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Iodine - An essential nutrient for a healthy pregnancy

Kavita Devgan

Kavita Devgan
06 March 2020

This article is authored by Kavita Devgan. Kavita is an acclaimed nutritionist with 20 plus years of experience as a weight loss and holistic health consultant.

Sources of Iodine

Malnutrition can be very deceptive. Not many understand that being malnourished during a pregnancy is not just about not getting enough macronutrients such as protein and calories in the diet, but it can also mean chronic micronutrient deficiencies. Due to lack of information and the fact that the symptoms are not that clear, micronutrient deficiencies often stay undetected for long (unlike calorie and protein deficiencies) and thus cause huge damage.

Iodine, in fact, is one such micronutrient mineral that a lot many of us tend to be deficient in, and according to WHO, lack of iodine (along with vitamin A and iron) represents a major threat to the health and development of populations the world over, particularly children and pregnant women in low-income countries.

Together, all of us need to be particularly careful in India as there is very little iodine in the soil here, and also because our diets are majorly grain- and plant based - so while they are high in macronutrients like carbohydrates, fats and proteins, they are very low in micronutrients. In fact those who are vegetarian and vegan (who don’t consume dairy) need to be particularly careful, especially women, as their needs tend to be higher.

Iodine for Healthy Pregnancy

Why do we need iodine?

Iodine is necessary to make thyroid hormones that regulate growth, development and metabolism. Its deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism, a condition where the thyroid is under active—and the body can’t make enough of the thyroid hormones to keep the body running efficiently.

Often along with low thyroid hormone levels, anaemia too may develop which corrects itself when your hypothyroidism is treated. Anaemia is a problem for both men and women in India, but it is particularly high for women, who have a greater need for iron.

Iodine deficiency could also thin your hair, dry your skin, and make you feel cold, tired, constipated, and depressed. Plus, you might gain weight more easily. Excessive hair loss is in fact a very apparent yet often missed out symptom of iodine deficiency. Iodine also regulates the texture of hair – deficiency shows up in dry and brittle strands.

Pregnant and lactating women (as babies get iodine through breast milk) are at a high risk of iodine deficiency because they need to consume enough to meet their own daily needs, as well as the needs of their growing baby. Not consuming enough iodine during pregnancy and lactation can affect both the mother and baby as iodine protects the developing foetus from brain damage (iodine deficiencies can reduce IQ by an average of 13 IQ points) and its deficiency may lead to stunted physical growth, irreversible brain damage, including mental retardation, for the child. Iodine deficiency during pregnancy has also been associated with ADHD in children. Plus, mothers who are severely iodine deficient could also be at risk for miscarriage and stillbirth. Young children too need to prevent from being affected by IDD (Iodine Deficiency Disorders) for better cognitive development for better school performance, and increased energy (by reducing anaemia).

Symptoms - at a glance

  • Swelling in the front of the neck (called goitre)
  • Unexpected weight gain
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Hair fall
  • Dry flaky skin
  • Feeling colder than usual
  • Changes in heart rate
  • Trouble remembering and learning
  • Heavy and irregular menstrual bleeding
Iodine rich foods

How to get enough iodine?

Although the total requirement of iodine for an adult (about 150 mcg) is not much, it is necessary for iodine to be included in our daily diet as our body does not make iodine nor does it have any storage organ for the mineral. Food sources of iodine are spinach, shrimp, tuna, seaweeds (such as kelp), egg, yoghurt, prunes, non-milled and unpolished rice and grains, and garlic, but it is difficult to get enough just from the food sources. Luckily though, the deficiency is easy to prevent by adding just a dash of iodised salt to our food can help meet the requirement. So, don’t take any chances with that. Always use iodised salt in your meals to fulfill iodine requirements. Consult your doctor to ensure that you are consuming the right amount of salt through your diet to avoid any further health complications.



DISCLAIMER

The views and opinions expressed, and assumptions & analysis presented in this content piece are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

 

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Hypertension In Women

Karishma Chawla

Karishma Chawla
27 October 2020

This article is authored by Karishma Chawla. She is a practising nutritionist and a weight loss expert. She advises people on what to eat in order to lead a healthy lifestyle or to achieve a specific health-related goal.

Hypertension is quite often considered a men’s health problem, but that’s a myth. In fact, men and women have a similar risk of developing high blood pressure. But after the onset of menopause, women actually face higher risk than men of developing high blood pressure. Although prior to 45 years of age, men are slightly more likely to develop high blood pressure.

