What are the best prenatal vitamins to take?

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Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to conceive need more of certain vitamins and minerals than other people, especially folic acid.

Some women with very healthy and varied diets may already get enough essential nutrients through their diet.

But many women take prenatal supplements to ensure they are getting a full range of vitamins and minerals to support themselves and the developing fetus properly.

This article discusses the most important prenatal vitamins and why they are necessary.

What are prenatal vitamins?

a pregnant woman taking Prenatal vitamins
Prenatal vitamins are often available in one multivitamin supplement.

Prenatal vitamins are nutritional supplements that usually contain a concentrated mix of minerals and vitamins that a woman’s body needs more of during pregnancy.

Ideally, a woman will take prenatal vitamins while trying to become pregnant, and while she is breastfeeding.

Some women take the individual prenatal nutrients as separate supplements, but it is often easier to take them in one multivitamin supplement.


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Benefits

Taking specific prenatal vitamins may reduce the risk of complications, for both the mother and the developing fetus as well as help a mother go full term.

Folic acid

Taking folic acid before becoming pregnant and throughout pregnancy may help reduce the risk of neural tube defects. Folic acid is also known as folate or vitamin B-9.

Neural tubes are embryonic structures that eventually form the spine and brain of the fetus. Neural tube defects can cause serious spine and brain conditions, including spina bifida, a condition where parts of the backbone do not close properly.

Folic acid also helps a pregnant woman’s body make red blood cells, potentially reducing the risk of anemia. Anemia may cause pregnancy complications, such as:

  • low birth weight
  • premature birth
  • infant anemia

Other vitamins and nutrients

Aside from folic acid, several other key nutrients can benefit pregnant and breastfeeding women and developing fetuses. These include:

Iron: Pregnant women need about twice the usual recommended amount of the mineral iron. Iron is another crucial component in red blood cells. Pregnant women who do not get enough iron may develop iron-deficiency anemia.

Zinc: Supports the immune system and helps the body make proteins, divide cells, and synthesize DNA for new cells.

Vitamin B-12: Helps the body make healthy red blood cells and neurons, which are the specialized cells found in the spinal cord and brain. B-12 also helps these cells to function properly.

Calcium and vitamin D: Work together to help develop fetal bones and teeth. Vitamin D is also crucial for healthy eye and skin development. Calcium may reduce the risk of preeclampsia, a leading cause of illness and death in pregnant women, and newborns.

Vitamin A: Helps cells grow and differentiate, contributing to the healthy development of vision and many vital organs.

Vitamin B-6: Plays a vital role in cognitive development, glucose metabolism, immune function, and blood formation. May also help reduce nausea during pregnancy.

Iodine: A trace element essential for the development of the central nervous system, brain, and skeletal system. Severe iodine deficiencies in pregnant women may slow fetal growth or cause neurodevelopmental defects, stillbirth, or miscarriage.

Best prenatal vitamins to take

There are many different prenatal vitamins to choose from, including those available at a pharmacy or online. A doctor may sometimes prescribe prenatal vitamins to women with particular health considerations.

Deciding which prenatal supplements to buy comes down to what they contain. Different women will need different doses of some vitamins and minerals, depending on factors such as diet, age, and activity levels.

Typically, a good prenatal vitamin for most women over 19 years of age should contain:

  • Folic acid: At least 400 micrograms (mcg) before pregnancy, 600 mcg during pregnancy, and 500 mcg when breastfeeding.
  • Vitamin B-12: 2.6–2.8 mcg.
  • Iron: 27 milligrams (mg) in pregnancy and 9–10 mg when breastfeeding.
  • Calcium: 1,000–1,300 mg.
  • Vitamin D: 600 international units (IU).
  • Zinc: 11 mg during pregnancy and 12 mg during breastfeeding.
  • Vitamin A: 750–770 mcg for pregnancy and 1,200–1,300 mcg for breastfeeding.
  • Vitamin B-6: 1.9–2.0 mg.
  • Iodine: 220 mcg during pregnancy and 290 mcg during lactation.

