Iron During Pregnancy: Its Benefits and Side Effects

iron during pregnancy


During pregnancy, you do most things not for yourself only, but also for the baby.

As such, your body supplies blood and oxygen not only to yourself but also to your baby. So in order to meet up with the demands of the fetus, there is a dramatic increase in maternal red blood cell production, that is why the amount of iron that women need during pregnancy increases.

Iron is one of the major minerals that is needed by the body, it is naturally present in many foods, available as a dietary supplement, and added to some food products.

Iron is an essential component of haemoglobin; an erythrocyte or red blood cell protein that conveys oxygen from the lungs to the tissues. It is also a component of Myoglobin; another protein in muscle cells that stores oxygen for use in muscular contractions.

Apart from the above-mentioned function of iron, this mineral also:

supports metabolism and healthy connective tissues

*is necessary for physical growth and neurological development.

*important for cellular functioning and synthesis of some hormones.

                SOURCES OF IRON

FOOD- The richest source

Iron from food comes in two forms: The heme and the non-heme iron.

Heme iron is readily bio-available and its absorption is sparsely affected by the consumption of other food, our body absorbs this type of iron best. It is found in animal protein source; beef, chicken, turkey, pork

Non- heme iron its absorption is mostly inhibited by the consumption of tea, coffee, oxalic acid, zinc, calcium. Non- heme iron is found mainly in enriched cereals, pasta, beans, dark green peas, vegetables, tofu, fortified grain products

Other iron-rich foods include

Beef liver

Chicken liver

Raisins (half cup)- 1.6mg

Kidney beans (1cup)- 5.2mg

Soya beans (1 cup)- 8.8mg

Bread; whole wheat, white bread

Broccoli ( boiled and drained)

Egg (hard-boiled)


Oysters (cooked with moist heat)

Cashew nuts, lentils, spinach.

Rice (brown, long, or medium).

When taking foods high in Iron, it is advised to have them with foods containing vitamin C, such as; tomatoes and oranges.


Iron is available in many dietary supplements, multivitamins/multimineral. Taking iron supplements can help ensure you get enough iron every day, but it must be based on your doctor’s prescription.

Iron supplements are mostly prescribed to vegans, vegetarians, and women carrying multiple births or those who have had back- to- back pregnancies or severe morning sickness, so if you are a pregnant woman in the above-mentioned category, be sure to notify your doctor. Iron supplements contain 30mg of iron.



Fruits rich in iron include



Apples (7%)

Raisins (24%)




As a pregnant woman you need at least 27mg of iron daily, but try not to get more than 45mg each day; twice the amount than you need when you are not pregnant.

According to CDC, you should start taking a low dose iron supplement when you have your first prenatal appointment, while breastfeeding get at least 9mg of iron every day if you are 19 and above.

This mineral is so important for baby’s growth, it is in fact important for foetal brain development. It also provides a buffer against blood loss that will occur during delivery.



During pregnancy, insufficient intake of iron leads to:

Iron deficiency anaemia (IDA).

Impaired cognitive and behavioral development

Increases the risk of maternal and infant mortality

Premature birth and low birth weight

Iron deficiency gives you fatigue, dizziness, then when coupled with normal pregnancy ailments, it really won’t be funny.

Side Effects

Taking excessive iron supplements might cause; nausea, constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness. When taken on an empty stomach can damage the lining of the stomach.

Conclusively most women who have adequate iron stores iron-containing prenatal vitamins. also, enough dietary source of iron would have the required amount of iron and won’t need iron supplements.

To the health of both mum and baby.





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