Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Sunshine Vitamin

.Hello ladies.

It's been a busy few weeks with very few posts. I hope to make that up this week by talking about a variety of issues. A number of things that have been on my mind lately are superfoods, fertility boosting supplements, and good 'ol Mr. Sun.

In this age of technology it's easy to get stuck on the computer or glued to the TV. For most, that means countless hours of vegging in dimly lit rooms away from clean air, clear sun, and all good things having to do with nature. It's easy to fall into, I was once a victim myself. These days however, I really stress the importance of unpluging everything in the house, stepping outside and observing the world around me.

It's important, too. Interacting with nature is crucial to proper brain function and the production of Vitamin D, also known as the "sunshine vitamin". As technology becomes more profound so does the rate of Vitamin D defeciency. The link between the Sun and Vitamin D goes back to the 1800's when it was noticed that city children were much more susceptable to rickets (softening of the bones in children caused by a Vitamin D defeciency) than their rural friends. Since this discovery more and more research has been done to determine what vital role Vitamin D plays in the maintanence of a healthy human body. The results of these studies show links to suffecient Vitamin D intake and a reduced risk of osteoporosis, hypertension, cancer, high cholesterol and a number of autoimmune diseases.

For pregnant women, Vitamin D is especially important. Vitamin D helps to maintain levels of Calcium in the body. This is crucial to the development of your new-pride-and-joy's bones and teeth. Maintaining the recommended levels of Vitamin D brings you one step closer to the safe delivery of your new healthy baby. The recommended daily intake for a mother-to-be is 200-400 IU daily. However, you may be interested to know that recent studies have shown that higher doses (about 4,000 IU) may help to prevent preterm birth and other common complications.

So, for most getting out in the sun for 15-20 minutes a day with exposed skin (bare skin, no sunscreen) will suffice our daily Vitamin D needs. Pregnant woman, however, may want to look to supplement their intake. Most pre-natal vitamins contain you daily recommended value, and then some, but never the less Vitamin D is something you will want to look for and consider when making your pre-natal vitamin choices. I would suggest for non-vegeterians getting a DHA supplement fortified with Vitamin D such as Ascenta NutraSea+D™ or New Chapter Wholemega® (available at  Vitacost for 40% off retail). For Vegetarians/Vegans I would definitely recommend a 100% whole food supplement such as MegaFood Vitamin D-3.

Also ladies, just because you are taking a Vitamin D supplement doesn't exclude you from the need to get outside. Exercise and fresh air are important for you and your developing baby and both have the potential to help cut-back on morning sickness. Also, if your feeling a little melancholy try getting some sunshine, it helps to lift the spirit and combat depression.

Looking for supplements? Use this link to get a coupon for $10 off any purchase at Vitacost! Vitacost has all the great brands of national-chain health food stores, but at a fraction of the price. Find your favorite brands today.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Water: How much do women need?

Water. I love water. Who doesn't?

In the Quran, God says "We have made every living thing out of water." It's amazing that today's technology allows us to confirm, for the sake of non-believers, that this is in fact the truth.

I have so much passion for water in so many aspects.. From the water crisis throughout the world claiming 40,000 lives everyday; to the chemicals and companies wreaking havoc on our oceans, threatening all life as we know it..

Our cells need water to grow and regenerate keeping us young, vital, and healthy. An estimated 75% of Americans aren't getting enough water. So how much water do we really need?

Well, truth is, it depends on who you ask.. Growing up many children are programmed to drink eight 8-oz glasses of water per day. Or, at least that's what I've been told since my elementary school days. I rarely drink that now, and I certainly didn't back then. As a person who has always been rather small for my age, calculations have always been very appealing to me, not to mention I enjoy math. Does it not occur to parents and teachers when they are talking to 65 pound 7 year-olds about water that they have a tendency to tell kids how much they should be drinking, not the kids? Of course there should be many factors considered when determining your ideal daily intake of water: altitude, climate, activity level, and weather you are pregnant or breastfeeding each play an important part.

One easy calculation is that you should drink one ounce of fluid for every 2 pounds of your body. So if you weigh 120 pounds, you need roughly 60 oz of water. Pregnant women need about 16 additional ounces per day. Also for each half-hour of moderate exercise aim for an additional 4 oz.

Now, please don't get overwhelmed. Did you know that if you follow a well balanced diet high in fruits and vegetables you may be getting 20%-25% of your fluid needs from your diet alone? It's true. Also, it doesn't have to be water. You can get your fluids from juice, smoothies, broth, milk, the list is endless. Juice is a great option because you can add a lot of additional nutrition to your diet all while meeting your daily fluid intake.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Quinoa: the mother grain

Quinoa is a pretty hot topic these days, and as one of the only complete protein sources in the plant world, it's no wonder. However, today I want to talk about quinoa and it's benefits to women in all stages of life. Here we go..

First, let's take a look at what quinoa has to offer. Quinoa is high in Protein, Magnesium, Manganese, Copper, Iron and B Vitamins.

Protein- As a vegetarian, protein has always been a big topic for me. Is it just me, or does it seem like "protein" is the only word in the mainstream nutrition vocabulary? "Vegetarians can't get enough protein..." "Your gonna die of a protein deficiency if you don't start eating meat!" Sound familiar? These were the first comments that sparked my interest in nutrition and the importance of a healty diet. Personally, instead of following charts that lump all women, or worse, all adults together to recommend a single amount of protein for every human above age 18, I prefer to use calculations. Specifically the USDA recommends eating 0.4 grams of protein for each pould of your IDEAL body weight. If you are pregnant you can find out about how much weight you should gain in each trimester and adjust your intake accordingly. However, the standard recommendations for pregnant women vary between 75-90 grams per day depending on where you are in your your pregnancy. One cup of cooked quinoa has about 8 grams of Complete Protein. Complete Proteins contain a significant amount of all 9 essential amino acids necessary to sustain a healthy human body.