Omega-3

person at desk holding omega 3 supplements in palm
Prenatal vitamins often contain omega-3 because some pregnant women do not get enough from their diet.

Several other nutrients are also common constituents of prenatal multivitamins, but nutritionists know less about their benefits or how and when to take them.

One example of this is omega-3 fatty acids, compounds that help give structure to cell membranes, especially those in the brain and retina.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the daily intake need by pregnant women is 1.4 grams (g) and 1.3 g per day for breastfeeding women, compared to 1.1 g per day for other women 14 years of age and older.

But a 2015 systemic review that examined nearly 150 studies looking at the impact of omega-3 supplementation on maternal and fetal health found only a small increase in gestation time and birth weight.

So, while it might not hurt for a prenatal vitamin to include omega-3s, it may not be as necessary as once thought.

Omega-3 fatty acids are commonly in prenatal vitamins because some pregnant women may struggle to get enough in their diet.

Fish and seafood are common sources of omega-3s, but many species contain high levels of mercury that research has associated with birth abnormalities.

Prenatal vitamins with fish or seafood content should only come from species typically low in mercury, such as:

  • catfish
  • salmon
  • pollock
  • shrimp

Seafood species to avoid when pregnant or breastfeeding include:

  • swordfish
  • shark
  • king mackerel
  • marin
  • tilefish
  • orange roughy
  • white tuna

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists list all these species of fish in their advice on nutrition during pregnancy.

If a person has concerns about omega-3 fatty acids from fish or seafood, they can consider plant-based foods and supplements instead.

Some vegetarian and vegan sources of omega-3 fatty acids include chia seeds, seaweed, walnuts, and edamame beans.

Vitamins E and C

Manufacturers typically include vitamins E and C in prenatal multivitamins. As powerful antioxidants, they work together to protect the body from oxidative stress.

Vitamin C also helps make collagen and metabolize folate and iron. The NIH suggest pregnant women consume around 80–85 mg a day and 115–120 mg when breastfeeding.

The NIH also recommend 15–19 mg of vitamin E a day for anyone pregnant or breastfeeding.

Research once suggested taking vitamin E and C together during pregnancy might reduce oxidative stress and its associated complications, such as:

  • preeclampsia
  • pre-labor rupture of membranes (PROM)
  • intrauterine growth restriction

However, the World Health Organization (WHO) currently say that a joint vitamin C and E supplement likely has little impact on women or developing fetuses, and may increase the risk of PROM.



When to start taking them

Ideally, women should start taking prenatal vitamins a few months before becoming pregnant and continue while breastfeeding.

For example, women may want to start taking 400–800 mcg of folic acid daily for at least three months before becoming pregnant and throughout their pregnancy, to reduce the risk of neural tube defects.

Many women start taking prenatal vitamins after they find out they are pregnant.

Women with underlying health conditions should speak with their doctor or pharmacist before taking prenatal vitamins to avoid possible complications or interactions.

Side effects

Nutrients in prenatal vitamins can cause side effects, mostly mild to moderate digestive discomfort such as:

But women usually only experience more serious or severe side effects when they take too many prenatal vitamins or very high doses of specific vitamins.

One notable example to be aware of concerns vitamin A. This is because taking more than 10,000 IU or 3,000 mcg of vitamin A can cause birth abnormalities, as well as bone loss and liver damage.

Women who experience side effects of prenatal vitamins or symptoms they cannot explain should usually stop taking the vitamins, and talk with a doctor or pharmacist. Women who experience severe side effects should seek emergency medical attention.


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Other considerations

successful pregnancy through embryo freezing
Any pregnant woman on existing medication should talk to their doctor before taking a prenatal supplement.

Specific considerations, such as which prenatal vitamin to take, when to take it, and how to take it depends largely on individual factors.

Many multivitamin supplements contain the correct amounts of prenatal vitamins, though usually not those for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Vegetarian and vegan women may need prenatal vitamins with higher doses of nutrients that can be difficult to get from plant sources alone, such as:

  • vitamin B-12
  • B-2 (riboflavin)
  • calcium
  • vitamin D
  • iodine

Vegetarian and vegan women may also want a prenatal vitamin that comes in tablet form or capsules with plant-based coatings rather than coatings containing gelatin.

