Is Iron Necessary During Pregnancy If So How Much Do I Need
Everyone needs iron, but the mineral becomes even moreessential for pregnant women. Iron stores in the body have to be high enough to support two people, rather than the usual one!
A greater amount of iron is needed during pregnancy, to both build the placenta and produce more red blood cells for gestation. When it comes to the health of you andyour baby, a good way to think of iron is as a prevention powerhouse.
- Pre-existing blood conditions
- Inflammatory disorders
Heres a graphic showing some of the causes and effects of an iron deficiency during pregnancy:
Now that weve discussed the importance of iron, the real question is How much iron do you need during pregnancy?
Medical experts say that, on average, a pregnant woman will need 30 mg of iron every day. Still, there are a few situations where your daily intake should be higher than this to prevent an iron deficiency during pregnancy. These include:
- If you had low iron levels before pregnancy
- If you did not take enough iron in the earlier stages of pregnancy
- If youre due to have twins or triplets
For women who have already given birth and are now breastfeeding, those aged 19 or older will need a minimum of 9 mg of iron a day, whereas those under the age of 19 will need 10 mg a day.
What Is The Function Of Iron In Pregnancy
Iron is an essential mineral and micronutrient for nearly all living organisms. It has a vast array of roles in human physiological processes. Its most obvious function is it helps make the oxygen-carrying part of our red blood cells, haemoglobin and in the muscle tissue as myoglobin. It is vital for cell growth and division, it has important roles in our immune system, in carrying and releasing energy . We cannot exist without it, and having enough of it is an integral part of being healthy and well.
Despite it being the most essential of nutrients, it is estimated that 2.2 billion people do not have sufficient iron levels and unlike other nutrient status, it is seen in every country, regardless of the economic situation.
Women are disproportionally affected due to the fact that when we menstruate, we lose blood through our period. We also carry fewer stores of iron than our male counterparts AND we grow other humans! The requirement for iron in pregnancy increases 2-3 fold as much as 30-60 mg a day . It cannot be overstated that ensuring you have enough iron in your diet before during and after pregnancy is one of the most important things you can do!
Good Sources Of Heme Iron:
- 3 ounces lean beef, chuck: 2.2 mg
- 3 ounces lean beef, tenderloin: 2.0 mg
- 3 ounces roast turkey, dark meat: 2.0 mg
- 3 ounces roast turkey, breast meat: 1.4 mg
- 3 ounces roast chicken, dark meat: 1.1 mg
- 3 ounces roast chicken, breast meat: 1.1 mg
- 3 ounces light tuna, canned: 1.3 mg
- 3 ounces pork, loin chop: 1.2 mg
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Side Effects And Dose
When it comes to iron intake, finding the right balance is key. Its not only too little iron that can cause problems too much iron can be unhealthy too. Although our bodies can store a certain amount of extra iron, higher-dose iron supplements may cause side effects. These include, in particular, gastrointestinal problems like constipation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. When taken on an empty stomach, they can damage the lining of the stomach.
Some experts recommend only taking iron supplements once or twice a week rather than every day but at a higher dose . Research has found that iron supplements can even prevent anemia when taken only once a week. The idea is that taking iron supplements less often will enable women to take them for longer, and lower the likelihood of side effects. But its not clear whether that is really the case.
Best Overall: Thorne Research Basic Prenatal
If youre looking for an excellent overall prenatal, Thornes Basic Prenatal is the top pick, particularly for its highly absorbable form of folate. Adequate intake of folate is known to support the healthy development of the fetuss organs and tissues. In addition, it is especially critical for the closure of the neural tube, which is the precursor to the brain and spinal cord.
Though many foods like cereal, bread, and grains are enriched with folic acid and other b vitamins, supplementation is still recommended for pregnant women, as their need for this nutrient becomes 50 percent higher.
It is recommended that women consume 600 micrograms of supplemental folic acid, in addition to the folate found in food. Thornes Basic Prenatal contains 1,000 micrograms of metabolically active folic acid283 percent of the recommended daily intake for folate. In addition, this prenatal is gluten-, dairy-, soy-, and artificial flavor-free.
Thornes facility is NSF- and cGMP-compliant and they rigorously test for 760 contaminants to verify the identity, potency, and purity of each ingredient listed on their product labels.
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Poor Blood Cell Function And Production
By now it should be evident that healthy blood is key to preventing anemia. Thus, another risk factor for the condition is poor blood health or production. When blood cell function or production is low the body lacks enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the bodys tissues. One condition with this is called hemolytic anemia, and is a disorder in which red blood cells are destroyed faster than they can be made. This type of anemia rick factor is due to a number of factors including infection, medication side effects, autoimmune disorders, cancers, or more severe biological reactions. In these cases, the underlying cause is typically more severe and thus requires more in-depth treatment, such as blood transfusions, medication, surgery or lifestyle changes depending on the cause.
