Most women suffer from iron deficiency (anemia) during pregnancy. This deficiency can be treated with the help of iron rich food. So, here is a list of foods high in iron which will help to overcome iron deficiency during pregnancy naturally..
Iron is one of the important nutrients that our body needs for the formation of hemoglobin and red blood cells. Transportation of oxygen to all body parts can get affected due to low iron levels. Low iron symptoms in pregnant women can prove to be life-threatening for the mother as well as the fetus. Since the pregnant woman has to feed herself and the fetus, her body demands more iron. The growth of the fetus and placenta is responsible for increased demand for iron during pregnancy. More blood is produced by the body of the pregnant woman (almost 50% more) to meet the demands. If the woman fails to consume more iron rich foods, then she is likely to develop iron deficiency anemia.
Pregnant women expecting twins, those experiencing severe morning sickness, those who have had two or more pregnancies close together, those who usually have heavy periods, need to consume more iron rich foods during pregnancy. It is believed that iron deficiency during pregnancy leads to cravings for strange items like ice, paper, or clay (the condition is known as ‘pica’). During pregnancy, the list of iron rich foods should be kept handy. It can even be displayed on a whiteboard in your kitchen.
List of Foods High in Iron
Iron rich foods for pregnancy are listed under various categories in the following table.
|Vegetables||Fruits/Juices||Dry Fruits/Nuts||Seafood||Animal Products||Legumes and Soy Products|
|Asparagus||Apple with skin||Almonds||Blue crab||Roasted beef||Black beans|
|Beetroot||Apple juice||Black raisins||Clams||Cooked/roasted Beef Liver||Blackeyed peas|
|Beet greens||Apricot||Cashew nuts||Crabs||Roasted or baked chicken breast||Chickpeas|
|Broccoli||Banana||Dates||Halibut||Roasted or baked chicken leg with meat||Green beans|
|Cabbage||Figs||Dried apricot||Lake trout||Roasted/cooked beef liver||Kidney beans|
|Carrots||Gooseberries||Dried fig||Lobster||Roasted/baked chicken breast||Lentils|
|Kale Cabbage||Black and Green Grapes||Lotus seeds||Oysters||Cooked chicken liver||Lima beans|
|Lettuce||Grapefruit||Pistachio||Prawns||Egg yolk||Navy beans|
|Parsley||Jackfruit||Pumpkin seeds||Sardine||Lamb, cooked||Peas|
|Potato||Longan||Sesame||Shrimp||Lean mutton||Pinto beans|
|Pumpkin||Mango, mango juice||Sunflower seeds||Tuna||Broiled pork||Soybeans|
|Spinach||Muskmelon||Watermelon seeds||–||Roasted turkey||Tofu|
|Sweet potatoes||Oranges||Walnuts||–||Whole egg||Soy milk|
These were just a few examples of iron rich foods. The list does not end here. Tomatoes, tomato juice, turnip, turnip greens, watercress, papaya, peach, prunes, watermelon, muesli, sprouts, fenugreek, Romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, corn, etc., are some other examples of iron rich foods. It is easy to incorporate these foods in regular diet.
Low Iron Symptoms during Pregnancy
- Excessive weakness
- Constantly feeling tired
- Pale palms
- Pale and brittle fingernails
- Pale lips
- Increased heartbeat
- Heart palpitations
- Breathing difficulty
- Increased irritability
- Difficulty in concentrating
Poor diet, malabsorption of nutrients in the body, less absorption of iron from diet, repeated blood donation and chronic blood loss can lead to severe iron deficiency. Doctors may prescribe iron supplements during pregnancy, to treat iron deficiency. But the supplements usually exhibit side effects like constipation, upset stomach, indigestion, etc. So, it is better to incorporate foods packed with iron in your regular diet if you are planning to get pregnant or if you are pregnant. Moreover, a balanced diet is essential as it promotes better absorption of iron. Vitamin C promotes maximum absorption of iron from the ingested food. So, not only foods rich in iron rich but those rich in vitamin C should also be included in your diet.
Certain foods prevent iron absorption in the body. So you need to consume limited amount of these foods during pregnancy. For example, foods containing phytate or phytic acid like beans, tofu, nuts, seeds, whole grain products like breads and cereals, etc. Soaking the beans overnight in warm water and throwing away the water before cooking helps reduce the phytates from beans. Tannins in tea can also affect iron absorption significantly. So avoid drinking tea two hours before a meal.
Iron deficiency during pregnancy can prove to be harmful for the mother and the fetus. Moreover, it can weaken the immune system and make you more susceptible to infections and diseases. It can affect the health in several ways. Keeping a list of foods high in iron for pregnancy is therefore very crucial. Remember, excessive consumption of iron supplements can result in toxicity and can again prove to be harmful for you and your baby. So, it is always advisable to consult your doctor regarding the dosage of iron supplements. Consuming more iron rich foods does not lead to toxicity. Relying on natural iron rich foods is always a better way of correcting iron deficiency.
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.