Dietary Supplements; are yours making you sick?

A recent survey estimated that nearly half of the US adult population (~114 million people) regularly takes dietary supplements. In fact, last year Consumer Reports estimated that our passion for these products costs us over $15 billion; more than $150 per person and that didn’t even include the amount that we spend on vitamins. Unfortunately, emerging information shows that we’re often not getting what we’ve paid for, or worse, we can be taking in products that can actually impair our health.

In this consumer driven market, products tend to target the most popular problems or conditions including infertility and pregnancy. Unfortunately the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have identified a growing trend of tainted products. Many have been found to be contaminated with toxic plant material, poisonous heavy metals and bacteria that can create various illnesses. Worse still, the supplements that have been confirmed to be problematic are believed to be a small fraction of the growing problem. How did we get to this point? It dates back to the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) under which vitamins, minerals, botanical products, amino acids and tissue extracts were all classified as “dietary supplements.” According to this regulation these products are presumed to be safe and can be marketed to consumers with no pre-release testing and very little oversight. The end result has been a growing list of consumer complaints, possible health complications, and uninvestigated claims of efficacy.

In reality, anything that promotes health can also have adverse effects. This is as true for supplements as it is for medications. That’s why as more of these products target men/women wanting to conceive or women that are already pregnant it is important to be your own advocate; both as a consumer and as a patient. Especially since a growing number of supplements are tainted with impurities and unlisted ingredients.

In 2007 the US FDA published a report titled “Survey Data on Lead in Women’s and Children’s Vitamins.” I find it disturbing that the investigators concluded that of the 324 products tested they contained levels of impurities that were considered “safe/tolerable exposures.” Yet, they all tested positive for lead! As a healthcare provider and patient advocate I’m outraged People shouldn’t unknowingly purchase and consume products that introduce toxins into their body. Fortunately there are steps that you can take to protect yourself and your family:

• Go organic—A growing number of studies show that organically produced products are higher in health promoting vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. By choosing organic products when you can, you’ll decrease your need to supplement your healthy diet.

• Be an informed consumer—Since most supplement manufacturers don’t voluntarily hire agencies to monitor the quality of their product, investigate the quality of the ones you are using. Independent agencies like Consumer Lab test and report on the quality of many supplements.

• Notify your healthcare provider of everything that you’re taking—A growing number of products have been found to be deliberately tainted with active ingredients including prescription medications not approved for use in the United States. Therefore it is important that your doctor know about everything that you’re taking in case you develop a reaction to your supplement or experience an adverse response due to how it interacts with your other medications.

• Periodically re-evaluate your needs—Most dietary supplements have not been well tested despite the claims to the contrary. I recommend that my patients reconsider each product that they’re using at least once a year by asking themselves two questions. First, why did I start this? Second, is it meeting or exceeding my expectations? If you’re not satisfied with these answers discontinue anything that isn’t specifically recommended by your healthcare provider.

Getting out of a tough position; yoga to boost your fertility and improve your health throughout pregnancy

by Lindsay Brin

“For years, yoga has played an important role in my life. It not only helps me manage the stressful life of a fertility specialist but also assisted my wife and me in having our daughter. Since it’s much more difficult to design research studies to prove the benefits of yoga; I thought I’d share another compelling story with you by introducing you to a friend of mine, Lindsay Brin.

Lindsay is a fitness and nutrition expert as well as a former NFL cheerleader. For over 15 years, she’s been helping women achieve the balance of both healthy mind and body. For the last few years however, she has focused more specifically on helping women with infertility as well as during their pregnancy. She has done this through her books, videos, DVD’s and her website. But even more convincing has been her willingness to share her own experience as a successful fertility patient as well. ” Robert Greene, MD, FACOG

In August 2007 I went through my 3rd IVF.  I knew I had the best doctor and it looked like the odds were on my side.  But still I could not get over the emotional & physical turmoil of infertility.  Why does my sister-in-law hold hands with her husband and get pregnant?  Why did we increase my Gonal?  Why did I fill my bladder too much before ET?  How does my husband put up with me right now?  Why?  Why? Why?

Then I realized I was only in control of one thing, my body.  I couldn’t control the situation I was put in but it was time to take control of my attitude, emotional well-being, stress and physical body.

Having been a pre/post-natal fitness expert for several years I knew the incredible benefits of exercise and yoga.  So why didn’t I apply them through my 1st IVF?  Well, I’m not really sure.  All I know is I was an emotional wreck, 10 pounds heavier and cranky!

But if you’re like me, by the 2nd IVF I was willing to do anything and everything to improve my chances!  I added acupuncture, read Dr. Greene’s book, Perfect Hormone Balance for Fertility and got back to my daily exercise regime which included yoga.  And we did better this time around…but miscarried at 6.5 weeks.

This brings us back to August 2007 when I got the best news ever!  Betas 32 @ 11dpo and 130 @ 13 dpo!   I believe that was always the plan but again I could only control 1 aspect of the situation: my body.

Yoga is known for stress relief of infertility and increased blood flow to the uterus.  So of course it’s beneficial!  But if increasing your chances isn’t enough motivation please listen to me when I say that feeling better about yourself is the reason you should try it!

Yoga is a series of postures and exercises that promote control of your body, spiritual well-being and a connection with your body.  You can use safe yoga postures to build strength and flexibility along with relaxation to develop or enhance calmness and confidence.

Here are some known fertility yoga poses.

  1. Start in butterfly, sitting with bottoms of feet touching and knees bent;
  2. Twisting butterfly, first place your right hand on the outside of your left knee and look over you left shoulder as you twist, switch sides;
  3. Goddess pose, lie on the ground with bottom of feet still touching;
  4. Butterfly rest, from goddess pose pull your feet towards your center, knees still bent in butterfly, look to the right for 5 breathes, look to the left for 5 breathes;
  5. Bridge pose-place feet on the ground about 12-18 inches form buttocks, place hands on the ground at your sides, lift your hips and do a series of pelvic circles;
  6. Savasana- corpse pose, lie with feet falling open and hands to your sides, breathe so deeply the back of your rib cage expands into the floor, relax until the point your feel your limbs getting heavy.

Now I am blessed to be pregnant with baby #2 after IVF #4.  And the only thing that keeps the swelling away and the energy high is exercise and yoga!  I do my prenatal DVDs which have both exercise and yoga on them (although I have to mute myself).  So once you do get pregnant continue your yoga program to benefit your body and your baby!

If you’d like to know more about my fertility journey please visit my blog www.lindsaybrin.com.  You’ll also get to see the good, the bad and the ugly of getting rid of the fertility lbs. and pregnancy weight gain!