Why Do I Need More Iron During Pregnancy?
Iron is a mineral that makes up an important part of hemoglobin, the substance in blood that carries oxygen throughout the body. Iron also carries oxygen in muscles, helping them function properly. Iron helps increase your resistance to stress and disease.
The body absorbs iron more efficiently during pregnancy; therefore it is important to consume more iron while you are pregnant to ensure that you and your baby are getting enough oxygen. Iron will also help you avoid symptoms of tiredness, weakness, irritability, and depression.
Following a balanced diet and including foods high in iron can help ensure that you are consuming enough iron throughout your pregnancy. In addition, the following guidelines will help:
- The U.S. RDA for iron is 27 mg per day for pregnant women and 15 mg for breastfeeding women.
- Eating at least three servings of iron-rich foods a day will help ensure that you are getting 30 mg of iron in your daily diet. One of the best ways to get iron from your diet is to consume a highly fortified breakfast cereal such as Total, which has 18 mg of iron. Note that iron intake is not equal to iron absorption. Absorption of iron into the body is greatest with meat sources of iron such as liver.
- The best sources of iron include enriched grain products, lean meat, poultry, fish, and leafy green vegetables.
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