Iron Deficiency in Pregnancy – Are You Getting Enough Iron?
Many healthy women are not getting enough iron and develop an iron deficiency in pregnancy. According to a study published in the journal Pediatric Research, 35 to 58 percent of women are deficient, which is bad enough in its own right, but they’ve also found that a deficiency in iron during pregnancy can affect the brain development of your unborn child.
Bradley S. Peterson, M.D., Director of the Institute for the Developing Mind at the Saban Research Institute in Los Angeles, and Catherine Monk, Ph.D., of Columbia University Medical Center, both examined brain tissue from 40 newborn infants 20 days after birth.
“The researchers found that the higher the amount of iron the mother ingested, the more mature the gray brain matter.” // www.fitpregnancy.com
Conversely, lower levels of dietary iron in the pregnant mothers resulted in more immature gray matter in the newborns, and “it has been shown that newborns with a low iron profile lagged in general motor and neurocognitive development.” (source)
So how much iron should a mother, or mother to be, be taking before and during her pregnancy?
(Find out what foods are best during pregnancy for healthy fetal brain development)
How much iron do you really need?
The best time to optimize your iron intake is preconception. Pregnancy will increase the body’s demand for iron substantially. For women ages 19-50, the RDI is 18mg a day, which increases to 27mg a day for pregnant women.
Also, iron requirements are lower in the first trimester of pregnancy because the amount of iron that is absorbed into your body is also reduced. After the first three months, your body’s absorption of iron increases.
“The amounts [of iron] that can be absorbed from even an optimal diet, however, are less than the iron requirements in later pregnancy and a woman must enter pregnancy with iron stores of about 300 mg if she is to meet her requirements fully.” // www.fitpregnancy.com
Why do I need sufficient iron during pregnancy?
- The volume of blood in your body increases nearly 50% during pregnancy, so you need more iron to make more hemoglobin.
- You need extra iron for your growing baby and placenta, especially in the second and third trimesters.
- Many women need even more because they start their pregnancy with insufficient stores of iron.
- Iron-deficiency anemia during pregnancy is associated with preterm delivery, low birth weight, and infant mortality. // www.babycenter.com
Does it need to be daily?
No. When pregnant, you can spread out your 27mg a day over the course of a few days or a week at most. Same goes for the non-pregnant target of 18mg.
So for a pregnant woman, 189mg over the course of one week is your target.
Some Iron Density Guidelines…
- 3 ounces lean beef chuck: 3.2 mg
- 3 ounces lean beef tenderloin: 3.0 mg
- 3 ounces roast turkey, dark meat: 2.0 mg
- 3 ounces roast turkey breast: 1.4 mg
- 3 ounces roast chicken, dark meat: 1.1 mg
- 3 ounces roast chicken breast: 1.1 mg
- 3 ounces halibut: 0.9 mg
- 3 ounces pork loin: 0.8 mg
Sometimes it can be hard to hit the full iron requirements your body needs. Your healthcare practitioner may suggest a prenatal vitamin mix which would have roughly 30mg of iron and help with iron deficiency in pregnancy. Just ask your doctor in this case before taking any supplements.
For more articles about health during pregnancy read our other articles:
- best foods for fetal brain development