Iron intake during pregnancy

When you’re pregnant your nutritional requirements increase. After all, you’re now eating for two. Iron is one of the most essential nutrients along with calcium and folate, needed for you and your growing baby during those important 9 months.

Role of iron
Iron is required to make red blood cells for both you and your baby. Your baby will start building their iron stores while in utero and use them during their first four to six months of life. This is why iron requirements are increased during pregnancy. The iron you consume will not only be utilized by you but also stockpiled for your baby to use in their first few months of life.

Iron recommendations during pregnancy
It is recommended pregnant women have 27 mg of iron a day. This is 9 mg more than the recommendation for non-pregnant woman aged 19 – 51.

Pregnant Woman 27 mg/day
Non-pregnant woman 19 – 50 yrs 18 mg/day

With morning sickness and cravings for foods that may not be all that nutritious, obtaining the right amount of iron from your diet can be difficult.

Best food sources for iron
Wholegrain cereals, meats, fish and poultry are the major contributors to iron intake in Australia. It is also recommended to combine foods rich in iron with foods rich in vitamin C. This will help your body absorb the iron.

Food Quantity Approx. iron intake
Lentils 1 cup 6.5 mg
Spinach 1 cup 6.4 mg
Kidney beans 1 cup 5.2 mg
Chickpeas 1 cup 4.7 mg
Beef 200 g 4.7 mg
Lamb 250 g 2.9 mg
Cashews 100 g 5 mg
Dried apricot 100 g 3.2 mg
Salmon 100 g 1.3 g

Iron supplements
If you’re tried but you just can’t seem to achieve the recommended dietary intake for iron, supplements may be an option worth exploring. Talk to your doctor today if you believe your dietary intake is insufficient and you may require an iron supplement.

Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. Vitamin supplements should not replace a well balanced diet.