Iron During Pregnancy – Why Do I Need More ?
Iron during pregnancy is a very important mineral. Iron is required to transport oxygen through the blood and is essential for providing energy for daily life.
You will often find the best sources of iron are found in animal foods. The recommended daily intake of iron for women between the ages of 19 to 50 is 18 milligrams a day.
Low Iron in Pregnancy Podcast
Do I Need More Iron During Pregnancy?
When you are pregnant, you will need about twice the amount of iron as you did before you were expecting. This is because your body uses iron to make extra blood for your baby.
For many pregnant women, getting enough iron from food can be difficult. This is especially true for vegetarians.
Please make sure you tell your doctor if you are a vegetarian so he or she can watch your iron and hemoglobin levels more carefully.
Did You Know?
1. But did you know that about 50% of pregnant women don’t get enough iron.
2. Eating iron-rich foods can help keep your iron level in check.
3. You need to make sure you are getting enough iron during pregnancy.
4. Eating foods high in iron can help ensure you are consuming enough iron throughout your pregnancy.
5. It makes up an important part of haemoglobin which carries oxygen throughout the body.
6. Iron also carries oxygen in muscles, helping them function properly.
7. It is important to ensure that you (and your baby) are getting enough oxygen.
8. Iron will also help you avoid symptoms of tiredness, weakness and irritability.
Should I Take an Iron Supplement During Pregnancy?
You should talk to your doctor before taking an iron supplement.
According to the CDC, you should start taking a low-dose iron supplement (30 mg a day) when you have your first prenatal appointment.
Daily requirements of iron for a pregnant woman?
A women’s recommended daily iron requirement is 18mg (compared to men who only need 8mg per day). During pregnancy, this increases to 27 mg per day!
To give you an idea – 100g beef steak has about 3.5mg of total iron, with about 0.7mg (1/5) being absorbable. What we do know is that having Vitamin C with an iron rich food can help to increase the absorption of iron in the body.
But having high amounts of tea, coffee, wine or cola can limit the uptake of iron, as well as high calcium foods like dairy products.
This is because iron has to compete with calcium or tannins (in tea) for absorption and calcium/tannins tends to win, so making sure if you’re consciously eating iron rich foods, try and not pair them with dairy or your cuppas!
How Can I Increase My Iron Levels During Pregnancy?
So, it is important you are aware of your iron levels during pregnancy. Most women are. Which is why I often hear the question being asked; ‘How can i increase my iron levels during pregnancy?’
First I want to give you some tips and information on iron levels when pregnant. Then, as you will discover as you scroll down the page that I have a great podcast with our Prenatal Dietitian who chats about iron during pregnancy.
Did you know that during the last few months of your pregnancy, your body makes more red blood cells?
It does this to supply enough for you and your baby. Every red blood cell uses iron as its core. Iron cannot be made by your body and must be absorbed from the foods you eat.
Iron is found in many foods, but it can be hard to absorb which does make it difficult for your body to get enough to meet its needs during pregnancy.
What happens when you don’t have enough iron in your diet?
You make fewer red blood cells, which is called anemia. Iron deficiency anemia is very common and is easy to correct.
What Causes Anemia?
Poor intake of iron- and folate-rich foods. And increased destruction of red blood cells that can occasionally occur during illness
Anemia Signs and Symptoms
Often, women with anemia don’t have specific symptoms. If anemia is severe, you may feel tired and weak.
How to Prevent Anemia when Pregnant
You should try to eat iron-rich foods such as chicken, meat, fish, eggs, dried beans and fortified grains.
Iron Supplements when Pregnant
You may need to take an iron supplement as it can be difficult to get enough iron from your diet. There usually is enough iron in your prenatal vitamin to prevent anemia, but your provider may prescribe an extra iron pill if you are anemic.
Good Sources of Iron:
1. Lean red meat
7. Nuts and seeds
9. Green leafy vegetables
11. Lamb fillet
14. Prune juice
Side affects if taking iron supplements?
There are three stages of low iron levels beginning with iron depletion, then iron deficiency and finally iron deficiency anaemia. A simple blood test can identify any stage of low iron levels.
Iron deficiency anaemia generally requires an iron supplement, while iron depletion may be treatable with a high-iron diet.
Iron supplementation can interfere with absorption of other nutrients such as zinc, and could have side effects such as nausea and constipation.
If you’re experiencing constipation, you like to try adding in extra soluble fibre (and fluid), like psyllium husks or chia seeds which help to soften your stools.
Or a gentle laxative like coloxyl with senna may also be helpful in extreme constipation – best to consult with your doctor first.
If you are taking a supplement, remember to make sure you don’t have it around a meal when you’re eating dairy foods or drinking with tea or coffee! Taking it at night when you’re brushing your teeth would be a great time so it can be absorbed overnight and away from any blockers!
Your best source for getting the right pregnancy diet information is your doctor or prenatal dietitian.
They can not only provide you with meal plans high in iron, but also monitor your iron levels.
And remember, to enjoy a healthier pregnancy you must no only eat well, you must also participate in a regular exercise program.