Iron Ladies! Guest Post : Laura Clark

Iron Ladies!

For everything you need to know about this important mineral for pregnancy read on.

Iron is an essential pregnancy mineral as it supports the creation of the extra blood supply needed. Starting off your pregnancy well nourished and keeping your intake of iron rich foods up, will help prevent deficiency. Your serum ferritin level will be checked by your midwife, usually in the first trimester and if you do become deficient, this will need correcting through supplementation.

Deficiency is associated with fatigue, irritability and if not treated can reduce your immunity to infection. Your baby will continue to get all the iron needed as your placenta works extra hard to absorb more but there is an increased risk your baby may develop iron deficiency anaemia in the first 3 months of life if you’ve been deficient in pregnancy.

The amount of iron you get from your food depends on how much you take in, how available it is to your body and how much your body actually needs. Luckily, by your third trimester iron absorption will have trebled to meet your needs.

Iron comes in 2 forms, haem and non-haem with haem iron being more readily available. In practical terms this means iron from red meat, chicken and fish is efficiently used by the body. Other good sources include bread, especially wholemeal, pulses e.g. chickpeas, beans and lentils, eggs and dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, cabbage, curly kale or broccoli.

To boost your iron absorption, eat iron-rich foods together with those containing vitamin C at a meal for example citrus fruit, peppers and tomatoes. It’s also wise to avoid drinking tea at meal times as the tannins it contains will inhibit iron absorption.

Check out these meal ideas for a nutritious iron and vitamin C combination:

  • Spaghetti bolognaise served with curly kale
  • Beef and broccoli stir fry
  • Smoked mackerel , red pepper and chickpea salad
  • Jacket potato and baked beans followed by a kiwi
  • Chicken and lentil cous cous followed by a juicy orange!
  • Spinach Omelette
  • Tinned Sardines on wholemeal toast
  • Fortified breakfast cereal with a glass of orange juice

Happy Eating! For more individualised advice on meeting your nutritional needs in pregnancy, contact Laura for a consultation.

Written by Laura Clark

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