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Pregnancy and the Nutritional Balancing Program

By Dr. Paul C. Eck and Dr. Larry Wilson




Women who become pregnant or who are thinking of becoming pregnant, often ask whether a nutritional balancing program is a good idea during pregnancy. Another common concern is whether any special alterations in the program should be made for pregnant women.

Is a Nutrition Program Advisable During Pregnancy?

Our experience with hundreds of women who have been on nutritional balancing programs during their pregnancy is that the nutrition program is not only safe, but often improves the health of both mother and child.

Nutritional supplements have a very low toxicity level, and are safe for pregnant women. In fact, one of the few instances in which medical authorities agree that vitamins should be taken is during pregnancy. The only vitamin that has some toxicity for developing fetuses is a high dose of vitamin A. However, vitamin A in nutritional balancing programs for pregnant women is kept within a safe level of 4,000 - 8,000 IU per day.

Is There a Need for Extra Vitamins or Alterations in the Nutritional Balancing Program?

Adequate nutrition is most important during pregnancy. There is an increased need for all the vitamins, and for many of the minerals as well.

In many cases, a high-quality diet and the supplementary nutrients on a nutritional balancing program will provide all that is needed. In some cases, a few alterations in one's nutrition program may be advisable during pregnancy. For example, folic acid is considered very important for pregnant women. If one is taking 2 to 3 tablets of Hi-B, one is obtaining enough folic acid. If not, a pregnant woman may wish to add supplementary folic acid, 0.4 mgs. twice per day. Dietary sources of folic acid include leafy vegetables, peanuts, kidney and liver. Cooking may reduce the folic acid content of foods.

Calcium is very important for pregnant women. If Paramin, Calcium or Anti-Stress Pak are included in one's nutrition program, extra calcium is not needed. However, if these products are not recommended, one may add Calcium or Paramin, 3 tablets per day.

Iron is also very important for pregnant women. If one's nutrition program includes supplementary iron, one is likely obtaining adequate iron. If not, iron should be added to the program - two tablets of chelated iron daily. Foods that also help provide iron include organ meats and dark green, leafy vegetables.

Some pre-natal vitamins also contain copper. It is true that pregnancy is a higher copper state. However, many women don't require copper supplementation during pregnancy.

Phosphorus is another important mineral for pregnant women. Phosphorus can be obtained from protein foods, nuts and seeds, and whole grains. Phosphorus supplements are not needed.

Other nutrients have been found to be deficient in many pregnant women, including vitamin C and trace minerals. Supplementation can avoid these deficiencies, which can cause low birth weight babies, learning disabilities and other problems.

At times, physicians suggest fluoride supplements to improve the deciduous teeth of the baby. Due to the toxicity of fluoride and lack of definitive proof of its effectiveness, fluoride supplements are not recommended.

Can One Obtain Too Much of Certain Minerals or Vitamins?

Early in pregnancy, if the amount of zinc on one's nutrition balancing program is above 67.5 mg (three tablets), one may wish to reduce the zinc supplementation. Pregnancy requires copper for the maintenance of the pregnancy. In a small number of women, an excessive zinc intake could lower copper levels and increase the risk of a miscarriage. Later in the pregnancy, a miscarriage is much less likely and no zinc restriction should be needed.

Vitamin A intake should not exceed 4,000 - 8,000 IU per day.

Can a Toxic Metal Elimination Affect the Fetus?

During nutritional balancing programs, it is not uncommon for a person to experience retracing or healing reactions. During these reactions, toxic metals or other toxic substances may be eliminated.

Our experience is that toxic metal eliminations that occur during pregnancy do not adversely affect the fetus. The toxic metals are eliminated through the normal routes - the liver, kidneys and bowel. In fact, if more toxic metals are eliminated by the mother, this may prevent toxic metals from reaching the fetus.

What Changes May Occur in Metabolism Due to Pregnancy?

A variety of metabolic changes can occur during pregnancy. In general, an increase occurs in all glandular activity, with an increase in thyroid, adrenal and female sex hormones at this time. During pregnancy, both estrogen and progesterone levels remain elevated, and continue to increase as pregnancy progresses.

The effect of pregnancy upon the oxidation rate depends in part upon whether the fetus is male or female. The fetus begins to secrete sex hormones within a few weeks of conception. These hormones affect the mother's metabolism. If the fetus is female, the oxidation rate is more likely to become slower, while a male fetus is more likely to cause an increase in the oxidation rate.

This telltale difference can be used to predict the sex of the baby with fairly good accuracy. Predicting the sex of the baby requires a hair test before becoming pregnant to establish a baseline oxidation rate. A second test is then taken during pregnancy for comparison.

