What is the deal with Folate during pregnancy?

PRECONCEPTION

Why is MTHFR important in preconception and pregnancy ? 

Written by our fertility Naturopath – Shannon Stokes

1. MTHFR is an enzyme in your body that converts the folate you eat (leafy greens and legumes) into a usable and active form for absorption
2. If you have a mutation in the gene (which is what we can test for) the absorption of folate you consume via diet or prenatal vitamin will be affected. 
3. Folate is absolutely essential for a healthy pregnancy. 
4. If we know there is a mutation in this gene we can help ensure you are getting the right types of active folate to assist with getting you pregnant, having a healthy pregnancy and healthy growth and development of your baby. 
4. A mutation in one of the tested genes or even both of the genes tested is very common and could be affecting your chance to conceive or have a healthy pregnancy. 
5. Taking higher doses of folic acid in a prenatal vitamin if you have this gene mutation is not the answer and can be impacting your fertility and may lead to pregnancy struggles. 
6. So many foods and cereals are fortified with folic acid which is overkill if you ask me, so you may be overloading via diet and then taking a prenatal vitamin with already high levels of folic acid form. 
7. This science is hugely complex and not a one size fits all approach, don’t opt for a quick over the counter prenatal vitamin especially if you feel there might be some problems getting pregnant or having frequent miscarriages.
8. Some of the signs that you may have a defect are;

depression
– fatigue
– anxiety
– low B12 levels
– elevated homocysteine (blood test)
– multiple miscarriages
– ADD
– ADHD
– high blood pressure
– chronic constipation. 

All this aside, it is important to know that the MTHFR gene resides in every single cell in the body. People with the genetic variant can have up to 40-60% reduced ability to utilise folate. It is suggested that 1 in 4 people carry a variant or mutation. That’s pretty high odds if you ask me?!
If you would like to know more, call us for a chat and get the test done at our clinic or have it posted to you. The test is simple and quick with a finger prick test and the information gained and treatment post MTHFR test is actually really easy, but always individualised! 

Credit:

Shannon Stokes

Naturopath and Nutritionist at our Brisbane clinic.

Specialising in fertility, pre-conception care, pregnancy and women’s health, children’s and adolescents Nutrition

To learn more please contact us!

Thyroid blood spot tests

Have you ever wanted to know if your metabolism is slow because of hormone issues?
Maybe you really hate blood tests (don’t worry, so do I and who can raise their hand with me for being notorious for fainting before the needle even comes close?).
Fear not, there are other options. Most our patients including myself are ok with a finger prick blood test (and for those of you who are not, there are even thyroid urine tests available – go figure..).

What is the Thyroid gland and why would anyone want their Thyroid function tested?

Positioned just over your wind pipe in the middle of the throat, the thyroid is a sensitive, butterfly-shaped gland that controls our metabolism, cell growth and repair, energy production and much more. And like the delicate winged creature, the thyroid can be influenced by the slightest of changes.
Disruption to itʼs balance can manifest in a range of symptoms including:

– Anxiety and depression – Unusual weight loss or weight gain – Menstrual irregularities, including infertility – Fatigue and lethargy – Memory loss, confusion and brain fog – Muscle weakness – Lower digestive disturbances – Heightened sensitivity to hot or cold – …. and the list goes on!

Thyroid abnormalities are increasingly prevalent in our current society and the causes are diverse. So what can disturb the equilibrium?

– Consistent stress – Environmental toxins encountered daily
– Fluoride – Chloride – Most plastics (including Teflon)
– Synthetic perfumes and body products – Chemical fertilizers and insecticides
– Hormonal changes including pregnancy and menopause

As you can see, we are exposed to these common elements regularly.
Nutritional deficiencies can also cause thyroid disfunction, those include:

– Iodine – Zinc – Selenium – Vitamin D – Iron – And the amino acid Tyrosine

In some cases the immune system could be attacking the thyroid gland, resulting in inflammation, destruction of the gland and reducing itʼs ability to make hormones. This is called Hashimotoʼs disease, which is treated differently to other hypothyroid conditions so it is essential to ascertain if this is the underlying factor to your symptoms.

THYROID AND FAT LOSS

Most of us know that a good diet and lots of exercise should get you looking like Elle McPherson in no time if we only do it for long enough and not slip off the wagon…
What about those of us who have done it all, shakes, the Atkins diet, Paleo, vegan, intermittent fasting, you name it… and haven’t seen the results you were looking for?
Have you ever wondered if there might be more to calories in and out when it comes to weight loss?
The answer is yes, there is a lot more to it than most of us think. One very important little gland called the Thyroid gland might be holding the key to the answer you have been looking for all this time.

Think of the Thyroid gland as the key guardian for all your cells. We need those keys to unlock cells to get energy production happening and to regulate our temperature.
In a nutshell – The Thyroid controls your metabolism.

To give you a few examples of what I often hear Thyroid patients say in my clinic:

• Feeling cold, can’t get warm even when others feel hot or can’t cool down even when they stand in the freezer section of the supermarket;

• Their hair is falling out and they see strands come out in the shower and wonder how they still have hair left on their head;

• Eyebrow hair is coming off and they need to make an extra effort pencilling in the gaps in the morning;
• Weight has come on suddenly with no change in diet or exercise and they are very, very frustrated about that;
• They exercise daily and tried every diet under the sun and can barely keep their weight stable, or worse keep putting it on;

• Their Nails and skin feel dry and brittle and hairstyles don’t last more than an hour;
• They feel tired and often sad for no reason;
• Constipation has been more noticeable;
• A swollen neck or croaky voice has been there on and off;

So, I guess most of you would say, well my GP checked it in my last blood test and there was no issue, so I’m sure everything is fine.
Hold up, not so fast! Which marker was tested and what range was it in?

Did you know that in most cases the Thyroid is not checked unless you ask AND if it is checked only 20% of all Thyroid markers are checked if you do ask? If it is not functioning properly but not yet necessary to be medicated, you won’t be notified.

Be sure to always check for the following:

TSH – This is generally tested as the only marker and shows how fast the gland works – like an employee in your little key making business

T4 – indicates how much metal is on the shelf to make keys – no metal – no keys

T3 – this marker tells us how many perfectly shaped keys you actually have to unlock cells

Reverse T3 – This checks for blunt keys, pretty much blocking your cells up and stopping energy production = tiredness and weight gain

Sometimes we need to check for immune conditions affecting the Thyroid but I will go into that more in my next post.

You can see how important all of this is and how we need to assess all markers rather than one.
If you want to have your levels checked, we can perform a Thyroid blood spot in the clinic for you or you can have a test kit sent to your home, this is a good option for those of you who fear needles. The blood spot is only a small finger prick and you can either do it at home or come into our Brisbane or Sydney clinic to have it done.