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February 26, 2010

A Fish Tale: Why You Should Eat Seafood

Filed under: Nutrition During Pregnancy — Tags: , , , — Elizabeth Ward @ 1:04 pm

Pregnancy & Newborn magazine has a great story about what fish to eat, and why, during pregnancy. Check it out at www.pnmag.com/prenatal-health/fish-food-0.

February 21, 2010

What’s For Dinner (or Lunch)? Chicken, Cheddar, and Apple Panini

Filed under: General Information — Tags: , , , , , — Elizabeth Ward @ 4:05 pm

Sandwiches are easy family fare. Check out one of our favorites at my USAToday.com blog.  Enjoy!

February 20, 2010

Mom, Drink Your Milk!

If you’re reading this, you want the best for your baby, so you’ll be interested to know that recent research from the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that drinking milk during pregnancy may protect against multiple sclerosis (MS) decades later in daughters.

MS is an autoimmune disease that attacks the nerves.  MS causes fatigue, vision loss, tingling, and numbness, among other problems.  Most victims of MS are adult women.

Researchers analyzed data from a 16-year period of the Nurses’ Mothers’ Study, which included nearly 36,000 nurse-mother pairs.   They found that, overall, higher consumption of milk, which is particularly rich in vitamin D,  during pregnancy was related to a lower risk of having a daughter who went on to develop MS.

The potential protective relationship between vitamin D intake and a lower risk of MS is not new, but this is the first time that the protective effects of vitamin D on developing babies has been demonstrated.  While the news about milk’s potential protection against MS is positive, it’s inconclusive. The study showed an association between milk drinking and MS prevention, but it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there is a strong link between a baby’s blood levels of vitamin D and mom’s vitamin D intake. In the Harvard study, mothers with the highest levels of vitamin D in their blood - supposedly because they drank the most milk - had a lower risk of having a daughter who developed MS.

Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of the bone-building mineral calcium, and for maintaining proper levels of calcium in the blood. Vitamin D is good for mom, too: it’s been linked to a lower risk for breast and ovarian cancer, and a stronger immune system.

Pregnant women need 200 International Units (IU) of vitamin D daily, and possibly, much more: there’s a good chance that the suggested levels will increase when the Institute of Medicine releases revised guidelines for vitamin D later this year.

In the Harvard study, women who got the equivalent of at least 400 IU of vitamin D daily from milk had the lowest risk of having daughters with MS.  Most prenatal vitamins and regular multivitamins contain 400 IU. Don’t worry about getting more than 200 IU a day, but do limit your intake of vitamin D to 2,000 IU from foods and supplements, combined.

With the exception of seafood and eggs, few foods naturally contain vitamin D.  Three and a half ounces of cooked salmon offers 360 IU; three ounces of canned tuna, 200 IU; and a large, cooked egg, 20 IU.  Fortified milk is perhaps the most commonly-consumed highly concentrated food source of  vitamin D. Eight ounces of fortified milk supplies 100 IU of vitamin D. (Fortified orange juice has the same amount.)

If you’re not a fan of milk “straight up,” add milk to your diet with these tips:

• Prepare instant oatmeal and other cooked cereals in the microwave with milk instead of water. Do the same for condensed soups.

• Snack on cereal and low-fat milk.

• Make Creamy Sweet Potato Soup, found in Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, & After Pregnancy.

• Whip up a delicious dessert by blending 1 medium banana, 1 cup milk, 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup, and one ice cube in a food processor or blender for 1 to 2 minutes or until frothy. Drink immediately.

Lactose intolerant? Try Lactaid milk; it’s 100% lactose-free.

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