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The importance of Iron during Pregnancy

Hemoglobin becomes very important during pregnancy. Since your baby is also the beneficiary, you will need extra iron to see you and your baby through. Typically, the average woman needs 15mg, but now that she is pregnant, the iron requirement increases to 30-50mg, especially from about the 20th week on.

 Iron Facts Many women have an inadequate level of iron in their system to begin with, and the lack becomes more pronounced during pregnancy Iron is very vital for the fetus; it is the only nutrient which the fetus depends totally on the mother for the supply. Iron is needed for the formation of red blood cells; sufficient stores of iron from the start of the pregnancy to the end is vital. The average woman cannot depend on diet alone. The demand doubles during pregnancy and so iron supplements are added to compensate for the insufficiency. There are two types of iron, heme and nonheme iron, categorized this way because the former is derived from meat and the other from non-meat sources. Heme iron is more readily absorbed than nonheme iron. Vegetarians have to be careful in planning their menu to make sure they get a sufficient dose of this mineral. Iron Deficit • Insufficient store of this mineral is the likely cause of incessant fatigue; it also increases the incidence of illnesses and fainting spells • Lack of iron will put a strain on the maternal heart • Lack of iron will also endanger the mother should she face excessive bleeding during delivery • On the other hand an iron overdose can be disadvantageous as well. Supplement fundamentals • Iron supplements are useful; they help to manufacture hemoglobin, which will in turn help you to maintain the energy required during pregnancy. • Iron tablets come in several forms and under various trade names: ferrous sulfate, ferrous gluconate and ferrous fumarate • Absorption of iron is enhanced by vitamin C. Ideally supplements should be taken with fruit juices • Certain foods and medications including high calcium foods, caffeinated drinks and antacids inhibit iron absorption. Avoid taking your supplements with these items at the same sitting. • In the later months of pregnancy, when the blood volume has expanded, women may have to take additional supplements apart from their prenatal vitamins as the iron dose won't suffice then. • Do not exceed the recommended dose of this mineral unless advised by your doctor - iron can suppress zinc levels. On the Flipside • Iron in excess can cause dry stools leading to constipation. The reverse happens with some women; they get diarrhea • Diarrhea or constipation, it makes sense to change the form: you can switch from tablet to liquid as liquid is known to be easier on the tummy • You may also try switching to either one of the three compounds (e.g. ferrous fumarate to ferrous gluconate) and see if it works for you • The strength of the dose counts. Sometimes the strength may need reducing. If that is decided then make sure you compensate by increasing your intake of iron-rich foods everyday. Small amounts of iron are found in most fruits, vegetablesFree Web Content, grains and meat that you consume daily. Work on increasing this mineral by eating iron-rich foods along with your supplement.

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Jyoti Bedi, a homemaker and a mother, officially writes for , a pregnancy and parenting site. Articles are simple-to-read, relevant and concise for today’s busy parents and parents-to-be

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