How Can I Get Enough Folic Acid
How can women of childbearing age and especially those who are planning a pregnancy get enough folic acid every day?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires food-makers to add folic acid to their enriched grain products. So you can boost your intake by eating breakfast cereals, breads, pastas, and rice that have 100% of the recommended daily folic acid allowance. Check the products label for this information.
But for most women, eating fortified foods isnt enough. To reach the recommended daily level, youll probably need a vitamin supplement. During pregnancy, you need more of all of the essential nutrients than you did before you became pregnant.
Prenatal vitamins shouldnt replace a well-balanced diet. But taking them can give your body and your baby an added boost of vitamins and minerals. Some health care providers recommend taking a folic acid supplement in addition to a prenatal vitamin. Talk to your doctor about your daily folic acid intake. He or she might recommend a prescription supplement, an over-the-counter brand, or both.
Also talk to your doctor if youve already had a pregnancy that was affected by a neural tube defect or if you or your partner were affected by one yourselves. The doctor may recommend that you take a higher dose of folic acid .
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Boost Those Iron Levels
It can be discouraging if you have low iron levels when pregnant. Trust me Ive been there! Hopefully this post took some of the confusion away when it comes to iron supplements, so you can pick one and get back to enjoying your pregnancy. No matter which one you choose, dont forget that you are a good mom doing your best for you and your little one.
Should I Take Iron Supplements
If a person is experiencing symptoms of iron deficiency anemia, they should talk to a doctor and get a blood test. The results of this test will show whether a person needs to take iron supplements.
A person will not need to take iron supplements if they are taking in adequate amounts of iron through their diet. Taking too much iron can be dangerous.
Iron is a mineral that is essential for many bodily processes. People who find it difficult to get enough iron from their diet may consider taking iron supplements. This may help prevent iron deficiency anemia.
Anyone who is considering taking iron supplements should seek the advice of a doctor first.
- Burden, R. J., et al. . Is iron treatment beneficial in, iron-deficient but non-anaemic endurance athletes? A systematic review and meta-analysis .
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Best Time To Take Iron Tablets During Pregnancy
If you are asked to take a supplement, your doctor will tell you when to take iron tablets during pregnancy. Most doctors recommend iron tablets after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. They are difficult to digest in early pregnancy and are not needed in the first trimester.
It is recommended to take the iron supplement at least one or two hours before or after the meal. This is best to avoid taking it with tea, coffee, or even milk. It may reduce the effect of the tablets.
Iron Deficiency During Pregnancy
When you don’t get enough iron, your stores become depleted over time. And if you no longer have enough iron to make the hemoglobin you need, you become anemic.
Iron-deficiency anemia can sap your energy and cause many other symptoms, especially if you have a severe case. It can also make it harder for your body to fight infection.
It may even impact your pregnancy: Iron-deficiency anemia â especially in early or mid-pregnancy â has been linked to a greater risk of preterm birth, having a low-birth-weight baby, and other serious complications.
If you’re anemic when you give birth, you’re more likely to need a transfusion and have other problems if you lose a lot of blood at delivery. And some research suggests an association between maternal iron deficiency and postpartum depression.
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Safely Supplementing Vitamins Needed During Pregnancy
Vitamins are found in nearly all foods, so as long as you are eating a reasonably healthy and balanced diet it is unlikely that you or your baby will suffer vitamin deficiency.
If you do need to supplement vitamins needed during pregnancy make sure you do so with the advice of your doctor and do not take any in excess as this can pose a risk to baby.
Folic acid is one of the most important vitamins needed during pregnancy. Your bodys need for it doubles while youre pregnant. Since your body does not store this vitamin, and as the kidneys excrete much more of this vitamin during pregnancy, you need a daily source of 400-800 micrograms.
Why Are Iron And Calcium Important During Pregnancy
Your body needs iron to make hemoglobin â that’s the substance in your red blood cells that helps carry oxygen to your organs and tissues. When you’re pregnant, your body produces more blood to supply oxygen to your baby, which is why you’ll need to double your iron intake. If you don’t get enough iron, or you’re already low on iron, you could develop iron deficiency anemia, which will not only make you feel more tired in pregnancy, but also, in severe cases, can increase the risk of premature birth, low birth weight, and postpartum depression.
Getting enough calcium helps keep your teeth and bones healthy, and helps your baby develop strong teeth and bones, too. What’s more, calcium keeps your circulatory, nervous, and muscular systems running normally.
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Which Foods Have Iron In Them
We normally get iron in the food we eat. Meat has a lot of iron in it, from hemoglobin in the animals body. Liver is particularly high in iron.
