Iron deficiency is a relatively common issue in the US. It is especially prevalent for women during pregnancy, as a pregnant woman needs about twice the amount of iron as a non-pregnant woman.1
Some publications have reported that approximately 50% of pregnant women do not have enough iron in their body and could benefit from the addition of more iron-rich foods to their diet and/or an iron supplement to their wellness routine.2*
What Causes Iron Deficiency Anemia During Pregnancy?
During pregnancy, a woman’s body produces more blood than normal, to support the growth and development of her baby. Low iron is very common during pregnancy, particularly during the second and third trimesters.
If a woman is not getting enough iron during this time, her body may not be able to produce the number of red blood cells required to make the additional blood needed to support her baby’s healthy growth.
As mentioned earlier, a woman’s iron requirement nearly doubles during pregnancy (up to 30 mg per day)1, and while eating iron-rich foods and taking a prenatal vitamin that includes iron helps, it is still often not enough. In these cases, adding an iron supplement may be necessary to meet a pregnant woman’s iron needs.
Symptoms of Iron Deficiency During Pregnancy
Here are some common signs and symptoms of iron deficiency that women should be on the lookout for during pregnancy:
- Fatigue and weakness
- Pale, dry skin and mucous membranes
- Cracked corners of the mouth
- Brittle nails and hair, including hair loss
- Decreased memory, attention, and learning performance
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid heartbeat
Please note that many of the symptoms of iron deficiency anemia are similar to ones a pregnant woman might already have during her pregnancy. Because of this, it is important for women to consult their doctor to verify if they are indeed low in iron or experiencing iron deficiency anemia before considering adding any iron supplements to their routine.
Pregnant Women at Increased Risk for Iron Deficiency
While low iron is common in pregnant women, it is not a given. There are several risk factors that increase a woman’s risk of developing iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy1:
- Pregnant with more than one baby (twins, triplets, etc.)
- Having two closely spaced pregnancies
- Experiencing severe morning sickness with frequent bouts of vomiting
- Not regularly consuming iron-rich foods in the diet
- Having a history of anemia or heavy menstrual flows before pregnancy
What Are the Risks of Iron Deficiency Anemia During Pregnancy?
If a woman experiences severe low iron levels during pregnancy, negative outcomes for both mother and baby can possibly occur:
- Premature birth and/or low birth weight
- Born with anemia
- Potential developmental delays
- Stronger likelihood of postpartum depression
- A blood transfusion may be needed if significant blood loss occurs during the delivery process
How Can Iron Deficiency Anemia During Pregnancy Be Treated?
A healthy, balanced diet is the best source of iron for pregnant women. Most pregnant women are able to meet their iron needs by regularly eating iron-rich foods. Iron can be found in both animal-based foods and plant-based foods; both types of foods are beneficial in their own ways.
Plant sources of iron (known as non-heme iron) are ideal for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet, but they typically have slightly lower levels of iron per serving than animal sources. To enhance the absorption of iron from plant sources, pair them with a food or drink high in vitamin C.
Animal-based iron sources are a combination of non-heme and heme iron. Heme iron is generally easier to absorb; however, the majority of our dietary iron intake is non-heme iron, as healthy nutrition plans generally recommend limiting consumption of meat and other animal products.
Here is a list of iron-rich foods that can be enjoyed during pregnancy to help ensure an adequate iron supply:
- Brown rice
- Spinach and other dark leafy greens, such as kale
- Low-mercury fish
- Fortified cereals or oatmeal
- Fortified orange juice
Should Iron Supplements Be Taken During Pregnancy?
Many prenatal vitamins contain iron, so it is important for a pregnant woman to consult a doctor or healthcare provider to verify if she is low in iron before she adds any iron supplements to her diet.
If a pregnant woman is experiencing iron deficiency anemia, her doctor or healthcare provider may then recommend adding a separate iron supplement to help meet her iron needs.
Advantages of Floradix® Iron Supplements
Floradix iron supplements include the best-selling natural liquid iron supplement in the US today, Floradix® Iron + Herbs.† They may help people experiencing iron deficiency, as they have been reported to support the formation of healthy red blood cells.*
Floradix iron supplements have been trusted by pregnant women for decades because they are gentle-to-digest and easily absorbed.* Floradix iron supplements also offer these additional benefits:
- Free of artificial additives, synthetic preservatives, alcohol, and lactose
- Kosher, non-GMO, and vegetarian
- Environmentally friendly packaging
- Available in multiple formats, including liquids and tablets
- Also available in a vegan, yeast-free, and gluten-free formula
Iron Supplement Precautions
We recommend that pregnant women talk to their doctor or healthcare provider before adding an iron supplement to their daily regimen to verify that supplementation is needed.
Their doctor may recommend having the pregnant woman’s iron levels tested via blood testing to verify iron deficiency. If an iron supplement is recommended, the doctor can also help to determine the appropriate dose of iron needed to help return iron levels to a healthy range.*
After supplementing with iron, a pregnant woman should have her iron levels re-checked every three to four months, as she may need to discontinue use once her iron levels are within a healthy range.* While iron deficiency has detrimental effects on the body, the reverse is also true, as too much iron can lead to health issues and cause one to feel unwell.
- Mayo Clinic Staff, “Iron Deficiency Anemia During Pregnancy: Prevention Tips,” Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/anemia-during-pregnancy/art-20114455.
- Noran M. Abu-Ouf and Mohammed M. Jan, “The Impact of Maternal Iron Deficiency and Iron Deficiency Anemia on Child’s Health,” Saudi Medical Journal 36, no. 2 (2015): 146-149, https://doi.org/10.15537/smj.2015.2.10289.