IRON IN YOUR PREGNANCY DIET
How much and how to get it?
Weekly gynaecologist appointment—check. Maternity clothes— check. List of baby names—check. Adequate hydration—check. Morning sickness—check. Iron? Yes, iron. Often, we underestimate the power of this super nutrient. It is no wonder that it is the most underrated health hazard. Especially for pregnant women out there, it is most important to top up on your iron. Firstly, you need to understand why iron is crucial—whether pregnant or not. Iron is used to produce haemoglobin, which is present in your red blood cells and helps carry oxygen throughout your body. Iron deficiency is increasingly common amongst women, with 55 per cent of women in India being found to be deficient. When you are pregnant, you produce 50 per cent more blood than usual, which in turn implies
that you need more iron. Your body literally turns into your baby’s lifeline, and provides blood and oxygen to your baby. This automatically means that you need double the amount of iron in your body. If you are still in the planning stage, get a head-start on your iron levels by visiting the doctor and conducting a blood test to determine your blood iron. If your iron scores are not in your favour, ensure that you consume the required amount to increase your iron. According to the Indian Council medical report, pregnant women need 35mg of iron daily. Of course, there are ways to determine that you are iron deficient. Fatigue, lightheadedness, pale skin, shortness of breath—are all signs that you are low on your Iron quotient. However, a blood test is always recommended to be sure. If you are pregnant, chances are that you would need a daily dosage of iron to replenish your iron storage every day. You will need to consume at least 27mg of iron during your pregnancy. It is best to consult your doctor on your recommended daily amount of iron, though—since the amount may vary depending on your iron consistency. While iron deficiency is common during the third trimester, it is best to be vigilant from the very beginning. And while you are at it, you should also understand that there are two types of iron—heme and non-heme iron. While heme iron comes from animal sources such as red meat, poultry, and seafood and is easier for your body to absorb, non-heme iron is found in plants, supplements and iron-fortified products. At best, you need to consume a variety of iron-rich sources so that you are getting enough. It is important to note that a plantbased vegetarian diet can provide around 18mg of iron. You can supplement your foods with ironfortified products. It is interesting to note that what you consume with your iron-rich food can increase or decrease your body’s iron absorption capacity. Iron intake accompanied with calcium-based items such as milk and cheese can decrease your body’s ability to absorb iron. On the flipside, acidic accompaniments such as orange juice or tomatoes can your iron absorption. While you can customise your diet as per your iron preferences, do consult your nutritionist to get the amount right. Besides, iron deficiency during pregnancy can result in severe maternal weakness and in worst cases, lead to infant mortality too. In fact, an iron deficiency in the first six months doubles the risk of preterm labour and triples the risk of delivering a low birth weight baby. Iron pills, when taken along with folic acid, can help to improve the birth weight of the baby and save you from suffering from anemia that can have an effect on your pregnancy. So under no circumstances should you forget to take your iron pills.
Madhuri Ruia is well-known nutritionist. Her advice and expertise have been instrumental in helping countless people. She is the Founder of Integym – one of the foremost gyms known for being at the cutting edge of the newest techniques and practices in the fitness ecosystem in Mumbai.
If you are looking for options to determine your daily diet during your pregnancy, below is a segregated list you can refer to.