Why Women Need More Iron When Pregnant

About 2/3 of iron in the body is found in hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells which transports oxygen to tissues, and muscles. Iron deficiency restricts oxygen delivery to cells, resulting in decreased immunity, fatigue, and poor work performance. Iron is also important in the regulation of cell growth and differentiation.

The body absorbs iron better during pregnancy; thus it is important to consume more iron while you are pregnant to make sure that you and your baby are getting enough oxygen. Iron also increases your resistance to stress and diseases, and helps prevent symptoms of tiredness, weakness, irritability, depression.

Your diet should contain iron-rich foods that can ensure that you are getting enough iron throughout your pregnancy. You may also follow these guidelines:

The USRDA for iron is 27 mg per day for pregnant women and 15 mg for breastfeeding women.

Consume at least three serving of foods that are high in iron per day to make sure you are getting 30 mg of iron in your daily diet. Fortified breakfast cereals are great way to get iron from your diet. Note however, that iron intake is not the same as iron absorption. Iron absorption is best with meat sources such as liver.

Good sources of iron

Meat and Seafood

Lean beef, chicken, clams, crab, egg yolk, fish, lamb, liver, oysters, pork, sardines, shrimp, turkey, and veal.

Vegetables

Black-eyed peas, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard and turnip greens, lima beans, sweet potatoes, and spinach.

Legumes

Dry beans and peas, lentils, and soybeans.

Fruits

All berries, apricots, dried fruits, including prunes, raisins and apricots, grapes, grapefruit, oranges, plums, prune juice, and watermelon.

Breads and Cereals

Enriched rice and pasta, soft pretzel, and whole grain and enriched or fortified breads and cereals.

Other Foods

Molasses, peanuts, pine nuts, pumpkin, or squash seeds.

Iron supplements

The National Academy of Sciences recommends taking an iron supplement which provides 27 mg of iron [the amount in most prenatal vitamins] during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. Your doctor may increase the dose if you become anemic. Iron deficiency anemia is condition characterized by a reduction in the number and size of red blood cells. Anemia may result from inadequate iron intake or blood loss.

Source: WebMD