Iron: So good for your blood during pregnancy

What Can Happen if My Iron is Low During Pregnancy? (June 2019).


Why do I need iron?

Iron is important for the formation of hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen to the other cells. It is also an important component of myoglobin (a protein that helps oxygenate your muscles), collagen (a protein in the bones, cartilage and other connective tissue) and many enzymes. In addition, iron helps to keep the immune system healthy.

During pregnancy, your need for iron increases considerably. Above all, your blood volume increases until you have nearly 50 percent more blood than usual. That's why you need more iron to make more hemoglobin. You also need iron for your growing baby and placenta.

Most women start their pregnancy without adequate iron stores and can not meet the increased need of their bodies - especially in the second and third trimester of pregnancy - and they can not meet their needs through diet alone.

How much iron do I need during pregnancy?

The recommended amount for pregnant women is 30 milligrams (mg) a day, well over 15 mg a day that you needed before you became pregnant.

Should I take a dietary supplement?

Most professionals think this is a good idea. Although your body absorbs iron better during pregnancy, you probably will not get enough, even if you are a good eater.

Your doctor will perform regular blood tests during pregnancy to determine if you get enough iron. If your iron levels are low or you suffer from anemia, he / she will prescribe appropriate iron supplements.

If your midwife or doctor finds your iron levels okay, taking additional iron will not be beneficial for you or your baby. Too much iron can even lead to side effects such as constipation and stomach ache. You should normally consume enough iron with ferrous food. These include meat, nuts, legumes, leafy vegetables or fortified cereals.

What nutrients are the best sources of iron?

If you're not a vegetarian, red meat is your best source of iron. Liver has the highest concentration of iron, but it also contains unsafe levels of vitamin A and should therefore be avoided during pregnancy.

Meat, poultry and fish contain a form of iron called heme iron. It can be absorbed more easily by the body than the form found in legumes, vegetables and grains. (Iron from plant products is also the kind with which food and preparations are enriched). Therefore, it may be difficult for vegetarians to get enough iron through the food.

This does not mean that you have to eat a big piece of meat every day to get the iron you need. If you eat a little meat or fish with your meal, you will help your body to pull more iron from the other foods on your plate. This is also true if you are taking foods that are high in vitamin C, such as: As orange juice, strawberries or broccoli.

Here are some tips on how to get as much iron out of your diet as possible: Use pots and pans made of cast iron. (Moist, acidic foods such as tomato sauce are particularly suitable for soaking up iron in this way). Limit your coffee and tea consumption or only drink between meals as coffee and tea contain compounds called phenol that interfere with iron absorption. Calcium does too. So if you are taking calcium supplements or antacids (an acid-binding agent) that contain calcium, you should do it between meals.

Sources of horseshoe:

  • 6 fried oysters: 4, 5 mg
  • 85 g lean piece of beef (about the size of a deck of cards): 3, 2 mg
  • 85 g lean beef fillet: 3, 0 mg
  • 100 g fried turkey, dark meat: 2, 3 mg
  • 100 g fried chicken, dark meat: 1, 3 mg
  • 85 g fried chicken breast: 1, 1 mg
Sources of Vegetable Iron:
  • 56 g of finished cereals, 100% iron-fortified: 18 mg
  • 75 g Oatmeal: 10 mg
  • 180 g Edamame (cooked Japanese soybeans): 8, 8 mg
  • 180 g boiled Kidney beans: 5, 2 mg
  • 180 g Boiled quail beans: 3, 6 mg
  • 1 tablespoon Molasses: 3, 5 mg
  • 100 g of raw, firm tofu: 3, 4 mg
  • 220 g of cooked spinach : 3, 2 mg
  • 235 ml of prune juice: 3 mg
  • 100 g raisins: 1, 5 mg

What happens if I do not get enough iron?

If you do not get enough iron, your supplies will be exhausted after some time. When you reach the state that you no longer have enough iron in your blood to produce the hemoglobin you need, you become anemic. Anemia caused by iron deficiency weakens your energy (and can cause many other symptoms) and makes it difficult for your body to fight infection. It can also have a negative effect on the pregnancy.

Iron deficiency-based anemia in the first and second trimesters of pregnancy is associated with the risk of premature birth and low birth weight.If you are anemic later in pregnancy, you will need a blood transfusion and you will have more problems if you lose a lot of blood at birth.

Your baby in the uterus will be provided with the necessary iron. It gets before you its share of what is available. However, if you have a serious deficiency, it can endanger your baby's iron supply at birth and increase the risk of becoming anemic later in his childhood.

How do I know if I have anemia and what can I do?

You may have no symptoms at all and you may be surprised to find out after an routine blood test that you are anemic. Or you feel tired, weak and dizzy. You may be paler than usual, especially in the fingernails, the underside of your eyelids, and your lips. You may have a rapid heartbeat, palpitations, shortness of breath or poor concentration.

Some studies have identified a link between serious anemia caused by iron deficiency and craving for substances that are not edible, such as: Ice or clay (this condition is known as pica).

Iron deficiency is very common in the world and is a risk to you especially if you are pregnant. Therefore, your doctor will check your blood for anemia at your first screening appointment. If this test indicates that you have iron deficiency, you need to take more iron, usually 50 to 100 mg a day. (For all preparations, you should not increase the dose unless your doctor advises you to do so and only take the recommended amount.)

In order to better absorb the iron, you should take the tablets with water or orange juice ( the vitamin C supports the intake) on an empty stomach, but not with milk (calcium hinders uptake).

Please note that the dose refers to the amount of pure iron in a preparation. Some brands indicate the amount of iron sulfates instead of pure iron or in addition. A preparation containing 325 mg of iron sulfate contains 60 mg of pure iron.

Important: Be sure to keep preparations containing iron in child-proof containers and out of the reach of children. More children die each year from an overdose of iron than from any other accidental poisoning. An adult dose can be toxic to a small child.

What side effects can (too) have a lot of iron?

Large amounts of iron in preparations can irritate your gastrointestinal tract. Very often this leads to constipation, which is already a problem for pregnant women anyway. It can also be dizziness. Diarrhea is rare. Talk to your doctor about it if you think that is the case with you.

If you are not anemic it may be better for you to switch to a vitamin supplement that is suitable for pregnant women and contains a small amount of iron. If you are anemic, you may be able to avoid stomach problems by starting with less iron and then gradually increasing the dose until you reach the dose you need. Or you distribute the dose several times throughout the day.

Some women tolerate the side effects of iron supplements better if they take a long-acting iron supplement, although it is believed that the iron is not so readily absorbed in this way.

Do not worry if your chair looks darker when you start taking iron. This is a normal and harmless side effect.

If you think you're sick of the drug, try to take it at bedtime. If constipation torments you, drink the juice of prunes. It can help keep everything normal (and is itself a good source of iron). Read more tips for constipation.

Learn more:

  • Why Vitamin D Is Most Important Now
  • If and what multivitamin supplement would be good for you

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