Pregnant women taking any regular medications or supplements should talk with a doctor before choosing a vitamin supplement.

Several prescriptions, over-the-counter, and herbal supplements can negatively interact with prenatal vitamin ingredients, including:

  • blood thinners
  • St. John’s wart
  • antibiotics
  • anti-epileptics
  • breathing medications (theophylline)
  • orlistat
  • retinoids
  • proton-pump inhibitors
  • metformin
  • ACE-inhibitors
  • methotrexate
  • corticosteroids

A woman can take prenatal vitamins any time of the day, but it is usually best to avoid taking them too close to bedtime. Women with morning sickness can also take vitamins later in the day.

Some prenatal nutrients are best absorbed in smaller doses, especially calcium, so many prenatal vitamins are best taken once or twice daily.

Spreading out vitamin doses, and taking them with food and water, may reduce the risk of minor side effects. Women who continue to have minor side effects from prenatal vitamins after these considerations can try different brands or formulas.

Summary

Certain vitamin and mineral supplements may reduce the risks of serious birth abnormalities and maternal complications.

Important nutrients for women to take before conceiving, and during pregnancy or breastfeeding, include:

  • folic acid
  • iron
  • vitamin B-12
  • vitamin B-6
  • calcium
  • vitamin D
  • zinc
  • iodine
  • vitamin A

A good prenatal multivitamin contains the above nutrients in doses recommended by health authorities. Choose supplements free of fillers, toxins, binders, and heavy metals.

A doctor or pharmacist can help women to find a prenatal vitamin that addresses their health concerns and dietary considerations while avoiding possible interactions or complications.

Olive oil for ears: Everything you need to know

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Do tea bags benefit eye health?

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Major review asks which supplements really aid mental health

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Controversy surrounds the inclusion of nutritional supplements in mental health treatments, with much research proving inconclusive. A major new review now explains which supplements have shown the most promise for specific mental health conditions.
hand holding nutritional supplements
Some supplements, such as omega-3s, may indeed benefit mental health, according to a major new review.

“While there has been a long-standing interest in the use of nutrient supplements in the treatment of mental illness, the topic is often quite polarising and surrounded by either over-hyped claims or undue cynicism,” says Joseph Firth, Ph.D., a senior research fellow at Western Sydney University, in Australia.

Indeed, over time, different nutritional supplements have received, by turns, either approval or disapproval from nutritionists and researchers. Studies have concluded either that supplements can benefit various aspects of physical and mental health or that they have no significant effects at all.

In particular, supplements as potential aids in the treatment of mental health conditions have received a lot of attention of late, what with recent research suggesting that the diet may play a key role in psychological well-being.

So can supplements help support mental health, or are they of little use in this regard? To try and settle the matter, Firth and colleagues recently conducted the largest review of the existing evidence to date.

“In this most recent research, we have brought together the data from dozens and dozens of clinical trials conducted all over the world, in over 10,000 individuals treated for mental illness,” Firth says.

The researchers looked at which supplements were likely to help improve symptoms of specific conditions, including depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, schizophrenia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

They present their findings in a paper featured in the journal World Psychiatry.

This mass of data has allowed us to investigate the benefits and safety of various different nutrients for mental health conditions — on a larger scale than what has ever been possible before.”

Joseph Firth, Ph.D.

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The supplements that help — sometimes

Firth and colleagues reviewed 33 top quality meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials. Collectively, the studies included in the analyses looked at data from a total of 10,951 people with various mental health conditions.

The team wanted to find out not only which supplements would benefit which conditions, but also which dosages would achieve those positive effects and how safe the supplements actually are.

In the “Discussion” section of their paper, the authors report that “The majority of nutritional supplements assessed did not significantly improve mental health outcomes.”

However, they note, a few supplements did help improve specific symptoms of particular disorders “under certain conditions” and when the person took them alongside other treatments.

