Thursday, April 8, 2010

Pregnant? Are you Consuming Enough Iron?

Anemia can increase the risk of preterm delivery. Yet many women don’t consume enough iron while pregnant. In fact, the National Institutes of Health indicates that up to 50% of pregnant women do not have enough iron in their body. That’s why prenatal multivitamins are so important. They contain more iron (and other nutrients) than regular multivitamins. Pregnant women should also get their iron levels tested at least twice while they are pregnant (more often if necessary). However, you still need to be aware of the signs of iron deficiency (though some people have few or no symptoms from iron deficiency). They include:

• Fatigue
• Weakness
• Feeling cold, low body temperature
• Feeling out of breath easily
• Irritability
• Headache

Many women complain of side effects related to their prenatal supplement. You can minimize some of these side effects by consuming your supplement with food. If you are still having problems, talk to your physician about switching brands. Some women do better on name brand versus generic. And finally, consuming a prenatal multivitamin with heme iron will decrease the likelihood that your supplement will make you constipated (because you need less heme iron in comparison to non-heme, to raise your iron stores).

J of Nutr 2000;130:443S-447S.

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