Its harder for the body to absorb iron from plant-based foods. But some plants are good sources of iron too. These include cereals, for instance in the form of whole grain flakes , and legumes such as lentils and beans. Green leafy vegetables like lambs lettuce and spinach, and herbs like parsley and cress, also have some iron in them.
Iron can be taken as dietary supplements too. These are available without a prescription in the form of tablets and drops.
Do I Need Supplements
Even if you’re maintaining a balanced diet, you may still be missing some key nutrients, like iron, calcium, or folic acid. Your healthcare provider will be able to test whether any nutrients are lacking and may advise you to take a prenatal vitamin to boost your levels.
If you’re taking a prenatal vitamin, that should give you a portion of the recommended daily amount of iron. However, if your blood work shows you’re iron deficient, your healthcare provider may recommend a separate iron supplement.
With calcium, you may be able to get enough from dietary sources. If you have problems digesting dairy products, you can either increase your calcium intake from other foods, or talk to your doctor about calcium supplements.
Keep in mind, not all foods are safe for moms-to-be. Read our article to learn more about what foods to avoid eating while you’re pregnant.
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Top 6 Pregnancy Iron Supplements
If youre currently expecting and showing signs of low iron or your recent lab work has come back and shown low hemoglobin levels, then youre most likely going to want to start on an iron supplement as soon as possible. You may also just need an iron supplement if your prenatal vitamin is lacking in that department.
Of course, its always best to consult your healthcare provider before starting any supplements while pregnant or nursing.
Listed below are 6 of the best iron supplements for pregnant and postpartum mamas:
- Not an option for vegans
- Lower amount of iron
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A lot of pregnant women take iron supplements because they think their bodies need more iron during pregnancy. Pregnant women with normal iron levels in their blood are also often advised to take iron supplements in order to prevent anemia. Mild anemia doesnt affect the child, though.
Anemia is only a problem if it is more severe and lasts a long time. If someone is diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia, they are usually prescribed high-dose iron supplements.
According to German health authorities, pregnant or breastfeeding women need 20 to 30 mg of iron per day. It can be particularly difficult for vegetarians to get that amount of iron in their diet alone. But iron deficiency problems would be detected in the standard blood tests.
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Best Iron Supplement Subscription: Care/of Iron Capsules
- Dosage: one capsule a day
- Volume: 30-day supply
- Active ingredients: iron and vitamin C
- Certifications: gluten-free, non-GMO, and vegan
- Pros: gives 100% of recommended iron DV for females
- Cons: company does not mention third-party testing
Care/of is a monthly subscription service that provides personalized nutritional supplements based on a customers unique health needs and goals.
The company offers an iron supplement in capsule form that contains fermented vitamin C to support iron absorption and prevent digestive discomfort.
The company recommends taking its iron supplement between meals. People should not take it alongside the Calcium Plus supplement.
While the company writes that it is open about the scientific research behind each product and its testing before, during, and after manufacturing, it does not mention if a third-party lab tests its products.
Care/of is available online with home delivery, and a 30-day supply of iron supplements costs $7.
Do You Need Iron Supplements During Pregnancy
You may. Many women start their pregnancy without enough iron to meet their body’s increased demands and are unable to bring their levels up through diet alone. But you won’t need to take additional supplements unless your provider advises you to. The iron in your prenatal vitamin will likely be all you need, unless you have anemia.
If your provider recommends iron supplements:
- Take them one hour before or two hours after meals because iron is absorbed most easily on an empty stomach. However, you may want to take the supplement with orange juice â which is high in iron-enhancing vitamin C â to boost absorption. Don’ttake your iron pill with milk, coffee, or tea because these can interfere with iron absorption.
- If your provider has recommended you take both an iron and a calcium supplement , ask for advice on how to space them out during the day. Calcium also hinders iron absorption.
- Be aware that iron supplements can upset your gastrointestinal tract. The most common complaint is constipation, which is already a problem for many pregnant women. Try drinking prune juice if you’re constipated. It can help you stay regular â and it’s a good source of iron.
When taking an iron supplement, you may also have nausea or diarrhea. If your supplement or prenatal vitamin makes you feel queasy, try taking it with a small snack or at bedtime.
Finally, don’t worry if your stools look darker when you start taking iron. That’s a normal and harmless side effect.
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Strengths Of The Study
Responding to sustainable development goal number 3, target number 3.2, of ending all preventable morbidity and mortality rates among women of reproductive age and newborns, this paper has addressed a very important topic to reveal unclear information about the uptake of iron supplements during pregnancy. Nevertheless, the paper has drawn and analyzed the data of a nationally representative survey from a demographic and health study which has a high response rate and wide national coverage and therefore gives a reliable and high-probability estimate of the impact of iron supplementation during pregnancy.