The meta-analyses that the researchers assessed indicated that omega-3 supplements could help relieve symptoms of major depression in people who also take antidepressants.

Also, limited evidence suggested that omega-3 supplements may offer small improvements to some people with ADHD.

For mood disorders and schizophrenia, N-acetylcysteine — an amino acid — seemed to help when individuals took it alongside their regular treatments.

Various dosages of folate-based supplements seemed to help with managing symptoms of depression and schizophrenia — though folic acid did not have this effect.

Yet when it comes to vitamins and minerals, the researchers found no compelling evidence to suggest that these could help manage any symptoms related to mental health.

However, the researchers add, as long as individuals follow dosage recommendations, they are not likely to experience serious adverse effects of taking any supplements. Moreover, supplements did not appear to interact with psychiatric medications.

“Future research should aim to determine which individuals might benefit most from evidence-based supplements and to better understand the underlying mechanisms, so we can adopt a targeted approach to supplement use in mental health treatment,” advises senior researcher Prof. Jerome Sarris.

“The role of the gut microbiome in mental health is a rapidly emerging field of research; however, more research is needed into the role of ‘psychobiotics’ in mental health treatment,” he cautions.

Why does the keto diet cause flu-like symptoms?

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People following the ketogenic diet may experience minor, short term symptoms, such as nausea, fatigue, and headaches. Some call this the keto flu.

Another name for the keto flu is keto induction, as these symptoms tend to occur when people start the diet. The symptoms develop when the body enters a state of ketosis, during which it burns fat for energy.

People can manage or prevent the keto flu by:

  • altering the types of fats that they eat
  • taking certain medications
  • consuming more fiber, vitamins and minerals, and water

In this article, we describe the keto flu and offer tips for preventing and managing these symptoms.

What is keto flu?

Woman with keto flu lying in bed holding forehead
Keto flu can cause a range of symptoms, including headaches and fatigue.

Keto flu refers to a set of symptoms that people may experience when they start the keto diet. These are usually minor and short term, lasting between a few days and weeks.

Symptoms of the keto flu include nausea, vomiting, headaches, and fatigue.

These symptoms arise as the body gets used to operating with fewer carbohydrates and as it enters a state of ketosis. The symptoms result from temporary imbalances in energy sources, insulin, and minerals in the body.


Why does keto flu happen?

Carbohydrates are the body’s main energy source. On the keto diet, a person reduces their carb intake to fewer than 50 grams (g) per day, compared with the recommended 200–300 g per day.

When the body does not take in enough carbs to use for energy, the liver begins to produce glucose for energy, using its stores. This process is called glucogenesis.

Eventually, the liver will not be able to produce enough glucose to keep up with the energy demands of the body.

The body will then start to break down fatty acids, which will produce ketone bodies, in a process called ketogenesis. Body tissues then use ketone bodies as fuel, and the body enters a state of ketosis.

The medical community considers nutritional ketosis to be safe for most people. However, people may experience symptoms.

The lack of carbohydrates decreases the amount of insulin in the bloodstream. As a result, people may experience an increase in the amount of sodium, potassium, and water that is released in the urine, which will cause dehydration.

Insulin is also involved in transporting glucose to the brain. Before the brain starts to use ketones for energy, it will have less fuel. This will occur for about the first 3 days of the diet before blood glucose returns to regular levels.

Symptoms may reduce as the body reaches a state of nutritional ketosis. This involves the blood concentration of a particular ketone body, called beta-hydroxybutyrate, being 0.5 millimoles per liter or more.


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What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of the keto flu are usually mild, begin when a person starts the diet, and may only last a few days to a few weeks. They may ease off when the body enters a state of ketosis.

According to one scientific profile of the diet, keto flu can involve the following symptoms:

Other researchers have reported additional symptoms, which usually peak between day 1 and 4 of the diet:

Additional short term symptoms, which tend to be preventable or easy to treat, include:

People on the keto diet may have bad breath. When the body has reached nutritional ketosis, the liver produces a ketone called acetone. Acetone enters the lungs, and it gives off a characteristic smell when a person exhales it.