Magnesium- Magnesium works to relax muscles. Proper magnesium intake can help prevent preclampsia and premature uterine contractions. It also helps to regulate blood sugar, an important factor in controlling morning sickness. Daily recommended intake varies for women by age, as well as for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Daily needs for pregnant women aged 19-30 need 350 mg per day, breastfeeding mothers of the same age need 310 mg. 1/2 cup of quinoa boasts about 90 mg of magnesium.

Manganese- Manganese is a mineral that helps to form bone and cartilage. This mineral is especially important for pregnant women, but even more so to breastfeeding mothers. One cup of cooked quinoa offers 1.2 mg of manganese. A significant amount since pregnant women are recommended to consume 2 mg, breastfeeding women 2.6, and non-pregnant women 1.8 mg on a daily basis. However ladies, remember that too much of a good thing can be bad. Some babies born with clubfoot and stillbirth have been linked to excessive intake of manganese during pregnancy.

Iron- Wow, this is a big one. No, quinoa isn't going to provide 110% of your DRV, but it is a significant source of Iron. For non-meat-eaters this is an especially big issue. Even bigger if you are a non-meat-eater than happens to be female. See, there are two types of Iron found in food: Heme and Non-Heme. Heme Iron counts for about 40 percent of the iron found in meat and animal products. Non-Heme Iron accounts for about 60 percent of the Iron found in animal products, and 100 percent of the iron found in plant based sources. Did I mention that Non-Heme Iron isn't as easily absorbed as it's meaty friend? For this reason vegetarians are suggested to consume about 14 mg per day for men and post-menopausal women. However, as we all know during our monthly menstruation, us ladies lose a significant amount of fluid and tissue. For this reason vegetarian women prior to menopause are recommended to consume 33 mg of Iron each day. For pregnant women, who are having to produce enough red blood cells to make an entire human being, it is recommended to increase your daily intake by 10-20 mg. One cup of cooked quinoa has about 3 mg of Iron.

Copper- This essential trace mineral is vital for the development of your new baby's heart, blood vessels, skeletal and nervous systems. Pregnant women need about 1 mg per day, and breastfeedingwomen 1.3 mg. One cup of cooked quinoa has .4 mg of Copper. Interrestingly, excess Copper interferes with Zinc, which is responsible for making digestive enzymes. It can also impair thyroid activity and functions of the liver, consequently leaving the sufferer unable to properly digest meats. Hello, vegetarian lifestyle!

Folate (B9)- Folate is the natural B9 vitamin found in foodstuffs. Folic Acid is the synthetic version of Folate. Most women are encouraged to take a Folic Acid supplement when looking to get pregnant. This is because Folate is necessary to cell production and very important to brain function. Not only is this vitamin important to pregnant women , but is essential for elderly people to help combat memory loss, dementia, and depression. Women of childbearing should regularly consume at least 400 mcg (micrograms), and pregnant women 600 mcg.  One cup of Cooked quinoa has 78 mcg of Folate.

Pyridoxine (B6)- Sufficient B6 intake has been shown to alleviate symptoms of morning sickness, especially when paired with sufficient magnesium. However too much B6 can cause a B6 dependency in newborns, so use with caution and never take more than 1000mg a day. Pregnant women need about 1.9 mg of B6 daily, breastfeeding women need 2 mg.  One cup of cooked quinoa contains .228 mg of B6.

As an added bonus, it is easily digested which is good for pregnant women who suffer from indigestion and great for those with celiac disease, as it is completely gluten free!
Lately I eat quinoa at least once a day. As I look more and more into a raw food diet I can't help but feel a little heartache at the thought of letting it go. Quinoa can be sprouted and used in raw foods which actually help to activate enzymes and boost Vitamin A and mineral content making it significantly healthier than its cooked counterpart! But that's a topic for another day..

Thursday, April 5, 2012

What I want to discuss

Topics of particular importance to me are vegan and vegetarian pregnancy, raw lifestyle and pregnancy, superfoods, fertility, and potential cures for morning sickness.

Many people live mainstream lifestyles and have modernly conventional pregnancies. Others choose to live more in-tune with nature and the historical methods of bith and mothering. Let's explore our options and decide for ourselves what our bodies need to be healthy and produce beautiful thriving babies..

A journey begins here..

     I am Maryann and this is my "living life" blog. In the coming days and months I hope to share with you my passion for living an earth-conscious and body-conscious lifestyle. My primary focus is food and health, and I hope to share with you information that can benefit your life through my experiences.

  More accurately this blog is meant to chronicle my journey to health before entering motherhood.

I have been a vegetarian for 8 years. Just as many seek a vegetarian lifestyle to become more healthful, many do it for the sake of compassion with disregard to their physical needs. This was my situation initially. However, as I have gown and come to learn more about my body I have constructed a healthy vegetarian diet. I am happy not to support meat industries for their animal cruelty and disregard for the environment.

I look forward to learning more about my body and it's needs to help myself and others before the journey of becoming a mother.


This blog has been inspired by my love for learning, teaching, and discovering the truth. It is an outlet for all things surrounding life, love, and the prospect of mothering. I intend to share in this blog information useful to myself that may also help girls and women of all ages, as well as the mother-to-be.

I am not a physician, nutritionist, or dietitian and do not claim any of the following herbs, foodstuffs, or recipes to cure any disease. I am simply sharing my knowledge and experience for your potential benefit, none of which are advised without the recommendation of your doctor.