Coconut Water may not be Worth the Hype as Previously Thought

Every now and then, a certain type of food makes headlines after research suggests that it is rich in antioxidants and contains nutrients that can fight off disease and premature aging. Some of these foods include pink salmon, wild berries, dark chocolate and flax seeds. For the most part, most of these foods are well deserving of its reputation. However, once in a while, some foods and supplements also make it on the list that could probably benefit from a little more research before it earns a spot among the list of wonder foods.

Coconut water is one beverage that is being touted for its health benefits though some experts are beginning to suspect that most of the claims by manufacturers are mostly fluff and hype. Most brands of coconut water are derived from the liquid in ripe green coconuts. To enhance the flavor, sugar and additional ingredients have been added in some brands.

Coconuts contain a high amount of potassium, so coconut water found on store shelves do actually contain some nutritional benefits. The problem is whether the benefits warrant the high cost. A 14 ounce bottle of the beverage from a popular brand can run as high as $3.50. You have to wonder whether such a beverage is worth that price when other foods like bananas and potatoes contain just as much potassium and are also much cheaper.

At an annual meeting held by the American Chemical Society, researchers submitted findings that showed that coconuts also contain electrolytes, which makes it a useful pre and post workout beverage. It is also a low glycemic food, which means it will not cause your blood sugar to spike.

Coconut is a legitimate health food; as long as you choose a brand of coconut water that is sugar-free and have no issue with the high price tag, then it is something that you can definitely benefit from. Just keep in mind that the nutritional content found in coconuts can also be easily found in most other foods at a much lower cost.

Vitamin B-12 Deficiencies in Pregnant Women Linked to Birth Defects

Pregnant women with vitamin B-12 deficiencies are more prone to have babies with birth defects, a recent study found. The findings concluded that women who do not consume enough foods containing adequate amounts of this vitamin, otherwise known as folic acid, are more likely to give birth to babies suffering from a condition known as neural tube defect (NTD) ; a serious and often fatal condition resulting from inadequate development of the brain and spinal cord which often results in death. Although all pregnant women are at risk in regards to this condition affecting their unborn child, those women with folic acid deficiencies have a much greater risk in giving this condition to their unborn child.

Vitamin B-12 is usually found naturally in foods like meats, milk, cheese and eggs. Women who are vegans, or complete vegetarians (who do not consume either meat, eggs or dairy products) are at greater risk of being deficient in folic acid and thus giving birth to a NTD affected child. Vegan women can offset not receiving folic acid in meat and dairy products by consuming certain kinds of nutritional yeast, fortified cereals, fortified soy milk, foods known as fortified meat analogues ( wheat gluten, and soy beans for example); and by taking fortified vitamin B-12 supplements.
Women with the highest risks are those who have a pregnancy blood levels of less than 250 ng/L These women can greatly reduce the risks having a NTD affected child by increasing their vitamin B-12 levels to an amount above 300 ng/L.

For these reasons, it is vitally important for all pregnant women, especially those who have been found to have vitamin B-12 deficiencies, to take a folic acid food supplement before and during the first few weeks of pregnancy. By their doing so, at least 50% or more cases of NTD afflicted births can be prevented. Since many pregnancies are not “planned”, women of child bearing age should consume at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily.

Again, women who are vegan vegetarians should consume either meat or dairy substitutes, as noted above, or a vitamin B-12 supplement.