For many pregnant women, figuring out how to take care of your changing body and growing baby can feel overwhelming. Things you used to take for granted, like feeding yourself proper nutrients, can take on a new urgency and importance.
When you’re figuring out what you need to eat for the healthiest pregnancy, it’s important not to overlook iron. This nutrient can be the difference between having an exhausting pregnancy or a happy one.
Why Do Pregnant Women Need Iron?
All people need iron in their diet. It’s a critical nutrient that lets your red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body. It’s also an important mineral for making new blood. Without enough iron, you can develop iron deficiency anemia.
Iron deficiency anemia can cause dizziness, extreme fatigue, weakness, poor circulation, and irregular heartbeats. All of these symptoms are unpleasant, but they can be dangerous for expectant mothers.
During the gestation process, pregnant women are sharing their nutrients with their babies. When the mother doesn’t have enough iron, then neither does the baby. This lack of oxygen can contribute to low birth weight, premature birth, and post-partum depression, which is bad for mom and baby!
How Much Iron Do Pregnant Women Need?
For optimal health, expectant mothers need to have about twice as much iron in their diet as they would normally have. Like most nutrients and minerals you consume during pregnancy, you’re consuming for both you and your baby.
It’s also important to remember that your baby isn’t the only growing, changing body. Expectant mothers need more iron for themselves, too, not just the baby. As your body changes, it needs more blood, too.
At a minimum, a pregnant woman should be getting 27 milligrams of iron every day. For comparison, women who aren’t pregnant generally need about 18 milligrams of iron. Everybody is different, so you should talk to your doctor about the best gestation nutrients for your body.
Women with naturally low iron or a predisposition for iron deficiency anemia can need up to 120 milligrams of iron per day.
How to Get More Iron In Your Diet
Like most nutrients and minerals, you can get iron from the foods you eat. Chicken, turkey, and beans are all good sources of iron. There are also numerous iron-fortified foods on the market, including cereals and oatmeal.
However, a cup of beans will only give you about 5 or 6 milligrams of iron (depending on the type of bean). That’s a lot of beans to reach the minimum iron requirements!
When you aren’t getting enough nutrients for pregnancy from your diet, prenatal vitamins are a great way to fill the gap. If you need a high-iron supplement, look for a prenatal vitamin with significant iron content.
For women prone to iron deficiency anemia, a high-iron option is the best choice for a prenatal vitamin. If you want to compare prenatal vitamins, click for more information. A good vitamin will combine the iron you need with other important nutrients for pregnancy.
Have a Happy, Healthy Pregnancy
Now that you know how important iron is for pregnant women, you’re prepared for a healthier, happier pregnancy. It’s easier to focus on the joy of this period when you know you and your baby are thriving.
For more healthy tips and advice, check out our other health and lifestyle posts!