I'm not sick or anything, but I sure feel run down. What can I do -
that's simple and easy, since I've got an infant, a toddler, and a
preschooler (yikes!) - to feel better?
First, there are the basics that everyone knows - and our own mothers
kept telling us - like getting regular exercise, making sleep a priority
(over housework!), taking at least a little time for yourself every day,
eating a balanced diet, limiting sweets, and getting regular check-ups
to rule out serious health problems.
On top of this foundation, each mother needs certain key nutrients -
especially since every mom is susceptible to getting physically depleted
(as we explain in our book, Mother Nurture: A Mother's Guide to Health
in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships).
If you make sure to get these nutrients routinely, you're definitely
going to feel better. It may take a few months, because it takes a while
to get nutrients back into the body, especially minerals. That's why you
have to stick with it, and not expect an overnight miracle. But when you
stay the course, nurturing your own body while you nurture your family,
you will likely experience a dramatic improvement in your health and
So here's what you need to do:
1. Eat protein with every meal, especially breakfast - Protein contains
the amino acids that are the building blocks of the body; for example,
tryptophan is required to make the neurotransmitter, serotonin, and
increasing serotonin levels is the aim of Prozac, etc. Protein also
helps regulate blood sugar levels, which helps prevent Type II diabetes
and makes it easier to shed excess pounds.
2. Routinely take a basic MultiVitamin/MultiMineral supplement
containing iron - Use a supplement that recommends four to six pills a
day (rather than a one-a-day like Centrum) because getting all the
minerals you need into a single pill would require one the size of a
golf ball. You can get a good "multi" or any of the other nutrients
named in this column at your local health food store or from our website
(specially chosen for mothers): www.NurtureMom.com. And in addition to
this multi, take the other supplements described just below.
3. B-Complex - The B vitamins assist literally thousands of metabolic
functions, including lifting your mood and preventing depression. Take
one a day.
4. Vitamin C - This helps detoxify your body, turbocharge your immune
system, and many other wonderful things. Take one to two grams a day.
Increase to four to ten grams/day at the first sign of a cold (but
decrease if you develop diarrhea) and maintain that dose for the
duration of the illness before dropping back down.
5. Calcium and Magnesium - These minerals promote healthy bones (helping
prevent osteoporosis), healthy sleep, and a healthy mood. They are often
available in a combined supplement. Each day, take 1000 to 1500
milligrams of calcium and 400 milligrams of magnesium.
6. Taurine - This amino acid helps soothe frazzled nerves (among other
good things), but it is drained out of your body during both pregnancy
and breastfeeding. Take 500 milligrams a day.
7. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) - These are the "good fats" that are
needed for a healthy heart and brain. Increasing your intake of one type
of EFAs-omega-3 oils found in fish and flax oil-can help prevent
cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, diabetes, and
depression. It can also make your hair and skin more moist; dryness,
including dandruff, is a potential sign of omega-3 deficiency. And
pregnant or breastfeeding women can help the optimal development of
their child's brain by getting substantial amounts of these important oils.
Take about 1000 milligrams/day of a fish oil supplement that has been
"molecularly distilled" for purity; make sure you take enough to get at
least 400 milligrams/day of a key ingredient called DHA, which will be
listed on the label. (Some people prefer flax oil to fish oil due to
being a vegetarian. Unfortunately, most people lack some of the enzymes
or co-factors needed to convert flax oil into the long-chain fatty acids
your body needs, which already exist in fish oil. If you do choose to
use flax oil, make sure you're taking a good multi-vitamin/multi-mineral
supplement as well, for the co-factors it contains.)
To Your Health!
(Rick Hanson is a clinical psychologist,
Jan Hanson is an acupuncturist/nutritionist, and they are raising a
daughter and son, ages 12 and 14. With Ricki Pollycove, M.D., they
are the authors of Mother Nurture: A Mother's Guide to Health in
Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships, published by Penguin. You
can see their website at www.nurturemom.com or email them with
questions or comments at email@example.com; unfortunately, a
personal reply may not always be possible.)