Did you know during pregnancy your body’s demands for iron increases?
From early in the pregnancy, an additional demand for iron is placed on the body to support the production of extra blood to carry oxygen to your baby. Iron is also important for cognitive development in children and helps maintain a healthy immune system during pregnancy.
Interestingly, a study in the UK found that 40% of pregnant women between the ages of 19-34 years had iron levels lower than the recommended doses – suggesting it’s a more common condition during pregnancy, than most people realise.
Symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia can include tiredness, fatigue, feeling faint and shortness of breath. Common reasons for a low iron status are a poor diet that is high in processed foods and low in iron rich food and chronic blood loss through menstruation.
Iron deficiency anaemia
Low iron stores before and during pregnancy can increase the risk of iron deficiency anaemia, which may increase the risk of premature birth and is associated with low birth weight.
A blood test around conception is a good indicator of mum-to-be’s iron stores and the risk of iron deficiency anaemia. Many healthcare professionals insist on testing iron status in the early stages of pregnancy.
The good news is there’s evidence to suggest iron deficiency anaemia can be self-managed through iron supplementation during the pregnancy to help normalise maternal iron status.
How to address iron status during pregnancy:
- Get a blood test to confirm iron status and whether supplementation is necessary.
- If you have a history of low iron, or follow a low iron diet, such as vegan/vegetarian, it may be wise to start a low dose, pregnancy friendly iron supplement.
- If iron status is low, start supplementation immediately, ensure the formulation includes a gentle, no -constipating iron such as ‘iron bisglycinate’ alongside vitamin C to enhance absorption.
- Good dietary sources for iron are meat, offal, poultry and shellfish, however for those who do not wish to include such foods, try prunes, steamed green leafy vegetables, legumes and pumpkin seeds.
- Maintain exercise, however, limit it to steady-low intensity.
A complex of vitamins and minerals especially designed for pregnancy would be a wise option, as this would help provide the necessary amount of nutrients that may be difficult to obtain from a diet.
What should I look for in a supplement?
Always read the label to check the source of the ingredients. Choose high quality supplements which contain 100% active ingredients – no binders or fillers. Check the amount of active ingredient as this can vary. Visit your local health store for more details, help and support www.findahealthstore.com
Author: Jenny Carson, MRes, BSc (Hons), MBANT, senior nutritionist at ethical vitamin company Viridian Nutrition. Jenny has over 5 years’ experience supporting people with nutritional health advice. She has a first-class degree in Nutritional Science, and has completed a Master of Research(MRes) in Public Health, giving her a wide understanding of public health nutrition including the impact on society and public services like the NHS. For more information visit www.viridian-nutrition.com
This article is for information purposes and does not refer to any individual products. The information contained in this article is not intended to treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a health practitioner. Please consult a qualified health practitioner if you have a pre-existing health condition or are currently taking medication. Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.