Are you wondering how much iron is safe to take while pregnant? At times, it can be confusing and difficult to know exactly what is going on with your body. When you are carrying a child, it is very important to always have the right amount of vitamins and minerals so that neither you nor your baby will have any health problems.
Are you planning on becoming a parent in the near future? Congratulations! Becoming a mom or dad is one of the most important and exciting events in your life. One thing that might scare–or worry you, is the fact that pregnant women need to watch their iron intake. So how much iron is safe to take while pregnant?
How Much Iron Is Safe To Take While Pregnant
Why is iron important during pregnancy?
It might seem counterintuitive that you need more iron during pregnancy, considering 70 percent of iron is found in red blood cells — and you’re no longer losing blood each month during your menstrual cycle. But iron needs jump during pregnancy to deliver oxygen to your growing baby and because your body actually produces more blood since you’re growing, too. Iron is also important in fetal brain development. Having low iron levels can put you at risk for anemia, especially during the second half of your pregnancy.
How much iron do pregnant women need?
Pregnant women need 27 milligrams of iron per day (compared to 18 milligrams for adult women 19 to 50 who are not expecting). Most prenatal vitamins include enough iron to cover that increase, but iron-deficiency anemia is common in pregnancy due to the increased demand for blood production. Luckily, it’s easy to prevent by filling your plate with plenty of iron-rich foods and, if your practitioner recommends one, with the help of a daily iron supplement.
Understanding the Iron Deficiency
In 2007, a joint assessment of the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated ferritin as a primary measure of the martial status at the population level and the soluble Tf receptor (sTfR) as a second promising parameter that warranted continued evaluation .
The human body cannot make iron on its own. For this reason, people must obtain the mineral through their diet. When iron makes its way into the body through a person’s diet, it is known as dietary iron.
Research has identified two primary forms of dietary iron. The first is known as nonheme iron, which is present in plant- and animal-derived foods. The second form is heme iron, which is only present in foods derived from animals.
Heme iron has a higher bioavailability, and the body can absorb it more easily. Nonheme iron is the most important dietary source of iron for vegans and vegetarians. However, it has a lower bioavailability, and there are more factors affecting it’s absorption.
Meats, poultry, and seafood are richest in heme iron. Fortified grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and vegetables contain non-heme iron. In the U.S. many breads, cereals, and infant formulas are fortified with iron.
Heme iron is better absorbed by the body than non-heme iron. Certain factors can improve or inhibit the absorption of non-heme iron. Vitamin C and heme iron taken at the same meal can improve the absorption of non-heme iron. Bran fiber, large amounts of calcium particularly from supplements, and plant substances like phytates and tannins can inhibit the absorption of non-heme iron.
Sources of heme iron:
- Oysters, clams, mussels
- Beef or chicken liver
- Organ meats
- Canned sardines
- Canned light tuna
Sources of non-heme iron:
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Dark chocolate (at least 45%)
- Potato with skin
- Nuts, seeds
- Enriched rice or bread