Despite these symptoms, some researchers suggest that the keto diet can be beneficial for people with endocrine diseases, such as diabetes and obesity, or neurological diseases, including epilepsy.

Is keto flu a sign of ketoacidosis?

Keto flu is not the same as ketoacidosis.

Ketoacidosis is a condition in which the body produces large numbers of ketone bodies. This causes the blood to become more acidic. Ketoacidosis can be a life threatening condition.

Typically, people on the keto diet do not have ketoacidosis.



Treatments and home remedies

The keto diet can help a person lose weight, but some people are put off by keto flu symptoms. These are temporary, and treatments and remedies can ease them.

The following strategies can help:


Eat different dietary fats

Choosing certain fats, such as olive oil, can reduce the risk of keto flu symptoms.
Choosing certain fats, such as olive oil, can reduce the risk of keto flu symptoms.

If a person on the keto diet experiences abdominal symptoms, dietitians may recommend changing the types of fats in the diet.

High levels of medium chain triglycerides, from foods such as coconut oil, butter, and palm kernel oil, can cause cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Eating fewer of these foods and more of those with long chain triglycerides, such as olive oil, may help prevent abdominal symptoms in people on the keto diet.

Take medications

Doctors may also prescribe histamine 2-receptor blockers or proton pump inhibitors to people who experience acid reflux.

Eat more fiber

People may have constipation or diarrhea when on the keto diet.

Dietitians may recommend eating more high fiber vegetables or taking fiber supplements to people with constipation. They may suggest taking carbohydrate free laxatives if these dietary changes are unsuccessful.

Drink more water

People on the keto diet may experience dehydration. If the person also has diarrhea, the risk of dehydration is higher.

Doctors recommend that people on the keto diet make sure to consume enough fluid and electrolytes to prevent dehydration.


Take supplements

One possible long term effect of the keto diet is vitamin and mineral deficiency. A doctor may suggest taking vitamin supplements to ensure that the body is receiving adequate amounts of calcium, vitamin D, zinc, and selenium.

Some people find that supplements for the keto diet can help reduce symptoms and promote the effects of the diet.

Manage diabetes

People with diabetes who follow a keto diet may experience episodes of low blood sugar, which doctors call hypoglycemia.

Before a person with diabetes begins a keto diet, they should consult a doctor. The doctor may need to modify insulin and oral drug dosages.



When to see a doctor

A person with concerns about their symptoms should speak to a doctor.
A person with concerns about their symptoms should speak to a doctor.

If symptoms of the keto flu develop, it may not be necessary to consult a doctor. The symptoms are usually short term, minor, and easy to manage at home. However, doctors can recommend effective treatments.

They can also monitor a person’s condition and help prevent long term complications from developing. These may include:

Persistent nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain may require medical attention. Anyone who is unsure whether their symptoms are to be expected should consult a doctor.

Before deciding to follow a keto diet, it is a good idea to consult a doctor to ensure that it is safe. This diet is not safe for everyone and can cause serious complications.

Doctors should frequently monitor cholesterol and fat levels in people on a keto diet, which can raise cholesterol levels. For this reason, it is important for people on the diet to let their doctors know.

People with fat metabolism disorders are at risk of coma or death if they fast or follow the keto diet.

Also, some medications, such as sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitors, can interact with the diet.


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Summary

People with keto flu most commonly report abdominal symptoms, headaches, and fatigue.

Research suggests that the keto diet is safe and that the symptoms are usually minor and short term. However, doctors agree that the keto diet requires strict medical supervision to be effective for weight loss.

To minimize the risk of complications, people should start the diet slowly and gradually and visit their healthcare providers regularly. Also, dietitians can help with easing into the dietary changes.

Making certain dietary changes — including consuming plenty of fluids and electrolytes — can help manage symptoms of the keto flu.

Overall, it is important to remember that doctors are unsure about the possible long term health effects of the keto diet. Anyone following this diet should let their doctor know, so that they can monitor for any serious complications.

