Expecting moms like you need about two times that the amount of iron that you usually need prior to pregnancy. As you might have already noted, your baby depends on you for its nourishment. Hence, your body uses more iron to make extra blood that will support your baby’s nutritional needs. Even while most pregnant women are aware of this, still about half of the population of pregnant women do not get enough of this essential mineral.
Where can you get iron for pregnancy?
Consuming food sources that are rich in iron as well as taking iron supplements that your primary health provider may recommend can keep you from an insufficient amount of iron in your body. Eating iron-rich foods and taking extra iron as your doctor recommends can help your body maintain a sufficient amount of iron.
Why do you need iron?
The body needs iron to produce extra blood (hemoglobin) that you and your baby need during pregnancy. Iron is also needed to transport oxygen from the lungs to the other parts of your body and also to your baby’s body. With a sufficient level of iron in your body, you will feel mentally and physically alert.
Making sure that your body is receiving enough iron can prevent the development of a health condition known as iron deficiency anemia. This happens when there are very few red blood cells in the body, making you feel too exhausted most of the time. This condition can also result in having an unhealthy pregnancy as well as early childbirth.
What is the recommended daily iron intake?
The daily recommended iron intake for expecting moms like you is about 27 milligrams (mg) of every day during your pregnancy. However, if you’re breastfeeding, you need to get around 9 mg of iron every day if you are about 19 years old or older. Those are breastfeeding and are aged 18 and below will need about 10 mg of iron every day.
When is the best time to take iron supplements?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends to start taking a low-dose iron supplement (30 mg each day) during your first prenatal appointment. Most prenatal vitamins provide this amount of iron for the pregnant women.
What foods are rich sources of iron?
Animal-based foods like meat, poultry, as well as plant-based foods are rich in iron content. Iron supplements are also adequate sources of this essential mineral. Iron present in these food sources are classified into two types:
- Heme iron. This is the type of iron that you can get from animals. This is also the type of iron that your body absorbs easily. You get heme iron from beef, chicken, turkey, pork, and other animal meat. Red meat has a higher iron content, however.
- Non-heme iron. This type of iron is what you get from plant-based foods like beans, spinach, tofu, whole grain and iron-fortified bread, as well as ready-to-eat-cereals that are made with iron.
It may not be easy to have the right level of iron in the body during pregnancy. This is especially true for those who have special concerns during pregnancy. Even if you try to consume the healthiest food available or are following a healthy diet, you may still have an insufficient amount of iron that your developing baby requires.
If you have an aversion to foods that are rich in iron, as well as if you have morning sickness and are not getting enough rest at night because of your pregnancy, then you may still need supplementation to achieve a sufficient level of iron that you and your baby’s bodies can use.
During prenatal visits, it is best that you inform your doctor of your condition. He may also require you to undergo a blood test or a ferritin test to determine the iron level in your body.
Do you need to take iron supplements?
Taking an iron supplement can be another way to get enough iron each day. Most prenatal vitamins contain the recommended amount of iron. However, your primary health provider will still check your iron levels from time to time. If he/she takes note that your iron level is below the acceptable level, you may be advised to take an extra iron supplement.
Does taking any iron supplements create any side effect?
Doctors recommend that pregnant women like you take the recommended amount each day for a healthy pregnancy. Taking more than the daily allocated amount may cause intoxication. This may be accompanied by symptoms like nausea, vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea. Serious cases of iron overdose may result to dizziness, drowsiness, fast or weak pulse, and even a low blood pressure.
For an iron supplement that you may want to take, always consult your doctor to ensure that you get to take the best iron supplement for pregnancy.
Other foods that you need to take while taking iron supplements
Eating foods that contain vitamin C, like tomatoes and oranges will also help in the absorption of iron from the foods that are rich in this essential mineral. Vitamin C helps the body to absorb non-heme iron when the two are taken together during a meal.
While there are foods that supports absorption of iron in the body, there are foods that can prevent the body from absorbing the same. Coffee, tea, milk, whole grains, and dairy products will inhibit absorption of iron in the body.
Pregnancy demands much from the expectant mother. It is your responsibility to know what will best benefit your health and your baby’s. Do not skip a meeting with your doctor and allow him/her to know every development in your condition. You will also need to notify your significant others or your secondary health providers of the doctor’s recommendation so that they can also remind you from time to time of things that will benefit you and your baby during pregnancy.