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Everything you need to know to avoid iron deficiency in pregnant women

The article in a few key points

Iron is a trace element essential for the proper functioning of the body. This plays a vital role in blood oxygenation and helps reduce fatigue.

During pregnancy, needs are almost twice as high as during “normal” periods.

An iron deficiency, especially in pregnant women, can quickly have serious consequences. This is why it is important to act as quickly as possible!

Consuming foods rich in iron and, if necessary, taking iron-based food supplements are recommended to compensate for possible deficiencies. Little tip: think about increasing your intake of vitamin C which promotes iron absorption.

Aaaah, the joys of pregnancy... During this happy period, however, there are some constraints and changes linked to this strong moment of life. Examples: changes in dietary needs or even certain restrictions essential to protect Baby. Besides, who doesn't know the famous "craving for strawberries", or hasn't heard of the danger of alcohol or cigarettes for the fetus?

What we know a little less is that pregnancy involves higher needs for specific micronutrients. And among these, there is one particularly important: iron.

But why consume more iron in pregnant women ? Iron deficiency and pregnancy: what are the risks, and how to avoid them during pregnancy?

Don't panic, we'll see it together without further ado!

iron pregnant woman

Lack of iron in pregnant women: reasons & risks

Whatever your age, gender or situation, iron remains an essential micronutrient for the proper functioning of the human body. The pregnant woman of course does not have “the iron monopoly”!

Iron plays a vital role in blood oxygenation . It is an essential component of hemoglobin, itself a protein present in large quantities in red blood cells. Iron and hemoglobin help carry inspired oxygen through all organs of the body.

Iron is also essential for the proper functioning of the functional immune system and helps with the proper functioning of certain cognitive functions such as concentration or memory . Finally, it helps reduce fatigue.

During pregnancy, your body logically produces more blood, since it must then ensure the survival of two people rather than one. Just as logically, more blood means a need for more iron : the iron intake required for a pregnant woman increases because your blood must also supply your baby with oxygen, in addition to you.

As a bonus, some of your organs are put to greater use during pregnancy, such as the kidneys or the uterus, for example. They therefore require a higher blood volume, which, again, increases iron needs.

If a pregnant woman lacks iron , what happens? Nothing good ! For you, due to the lack of hemoglobin, you risk being pale, tired or even exhausted (depending on the degree of anemia , or lack of iron in the blood ), experiencing mood swings or difficulty concentrating. . The quality of your sleep and your morale can also take a hit.

More serious: if you are extremely lacking in iron (for example with an iron deficiency even before your pregnancy), you risk giving birth to a premature baby , or a very low weight. The baby can also draw on your iron reserves if your intake is insufficient, which would further worsen your own health.

How much iron do we need during pregnancy?

Iron requirements vary significantly depending on several criteria, including age and sex . An adult woman having her period will, for example, need 11 to 16 mg of iron per day, depending on whether her menstrual losses are higher or lower (the sources differ, but we cite here ANSES , which seems rather trustworthy to us ).

On the other hand, the increase in iron requirements for a pregnant woman is compensated, at least during the first trimester, by the absence of periods (and therefore the usual non-loss of blood, which makes it possible to conserve her stock of iron). However, iron requirements increase in pregnant women and the developing fetus . Thus, daily iron requirements are estimated at between 25 and 30 mg during the third trimester – almost twice as much as during the “normal” period !

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How to consume enough iron to avoid iron deficiency during pregnancy?

Since your iron needs increase throughout pregnancy , and iron deficiency for a pregnant woman can have serious consequences, the conclusion is simple: you need to consume more iron!

For this, two simple and complementary options are available to you:

Make sure you eat a diet rich in iron

Among them are offal, red meat, poultry, as well as seafood and fish, for the animal part. Concerning iron of plant origin, it is found in cereal products, fruits and green vegetables (but not so much in the famous spinach!), oilseeds, algae, or even dark chocolate.

Note that iron of animal origin (called heme ) is absorbed better than iron of plant origin (or non-heme ). So choose the first. And for even better iron assimilation, combine your consumption with vitamin C (oranges, citrus fruits, peppers, etc.).

Take iron supplements

There are many very useful food supplements to fill certain deficiencies during particular periods of your life: pregnancy is one of them, and it is possible to obtain the iron missing from your body with a food supplement of iron (preferably in the form bisglycinate, highly bioavailable). If possible, supplement your iron treatment with vitamin C, which increases iron assimilation.

To finish

In summary, pay attention to your diet, listen to yourself and supplement if necessary. The lack of iron for a pregnant woman is not the most difficult to detect and consuming it will meet your needs . So, neither you nor your baby will have any concerns due to a lack of iron! 😉


Co-founder of NOVOMA

Passionate and expert in micro-nutrition, Lucas founded Novoma in 2012. It is with conviction that he develops food supplements with effective, carefully chosen and 100% clean active ingredients, to best meet the body's needs.

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