Hyperthyroidism: Foods to eat and avoid

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A person’s diet can have an effect on the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Some foods can improve the condition, while others can make symptoms worse or interfere with medications.

Hyperthyroidism, a type of thyrotoxicosis, is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. Some people refer to this condition as an overactive thyroid. The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is an autoimmune condition called Graves’ disease.

The symptoms of an overactive thyroid include unintentional weight loss, anxiety, sweating, frequent bowel movements, difficulty sleeping, and muscle weakness. Hyperthyroidism is much more common in women than in men.

In this article, we discuss how diet affects hyperthyroidism and provide lists of foods to eat and avoid.

How does diet affect hyperthyroidism?

child holding fresh vegetables for hyperthyroidism diet
Eating fresh fruits and vegetables can benefit an overactive thyroid.

Eating certain foods will not cure hyperthyroidism, but some nutrients and minerals play a role in managing the underlying condition. Diet can affect both the production of thyroid hormones and how the thyroid functions.

The following nutrients and chemicals are among those that can affect hyperthyroidism:

  • Iodine, which the thyroid gland uses to produce thyroid hormone. Too much iodine in the diet can increase the production of thyroid hormone.
  • Calcium and vitamin D are vital because hyperthyroidism can cause problems with bone mineral density.
  • Foods and drinks containing caffeine can worsen the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

Below, we discuss some of the nutrients that can affect thyroid function and note which foods contain them.

Foods to eat

The following foods can have benefits for people with an overactive thyroid:

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Low iodine foods

If a person is planning to receive radioactive iodine treatment for hyperthyroidism, their doctor may ask them to follow a low iodine diet.

Foods and drinks that are low in iodine include:

  • noniodized salt
  • egg whites
  • fresh or frozen vegetables
  • tea and black coffee
  • herbs and spices
  • vegetable oils
  • sugar, jam, jelly, and honey
  • unsalted nuts and nut butter
  • soda and lemonade
  • beer and wine
  • moderate portions of beef, chicken, turkey, veal, and lamb
  • fruit and fruit juices

The American Thyroid Association offer tips on how to follow a low iodine diet.

Cruciferous vegetables

Some cruciferous vegetables contain compounds that decrease thyroid hormone production and may reduce iodine uptake by the thyroid. Both of these effects may be beneficial for a person with hyperthyroidism.

However, anyone with hypothyroidism (decreased thyroid function) should avoid eating large amounts of these foods.

These cruciferous vegetables include:

  • Brussels sprouts and cabbage
  • collard greens, mustard greens, and turnip roots and greens
  • kale and arugula
  • radishes and rutabagas
  • bok choy
  • cauliflower
  • broccoli and broccoli rabe

Foods containing selenium

brazil nuts are high in selenium
Brazil nuts are rich in selenium.

Selenium is a micronutrient that the body requires for the metabolism of thyroid hormones. Research suggests that selenium can help improve some of the symptoms of autoimmune thyroid disease, such as thyroid eye disease.

Among people using anti-thyroid medications, those who take selenium supplements may achieve normal thyroid levels more quickly than those who do not.

Foods rich in selenium include:

  • Brazil nuts
  • tuna
  • halibut
  • shrimp
  • ham
  • fortified pasta and cereals
  • beef
  • turkey
  • chicken
  • rice
  • eggs
  • cottage cheese
  • baked beans
  • oatmeal
  • spinach

Foods containing iron

Iron is a nutrient that is important for normal bodily processes, including thyroid health. Iron helps the red blood cells carry oxygen to other cells in the body.

Researchers have linked low levels of iron to hyperthyroidism.

People can maintain an adequate intake of iron by including these foods in their diet:

  • fortified cereals
  • raisins
  • oysters and fish
  • white beans, kidney beans, and black beans
  • dark chocolate
  • beef, chicken, turkey, and pork
  • lentils
  • spinach
  • tofu
  • sardines
  • chickpeas

Foods containing calcium and vitamin D

There is an association between longstanding hyperthyroidism and decreased bone mineral density, which can lead to osteoporosis.

