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Pregnancy Diet: Tips for Meeting Increased Iron Needs Video
The Pre-Pregnancy Plan
Your body needs iron to make hemoglobin, a molecule in the blood that carries oxygen to cells throughout your body and to your growing baby. Because the volume of blood in your body increases during pregnancy—it’s circulating nutrients to the fetus—your iron needs also increase significantly. The recommended intake for (nonpregnant) premenopausal women is 18 mg per day; during pregnancy, it’s 27 mg per day. Iron-deficiency anemia is associated with risk of preterm delivery and may contribute to low iron stores in the baby, so make a point to eat more of foods that are good sources of iron. These include lean red meats, fish, poultry, dried fruits and iron-fortified cereals. The body absorbs animal-based sources of iron, such as beef, more readily than plant-based sources of iron, such as beans and spinach—but consuming a vitamin C-rich food along with a plant-based iron source increases your body’s ability to absorb the mineral. So dollop some salsa on those beans!
No matter how vigilant you are about fitting good sources of iron into your diet, getting enough of this nutrient during pregnancy will likely require a supplement. In fact, even when not pregnant, many women have trouble meeting the (much lower) recommended intake for iron. Talk with your doctor about your specific needs.