Postpartum Nutrient Needs
A big part of Postnatal Depletion Syndrome (for more info on Post Natal Depletion Syndrome, click here) is postpartum nutrient insufficiencies or deficiencies. There are many vitamins, minerals and nutrients which may be out of balance due to pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. These imbalances may contribute to many of the postpartum symptoms women experience such as fatigue, mood changes, brain fog, pain, inflammation and more. The most common postpartum nutrient insufficiencies seen during the postpartum period are:
- B Vitamins
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin C
- Essential Fatty Acids (Omega 3s)
Let’s break these down…
Iron: Iron deficiency or insufficiency can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, restless legs, brain fog, dizziness, headaches, hair loss and brittle nails.
Zinc: Inadequate levels of Zinc can lead to immune system dysfunction, increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut…more on that here), impaired digestion, decreased neurotransmitter production (like serotonin, our happiness chemical) and hormonal dysregulation.
Magnesium: Magnesium, I like to call the “miracle mineral” because it supports hundreds of processes in our bodies and is imperative for overall health. Signs of magnesium deficiency include: headache/migraine, constipation, depression, anxiety, poor sleep, muscle tension, fatigue and irritability. There are many forms of magnesium, some are better absorbed than others. My favorite is magnesium glycinate. I’m also a fan of epsom salt baths for relaxation which contain magnesium sulfate.
B Vitamins: The B vitamins as a class are needed for red blood cell formation, energy production, mood regulation, protein production, and more. Signs of B vitamin deficiency can include: fatigue, dizziness, headaches, palpitations, ringing of the ears, numbness and tingling, irritability, mood disturbances and more. It is also important to note that there are common things that can deplete b vitamins including: hormonal contraception, stress, alcohol, caffeine, proton pump inhibitors, NSAIDs and many other medications.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is actually a hormone and an important one at that. Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency is common, even here in sunny Colorado! Vitamin D is important for immune health, bone health, and hormone production. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to postpartum depression in several studies. Signs of deficiency can include fatigue, impaired sleep, muscle pain and weakness, hair loss, getting sick more easily and more.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a more well known nutrient that gets a lot of spotlight during cold and flu season and it is important for immune health. Vitamin C is also important for building collagen, which is necessary for healing from childbirth whether vaginal or c-section delivery. It supports cognitive function and helps with mood regulation. It also helps to support the adrenals which are responsible for stress hormone regulation.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Essential fatty acids or Omega 3 fatty acids are important for brain health, mood regulation, and reducing inflammation. There have been several studies showing that adequate levels of omega 3 fatty acid intake can help reduce the risk of postpartum depression. Omega 3 fatty acids are also anti-inflammatory so they can decrease joint/muscle pain as well as reduce headaches. They also play a role in helping with gut lining function and reducing permeability. The best source for omega 3 is via fatty fish or fish oil but there are plant based options which come mostly from seaweed or algae.
Copper: One nutrient excess that is often seen in the postpartum period is Copper, which has an inverse relationship to zinc. So Zinc is often low in the postpartum period and copper tends to be high due to the increased need during pregnancy and then drop in need postpartum. Signs of Copper excess can include: feelings of reduced pleasure, hyper-vigilance, inflammation, and fatigue.
As you can see, there are many overlapping symptoms that postpartum nutrient imbalances can create and in the postpartum period when these symptoms are very prevalent it is important to test nutrient levels and boost when necessary. It is important to remember that every individual’s needs are vastly different and testing is imperative so that you are not over-supplementing which can be problematic.
At Wild Rice Wellness, my patients get labs that are personalized to their symptoms and their health story and a plan to restore postpartum nutrient status in the form of supplements, nutrition, and lifestyle medicine recommendations for comprehensive wellness. If you are looking for a practitioner to work with and you are located in Colorado, please book a free 15 minute consultation below to see if Wild Rice Wellness is right for you!
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