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Iron Rich Foods For Pregnancy—5 Best Options For A Healthy Mom-To-Be

iron rich foods for pregnancy

Adding more iron-rich foods to your diet during pregnancy is a great idea. 

Not all prenatal vitamins contain iron supplements, even those that don’t often pack enough iron to give you the boost you need during pregnancy.

That’s why pregnant women should start eating iron-rich foods and taking an iron supplement when they are concerned about things like iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy.

In this article, we’ll talk about iron rich foods for pregnancy.

Pregnant women are prone to iron deficiency anemia due to increased blood volume and other factors, and having good iron levels is important to maintain a healthy pregnancy.

This article will help you get information about the appropriate iron intake to ensure that your red blood cells are healthy and plentiful through the help of iron supplements and iron-rich foods.

Pregnancy Nutrition Course

Iron during pregnancy

Iron is always important for your body, but during pregnancy, your iron absorption level must be good for producing red blood cells.

Increased blood volume

During pregnancy, blood in your body increases by 50 percent. With that extra volume, you will need lots of red blood cells. 

Anemia during pregnancy

A lack of iron or low iron levels in the blood can cause anemia. This occurs when your body cannot absorb iron at high enough levels to produce red blood cells.

This is the type of blood cell that carries oxygen to the tissues of your body. This includes carrying oxygen and other nutrients to your baby while pregnant.

Iron deficiency anemia is the most common blood disorder or malady diagnosed among pregnant women.

This puts women at risk for pregnancy complications that include preterm birth and low birth weight, among other issues.

More than one type of iron

As a child, you may have been pushed towards eating red meat by your parents or grandparents because you were told it was one of the most iron-rich foods you could consume.

While this is true, it doesn’t mean you are limited to meat to get your iron during pregnancy.

Many non-meat options exist for obtaining iron supplements through your diet during pregnancy.

Before you can develop a diet plan to increase your iron intake, however, it’s a good idea to understand what iron is when it comes to eating foods.

There are two main types of iron that you can consume when it comes to eating iron-rich foods, and understanding them can lead you to better and healthier choices about how best to consume iron-rich foods.

iron rich foods for pregnancy

1. Heme iron

Heme iron is the type of iron that you’ve probably associated with high iron foods and healthy iron levels for most of your life.

Animal proteins contain heme iron. This is when you ingest meat to obtain iron to keep up with your healthy pregnancy.

Heme iron is digested quickly by your body. The iron supplement you can get from eating these foods from animal sources quickly turns into the oxygen-carrying cells your increasing blood supply needs.

This is great news if you like meat, fish, and other animal products. If you don’t, however, and you’d rather live a lifestyle that reflects a vegetarian diet or vegan diet, there are options.

2. Non-heme iron

Non-heme iron is found in non-animal foods. Non-heme iron foods are also high in iron, but they take longer for the body to digest and then put to use.

These are great for creating healthy red blood cells as well, and they do produce iron. 

Still, your doctor may suggest you start taking iron supplements to avoid a lag between your need to absorb iron and the digested iron you consume.

A healthy combination is best

Unless you are absolutely opposed to red meat, eating foods high in both heme iron and non-heme iron types is the best way to keep yourself from becoming iron deficient.

The more red blood cells your body can make, the healthier your pregnancy will be, and the better it will be for you and your baby.

Your daily iron intake and iron status are a large part of your overall health and your pregnancy, and finding good and diverse sources of iron in your diet is the best route to a healthy baby.

Iron rich foods for pregnancy

Now that you understand the different types of iron and how they work in your body, it’s time to learn about the foods you can consume that can work as a natural iron supplement during your pregnancy.

With luck, changing your diet for the better and regularly taking your prenatal vitamins will help you avoid supplements outside the prenatal vitamin.

However, suppose your doctor suggests that you switch to a high-iron prenatal vitamin or wants you to start taking iron supplements. In that case, it’s best to listen to the expert rather than relying upon diet alone.

1. Broccoli

Not only does this green vegetable contain lots of iron, and it is packed with Vitamin C, which helps your body absorb iron.

Broccoli is also full of fiber, which helps your digestive system and can keep you from constipation, which can cause stomach pain and cramps.

Not only that, but there are endless ways to prepare broccoli to be tastier.

Eat it raw, saute it with some seasoning, or even drizzle olive oil over it and air fry it for a crunchy bite and a healthy dose of iron and Vitamin C.

2. Whole grain and wheat bread

An easy substitution for your normal diet is the type of bread that you consume. 

Whole grain breads and wheat germ used in making wheat bread contain iron rather than just the high level of starch that white sandwich bread contains. Use this bread to make your morning toast and ward off that morning sickness while boosting your iron levels.

This also extends to other whole wheat grain products, such as fortified cereals.

3. Nuts

Nuts like cashews, almonds, and pine nuts are high in iron. These iron sources are also a great snack to use throughout the day when you feel a bit hungry.

They travel well and are available in trail mixes, varieties of mixed nuts, and alone.

4. Dried fruit

Dried fruits are a great source of iron and a tasty and filling snack better for you than processed snacks and other high-sugar or packaged snacks.

This is a great way to get those non-heme iron supplements into your system.

5. Red meat

If you like meat and want to increase your daily iron with heme iron, this is great.

Just make sure that the meat you prepare is always cooked all the way through by checking the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. 

Fish such as salmon, red meats such as pork and steak, and other meats are iron sources that are tasty protein sources and can be prepared in numerous ways.

iron rich foods for pregnancy

Iron rich foods for anemia

Consuming iron in your diet and eating meat are not just important. 

In fact, leafy greens and plant sources are not merely great sources of iron, but they also help your body absorb iron better, which is the second part of beating anemia.

If you eat meat regularly, you may not be able to absorb all of that iron the way you should, which can still lead to iron deficiency anemia.

Foods like cooked spinach, citrus fruits, kale, plant foods like bell peppers, and beans such as kidney beans and baked beans can all help provide you with a well-balanced diet, more iron, and a better chance at processing that iron.

Should you take iron supplements as well?

Doing things in moderation is always key.

While you should always try to ensure you have plenty of iron throughout the day in your diet, there is such a thing as too much iron. 

It is very easy to go overboard when providing all the nutrients possible for you and your growing baby.

When you have too much iron, you run the risk of preterm birth, low birth weight for your little one, and high blood pressure. 

That’s why it’s important to be cautious in taking iron supplements when you already have an iron-rich diet.

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Finding great sources of iron

You have to consume no one source of iron to ensure that you don’t reduce iron absorption and that you’re getting enough in your diet. 

How much iron you may need to supplement is something that you should discuss with your doctor, as you will need more if you are anemic or close to anemic.

Alongside these simple diet changes, such as consuming more leafy greens, meat, snacks like pumpkin seeds and nuts, and fortified breakfast cereals and wheat toast, ensure you take your prenatal vitamins daily.

Continue eating foods that offer plenty of other nutrients, such as calcium supplements, to give you your best chance at giving birth to a healthy little one.

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