Why your pregnancy will suffer without iron

March 30, 2012 12:00 AM by

Maintaining a healthy diet during a pregnancy is a challenge that many moms have to face. Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of expecting is ensuring that you're getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals to support yourself and your growing baby. Iron is one of these minerals. Because your body doesn't make iron on its own, you have to get it from outside sources, like food or supplements.

Iron is a crucial building block of hemoglobin, which is the substance in your blood that carries oxygen throughout your body. It's also a key ingredient for helping your body manage stress and disease. Normally, it can be difficult for some people to absorb iron, which is why many women have anemia, or a lack of iron in their red blood cells. Luckily, during pregnancy your body is better at absorbing iron, so that's why it's important to load up on it.

The U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (USRDA) for iron in pregnant and breastfeeding women is 30 milligrams per day. Eating three servings of iron-rich food each day is the best way to ensure that you're meeting this amount throughout your pregnancy, especially during your second and third trimester, when your body is producing more blood. Having said that, most prenatal vitamins contain at least 25 milligrams of this essential nutrient, so try to be diligent about popping those precious pills.

Meats like lean beef, chicken, fish, lamb, turkey and pork provide you with the greatest iron absorption rates, so it's a good idea to eat one serving of these foods each day. You can also enjoy your daily dose from leafy green vegetables like broccoli and spinach, and even from fruits like berries, grapes and watermelons. Plenty of breakfast cereals are also fortified with iron, so you shouldn't have a problem loading up on it. After all, it's what you and your baby need!

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