How Much Iron Do You Need During Pregnancy


How Much Iron Do You Need During Pregnancy? The recommended intake for pregnant women, who are not suffering from any type of anemia, is around 27 mg of iron every day. At least 5 mg of the daily recommendation should be consumed during the first trimester to prevent anemia since this can lead to other complications. Why is Iron Important During Pregnancy?

How Much Iron Do You Need During Pregnancy

Red meat, poultry, and seafood contain both heme and non-heme iron and are some of the best sources of iron. But if you’re vegan or vegetarian and don’t eat animal protein, you can get iron from legumes, vegetables, and grains.

Note: Liver supplies a very high concentration of iron, but it also contains unsafe amounts of vitamin A, so it’s best to limit how much liver you eat during pregnancy.

Good sources of heme iron:

(To help visualize, 3 ounces of meat is about the size of a deck of cards.)

  • 3 ounces lean beef, chuck: 2.2 mg
  • 3 ounces lean beef, tenderloin: 2.0 mg
  • 3 ounces roast turkey, dark meat: 2.0 mg
  • 3 ounces roast turkey, breast meat: 1.4 mg
  • 3 ounces roast chicken, dark meat: 1.1 mg
  • 3 ounces roast chicken, breast meat: 1.1 mg
  • 3 ounces light tuna, canned: 1.3 mg
  • 3 ounces pork, loin chop: 1.2 mg

Good sources of non-heme iron:

  • 1 cup iron-fortified ready-to-eat cereal: 24 mg
  • 1 cup fortified instant oatmeal: 10 mg
  • 1 cup edamame (soybeans), boiled: 8.8 mg
  • 1 cup lentils, cooked: 6.6 mg
  • 1 cup kidney beans, cooked: 5.2 mg
  • 1 cup chickpeas: 4.8 mg
  • 1 cup lima beans, cooked: 4.5 mg
  • 1 cup black or pinto beans, cooked: 3.6 mg
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses: 3.5 mg
  • 1/2 cup firm tofu, raw: 3.4 mg
  • 1/2 cup spinach, boiled: 3.2 mg
  • 1 ounce pumpkin seeds, roasted: 3.2 mg
  • 1 cup prune juice: 3.0 mg
  • One slice whole wheat or enriched white bread: 0.9 mg
  • 1/4 cup raisins: 0.75 mg

Daily oral iron and folic acid supplementation with 30 mg to 60 mg of elemental ironaand 400 µg (0.4 mg) folic acidb is recommended for pregnant women to prevent maternal anaemia, puerperal sepsis, low birth weight, and preterm birth.

a The equivalent of 60 mg of elemental iron is 300 mg ferrous sulfate heptahydrate, 180 mg ferrous fumarate or 500 mg of ferrous gluconate.
b Folic acid should be commenced as early as possible (ideally before conception) to prevent neural tube defects.

Iron during pregnancy

bowl of salad

Why you need iron during pregnancy

Even before you’re pregnant, your body needs iron for several reasons:

  • It’s essential for making hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to other cells.
  • It’s an important component of myoglobin (a protein that helps supply oxygen to your muscles), collagen (a protein in bone, cartilage, and other connective tissue), and many enzymes.
  • It helps maintain a healthy immune system.
But during pregnancy you need a lot more of this essential mineral. Here’s why:
  • The amount of blood in your body increases during pregnancy until you have almost 50 percent more blood than usual. You need extra iron to make more hemoglobin.
  • You need extra iron for your growing baby and placenta, especially in the second and third trimesters.
  • Many women need more because they start their pregnancy with insufficient stores of iron.
  • Low iron during pregnancy can lead to anemia, and severe anemia in pregnancy is associated with preterm delivery, low birth weight, and infant mortality.

How much iron do pregnant women need?

Pregnant women need significantly more iron than women who aren’t pregnant.

Pregnant women (of all ages) need: 27 milligrams (mg) of iron per day

Nonpregnant women ages 14 to 18 need: 15 mg per day

Nonpregnant women ages 19 to 50 need: 18 mg per day

Note: Breastfeeding women need 9 to 10 mg of iron per day, which is less than pregnant and nonpregnant women. This number is lower because it assumes that breastfeeding women haven’t had a period yet, so need less iron.

Iron-rich foods for pregnancy

To make sure you’re getting enough iron, eat a variety of iron-rich foods every day.

There are two forms of iron: heme and non-heme. Heme iron is found only in animal sources and is easier for your body to absorb. Non-heme iron is found in plants, iron-fortified foods, and supplements.

There are few times you hear more about the importance of iron than during pregnancy.


The body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a substance in red blood cells that transports oxygen throughout your body. The demand for iron to keep up with the increase in blood supply during pregnancy as your body supplies blood and oxygen to your baby. In fact, you need about twice the amount of iron—27 mg per day—than you do when you’re not pregnant.

Your body uses an iron to make extra blood for your baby when you’re pregnant You need about twice the amount of iron . And yet, about 50% of pregnant women don’t get enough of this important mineral. As your doctor recommends eating iron-rich foods and taking extra iron can help keep your iron level in check. Your body uses an iron to make extra blood (hemoglobin) for you and your baby during pregnancy. Oxygen from your lungs can move to the rest of your body with help of iron — 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. Large amount of anemia can cause your baby to be born too small or too early.

We can find a lot of iron supplement for pregnant woman in meat, poultry, plant based foods. There are two types of iron in foods are Heme iron and Non-Heme iron. Heme iron is the type your body absorbs best. You get heme iron in beef, chicken, turkey and pork. Other type is Non-Heme iron , which you can find in beans, spinach, tofu and ready –to- eat cereals that have added iron. A woman needs more calcium, folic acid, iron and protein who is pregnant. They advise women to increase the amount of folic acid to 600 micrograms a day, an amount commonly found in a daily prenatal vitamin during pregnancy.

Various ways to get enough iron in pregnancy

Here are some tips for getting as much iron as possible from your diet:

  • Cook in a cast iron pan. Moist, acidic foods, such as tomato sauce, are especially good at soaking up iron this way.
  • Include a source of vitamin C (like orange juice, strawberries, or broccoli) with every meal, especially when eating vegetarian sources of iron, like beans. Vitamin C can help you absorb up to six times more iron from your food.
  • Watch out for “iron inhibitors,” which are naturally occurring substances in many healthy foods that can interfere with iron absorption. Examples of iron inhibitors include phytates in whole grains and legumes, polyphenols in coffee and tea, oxalates in soy foods and spinach, and calcium in dairy products.

If you have low iron or iron-deficiency anemia, some experts believe you shouldn’t eat iron-inhibiting foods at the same time as iron-rich foods. Others believe it’s okay to eat these foods together as long as your overall diet includes plenty of iron-rich and vitamin C-rich foods. Your provider or a dietitian can work with you to create a prenatal nutrition plan that supports healthy iron levels.

Many women start their pregnancy without enough iron to meet their body’s increased demands and are unable to bring their levels up through diet alone. But you won’t need to take additional supplements unless your provider advises you to. The iron in your prenatal vitamin will likely be all you need, unless you have (or develop) anemia.

Unless you have had a confirmed diagnosis and are in dire need of iron supplementation, I wouldn’t supplement on your own. In the case that you do supplement, I would still encourage you to look at your diet and consider fixing it until your body figures out what’s wrong. Iron issues can be fixed, if you start from the root of the problem. Taking a supplement is only a cover-up to a problem that is more deep-rooted in the ways you eat.

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