This is a hard email to write.
It’s a story that my wife was very hesitant for me to share publicly.
But it’s a scary wake-up call that we need to share as people who care deeply about the plant-based movement and getting people healthy with whole-foods nutrition.
Because if it can happen to me (someone who thinks about plant-based nutrition, literally, every single day) then it can happen to anyone.
Here’s the story:
We recently (secretly) launched a new platform for checking your micronutrients and other biomarkers using a third-party, CLIA-certified lab. It’s pretty cool.
So obviously I wanted my wife to benefit from that peace of mind, especially because she’s nursing our new baby.
In particular, I was concerned about her levels of Vitamin D and DHA, which are absolutely critical for a growing child. And up until starting solid foods, the baby’s only source of nutrition is mom’s nutrients.
Her vitamin D levels were fine during the pregnancy. She was checked by the doctor (probably because I brought it up). Unfortunately, it’s not standard of care to check for DHA levels… but thankfully I was able to use these at-home tests, and we confirmed things were fine.
But just 6 months later, the baby was here, and she was one of the first 300 people to try out our new service.
I was shocked to see the results: We learned that she has extremely low-vitamin D and very low Omega-3’s (DHA/EPA).
She had been supplementing — with Complement along with pre/post-natals. But, as we discovered, she’s breastfeeding and clearly her body is putting all the vitamins she has into the growing baby, leaving her with nearly nothing.
We even knew this would happen, and so she had been taking higher doses than a typical lady of her size, age, and lifestyle.
But we never know what’s actually being absorbed from her food and supplements (or complements), or what is actually reaching her cells. And so the questions began:
- Does she have what she needs to do so many critical processes throughout her body?
- Is the baby getting enough?
- Are there enough long-chain fatty acids, like DHA and EPA, to build a brain?
Obviously I’m disappointed in myself for not testing earlier — and I try not to think about the worst case scenarios. Needless to say, this has redoubled my passion to understand health and nutrition even more.
I still get a little stomach-sick feeling when I think about my wife not having the nutrition that she needs for herself and our baby. But still I’m so glad we found out, and we could get her on much higher doses of DHA/EPA and Vitamin D.
About 7-8 days after starting those extra high doses, her mood was totally transformed. (We know these nutrients have a lot to do with mental health, or maybe it’s a strong placebo effect.)
Either way, I have a little more peace of mind. And in a few more weeks, I plan to re-test, to see where we’re at, and make changes accordingly.
If there’s a lesson in all this, it’s this:
Knowledge is power. It’s scary and sometimes you wish you didn’t know certain things. But when you really stop to consider it, it’s better to confront those hard truths and do something to change the trajectory.
Tomorrow morning we’re going to share some big news about how we’re making it easier to do this sort of testing from the comfort of your own home, with the oversight of a plant-based registered dietitian, and get a truly personalized nutrient solution delivered to you.
But even if you decide that new service isn’t for you, I hope at the very least you’ll consider getting these tests from somewhere else — your doctor or some other service (just be aware that their recommendations might not always be plant-based).
Happy holidays from my family to yours. I hope it’s your best year yet.
Co-Founder of Complement & CEO of No Meat Athlete