Calcium and vitamin D are both nutrients that are important for bone health.

Foods rich in calcium include:

  • milk
  • cheese
  • yogurt
  • ice cream
  • canned salmon
  • sardines
  • broccoli
  • fortified orange juice
  • kale
  • bok choy
  • tofu and fortified soy milks

Many people with hyperthyroidism have vitamin D deficiency. The primary source of vitamin D is the sun hitting the skin so that the body can make its own. However, due to concerns about sun exposure and increased risk of skin cancer, many people actively limit their time in the sun or use sunscreen.

Not many foods are good sources of vitamin D, but the following foods contain some of this vitamin:

  • salmon and tuna
  • milk and some fortified dairy products (check the labels)
  • fortified soy milk
  • fortified cereals


Spices

turmeric in a bowl
Turmeric may reduce the frequency of thyroid disease.

Studies have linked certain spices, including turmeric and green chilis, to a reduced frequency of thyroid disease, including hyperthyroidism.

Turmeric also has anti-inflammatory properties.

People can use different spices, such as turmeric, to add flavor to their food.

Foods to avoid

Below, we look at the foods that can be harmful to people with hyperthyroidism if they eat them in large quantities:

Iodine-rich foods

Too much iodine can make hyperthyroidism worse by leading the thyroid gland to produce too much thyroid hormone.

A person with hyperthyroidism should avoid eating excessive amounts of iodine-rich foods, such as:

  • iodized salt
  • fish and shellfish
  • seaweed or kelp
  • dairy products
  • iodine supplements
  • food products containing red dye
  • egg yolks
  • blackstrap molasses
  • carrageenan, which is an additive
  • baked goods with iodate dough conditioners

Soy

Animal studies have shown that soy ingestion can interfere with radioactive iodine uptake for the treatment of hyperthyroidism.

Sources of soy include:

  • soy milk
  • soy sauce
  • tofu
  • edamame beans
  • soybean oil

Gluten

Research suggests that autoimmune thyroid disease, including Graves’ disease, is more common among people who have celiac disease than among those who do not.

The reason for this is not apparent, but genetics may play a role. Having celiac disease can also make a person more likely to develop other autoimmune disorders.

Celiac disease causes damage to the small intestine as a result of the ingestion of gluten. Gluten is a protein in wheat, barley, oats, and rye.

People with celiac disease need to follow a gluten free diet. Some research suggests that following a gluten free diet may facilitate better absorption of thyroid medications by the intestine and decrease inflammation.

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Caffeine

Caffeine can worsen some symptoms of hyperthyroidism, including palpitations, tremors, anxiety, and insomnia.

Where possible, a person with hyperthyroidism should try to avoid foods and drinks containing caffeine. These include:

  • regular coffee
  • black tea
  • chocolate
  • regular soda
  • energy drinks


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Summary

Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland is overactive and produces excess thyroid hormone. People should follow their treatment plan and any dietary recommendations from their doctor.

Changing the diet might improve symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Certain nutrients may help support healthy thyroid function or decrease hyperthyroidism symptoms.

A doctor or dietitian will be able to provide more information about dietary changes for hyperthyroidism.

How to gain weight on the face

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How to relieve laryngitis symptoms at home

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Welcome to Medical News Today

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What side effects can fish oil cause?

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Fish oil is available as a supplement that manufacturers produce from fish. However, the benefits of fish oil are not always clear, and it may have unexpected side effects.

Certain fish and the oil from them contain healthful fats that health experts recommend people regularly consume in their diets.

The omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish and shellfish may have a role in:

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020 recommend eating at least 8 ounces of seafood per week because of these benefits.

Research shows a link between eating fish and health, but studies of fish oil supplements often fail to find such clear benefits.

Read on to find out more about fish oil, the side effects of fish oil supplements, how much is too much, and some potential risks.

Side effects of fish oil

a woman taking fish oil tablets that might also get side effects.
If a person is thinking about taking fish oil supplements, they should consult their doctor about any possible side effects.

The side effects a person may experience from fish oil depend on several factors.

