You’re pregnant, wait it out. Sorry, that rhymed. Good for you. So, now the question is; how much iron per day in pregnancy? And what about if you are breastfeeding your baby? Well, I’ve got the answers!
Iron is vital for the formation of red blood cells. Iron deficiency can lead to anaemia and tiredness. When should you take an iron supplement? How much iron per day in pregnancy should you take? This article looks at the importance of iron, helping you to avoid deficiencies.
How Much Iron Per Day In Pregnancy
The best way to get the iron you need is by eating iron-rich foods like green leafy vegetables, lean red meat, almonds, lentils and dried fruit. Vitamin C can help your body absorb iron so drink a glass of orange juice with your meal as well. It’s normal to feel extra tired when you’re pregnant, especially in the first and third trimester, and including these foods in your diet can help. If, however, you’re pale, extremely exhausted and/or getting short of breath or heart palpitations you could be anemic. In that case your doctor will likely talk to you about ways you can supplement your iron supply.
Ferrous sulfate (325 milligrams twice a day) is one of the more common ways to treat iron-deficiency anemia. As we mentioned, taking Vitamin C with the iron supplement can help improve absorption in the gastrointestinal tract. In fact, there are some prescription supplements like Chromagen that have both iron and Vitamin C in one pill.
But, keep in mind that iron is known to be associated with constipation, a symptom that many pregnant women are already prone to, so you’ll probably need to accompany your treatment with a stool softener. Also, iron may exacerbate the nausea and vomiting of early pregnancy. Because of these issues, you should only take iron supplements under your doctor’s supervision. Another thing to note is that there are some kinds of anemia that aren’t treated with iron supplementation. In these cases, taking iron may do more harm than good.
Who is at risk for iron deficiency?
- Infants Pre-term infants often require iron supplementation due to increased needs for rapid growth. Full term infants tend to have sufficient iron from their mothers’ iron stores, iron fortified formula, and iron fortified cereals. However, some full term infants may require iron supplementation starting at 4-6 months of age.
- Toddlers Toddlers are at risk for iron deficiency if dietary iron intake is insufficient when switched to cow’s milk. Milk is not a good source of iron. Excessive milk drinking can limit the ability of toddlers to eat iron rich food. Limiting milk may help to increase intake of iron rich foods; it is recommended to limit milk to 16-24 ounces per day in toddlers.
- Restrictive Diets (vegetarians, vegans) Vegetarians/vegans are at increased risk for iron deficiency due to limited intake of heme iron from animal products. It’s recommended for those following a restrictive diet to increase intake of nonheme iron. Depending on your child’s dietary restrictions an iron containing multivitamin may also be recommended.
Food Items You Can Easily Consume In Iron Deficiency Anemia Problem
To manage iron deficiency and recover quickly from anemia, you can consume these healthy food items:
- Spinach: It is found out that half a cup of boiled spinach contains
- 2 mg of iron and this accounts for about 20 percent of the iron requirement for a woman’s body. So, make sure that you take spinach in your daily diet to increase the blood in your body. Other green leafy vegetables of radish, pumpkin, drumstick can also do the same.
- Red Meat: There is rich iron content in lamb, beef and other red meats. It contains heme-iron which will be easily absorbed by the body. The heart, kidneys, and the liver of the red meats are those parts that contain high quantities of iron.
- Tomatoes: Vitamin C is the main ingredient in tomatoes along with lycopene. The Vitamin C in tomatoes helps in easy absorption of iron. Tomatoes are also rich in beta carotene and Vitamins E and hence help in natural conditioning of the hair and skin.
- Eggs: Eggs are a rich source of proteins and contain a lot of antioxidants that will help in stocking up vitamins in the body when you are suffering from anemia. A large egg is said to contain 1 mg of iron and hence consumption of an egg everyday will help in fighting anemia.
- Soy Beans: Beans are a great source of iron and vitamins. Soybeans are considered to be the beans that contain high iron content. It contains phytic acid that prevents the absorption of iron. Soybean is a low fat and high protein food that fights anemia.
