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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Postpartum Depression – Is Food the Cure?

By Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN, Food and Nutrition Columnist -

Research shows that people in general who suffer from depression often have poor diets and limited intakes of necessary nutrients. Dietary inadequacy can be a trigger for depression. Some researchers believe that poor nutrition negatively effects mood both during pregnancy and breastfeeding. In pregnancy nutrient demands are high to insure the health of the woman and the proper development of her baby. Therefore it is logical to assume that if nutrients are depleted in pregnancy and there isn’t adequate recovery postpartum a woman’s risk for depression may increase.
Depression is a condition with many factors – genetic, environmental, social and psychological. Food is just one of these factors but it is something that can be altered to potentially lower the risk. Though research is limited on how nutrients affect a woman’s mental health while pregnant and after delivery, we do know that many pregnant women do not meet their nutritional needs and that poor nutrition can be a trigger for depression. Simply eating well may lower the incidence of maternal depression.
A number of studies have shown that pregnant women do not consume enough calcium, iron, folic acid and omega-3 fats. Increasing the intake of these nutrients will not only assure the health of both mother and baby, but it may decrease the risk of depressive episodes during and after pregnancy. It is a strategy with little risk and possible rewards…

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