As a woman your iron needs are higher than men’s naturally (hello menstruation!). But during pregnancy your needs increase even more. Iron is a part of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin carries oxygen to the cells in your body. During pregnancy, hemoglobin not only has to supply your own cells but it has to supply your baby’s cells as well! The extra iron is needed for:
- production of red blood cells
- to build a strong immune system
- for energy production
- for the development of your baby’s brain and nervous system
There are two types of iron: heme and non-heme. Heme iron comes from animals (eggs, red meat, seafood and poultry) and is absorbed at a much higher rate than non-heme iron which comes from plants (leafy greens, beans, and fortified grains).
To increase iron absorption never take it with regular or decaf coffee or tea! Try pairing iron with vitamin C (orange juice, bell peppers, strawberries) to increase absorption.
So how much do you need?
- When not pregnant (18-50 yrs) you need 18mg
- When pregnant you need 27mg
- For comparison men need 8mg
Iron deficiency anemia is very common during pregnancy. It’s important to have good iron stores before pregnancy to reduce the risk of developing it.
My Pregnancy Update
38 weeks and counting! Still going strong and feeling well. In terms of iron for my pregnancy, my prenatal vitamins provide 30mg. So I’m covered in my pill. However, I think it’s important to eat a varied diet and I have eaten more red meat during pregnancy than before. Part of that is because I’m eating less fish when out at restaurants! I also consume leafy greens and beans on a regular basis.