Iron is a crucial mineral needed during pregnancy. You need about twice the amount of iron as you did before you were expecting because your body uses iron to make extra blood for your baby. And yet, a significant % of pregnant women do not get enough of this important mineral.
Why Iron is Important?
Your body uses iron to make extra blood (hemoglobin) for you and your baby during pregnancy. Iron also helps move oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body- and to your baby's.
However, about 15 to 25 percent of American women develop iron deficiency, also called anemia. Severe iron deficiency anemia is scary-at worst, it can cause premature birth, low birthweight, and infant and maternal mortality.
What Foods Are High in Iron?
You can find iron in meat, poultry, and plant-based foods as well as in supplements. There are two types of iron in foods.
- Heme ironis the type you get in beef, chicken, turkey, and pork.
- Nonheme ironis the other type, which you can find in beans, spinach, tofu, and ready-to-eat-cereals that have added iron.
Some iron-rich foods include:
- Beef liver (3 ounces) -- 5.2 mg
- Chicken liver (3 ounces) -- 11 mg
- Iron-fortified instant oatmeal -- 11 mg
- Iron-fortified ready-to-eat cereal -- 18 mg
- Raisins (half a cup) -- 1.6 mg
- Kidney beans (1 cup) -- 5.2 mg
- Lentils (1 cup) -- 6.6 mg
- Lima beans (1 cup) -- 4.5 mg
- Oysters (3 ounces, canned) -- 5.7 mg
- Soybeans (1 cup) -- 8.8 mg
Getting enough iron from food when you are pregnant can be difficult, even if you're carefully trying to add iron to your diet. This is especially true if you are a vegetarian or vegan because you don't eat iron-rich meats or poultry. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are a vegetarian so he or she can watch your iron and hemoglobin levels more carefully.
What to Eat or Not to with Iron-Rich Foods
At the same time you eat foods that are high in iron, have them with foods that contain vitamin C, such as tomatoes and oranges. Vitamin C helps your body absorb non-heme iron better when you eat both at the same meal.
On the other hand, certain drinks and foods prevent your body from absorbing iron. These include coffee, tea, milk, whole grains, and dairy products. Try not to eat these foods at the same meal when you're eating foods high in iron. For example, instead of having coffee or tea with your breakfast cereal, have a glass of orange juice.
What about Iron Supplements?
Taking an iron supplement can help ensure you get enough iron every day. In most cases, you will get enough iron in your prenatal vitamin since many types contain the recommended amount of iron. Your doctor will check your iron levels periodically depending on your test results and if you are a vegetarian. If your iron level is low, you may need to take an extra iron supplement.
Since the doctors know that you can get the iron you need through a supplement, it's a great way to bring up the iron levels of a pregnant women without worrying whether her dietary intake is adequate.
EBMmoms capsules is one such prenatal multivitamin supplement that provides extra amount of iron along with multivitamins, so you don't have to take an extra pill of iron.