic performance and weight loss. We share them with you as a trusted resource for more information.

Vitamin D and RPL

We here at the blog are big proponents of vitamin D supplementation to enhance your fertility. New research suggests that vitamin D supplementation may also be important for couples that have difficulty staying pregnant, also known as recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL). One of the causes of RPL has been attributed to an autoimmune condition. In this study, researchers evaluated the immune cells thought to be involved in pregnancy loss. They found that women who had low levels of Vitamin D were more likely to have abnormalities in the immune cells involved in pregnancy loss. This suggests that vitamin D supplementation may be a tool we can use to reduce the risk of pregnancy loss.

What you can do:

  • Check your vitamin D before trying to conceive
  • Talk to your physician about the evaluation of RPL and treatment options if you have had two ore more pregnancy losses.

Updates on BPA

bpa-bps-infographic

Bisphenol A (BPA) is commonly found in plastics and the majority of us are exposed to this hormone disruptor multiple times daily. We previously introduced BPA and the negative health impacts here. We know that BPA exposure when trying to conceive can negatively impact multiple aspects of your health, including your fertility and the likelihood of your children having health problems.

New basic science research is adding to our previous concerns about this endocrine disrupting chemical:

  1. BPA negatively impacts how an egg matures and egg quality by increasing DNA damage and oxidative stress. This study also shows the potential for the damage that BPA causes for mom to impact her future children.
  2. BPA can decrease sperm count in males and lead to neurodevelopment problems in their children. This study also was associated with increased obesity in female offspring.

What you can do:

  • Switch to BPA free drinking bottles like those with a #5 stamped on them or use either glass or metal instead;
  • Purchase soups and foods packaged in cardboard cartons or glass instead of the plastic lined cans;
  • Hand wash plastic dishware with mild soap in warm water instead of using dishwashers for these products;
  • Don’t place plastic ware in microwave ovens to warm;
  • Express your support to companies that are voluntarily phasing out the use of BPA in their products.

Happy moms

It is estimated that up to 54% of couples with infertility experience a high level of stress, anxiety, and depression before and/or during fertility treatment. It is incredibly common to need additional help when going through fertility treatment, which is why I encourage the use of complementary stress reduction techniques with my patients. But sometimes yoga, acupuncture, and mediation isn’t enough and more help is needed. The most commonly prescribed antidepressant is a group of medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

A recent study compared women on SSRIs going through IVF to women who were not on antidepressants. They found that the embryo health and IVF outcomes did not differ between the groups. This suggests that, from a fertility standpoint, there is no reason to avoid using an antidepressant if you need it.

Fertility treatment is hard enough. There is no reason to suffer through poorly controlled anxiety and/or depression while going through fertility treatment. If you need additional help, please reach out. The best way to have a happy healthy family is to start with a healthy mom before conception. You are not alone.

Take home points:

  • The diagnosis and treatment of infertility is stressful
  • It’s common to struggle with stress, anxiety, and depression at any phase of treatment
  • Antidepressant use does not impact IVF success rate.
  • Do not hesitate to get additional help if needed