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How much iron does a pregnant woman need?

There is an increased need for iron when pregnant. During this time, the amount of blood in your body increases by 30-50%. This increases the requirement for iron in your body as it’s needed to make hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to other cells in your body.

Research shows that many women do not have sufficient iron in their diet to meet their daily needs. This is also true during pregnancy, especially during the second and third trimesters when dietary iron requirements can increase to as much as 30mg per day.

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Avoiding low iron in pregnancy

There are two types of iron found in the diet, non-haem and haem. Non-haem iron is found in plants, nuts and legumes. This is absorbed at a much lower rate than heme iron, which is found in animal products such as meat, especially red meat.

It’s important to remember that even if you are making a conscious effort to ingest more haem iron, by eating meat, most health authorities recommend a safe upper intake of only 500g of red meat per week. Also, other daily habits like drinking tea and coffee after your meals can reduce iron absorption and reduce your iron intake.

You can get iron from food but it may not be absorbed well, and it may not be sufficient to meet your increased requirements during pregnancy.

Iron supplements could benefit pregnant women who are unable to meet their dietary iron requirements. However, food supplements are not a substitute for a varied diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Iron Supplements in pregnancy

There are many iron supplements available over the counter. Ferrous sulphate is considered the ‘gold standard’ and is the most commonly recommended form of iron in the UK and Ireland.

Although iron absorption occurs mainly in the small intestine, traditional iron supplements dissolve in the stomach. This can lead to side effects including constipation, heartburn, and nausea.

Active Iron has a unique non-constipating formula that helps reduce gut irritation from iron. Formulated by scientists, Active Iron is clinically proven to increase iron levels while being kind enough to take on an empty stomach.

 

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