Preventing Iron Deficiency
Feeling sluggish during pregnancy? You may need more iron.
Do you feel like you're more tired or light-headed than you used to be before you were pregnant? While some amount of sluggishness is normal during pregnancy, feeling this way on a regular basis might be caused by iron deficiency. Since iron plays a role in transporting oxygen to your body, a deficiency in this important mineral can make you feel tired and run down.
During pregnancy, you need about two times the amount of iron than you require prior to becoming pregnant in order to supply blood and oxygen to you and your baby. For this reason, women are more likely to become iron deficient during pregnancy, which is why routine iron testing is done during prenatal check-ups.
If you learn you have low iron levels, have no fear. In addition to your prenatal supplement, iron is found in a variety of food sources. The best sources of iron include red meat, fish and poultry. Other sources include beans, eggs, vegetables like peas and spinach, as well as iron-fortified products like cereals and breads. Need inspiration? A great iron-rich meal would be roasted chicken and chickpeas tossed with whole grain pasta, spinach and red peppers.
Another tip: What you eat with your iron supplement may affect its absorption. Calcium-rich foods, like milk and cheese, reduce your body's ability to absorb iron. On the other hand, vitamin C helps to increase iron absorption. So, instead of taking your prenatal vitamin with a glass of milk, have it with a glass of orange juice. That said; continue to get your bone-strengthening calcium throughout the day with foods like yogurt and cottage cheese.
Taking these precautions will help ensure your iron levels do not fall too low so you have the energy needed to get through your day.