Most mothers know that they need to monitor their vitamin and mineral intake during and post pregnancy but a recent study highlights that there is one nutrient in particular that is often forgotten. Find out more in this week’s Nutrition News.

Iodine study shows need for supplementation post pregnancy

A recent study by researchers in Norway has found that there is a real need for women to supplement with iodine post pregnancy, with it taking around 18 months before their iodine levels return to a normal. The researchers from Norway’s Institute of Marine Research found that iodine levels tend to drop during pregnancy but it is rare that a mother-to-be’s intake increases to compensate, leading to a lack in the mineral.

It is for this reason that many post-pregnancy and antenatal supplements contain iodine.

This lack of iodine leaves mothers susceptible to thyroid dysfunction and children with potentially sub-optimal development, as reported in this article by NutraIngredients. Six weeks postpartum appears to the time around which women are most at risk of low iodine levels due increased loss through lactation, suggesting that new mothers need to be particularly careful during this time.

How the immune system affects both mind and body

We often discuss the ways in which the mind and body are linked but a recent study by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has found that they might be even more closely linked than we realised.

Researchers working on the study have found a molecule that is produced by the immune system, that causes the brain to change the behaviour of the body, suggesting that elements of the immune system affect both mind and body. It is thought that this changing of behaviour by the molecule could lead to feelings of anxiety and that these behavioural changes are not a by-product but an integral part of neuro-immune communication, as reported by Science Daily.

It is thought that this function is due to the brain and immune system having co-evolved with the body selecting particular molecules to protect us immunologically and behaviourally in order to protect against infection.

While more research is needed, as it is not yet clear how this molecule signalling in neurons translates into behavioural changes, it is a good example of how cytokines have seemingly evolved to fight against pathogens and are also acting on the brain and modulating behaviour.

Vitamin D and C for immunity, says Dr Fauci

A well-known doctor in the United States, Dr Fauci, has been interviewed by American actress Jennifer Garner as part of a series of interviews to better promote health advice in the United States. The interview, which was published on the social media channel Instagram and reported by Insider, focused on Garner’s concerns about health and COVID-19 in her capacity as a mother.

Dr Fauci made clear in the interview that the COVID-19 crisis is an opportunity for us to focus on our health and strengthen our immune systems. In his recommendations he touted the benefits of taking vitamin D and C supplements, which he himself takes to support his immune response.

Speaking of the supplements, he said, “If you're deficient in vitamin D, that does have an impact on your susceptibility to infection. I would not mind recommending, and I do it myself, taking vitamin D supplements," and followed up with "The other vitamin that people take is vitamin C because it's a good antioxidant, so if people want to take a gram or so of vitamin C, that would be fine."

It is important to note that Dr Fauci, or any credible doctor for that matter, would never imply that a vitamin or supplement can prevent an illness such as COVID-19, especially whilst there are still so many unknowns about the virus. However, as we have referenced in previous Nutrition News articles, vitamin C and vitamin D are hugely important for keeping the body and immune system healthy.

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Alison Astill-Smith author Alison is Director and Founder of Metabolics who writes about Metabolics updates, events and natural healthcare. Her experience and passion for natural supplements and healthcare comes from her years of experience as a practising osteopath, having founded Metabolics in her search for high quality, natural products in her own work. Alison has been a qualified and practising Osteopath since 1981 and regularly gives seminars on a range of healthcare subjects to the wider practitioner community helping share her knowledge and experience.