Iron helps you fight anemia risks during pregnancy.
Importance of iron during pregnancy
Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, the protein in your red blood cells that transports oxygen throughout your body and to your fetus. That is why iron is especially important during your pregnancy when the volume of blood in your body increases by almost 1.5 litres.i
You should be eating more iron-rich foods throughout your pregnancy to avoid anemia due to iron deficiency.ii Pregnant woman has a higher risk for developing anemia due to the increased blood formation. Anemia is a condition in which the body doesn’t produce enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to your body’s tissues. When little oxygen is carried to your tissues, you will feel tired and weak, and look pale.
Your growing baby's oxygen supply will also be affected. Your growing baby also needs iron to make red blood cells too, otherwise he/she will not thrive. Iron deficiency during pregnancy can therefore put your growing baby at risk for premature birth and low birth weight.iii
Iron is also essential for your growing baby’s brain development and is necessary for necessary for brain processes such as myelination, neurotransmitter production, and energy metabolism.iv It’s therefore important to continue nourishing him or her with iron to continue support his cognitive and motor skills development in the early years.
Iron also plays a part in supporting your immune systemv and helps keep you healthy during pregnancy.
How much iron supplement do you need during pregnancy?
As pregnant woman may not be able to meet the increased iron requirement from dietary sources alone and due to difficulties in correctly assessing iron status during pregnancy, the World Health Organization recommends that pregnant women take a daily supplement containing 30 to 60 mg of elemental iron.vi
Always remember to talk to your doctor first before taking supplements during your pregnancy.
What foods can you and your unborn baby get from iron during pregnancy?
There are many types of foods that are good for you to get iron during pregnancy:
- Meat (such as chicken, beef)
- Fish (especially sardines and tuna)
- Dark green leafy vegetables (such as spinach or kale)
- Fruits (such as watermelon, raisins, and apricots)
- Beans (kidney, lentils, soy and peas)
i)Chandra, S., Tripathi, A. K., Mishra, S., Amzarul, M., & Vaish, A. K. (2012). Physiological Changes in Hematological Parameters During Pregnancy. Indian Journal of Hematology & Blood Transfusion, 28(3), 144–146. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12288-012-0175-6
ii)Iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy: Prevention tips. (2017, February 15). Retrieved April 25, 2017, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-de...
iii)Daily iron and folic acid supplementation during pregnancy. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2017, from http://www.who.int/elena/titles/guidance_summaries/daily_iron_pregnancy/en/
iv)Georgieff, M. K. (2007) Nutrition and the developing brain: nutrient priorities and measurement. Am J Clin Nutr. 85(2):614S-620S.
v)Fergus, C. (2003, May 1). Where Iron and Immunity Intersect. Retrieved April 10, 2017, from http://news.psu.edu/story/140743/2003/05/01/research/where-iron-and-immu...
vi)World Health Organization, WHO recommendations on antenatal care for a positive pregnancy experience. Geneva: WHO Press. 2016.