Iron rich foods for Anemia, pregnancy, Weakness
Iron is a vital and a very important element that we need. This is a component of Red blood cells which helps to carry oxygen. Lack of iron in body can cause several health problems, and anemia is the most common. Also, both men and women require a particular amount of daily iron intake. Precisely, it is important to ensure the sufficient iron intake by the women during their pregnancy. So, the post will be covering the importance of iron rich foods in pregnancy and some sources of iron rich foods for pregnancy.
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- Why iron is important?
- Why you need to take iron or iron rich foods in pregnancy?
- How much iron do you need?
- Sources of iron – iron rich foods for pregnancy
- What If I’m a Vegetarian or a Carnivore?
- How to get the most? Maximize the absorption
- What you may face during pregnancy if you don’t get adequate iron?
- What may happen if you take more iron than you need?
Why iron is important?
Not only in pregnant women, but iron is also important to our health. Our body needs iron for the following reasons:
- Iron is an essential component of making hemoglobin, which is the protein in Red blood cells that transports oxygen to other cells.
- To maintain a healthy immune system, a certain intake of iron is also important.
- Iron is also an important component of myoglobin, which is a protein that aids to supply oxygen to the muscles. In addition, iron is an element of collagen, which is a protein of connective tissues, cartilages and bones. Besides these, iron is a constituent of many enzymes as well.
Why you need to take iron or iron rich foods in pregnancy?
The requirement of iron is more during pregnancy. You need to take iron rich foods for pregnancy because:
- Do you know that your total blood volume will be increased during pregnancy? Yes, and it rises to almost 50% more than the usual amount. So, you need to produce more hemoglobin to produce more blood, and iron does that all.
- In the second and the third trimester, you need extra iron for your baby, developing in the placenta. Because, this is the period when your baby will get a store of iron that will supply your baby with iron for the first 4-6 months of life. However, the case will be different in prematurely born babies.
- Many women have an insufficient store of iron throughout their life, and also in their pregnancy. So, the need extra iron.
- Also, many women suffer from iron-deficiency anemia during their pregnancy, and this phenomenon may cause infant mortality, low birth weight and premature delivery. So, these women also need to take foods that are fortified with iron.
How much iron do you need?
The requirement of iron is not the same in both in pregnant and non-pregnant women. Pregnant women require more (approximately 27 milligrams per day). On the other hand non-pregnant women require around 18 mg of iron per day.
However, your body utilizes a high amount of iron during the second half of your pregnancy. Therefore, the necessity of iron rises from 0.8mg per day in your first trimester to six to seven milligrams in the later stages of your pregnancy.
Sources of iron – iron rich foods for pregnancy
Edible irons are of two types, heme and non-heme. Animals are the only source of heme iron and they can get absorbed by the body more easily. On the other hand, non-heme irons usually found in iron supplements, plants and foods that are fortified with iron. Besides these, seafood, poultry and red meats are the sources of both heme and non-heme iron. So, as you need both types of iron, you should take various types of iron rich foods during pregnancy.
Fishes, poultry and red meat are several good sources of iron. Moreover, although liver has a good concentration of iron, but it contains unsafe amount of vitamin A, so it is better to limit the amount of serving.
Besides these you can eat fruits rich in iron during pregnancy. These fruits include apricots, peanuts, cashew nuts, water melon, raisins, dates, sun-dried tomatoes, pomegranate etc.
Now I am going to give a list of iron-rich foods with the amount of iron they contain.
