Monday, March 5, 2012

BEWARE OF EXCESSIVE VITAMIN C Intake During Pregnancy!!!

I have some very sad news to share. I think I may have terminated my own pregnancy due to an overdose of Vitamin C. Please note that I'm NOT saying "don't take Vitamin C during pregnancy!" I believe it is very important to make sure you are getting enough Vitamin C... it's a critical vitamin that can actually help you stay healthy during your pregnancy... just don't take a huge MEGA DOSE like I did.

For years, I have been taking vitamin C in high doses (around 5,000-6,000 mg), on occasion, to heal wounds. Whenever I bite my lip by accident, a very large dose of Vitamin C almost always heals the wound up like magic. I have long been a big believer in the magical powers of Vitamin C.... so it never occurred to me that it could be so dangerous during pregnancy.

On February 15th, during my 7th week of pregnancy, I went in to a medical center for a scheduled ultrasound, but decided not to do it after all because I don't currently have health insurance, the cost was $800 (and just $120 through Planned Parenthood). But unfortunately, while I was at the Medical Center, I must have picked up some kind of a bug or germs, because by the time I got home, my throat was feeling very raw and slightly sore, and I knew I was getting sick, as this is almost always the first sign of a cold for me.

I was very worried about being sick while pregnant. So, I went to my medicine cabinet and pulled out my bottle of Wellness Formula, which works like a miracle for me, in terms of stopping a cold in its tracks. But unfortunately, it says clearly on the bottle that you shouldn't take it when you're pregnant. I felt that I needed to take
something in order to keep from getting sick (I did not realize at the time, that one of the "gifts of pregnancy" is a very strong immune system!). So, I took about 5,000 or 6,000 mg of Vitamin C. I assumed this would be considered safe, since they say it's water soluble and your body just flushes out what it can't use.

Little did I know, Vitamin C is actually used as an abortifacent!!!

You can read a warning about Vitamin C during pregnancy, here (something I wish I had seen a MONTH ago!!!) . The most relevant quote from the article is: "Excess vitamin C during the first month of pregnancy could suppress the production of progesterone which is responsible for a miscarriage in women."

Of course, my friends and family have been telling me that I didn't do anything wrong, and the vitamin C had nothing to do with it. I told my sister I took about 5,000 mg (plus there was more in the Visalus shakes and Vitamin D supplements I took, so it may have been closer to 6,000 mg). And I was eating LOTS of citrus fruits, and also drinking orange juice at the time. I only took the large dose on one day - the day before my ultrasound. My sister, trying to console me, told me I would have needed to take Vitamin C much longer than one day, in order to cause an abortion... but I will always have my doubts.

Until I took the Vitamin C, everything seemed to be progressing normally. I was feeling the normal signs of pregnancy, including fatigue, slight nausea (just a sick-in-general feeling), even super-oily hair. My progesterone levels at the 7 week mark were at a pretty normal 114,000. I had really bad diarrhea, which I later found out was from my body's reaction to the increased levels of progesterone. I had diarrhea every day, for 3 weeks - from January 25th, to February 16th, the day I took the extra Vitamin C.

On that same day I took the Vitamin C supplements, 2/16, I had really bad diahrrea and gas. I mean, it was bad. I kept having to go to the bathroom, and advised a friend of mine, who went with me to a workshop that day, that she better not walk downwind of me. I am guessing that the extra bad diarrhea was caused by the Vitamin C (which is known to cause diarrhea in some people). 

But the next day, there was nothing. It was the first day in three weeks that I'd woken up without diarrhea. It was like the day after a tornado. This happened to be the same day I went in for my very first ultrasound at Planned Parenthood, and the doctor had to break the news to me that she couldn't find a heartbeat. I was devastated. The photos of the baby looked just as an embryo should, for a baby that was at the 7 week mark. And it was right where it should be - in my uterus, and not in one of my fallopian tubes (as I had been worried about, thinking it could be an ectopic pregnancy). So it was pretty devastating that neither the ultrasound technician, nor the doctor who came in after her, could find a heartbeat. They did two separate tests, and neither of them were able to find a heartbeat.

I wanted to do this post to share with other women, the dangers of taking too much of any supplement (but especially vitamin C) during pregnancy.

