Iron supplements play an important role in pregnancy, especially for women who are iron deficient. During pregnancy, the heart works harder in order to provide adequate nourishment to the fetus. As such, the body increases its blood volume by 30-50%.1 Due to this increase in blood volume, it is important for pregnant women to also increase their intake of iron. This might lead you to ask the question on how to treat iron deficiency naturally during pregnancy.
Iron is a mineral that is found in many proteins and enzymes that the body needs in order to stay healthy. Most of the iron in our bodies is found inside hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the pigment in red blood cells. Hemoglobin transports oxygen to all of the tissues and organs in the body. If there is not enough iron in the blood, the amount of hemoglobin in the blood decreases too. This can reduce the oxygen supply to cells and organs.2
Iron deficiency leads to low hemoglobin levels, which can be dangerous to mom and baby. At the start and towards the end of pregnancy, hemoglobin levels above 11 grams per deciliter are considered to be normal. Between three and six months of pregnancy, a small drop to 10.5 grams per deciliter is also considered to be normal.2
If someone’s hemoglobin levels are lower than this, the iron levels in their blood are measured too. This can help determine whether their low hemoglobin levels are due to a lack of iron (iron deficiency). Because the body can store a certain amount of iron, another blood value is also measured to find out how full the body’s iron stores are. This is called Ferritin. If someone’s iron stores are empty but their hemoglobin levels are normal, they are said to have “hidden” iron deficiency.
Women have several blood tests during pregnancy. One thing that is tested is their iron levels, so iron deficiency can be detected early on and treated using iron supplements.
Symptoms of iron deficiency during pregnancy may include the following:1
- Rapid heartbeat
- Difficulty concentrating
- Shortness of breath
- Pale skin
- Chest pain
- Cold hands and feet
You may have a greater risk of developing anemia if you are carrying multiples, have two pregnancies close together, do not eat enough iron-rich foods, or if you had heavy periods prior to pregnancy.
How Do I Ensure I Am Getting Enough Iron?
Iron is found in many different kinds of foods, including cereals, oysters, beef, beans and lentils. It can, however, be hard to ingest the necessary amount of iron through a regular diet—and especially when pregnant, when iron needs are higher. Doctors will therefore often recommend a dietary supplement containing iron, especially for patients who have a current diagnosis or past history of anemia. There are many different types of iron supplements available, and many prenatal vitamins contain some form of iron supplementation.3,4
Sumalate® (Ferrous asparto glycinate), an iron form used in the Prenate® Vitamin Family prescription prenatal vitamins, is a highly advanced and absorbable form of this crucial mineral. Sumalate® allows for maximum absorption of iron with little to no side effects.5-8
For patients, be sure to ask your doctor about the different iron forms and options for your specific needs as not all iron is created equal. Different iron forms have different levels of absorption which can impact the side effects. Higher doses of iron is not always better so be sure to discuss what choices are available.
Below are links to learn more about the prenatal vitamins with iron that the Prenate® Vitamin Family offers:
Ask your doctor if a Prenate® Vitamin is right for you.