Me­gan Shep­pard

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Health -

Do you have a ques­tion for Me­gan Shep­pard? Email it to feel­[email protected]­am­iner.ie or send a let­ter to: Feel­good, Ir­ish Ex­am­iner, Linn Dubh, As­sump­tion Road, Black­pool, Cork

I have heard that mag­ne­sium can help with rest­less legs, which I suf­fer from. Will a cream with mag­ne­sium in it be good enough or should I take a sup­ple­ment for best ef­fect?

>> Mag­ne­sium can in­deed help with rest­less legs, and the good news is that top­i­cal ap­pli­ca­tion is ac­tu­ally more bioavail­able than tak­ing it orally. You can typ­i­cally find mag­ne­sium prepa­ra­tions in a spray, cream, or gel for­mu­la­tion. It works by help­ing to re­lax the mus­cles and nerves which are trig­ger­ing your bouts of rest­less legs.

Cru­cial to more than 300 en­zyme sys­tems in the body, only 1% of the mag­ne­sium in our bod­ies is found in the blood­stream. Mag­ne­sium is mostly found within the tis­sues, which is why it is an im­por­tant min­eral for mus­cle health and also why a de­fi­ciency is un­likely to show up in a blood test.

Mag­ne­sium lev­els tend to drop sig­nif­i­cantly at night, so a de­fi­ciency of­ten man­i­fests as poor REM sleep pat­terns and leg cramps. Headaches, leg or foot pain, pal­pi­ta­tions, twitch­ing mus­cles, blurry vi­sion, mouth ul­cers, de­pres­sion, and anx­i­ety are all symp­toms of mag­ne­sium de­fi­ciency.

The pro­duc­tion of the neu­ro­trans­mit­ter sero­tonin, re­spon­si­ble for the reg­u­la­tion of mood, sleep and ap­petite, is also de­pen­dent on mag­ne­sium lev­els. It is also a good idea to get mag­ne­sium in your diet where you can. For­tu­nately, there are many great sources of this min­eral — such as fish, ar­ti­chokes, ba­nana, figs, grains, prunes, dairy prod­ucts, nuts, beans, beet greens, broc­coli, legumes, parsnip, pump­kin, spinach, fer­mented soy prod­ucts, squash, cour­gette, toma­toes, pota­toes. Greens, grains, nuts and seeds are the main con­tenders since they have the high­est bioavail­able lev­els com­pared with other foods.

Should I be tak­ing a DHA sup­ple­ment dur­ing preg­nancy or is this op­tional?

>> It is im­por­tant to know that any sup­ple­men­ta­tion is op­tional, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing preg­nancy, and you should al­ways do your own re­search when it comes to what is right for you and your baby. Also dis­cuss any con­cerns you have with your lead ma­ter­nity care provider since they will be thor­oughly aware of your com­plete health records and any spe­cific is­sues.

DHA (Do­cosa­hex­anoic acid) cer­tainly can be a very use­ful sup­ple­ment to be aware of in terms of op­ti­mal growth and func­tion­ing of the baby’s brain. This im­por­tant omega-3 fatty acid not only helps with op­ti­mal neu­ro­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ment for the baby in the womb, it also helps to im­prove the chances of a healthy birth weight and re­duce the in­ci­dence and sever­ity of post-natal de­pres­sion.

Adding es­sen­tial fatty acids to your diet can also help to re­duce for­get­ful­ness, ab­sent-mind­ed­ness, and mood swings dur­ing preg­nancy and while breast­feed­ing, which makes them just as im­por­tant for men­tal and emo­tional well­be­ing.

If you choose to source your EFAs from fish, then make sure that you choose deep-sea fish. Good op­tions in­clude mack­erel, sar­dines, At­lantic salmon and trout. Op­tions for vege­tar­i­ans and ve­g­ans in­clude chia seeds, flaxseeds, wal­nuts, hemp seeds, olives, pump­kin seeds, and leafy greens (these in­clude smaller amounts, but are very bioavail­able). DHA sup­ple­ments, such as Dr Joel Fuhrman’s DHA + Pu­rity, are also avail­able.

Is it true that eat­ing cab­bage can help with stom­ach ul­cers or is this just an old wives’ tale?

>> The rea­son why cab­bage works so well is be­cause it con­tains quercetin, a biofla­vanoid which in­hibits the growth of Heli­cobac­ter py­lori (present in 90% of in­di­vid­u­als with stom­ach ul­cers) and re­duces in­flam­ma­tion.

Cooked cab­bage won’t do much for you, but raw or freshly juiced cab­bage is ideal. Chop it up coleslaw-style with a few other veg­eta­bles and leave the dress­ing out, or sim­ply juice enough for 200ml of cab­bage juice, twice daily.

You can also ben­e­fit from a sooth­ing cup of chamomile tea since chamomile flow­ers con­tain aigenin, an­other use­ful biofla­vanoid for in­flam­ma­tion and ul­cers. Mas­tic gum is yet an­other sim­ple, yet highly ef­fec­tive, rem­edy for ul­cers and H py­lori in­fec­tion.

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