- Apple And Dates: Apple and dates are also known to help in boosting iron levels in the body. Eating an apple a day and about 10 dates daily will help to fight anemia.
- Citrus and vit-c rich foods- Fruits such as lemon, oranges, grape fruits, amla should be consumed as vit-c helps in absorption of non-heame iron (iron from vegetable sources).
Do’s And Dont’s While Following Diet Plan for Iron Deficiency Anemia
- Include more green leafy Vegetables in diet.
- Eat pulses and legumes to increase your iron intake.
- Include all variety fruits and Vegetables.
- Eat lean red meat and liver, which are rich in easily absorbed iron.
- When you consume iron-rich food include a source of Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps with the absorption of iron.
- Avoid eating dairy products 2 hours before and after you consume iron-rich foods.
- Avoid coffee, tea and colas when trying to boost your iron levels.
Who is most likely to develop iron-deficiency anemia?
Anyone can develop iron-deficiency anemia, although the following groups have a higher risk:
- Women: Blood loss during monthly periods and childbirth can lead to anemia.
- People over 65, who are more likely to have iron-poor diets.
- People who are on blood thinners such as aspirin, Plavix®, Coumadin®, or heparin.
- People who have kidney failure (especially if they are on dialysis), because they have trouble making red blood cells.
- People who have trouble absorbing iron.
How is anemia diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider can perform blood tests to tell if you have anemia. The type and number of blood tests will depend on what type of anemia your doctor thinks you might have.
The blood tests will measure your hemoglobin and how much iron is in your body. If these levels are low, the doctor can make a diagnosis of anemia.
How is anemia treated?
Your healthcare provider will decide on the proper treatment, depending on the type of anemia and what is causing it.
Your doctor must first find out if the anemia is being caused by a poor diet or a more serious health problem. You can then be treated for both the anemia and its cause.
Iron-deficiency anemia is treated by eating foods that are high in iron, or with oral (taken by mouth) iron supplements.
What foods are high in iron?
The following foods are good sources of iron:
- Kidney beans
- Beef liver
- Beef (chuck roast, lean ground beef)
- Turkey leg
- Whole wheat bread
- Peanut butter
- Leg of lamb
- Brown rice
- Raisin bran (whole grain-enriched cereals)
- Blackstrap molasses
What is oral iron supplementation?
In addition to eating foods that are rich in iron, you may have to take oral iron supplements. There are many different types of oral iron supplements, including pills, capsules, drops, and extended-release tablets. The purpose of oral iron supplementation is to treat your symptoms by increasing the levels of iron and hemoglobin in your body.
You don’t need a prescription to buy iron supplements. Working with your doctor, you can choose which type is best for you.
The iron in your body is called “elemental iron.” Oral iron supplements contain different amounts of elemental iron. When you choose a supplement, be sure to check the label to see how much elemental iron it contains; a greater amount means that more iron will be absorbed by your body.
What dose of iron is usually prescribed for the treatment of iron deficiency anemia?
Your doctor will tell you how much iron you need to take every day. For the treatment of iron deficiency anemia in adults, 100 to 200 mg of elemental iron per day has been recommended. The best way to take the supplement so that you absorb the greatest amount of iron is to take it in two or more doses during the day. However, extended-release iron products may be taken once a day.
Please note the following:
- Although the supplements work best on an empty stomach, you may want to take them with food so that they don’t upset your stomach.
- You shouldn’t take iron supplements with milk, caffeine, antacids, or calcium supplements. These can decrease the amount of iron that is absorbed.
- Try to take your iron supplement with vitamin C (for example, a glass of orange juice) to increase absorption.
When will I start to feel better?
When you should start to feel better depends on your particular situation. Normally, it may take from a week to a month (after you start your iron supplement) before you start to feel better. Continue to watch your symptoms and take note of side effects that might be caused by the supplements.