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Why is additional iron recommended during pregnancy?

Our bodies - and our babies - use huge amounts of iron while we are pregnant. During pregnancy, your baby uses iron to make red blood cells and absorbs all the iron she or he will get for the first six months of life. If you do not get enough iron in your diet, you may become anemic and the baby may have less stored iron after birth. To prevent this, it is recommended that we each get 27 milligrams of iron every day during pregnancy. Getting this much iron is pretty easy. Just eat a portion or two a day of iron-rich foods, like meat, seafood, eggs, soy beans, lentils, black-eyed peas, greens, beets, sweet potatoes, dried fruits like raisins and prunes, molasses, and iron-fortified breakfast cereals. Cooking foods in cast-iron pans can add iron to the foods.

It is normal to be slightly anemic during the second trimester of pregnancy; our bodies can handle this without difficulty. But if you start pregnancy with too few iron stores, the demands of pregnancy can worsen anemia to the point that it becomes a problem for you and your growing baby.

Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth

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Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth

ALL THE INFORMATION YOU NEED TO MAKE WISE DECISIONS ABOUT YOUR PREGNANCY AND THE BIRTH OF YOUR CHILD -- FROM THE EDITORS OF THE CLASSIC "BIBLE OF WOMEN'S HEALTH" Pregnancy and birth are as ordinary...
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Because a pregnant mom transfers about 1,000 milligrams of iron to a growing baby and increases her total number of red blood cells by 20 to 30 percent, it's important to get adequate iron during pregnancy.
YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy

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YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy

Can I get a cavity filled while pregnant? Will avoiding spicy foods make my kid a picky eater? Can I really increase my baby's IQ while she's in utero? Whether you're pregnant for the first time,...

Because a mom transfers about 1,000 milligrams (mg) of iron to a growing baby and increases her total number of red blood cells by 20% to 30%, it's important to get adequate iron during pregnancy.

Aim for this amount: 20 mg twice a day.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.