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You are here : home > Pregnancy > Weight Gain, Diet & Exercise > Importance of Iron during Pregnancy

Importance of Iron during Pregnancy


Deficiency of iron during pregnancy can give rise to complications. Let us take a look at the importance of iron intake during pregnancy.

Iron happens to be one of the most important nutrients that your body needs, even without you being an expectant mother. Iron is required to make hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the protein present inside the red blood cells and is responsible for carrying the oxygen to other cells. Being an important constituent of myoglobin, it also helps in supplying oxygen to the muscles. The strengthening of the immune system is directly proportional to the consumption of iron.


Importance of Iron for Pregnant Women

However, the importance of iron further increases during the pregnancy period. During pregnancy, the volume of blood inside the body goes up by 50%, thus leading to the requirement of more hemoglobin. The intake of iron in a healthy amount then becomes crucial. Also, in the 2nd and 3rd trimester of the pregnancy, there is a growing demand of iron by your body for the baby and the placenta. If, before entering the pregnancy, a woman was deficient in iron, she requires more iron to meet up her body needs, and also to cope up with the transformation inside her body.

If there is a deficiency of iron inside the woman’s body, it might lead to unfortunate circumstances during and after the conception, including premature birth, infant mortality, and low birth weight.


How Much Iron Does One Need in Reality?

For any pregnant mother, 27 mg of iron is necessary, while a normal woman can do with 18 mg of iron in her diet every day. However, the objective should be to meet the average intake, and not an exact amount.


The Food Sources of Iron

For iron, Red meat is considered to be one of the best sources. Some women also talk about liver being another rich source of iron, but since it contains an enormous amount of Vitamin A which can be harmful during pregnancy, it is best avoided. So, women can opt for vegetables, legumes, and grains.

Iron is of two types. Non-heme iron which is found in both animal and plant extracts, and heme iron, which is only found in animal products. Women can opt for sources rich in non-heme iron. This includes ready to eat cereals, oatmeal, boiled soya beans, lentils, dark green leafy vegetables and roasted pumpkin seeds.


The Use of Iron Supplements

Although, women eat iron rich foods during pregnancy, doctors also prescribe iron supplements to them so that they get adequate amount of iron that is necessary for a healthy pregnancy. Women should take only those supplements that are prescribed by their doctor. In case if an expectant mother is suffering from anemia she must follow the advice of her doctor to the ‘T’. A doctor will prescribe her suitable iron supplements and advice her to take right care of her diet so that iron requirements are met properly.


The Right Point to Stop

While iron does a world of good to you and your baby if consumed in the right amount, it can also be harmful if consumed in an abnormal amount. Excessive iron can cause the blood levels to rise, oxidative stress, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and in certain cases, miscarriage. All these ailments have been directly linked to blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and eventually the intake or iron.

Iron, as we have discussed, is an important constituent for every pregnant woman. Its monitored and carefully calculated intake can help the expectant mother cope up with changes inside her body. While pregnant, a woman is responsible for two lives, and thus the consumption of healthy food items becomes very important. It is also important to discuss your iron rich diet with your doctor so that he or she can suggest appropriate changes. 

Why is it important to have iron rich foods during pregnancy? What are the risks of inadequate iron intake during pregnancy? Which are the good sources of iron for pregnant woman? Discuss here.

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