IRON IN YOUR PREG­NANCY DIET

How much and how to get it?

Mother & Baby - - CONTENTS -

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.

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