Like all nutrients, iron plays a vital role during pregnancy. A baby’s growth requires iron and it is an important nutrient for normal cognitive (brain) development. As pregnancy progresses, your blood volume will gradually increase and so will your need for iron. According to the British Committee for Standards in Haematology (BCSH), the physiological iron requirements of pregnant women are three times higher than those who are menstruating. However, as pregnant women stop menstruating there is also a reduction in iron loss. A healthy balanced diet, with iron-rich foods should provide most of the iron you need during pregnancy, while also allowing your baby to build its own iron stores, which should last the first six months of his or her life. Your doctor will monitor your iron levels during pregnancy and, in some cases where diet alone is insufficient, an iron supplement may be recommended.*
How much iron do pregnant women need?
Women aged 19 to 50 need approximately 15 mg of iron per day, but for a pregnant woman this can increase to 27mg1.
The absorption of iron is a complex process, and a large percentage of the iron in food sources is actually excreted. During pregnancy, your levels may be screened to ensure your body has enough for you and your developing baby. If you are concerned about your iron intake or feel like you may be suffering from the symptoms of low iron, you should speak to your doctor or healthcare professional. If you’re found to be iron deficient, your doctor or midwife may advise you to maintain your levels by taking a supplement as well as eating iron-rich foods.*
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