Is it normal fatigue or pregnancy anemia?

Amy Gardner
September 10, 2014

Many women struggle with anemia during pregnancy. Although it’s a common thing for expectant moms to have low iron levels, it will be something that your doctor wants to address. In most cases, even given your best efforts, a pregnant woman couldn’t eat enough high-iron foods to take care of the problem without taking a supplement. Your doctor will likely prescribe some sort of supplemental iron regimen (and a note here, you should never take additional iron unless a doctor or medical professional tells you to – toxicity could be very dangerous).In addition to taking an iron pill, eating a high-iron diet is also very important and will have the added benefit of increasing your body’s absorption of the supplemental iron. Here’s what you need to know:

Iron-containing foods:

 

Iron content

Foods to try

Highest * beef heart                                    * leeks

* clams                                           * liver

* chicken/turkey giblet                   * oysters

* fortified cereals

* lean pork, ham or beef

High * beet greens                                  * salmon

* dandelion greens                          * sardines

* eggs                                              * spinach

* enriched breads/cereals               * swiss chard

* kale                                               * whole grains

* mustard greens                            

Good

 

 

 

 

 

 

* asparagus                                    * molasses

* blueberries                                   * nuts

* broccoli                                         * peaches

* Brussels sprouts                           * peanut butter

* collard greens                               * potato

* dark green lettuce                         * raspberries

* dried fruits (apricots, dates, raisins, prunes)

* escarole                                        * sweet potato

* green beans and peas                  * wheat germ

 

Tips to increase iron absorption:

  1. Your body will absorb iron from meats more easily than from plant sources.  Eat iron-containing plant foods (in the ‘high’ and ‘good’ columns above) with meats (in the ‘highest’ column) to maximize absorption.
  2. Foods high in Vitamin C will help your body better absorb the iron in foods. Eat any of the following foods with any of the iron foods listed above for better absorption.
    • Oranges and orange juice
    • Leafy green vegetables
    • Berries
    • Potatoes
    • Turnips
    • Tomatoes
    • Bell peppers
    • Broccoli
    • Cauliflower
  3. When drinking tea or coffee, drink it at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after your iron-containing foods. Coffee and tea contain substances that interfere with the way iron is absorbed in the body.
  4. Cook foods in cast iron pans and skillets.
  5. Only take iron supplements if instructed to do so by your health care team. Too much iron in the form of supplements can be harmful.
  6. If you do take iron supplements, take them with foods high in Vitamin C (see list above) and separate them from your prenatal vitamin and any calcium supplement you may be taking by 2 hours or more.

Leslie Judge MS, RD, CSO, LDN