Pregnancy and Iron

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Pregnancy and iron is one of the main topic covered in the current article. As we know, one of the most crucial times in life is pregnancy. All parents look at their children as one of the most important parts of their lives. A successful pregnancy is very important for normal delivery and a normal baby. Some special care and treatment are very necessary for a successful pregnancy. During pregnancy, the body requires different types of vitamins and minerals. Among these, iron is one of the most important minerals every woman needs during pregnancy. Every female must know about the importance of folic acid and iron during pregnancy. It is very important to eat a balanced diet overall, not only focusing on specific vitamins and minerals for good health and normal pregnancy, which leads to the normal delivery of a normal baby. However, along with a normal diet, the required amounts of minerals and vitamins are also very important. 

Pregnancy and Iron
Pregnancy and Iron

Before becoming pregnant, it’s typical for a woman to be deficient in iron more so than any other nutrient due to the amount lost every month during menstruation. Although during pregnancy, no such cycle exists but still it doesn’t mean that the iron requirements of the body have gone away also. It’s true that early in pregnancy you may have some extra iron stored, however, as pregnancy progresses, you need it even more than before. Once you become pregnant you need to focus on getting the proper amount of iron. Especially if you want to have the energy to continue doing things such as exercising.

What is Iron?

Iron one of the important body requirement is a mineral that everybody required for growth and development. In the human body, iron is used for making hemoglobin (Hb), which is a protein present in red blood cells (RBCs) that carries oxygen from the lungs to all other parts of the body, and myoglobin is a protein that provides oxygen to the muscles of the body. Iron is also required for making some hormones in the body.

Why is iron so important? 

As we know, iron plays an important role in the distribution of oxygen, and due to iron deficiency in the body, blood isn’t able to carry as much oxygen. So our body will not have enough energy for the completely different tasks that are performed in the body. This is because iron is an essential mineral that is part of hemoglobin that circulates in your red blood cells. Hemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen to your baby and the cells in your body. That oxygen provides both of you with the energy needed to function. It also plays a crucial role in fetal development.

What are some signs of iron deficiency?

Following are some signs of iron deficiency.

  • Paleness
  • Extreme Fatigue
  • Breathlessness
  • Weakness
  • Heart Palpitations

By the beginning of the second trimester, few women can meet the 30 mg nutritionists recommend during pregnancy (Among anemic females, the doctor may recommend 60mg or more). With the progress of pregnancy, blood volume increase, and this increase makes it critical to get enough energy that the body needed.

Iron & Diet

Most people know that lean red meat and poultry are iron-rich foods. However, we can get plenty of iron from a vegetarian diet as well.

Heme-Iron vs. Non-Heme Iron

Heme iron, which makes up 40 percent of the iron in meat, poultry, and fish, is well absorbed. Non-heme iron, 60 percent of the iron in animal tissue, and all the iron in plants (fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts) are less well absorbed. Even though vegetarian and vegan diets contain non-heme iron, anemia is no more common in vegetarians than it is in meat eaters. This is because many of the foods consumed by vegans are superior to animal-derived foods.

Another factor that vegans and vegetarians have on their side is Vitamin C. A vegan diet is more likely to be rich in vitamin C than a non-vegan diet. Vitamin C boosts the absorption of iron significantly. This makes the absorption of non-heme iron good, if not better than heme iron. So, if you are eating a plant-based diet, be sure to combine iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods to increase iron absorption sixfold.

Plants Highest in both Iron and Vitamin C

Different plants have different amounts of vitamin C. Here are some plants which consist of vitamin C.

  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Beet Greens
  • Parsley
  • Swiss Chard
  • Spinach
  • Turnip Greens
  • Hearts of Palm
  • Seaweed
  • Spirulina
  • Tomatoes
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli Raab
  • Butterbur
  • Turnip Greens
  • Chinese Cabbage

Plant-Based Foods Rich in Iron

Following are plant-based foods that are rich in iron.

  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Raisins
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Tofu
  • Pine Nuts
  • Soybeans
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Cashews
  • Lentils
  • Potatoes
  • Kidney Beans
  • Adzuki Beans
  • Navy Beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Black-Eyed Peas
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Black Beans
  • Chick Peas
  • Ming Beans
  • Figs

Some other important ways to get iron during pregnancy are through juicing or smoothies by making juices like beet juice with beets, beet greens, carrots, parsley, and apples.

Or from a smoothie with Spinach, Kale, Parsley, Lemon, Apple, Pear, and maybe some spirulina or Maca Powder (which is rich in Vitamin C) along with Chia Seeds.

Read more: What problems and changes appear during Pregnancy?

Supplementing with Iron

Before taking special supplements for vitamins and minerals it is very important to take a balanced diet, and with a balanced diet, some vitamins are also required. It is very important to get these requirements from natural foods as compared to taking them from any chemicals. Because chemicals also have their side effects which are responsible for increased depression or any other effects. So, remember this one line,” they must be plant-based, no chemicals, and a source that comes from any chemical food.”

Eating a well-balanced diet, along with taking prenatal vitamins should ensure that it must reach the body’s daily needs. If anybody is deficient, it means that such a person is the one who is most likely to suffer. The baby will take all the iron from the mother’s body, which is one cool thing about pregnancy. It is very important that the body of the mother automatically gives up the iron to the baby to complete the baby’s iron needs. By this process, chance presents that the mother may be lying around, exhausted. The baby is just chilling and happy.

If your doctor recommends you take an iron supplement, here are some tips to ensure you get the most out of it.

  • Take it on an empty stomach.
  • As stated before, iron absorption is boosted by Vitamin C. Take the supplement with some lemon water or a homemade juice rich in vitamin C.
  • Do not take it with tea, milk, or coffee, all of which can interfere with iron absorption.
  • Do not take it with a calcium supplement (if that is also recommended). Instead, take one in the morning, and the other in the evening.

Side Effects of Iron Supplements

There are a few women that experience side effects when taking an iron supplement. This includes 

  • nausea, 
  • constipation and 
  • appetite loss. 

If any of these side effects occur in any female, it is advised to, try taking the supplement with food. Iron may not be absorbed as well, but it’s better than nothing. If this method is not helping, you should also talk to your doctor to see if lowering the dosage is safe for you. Increasing the plant-rich iron foods mentioned above is another way to get more iron without the side effects.

Read more: Infertility, its sign, symptoms and diagnosis

Too Much Iron?

Consuming too much iron can be toxic. This is why it is important not to go out and take an iron supplement (in addition to your prenatal vitamin) unless your doctor prescribes it. Although it is unlikely to get iron toxicity from food (however, some studies have shown overdoses of iron from large consumption of animal organs), synthetic iron found in supplements is a different story. It is tough to overdose on iron if you are just taking a prenatal vitamin and eating a colorful diet. Especially later in pregnancy when your blood volume increases along with your iron needs. However, just avoid taking all kinds of supplements, unless it is what your doctor prescribes.

Pregnancy and Iron
Pregnancy and Iron

Hopefully, all mothers have a little more insight now as to the importance of iron in their diet. In the present busy world, it is very important to start eating iron-rich foods before pregnancy to build up stores for the use of mother and baby body requirements. The other most important point is that this doesn’t mean that iron and other vitamins are only required for pregnancy or pregnant women. Instead, we all require some amounts of vitamins and minerals for our daily body use. However, the amount is different in pregnant and non-pregnant women. This means that you do not need as much as a woman that is pregnant, but you still need to pay attention to eating iron-rich foods, especially during that time of the month and later in life when you reach menopause. It should help with fatigue and other icky symptoms that come with all those fun unavoidable in women at any stage of their life.

Pregnancy and Iron

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