As if you didn’t have enough going on trying to get pregnant, trying to get through your pregnancy, or trying to survive with a newborn, along comes someone asking how much iron is in your prenatal vitamin. It’s an important question for a few reasons. When we aren’t on the baby train, we tend to get enough iron in our diets. But that all changes when there’s a pregnancy in the picture, and prenatals are all over the map when it comes to this important nutrient. Here’s what to know about prenatal vitamins and appropriate iron amounts.
- Blood volume increases significantly during pregnancy, and your body needs iron to make it.
- A woman’s daily iron needs increase from 18 mg before pregnancy to 27 mg during pregnancy.
- Iron is essential during a pregnancy, but it can be hard on the stomach.
- It’s important not to take too much or too little iron during pregnancy. The recommendation is 27 mg daily.
- Beli for Women is a good source of chelated iron in a moderate amount.
Iron During Pregnancy
In general, the volume increases just under 50% of the average non-pregnant volume. That’s an additional 1250 mL that your body has to make, and it needs iron to do the job properly.
Here’s the thing. While iron is essential during your pregnancy, it can also be hard to stomach — literally. Iron in certain prenatal vitamins can be associated with all kinds of unpleasantness, from constipation to diarrhea, stomachache to nausea. If you’re already dealing with morning sickness, that’s just adding insult to injury.
Fortunately, you can minimize side effects from iron in two ways. First, look for a prenatal vitamin that uses chelated iron. This form of iron has been altered so that it can pass through the digestive system without breaking apart. The process involves binding iron to amino acids, which makes it more bioavailable and reduces the chances of tummy troubles.
Second, check the label for the amount of iron in your prenatal. It’s one of those Goldilocks nutrients, which means you need the amount to be just right — not too much, and not too little. The higher the dose, the greater the likelihood of miserable side effects. But there’s another issue with excessive iron during pregnancy — it’s been linked to a higher risk of gestational diabetes.
On the other hand, too little iron isn’t doing you any good either. Iron deficiency during pregnancy tends to get worse as the months go by. One assessment looked at pregnant women between 1999 and 2006 and found that 7% were iron deficient in the first trimester, 14% were deficient in the second trimester, and 30% were deficient in the third trimester. An iron deficiency is the leading cause of anemia in the U.S., and it’s the most common kind during pregnancy. Without enough iron, you can experience serious fatigue and a reduced resistance to infection.
How Much Iron Should Prenatals Have?
So, what’s the magic Goldilocks amount? If you look to prenatal companies, it’s all over the map. There’s a huge range of iron in prenatal vitamins, anywhere from 0 to 45 mg in a single capsule. But what do the experts recommend? The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends 27 mg of iron daily during pregnancy. That’s up from a recommendation of 18 mg per day for women who aren’t pregnant. Between managing your diet and taking a high-quality prenatal vitamin, like Beli for Women, you should be able to get the extra iron you need.
Our prenatal is made with 18 mg of chelated iron. It’s a tummy-friendly formula that delivers 67% of your daily value. And bonus — our no-nausea blend includes vitamin B12 and B6, which can help calm nausea and relax the digestive system. The minty essence in our three-capsule serving can also help reduce nausea. Bottom line? Beli for Women is a great option for getting the iron you need without overdoing things.
Best Food Sources for Iron
In addition to your prenatal vitamins, be mindful of your diet. You may be picturing mountains of red meat, but you can find iron in all kinds of foods. Here’s a quick, non-exhaustive list:
- Greens like spinach and broccoli
- Legumes like chickpeas, lentils, beans, and peas.
- Pumpkin seeds
- Dark chocolate
Pair these foods with a good vitamin C source — think oranges, strawberries, grapefruit, and peppers — to boost absorption, take Beli for Women every day, and you’ll be doing pretty well.
Of course, if you have any concerns about your iron levels during your pregnancy, make sure to discuss it with your doctor. Whether or not you’re showing symptoms of anemia, you’ll be given blood tests to screen for anemia. But you don’t have to wait for a test, and you don’t have to worry about switching prenatals mid-pregnancy if you’re having issues. Your best bet is to start with a high-quality prenatal vitamin that uses a moderate amount of chelated iron. And we know just the one to try.