Heme iron containing foods (Per 3 ounce serving)
- Lean beef chuck steak – 3.2mg
- Lean beef tenderloin – 3mg
- Liver (beef) – 5.2mg
- Chicken breast meat – 1.1mg
- Chicken dark meat – 1.1mg
- Liver (chicken) – 11mg
- Roasted Turkey breast meat– 1.4mg
- Roasted Turkey dark meat– 2mg
- Pork loin chop – 1.2mg
- Light canned tuna – 1.3mg
- Oysters (canned) – 5.7mg
Non-heme iron containing foods
- ½ cup instant iron fortified oatmeal– 5mg
- ½ cup ready-to-eat fortified cereal – 24mg
- ½ cup cooked lentils – 3.3mg
- ½ cup boiled soybeans– 4.4mg
- ½ cup chickpeas- 2.4 mg
- ½ cup cooked lima beans– 2.3mg
- 1 cup cooked kidney beans– 5.2mg
- 1 cup cooked pinto or black beans– 3.6mg
- One ounce roasted pumpkin seeds– 4.2mg
- 1cup boiled spinach – 6.4 mg
- 1cup firm and raw tofu– 6.8 mg
- One cup prune juice – 3mg
- One tablespoon blackstrap molasses – 3.5mg
- ¼ cup dried grapes – 0.75mg
- White or whole wheat bread (2 slice) – 11.4 mg
What If I’m a Vegetarian or a Carnivore?
A vegetarian or a carnivore, whatever you are, it is not a problem. Vegetables, meat and fruits, all of them are good sources of iron. Although, the animal sources of iron get absorbed more quickly, plant sources are also good to consume with a vitamin C food. However, if you do not like to take animal protein, you can add vegetables, legumes and iron fortified cereals during pregnancy.
How to get the most? Maximize the absorption
To get the daily requirement, you do not need to cook a lot of meat or other iron-rich foods. So, I like to provide you with some tips to make the most of it.
- Try to cook in a cast iron pan. Because, cooking in such a pan will increase the iron contents in foods.
- Adding a source of vitamin C (orange juice, lemon juice, strawberry juice) in the diet will help you to get it better. Because, the addition of vitamin C can accelerate the iron absorption up to 6 times faster.
- There are several foods that interrupt the absorption iron. These foods include coffee, tea, chocolate, soft drinks etc. So, you should avoid taking these foods before and after 1 hour of taking iron rich foods.
- There are several controversies about taking iron rich foods and iron inhibitory foods and vitamin C altogether. So, it is better to consult with your doctor and dietitian to make your diet chart.
- Iron gets absorbed more easily in the empty stomach. So, if your consultant suggests you to take iron supplement, try to take it before or after 1 hour of taking your meal. Besides these, do not take the supplements with tea or coffee, because these drinks can interrupt the iron absorption.
- Although calcium is also an important element, but it usually hampers the iron absorption. So, if your consultant suggests you to take both calcium and iron supplement at the same time, than you better to consult again to fix this problem.
What you may face during pregnancy if you don’t get adequate iron?
- At early or mid pregnancy, iron-deficiency anemia can occur. In addition, it may result in your infant death, low-birth weight baby and premature birth.
- During the delivery of your baby, you may lose a lot of blood and you may require transfusion if you are anemic.
- Your baby in your womb also may fall short in store of iron, which will require for his/her later development.
- Besides these, if you do not get enough iron, your body may become vulnerable to infection.
What may happen if you take more iron than you need?
Too much iron during pregnancy is a bed idea. Taking around 45 mg iron everyday is enough for you, but do not take more than that. If you take more than the amount, it may cause problem to you and your baby during pregnancy.
A high amount of iron intake can cause gestational diabetes, which is the rise of blood sugar during pregnancy. Other problems include, high blood pressure, preeclampsia etc. In addition to that, an overdose of iron can increase the risk of heart disease in the women with type2 diabetes. Although, this phenomenon is not so common, but it is better to be careful.
Moreover, taking an overdose of iron may cause intestinal inflammation such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Also, iron can make irritation and thus the situation may become worse.
Besides these, over intake of iron may cause problem in the people who have hemoglobin disease, because high hemoglobin level often create problems during pregnancy.
Finally I like to say that, ensuring the sufficient amount of iron is a crucial during your pregnancy. Make a list of foods with iron for pregnancy, and try to follow to meet up the requirement. Along with that, ensure the other important elements that you need during your pregnancy. Also, before changing anything in your diet, please do not forget to consult with your dietitian. Moreover, it is important to check the iron level in a regular interval. Take care of yourself and be a happy and healthy mom.