It's true, I realize the vitamin C may have had nothing to do with the lack of a heartbeat. I have a friend who is about the same age as me (just 1 year younger) who miscarried at the 7 week mark, too (without OD'ing on Vitamin C). But the fact is, I will never know... and I would give just about anything to go back in time and NOT have taken that extra Vitamin C. The fact that my diarrhea ceased, the day after I took the supplements is just too coincidental for me to be able to completely put it out of my mind, so I will always wonder, in the back of my head... could I have prevented this? Maybe it was just too much diarrhea for my body to handle, since I already had it during my pregnancy.

I will concede, there are two things that make me think, well maybe the lack-of-a-heartbeat might not have been caused by vitamin C, and maybe it was just an unpreventable miscarriage.

The first thing is that I was getting my energy level back. On the same day I took the vitamin C, BEFORE I took the Vitamin C, I commented to my husband that I felt like I had a little more energy that day (and the day before), than I did the week before. So who knows, maybe this meant my pregnancy was already on the decline. But my rise in energy could have also been because the weather was improving. The sky was just starting to get sunny and flowers were starting to bloom in my yard (this kind of thing has a huge impact on my mood). I am one of those people who tends to get really depressed during the cold winter months, but I tend to feel fantastic when it's sunny.

The second thing is, when I first started taking my temperature, when I found out I was pregnant, I didn't see a "rise" in my temperature. I think it was on the low side. And from what I read on the net, I thought you were supposed to have a higher temperature. I did feel like I had a higher temperature, because I was hot at night. But the thermometer, for whatever reason, did not reflect this.

I guess the bottom line is, I will never know if I caused the termination of my own pregnancy.

On February 23rd, I did a second HCG level test, and it turned out to be 84,000 - consistent with an impending miscarriage.

The thing that kills me is, I feel like I have been very safe and cautious during this pregnancy. I eliminated caffeine almost entirely - even stopped drinking Neuro, as i didn't want to have any caffeine in my system at all (and for me, life without caffeine is NOT EASY!!!). I forced myself to drink extra water and healthy shakes, and eat more salad. I stopped taking Visalus supplements and switched immediately to prenatal vitamins (since the "antioxidant / anti-aging" vitamins in the Visalus pack are not recommended for pregnant women). Though I did continue with the shakes (they're great in my 9-grain cereal!).

One of my girl friends, who had a miscarriage at age 35 (but then went on to have a very healthy, beautiful baby at age 37) told me not to blame myself. She said that after her first miscarriage, she couldn't help but wonder if she had caused it somehow. Although she also felt she was being very careful during her pregnancy, she couldn't help but wonder.... was it from the time she took cold medication? Or was it from the time she drank hibiscus tea? Or from that day she didn't drink enough water?

She reminded me that everything happens for a reason. The fact is, we will never have an answer. All we can do is move forward, and keep doing our best, to the extent that we know how.

My husband I are planning to try again, and this time I am hoping we will be even more prepared. I had a discussion with him and we are planning to take extra supplements, in addition to Visalus, to improve our chances of having "good eggs and sperm" even more (why does "good eggs and sperm sound like a Dr. Seuss book?). In future posts, i will write some more about some of the research that has been proven to show the beneficial effects of certain supplements (like CoEnzyme Q10 and pycnogenol) on sperm and egg quality.

If you'd like to read a study I just saw on how to improve egg health with CoEnzyme Q10, just click here:

I'm going to focus on two things before trying to conceive again. Not that I'm going to go back on birth control, but I'm not going to take FertilPlus again until I am in a better (more PREPARED) place! And that means:

1) Getting a steady day job. I was under a huge amount of stress once I found out I was pregnant, because I wasn't working full time and didn't have health insurance. The amount of time I spent, looking up ways to get health coverage, was just killing me. So I'd like to be at least a little more prepared for a second pregnancy, God willing.

2) As long as I'm going to wait a little while, I figure I might as well do whatever I can to improve my egg health, and encourage my hubby to improve his sperm health, by taking CoEnzyme Q10 supplements. I thought it was really promising to read that a woman's egg health could be improved by taking the supplements, so I am going to do what I can to give my baby the best shot I can at being healthy!

Will keep you posted on my progress....

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