These include the person’s overall health, whether they take any medications, and if they have any risk factors for fish oil complications.

Most people who take fish oil supplements do not experience any serious side effects.

It is best to talk to a doctor before taking fish oil supplements, especially if using it for a specific medical condition.

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Bad taste or smell

Fish has a distinctive odor, and so does fish oil. Some people report that fish oil tastes bad or leaves an unpleasant taste in their mouth. Others say it causes bad breath or makes their sweat smell bad.

These side effects are the most common ones that people may associate with fish oil, though there is no evidence that they cause lasting harm.

Bleeding

Fish oil is a natural anticoagulant, which means it can prevent the blood from clotting.

This property may help explain some of its heart health benefits, since thinning the blood may improve cardiovascular health.

Omega-3s may increase bleeding risk when a person takes them with specific anticoagulant or medication.

However, a 2017 systematic review of 52 previous studies found that fish oil did reduce blood clotting but did not increase bleeding risk in healthy people.

So, people using blood thinners, such as warfarin, should not take fish oil or other omega-3 fatty acid supplements because of the increased risk of dangerous bleeding.



Gastrointestinal symptoms

man concerned about diabetic diarrhea
Some people may experience nausea when taking fish oil.

As with many other supplements and medications, some people experience gastrointestinal problems after taking fish oil. Symptoms might include:

Sometimes, lowering the dosage or taking fish oil with food can help. In other cases, a person may need to stop using fish oil supplements.

Less frequently, fish oil may cause bleeding in the stomach or intestines and may cause or worsen ulcers. This could be because fish oil tends to thin the blood, increasing bleeding.

These serious side effects are more likely with high doses of fish oil, or when a person takes the supplement with other drugs.

A 2014 case study focuses on a 60-year-old amateur athlete who consumed 20 grams (g) of omega-3 fatty acids daily. After adding antibiotics and cortisone to the regimen, they developed a bleeding ulcer, even though they had no previous gastrointestinal issues.

The authors of the study said that further work was needed to prove the cause.

Allergic reactions

A person may develop an allergy to any food or supplement, including fish oil.

People with fish or shellfish allergies may be more vulnerable to allergic reactions to fish oil. They should consult their doctor before taking fish oil supplements.

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Prostate cancer

There is mixed evidence about fish oil and prostate cancer.

Some studies have suggested there may be a link between fish oil and prostate cancer risk, while others have come to the opposite conclusion.

A 2013 study of 2,268 older men found that fish oil might slow the progression of prostate cancer. On the other hand, men who ate significant amounts of salted or smoked fish were more likely to develop prostate cancer.

Overall, the researchers found no correlation between eating fish in midlife and a person’s prostate cancer risk.


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Fish oil dosage and safety

a woman taking something off a shelve in a pharmacy
The amount of omega-3 fatty acids a person needs depends on their age and state of health.

There are no specific recommendations on the amount of omega-3 fatty acids a person should take. It depends on a variety of factors, such as their age and their state of health.

Most studies of fish oil have looked at small doses of a few grams (g) per day. Larger doses, such as 20 g, per day, may cause more side effects.

People can start with a small amount each day and talk to a doctor before increasing the dosage.

If someone notices an unpleasant smell or other minor side effects, they may want to decrease the dosage to see if that helps with the issue.

Anyone who develops serious complications, such as an allergic reaction, rash, vomiting, or breathing difficulties, should stop taking fish oil and seek emergency help.

Summary

A 2015 National Institutes of Health study estimate that 7.8% of people in the U.S. take fish oil supplements. Most experience no serious side effects. Some may even experience significant health improvements.

As well as the cardiovascular and brain health developments fish oil may offer, some research suggests that fish oil may support the development of fetuses during pregnancy. A 2018 study links fish oil supplements during pregnancy to a lower risk that a child will develop allergies.

While data pointing to the benefits of fish oil may seem positive, it is not always conclusive. People who want to improve their health with omega-3 fatty acid supplements should consider adding fish to their diet instead, as there is more research on the benefits of fresh fish.

Fish oils are available to purchase in stores and online.

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