If you are pregnant, you will want to find the answer to the question: How much iron is needed for pregnancy?
During pregnancy, a woman ‘s body needs additional iron to meet the growth needs of the baby and carry out other bodily functions. With the help of adequate iron intake, women experience few problems during pregnancy and they can enjoy a comfortable pregnancy period. The signs and symptoms of anemia include tiredness, dizziness, breathlessness, drowsiness, and palpitations. Let us know how much iron is needed for pregnancy.
How Much Iron Is Needed For Pregnancy
Pregnancy increases your blood supply by up to 50 percent. That’s where iron comes in. Iron is used by the body to make red blood cells. An increase in blood supply means that you’ll need more red blood cells and more iron to make those blood cells.
When you don’t have enough iron in your body, you can develop anemia. Anemia is the most common blood condition for pregnant women to develop.
Anemia during pregnancy can put you and your baby at a higher risk for several complications, including pre-term birth and low birth weight.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults 19-50 years is 8 mg daily for men, 18 mg for women, 27 mg for pregnancy, and 9 mg for lactation.  The higher amounts in women and pregnancy are due to blood loss through menstruation and because of the rapid growth of the fetus requiring extra blood circulation during pregnancy. Adolescents 14-18 years actively growing also need higher iron: 11 mg for boys, 15 mg for girls, 27 mg for pregnancy, and 10 mg for lactation. The RDA for women 51+ years drops to 8 mg with the assumption that cessation of menstruation has occurred with menopause. It may be noted that menopause occurs later for some women, so they should continue to follow the RDA for younger women until menopause is confirmed. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level is the maximum daily intake unlikely to cause harmful effects on health. The UL for iron is 45 mg daily for all males and females ages 14+ years. For younger ages, the UL is 40 mg.
In addition to eating foods high in iron, you can also help your body out by adding in foods that can help you absorb more iron, such as foods high in vitamin C. Vitamin C can help your body break down and absorb iron from your diet.
Eating citrus fruit, tomatoes, red or yellow peppers, or a serving of broccoli or cauliflower with your iron sources can help your body to be more efficient at absorbing the iron you’re consuming.
Avoid the burn
If you’re experiencing a lot of pregnancy-related heartburn, you may want to focus on the veggie sources of vitamin C instead of the citrus ones, which may increase heartburn.
There are also foods that can have a negative impact on iron absorption.
Dairy, in particular, is notorious for disrupting your body’s ability to absorb iron. That’s because the calcium in dairy and in calcium supplements has been foundTrusted Source to limit iron absorption.
That doesn’t mean you should avoid dairy. But if your doctor has recommended an iron supplement, plan to wait at least two hours after consuming cheese or milk products before you take it.
And if you’re eating mindfully to try to boost your iron intake, you might want to cut back on dairy until your iron levels are where they need to be.
If you’re already taking a daily prenatal vitamin, chances are it contains iron. Check the packaging to confirm.
For many women, if your prenatal vitamin contains iron and you’re also consuming iron-rich foods, you’ll likely be getting enough iron to support a healthy pregnancy.
But for some people, additional iron supplements might be needed. For example, your doctor may recommend supplements if you’re pregnant closely following another pregnancy.
If your doctor or midwife hasn’t prescribed an iron supplement, but you feel like you might need one, talk to them about supplements.
Iron supplements are safe during pregnancy, but there is such a thing as too much iron while you’re pregnant.
Iron levels that are too high during pregnancy may increase your risk of pre-term birth, as well as gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. Additionally, long-term iron levels that are too high can damage your organs, especially your kidneys.
Warning signs of an iron overdose include:
- diarrhea and sharp stomach pain
- vomiting blood
- shallow, rapid breathing
- pale, clammy hands
- weakness and fatigue
If you’re experiencing these symptoms and are pregnant, contact your health provider right away. You may need to seek emergency treatment.
How to take iron supplements
Iron supplements are best taken on an empty stomach with a simple glass of water. However, iron supplements can aggravate pregnancy symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting. Taking iron supplements on an empty stomach may make these side effects even worse.
Taking iron with a snack may be a good way to reduce your risk for nausea. As an added bonus, consider a snack that’s high in vitamin C to increase your body’s ability to absorb the supplement. Taking iron before bed may also help make side effects less noticeable.
What’s most important is to find a routine that works for you. If you’re having a hard time keeping down the supplements, talk to your healthcare provider. They may be able to recommend an iron supplement that’s easier on the stomach.
How much iron do you need in pregnancy?
At a minimum, you’ll need almost twice as much iron during pregnancy as you needed before you were expecting.
The recommended daily amount of iron for women of childbearing age who are not pregnant is around 18 mg. If you’re pregnant, the recommended daily amount increases to a minimum of 27 mg.
The World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted Source recommendations are higher. WHO recommends pregnant women take in between 30 to 60 mg of iron a day.
Ask your doctor or midwife for their recommendations. They may vary depending on various factors, such as number of babies you’re carrying, history of anemia, or size of the baby.
The bottom line
The hard work of creating a new person also requires extra nutrients. Iron is important for everyone, but it’s especially crucial for pregnant women to get enough each day.
Your body doesn’t make iron. Instead, you’ll need to consume iron-rich foods. Iron is found in meats, vegetables, beans, and other sources. That means you’ll have plenty of foods to choose from and are sure to find something to satisfy your daily cravings and aversions.