How Many Mg Of Iron For Pregnancy
When you’re pregnant, 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, about 50% of pregnant women don’t get enough of this important mineral. Eating iron-rich foods and taking extra iron as your doctor recommends can help keep your iron level in check.What Are the Benefits of Iron?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.
Getting enough iron can prevent a condition of too few red blood cells that can make you feel tired, called iron deficiency anemia. Having anemia can cause your baby to be born too small or too early.
When Should I Start Taking Iron?
According to the CDC, you should start taking a low-dose iron supplement (30 mg a day) when you have your first prenatal appointment. In most cases, you will get this amount of iron in your prenatal vitamin.
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 iron is the type your body aborbs best. You get heme iron in beef, chicken, turkey, and pork.
- Nonheme iron is the other type, which you can find in beans, spinach, tofu, and ready-to-eat-cereals that have added iron.
If someone’s hemoglobin levels are lower than this, the iron levels in their blood are measured too. This can help to determine whether their low hemoglobin levels are due to a lack of iron (iron deficiency). Because the body can store a certain amount of iron, another blood value is also measured to find out how full the body’s iron stores are. If someone’s iron stores are empty but their hemoglobin levels are normal, they are said to have latent (hidden) or non-anemic iron deficiency.
Women have several blood tests during pregnancy. One thing that is tested is their iron levels, so iron deficiency anemia can be detected early on and treated using iron supplements.
Anemia in pregnancy is common and treatable. The most common symptoms are fatigue and weakness. Your healthcare provider will check your blood work for anemia at your first prenatal visit and advise you about taking iron supplements. (You may need more iron than your prenatal vitamin provides.) You can help prevent anemia in pregnancy by getting at least 27 mg of iron daily through your diet and supplements.
What causes anemia in pregnancy?
Your expanding blood volume combined with inadequate iron stores and intake is the most likely cause of anemia in pregnancy.
When you’re pregnant, your blood volume increases by about 4 ½ to 6 ½ cups, about 30 to 50 percent more than in non-pregnant women. However, your red blood cell volume only increases by 15 to 30 percent, which often results in something called dilutional anemia (which means there’s more extra fluid than extra red blood cells). Your body can easily come up short in providing iron for your expanding blood volume, especially if you weren’t getting enough iron in your diet (or with supplementation) to begin with.
Besides the increased risk from pregnancy itself, you’re also at higher risk of anemia while pregnant if you:
- Had heavy menstrual periods before becoming pregnant
- Have a diet low in iron-rich foods
- Have a diet low in vitamin-C-rich foods (which help with iron absorption)
- Eat too many foods or drinks that reduce iron absorption (like dairy products, foods containing soy, coffee, and tea)
- Had a short gap between pregnancies
- Were younger than 20 when you become pregnant
- Have a stomach or intestinal disease that affects how your body absorbs nutrients
- Have a disease that increases anemia risk, such as hypothyroidism, chronic kidney disease, or inherited blood disorders such as sickle cell disease or thalassemia
- Had certain types of gastric bypass surgery, which alters the gut and absorption of nutrients
- Take medication that affects the way your body absorbs iron from food
- Lost more blood than normal when giving birth previously, or lost a lot of blood for any other reason
- Aren’t getting enough folic acid
- Aren’t getting enough vitamin B12
- Are pregnant with multiples
- Had a history of anemia before your pregnancy
- Have or had morning sickness (You may not have been able to keep your prenatal vitamins and/or iron supplements down, and/or you may not have gotten enough iron-rich foods.)
What are the consequences of iron deficiency in pregnancy?
Iron deficiency anemia can make you feel tired and exhausted. Severe anemia can also lead to complications in pregnancy. For instance, it can weaken the mother’s immune system and make infections more likely. It also increases the risk of the baby weighing too little at birth (low birth weight).
Severe anemia is rare in healthy pregnant women who eat a balanced diet. But anemia can cause serious health problems in women who don’t, or can’t, eat a balanced diet.
When does it make sense to take iron supplements?
A lot of pregnant women take iron supplements because they think their bodies need more iron during pregnancy. Pregnant women with normal iron levels in their blood are also often advised to take iron supplements in order to prevent anemia. Mild anemia doesn’t affect the child, though.
Anemia is only a problem if it is more severe and lasts a long time. If someone is diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia, they are usually prescribed high-dose iron supplements.
According to German health authorities, pregnant or breastfeeding women need 20 to 30 mg of iron per day. It can be particularly difficult for vegetarians to get that amount of iron in their diet alone. But iron deficiency problems would be detected in the standard blood tests.