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing inside the lining of arteries. High blood pressure or hypertension occurs when the force increases and stays higher than normal for a period of time.

Hypertension is often referred to as a silent killer. If untreated, it can lead to a major health set back and cause many complications. In most cases, there may not be any symptoms of high blood pressure. Sometimes, in case of sudden or severe increase in B.P., individuals may experience headaches, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision or nosebleeds. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a major risk factor for stroke and kidney failure. These problems worsen when high blood pressure is present along with diabetes. For women, high blood pressure during pregnancy can be dangerous for both mother and child.

What causes it? Reasons for high blood pressure

Eat Breakfast

• Genetic factors: Hereditary factors – one of the leading reasons for high blood pressure, which worsen when the environmental factors are not healthy.

• Body weight: Obesity and diabetes along with their associated disorders are often associated with hypertension.

• Age:Chances of a high blood pressure diagnosis increase steeply with age. But research now shows that high blood pressure can affect adolescents and the young as well.

• Gender: Risk is greater in men than women, but after menopause, the difference decreases.

• Dietary factors: Some dietary factors that can contribute to high blood pressure include excess calories coming saturated fats, diets that contain high sodium foods, and less calcium and magnesium in the diet

• Potassium: Decrease in potassium intake and low intake of high potassium foods like fruits and vegetables can also lead to increase in heart rate and high blood pressure.

• Contraceptives: Certain oral contraceptive pills may lead to high blood pressure

• Lifestyle: Sedentary lifestyle devoid of exercise can contribute to high blood pressure. Stress, smoking, tobacco intake, and alcohol intake also lead to increase in high blood pressure.

• Other medical conditions High blood pressure can also be a result of other medical conditions such as kidney problems, diabetes, and sleep apnea. Hormone issues such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome and Hyperaldosteronism (increase in aldosterone) and preeclampsia in pregnancy are responsible for high blood pressure diagnosis.

Measures to reduce high blood pressure

Reduce sodium intake
It is important to note that it’s not the consumption of salt but excessive consumption of sodium is a concern. Sodium is a compound found naturally in foods. One teaspoon of salt contains 2400 milligrams of sodium and the amount recommended for daily consumption is approximately the same. The amount of recommended sodium intake reduces further to approximately 1500 mg under conditions such as hypertension, kidney issues, water retention, and heart condition to name a few. But these problems are usually correlated with high consumption of sugar and fat. Hence it is beneficial to avoid foods such as processed foods, salted snacks, pickles, papad, sauces and instant soups. These are some known sources of excess sodium and not the usual home cooked foods.

It’s important to avoid sprinkling excess salt at the table. Rather use adequate salt during cooking and experiment with reduced sodium salt after conferring with your physician. Tata Salt Liteis a good option for those looking to reduce sodium intake. It provides 15% reduced sodium than regular salt. Inclusion of herbs and spices like like coriander, ginger, turmeric, mint, garlic or lemon juice can also help improves the taste and flavour of the food.

Improve intake of calcium, magnesium and potassium How to Increase Immune System
This can be done by inclusion of low-fat dairy products for calcium and green leafy vegetables for magnesium. Fruits and vegetables rich in potassium are bananas, watermelon, tomatoes, oranges, sweetlime, leafy vegetables, milk and almonds. Eating three to five servings of these foods daily would ensure sufficient potassium intake and regulate blood pressure.

Reduction in refined carbohydrates
Though this is not a direct connection, but the preparations and the nature of these foods usually contain excess sodium for taste and preservation purposes. Add omega 3 foods such as fatty fish, walnuts and flaxseeds to reduce blood pressure.

DASH DietDash Diet has been found to be a good approach for the treatment of hypertension. This diet emphasizes consumption of fruits, vegetables, low sodium, and low-fat dairy foods. It also includes low amounts of saturated fat, total fat and cholesterol to reduce blood pressure. This includes whole grains, poultry, fish, nuts and other foods rich in potassium, calcium, omega 3 and magnesium.

Lifestyle MeasuresLifestyle measures include regular exercise of 30 minutes daily, relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation and yoga, avoidance of rage and anger, adequate sleep, low alcohol intake, no smoking and normal body weight with low body fat percentage.

High blood pressure can affect the physical, professional, personal and economical life of any individual. As women tend to juggle multiple priorities, managing their own health often takes a back seat. It is advisable to take some judicious measures such as dietary and lifestyle modifications in order to prevent the onset of hypertension, control it and minimize its risks.



DISCLAIMER

The views and opinions expressed, and assumptions & analysis presented in this content piece are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

 



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