Women who have a copper imbalance often develop nausea and vomiting early in pregnancy. This is the familiar morning sickness. It may result from the increase in estrogen and copper that occurs early in pregnancy. Extra vitamin B6 and other copper antagonists may be helpful to counteract morning sickness.

In some women, this nausea makes it difficult to follow a nutrition program. One should do their best to continue, reducing the supplement program if necessary. At times one can grind up the supplements and may be able to take them in a drink.

Pre-eclampsia or eclampsia are more serious complications of pregnancy involving salt and water retention, edema and vascular spasms that can be life-threatening. In our experience, women who follow nutritional balancing programs do not experience these symptoms.

Some weight gain is normal during pregnancy. Most of the gain should occur in the last 2 trimesters. In a healthy woman weight gain should not exceed 25-30 pounds.

Dietary Suggestions for a Healthful Pregnancy

There is no special diet for pregnancy. However, the diet should emphasize high quality foods, and adequate nutrition. The intake of protein and calories must be increased somewhat to offset the body's greater needs. An increase in protein of 20-40 grams is recommended and calories may be increased by 500-1500/day, depending on the physical demands upon the woman. Simple but important nutritional advice includes:

  • Avoid all junk food and sugar-containing foods. Diabetes can develop during pregnancy, and is worsened by the consumption of refined carbohydrates.
  • Avoid crash diets and inadequate diets. Eat three meals per day. Reasonable dieting is okay if a woman is obese, but pregnancy is not the time for rigid, nutritionally questionable diets.
  • Beware of the advice to drink a lot of milk. Many women have some degree of lactose intolerance or other allergy to dairy products. If one doesn't feel well when drinking milk, there are many other high-quality sources of protein and calcium. Sources of calcium include sesame seeds, almonds, dark green vegetables, and sardines.

If One Is Not Yet Pregnant, Should One Start A Nutrition Program?

One of the most important roles of supplementary vitamins and minerals is the prevention of birth defects. The birth defect rate in the U.S. has doubled since 1950. Although this may in part be due to atomic fallout and toxic chemicals, nutrition no doubt plays a large role. Zinc and folic acid, for example, can help prevent neural tube defects, a common, but very serious birth defect.

Many times a woman is unaware that she is pregnant for several weeks, until she misses her period. Yet these early weeks of pregnancy are precisely the time at which critical structures are forming in the fetus. The time before a woman knows she is pregnant is often the time when she needs supplements the most! This problem was overcome in many primitive cultures by feeding special foods to a young woman as soon as she was married.

Another concern is that our experience with hair analysis programs indicates that correcting body chemistry can take from a few months to a few years of nutritional therapy. If a woman wishes to feel well and bear healthy children, the time to begin a program is clearly not when she is pregnant, but at least a year before she becomes pregnant.

Someday, one hopes that pre-natal care will begin long before pregnancy. A hair analysis and a nutritional balancing program are excellent tools to incorporate in a health-building program that should begin long before a young woman contemplates pregnancy. By waiting and following a nutrition program, both mother and child are more likely to have a healthful pregnancy and delivery.

Can One Continue a Nutrition Program While Breast Feeding?

A woman's nutritional needs are greater during lactation than at any other time. The child's future health is greatly influenced by the quality of the breast milk and its early nutrition. The nutritional content of the breast milk directly affects the health of the infant. To ensure a high-quality breast milk, one can and should continue a nutritional balancing program during lactation.

The only complication that arises during lactation occurs when a baby has a reaction to a particular supplement. This can cause a rash, diarrhea or another symptom. Such reactions are rare. If one suspects that a baby's symptom is arising as a result of the mother's nutrition program, the mother should stop the nutrition program for a week, to see if the symptom disappears. If it does, then the supplements can be restarted one at a time, trying each one for a day or two, until the offending supplement is found.

In one case, a woman who had a tendency for high copper followed a nutritional balancing program for a year before becoming pregnant. Her copper level decreased from 20 mg% to about 9 mg% as a result of the program. While pregnant, she experienced some nausea and vomiting, perhaps due to the high copper that still remained. When she gave birth, she breast fed her baby exclusively, and she stopped taking her supplement program. Six months after the birth, she called because she noticed that her hair and the baby's hair were falling out. A hair test revealed that the mother's copper level had risen again to 18 mg%. When the mother resumed a nutrition program to lower the copper, both her hair and that of the baby stopped falling out.


To undertake a nutritional balancing program before or during pregnancy is an excellent idea. We are unaware of any contraindications for a nutrition program during pregnancy. It is best to begin a program several months or a year before becoming pregnant, in order to improve health and to provide the maximum protection against birth defects. Not only will a nutritional balancing program help prevent birth defects, but the child will be born with fewer toxic metals, and the mother's health will benefit as well.

Copyright © 1991 - The Eck Institute of Applied Nutrition and Bioenergetics, Ltd.

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