Do I need to take extra Iron during my pregnancy?

Alexander Kofinas M.D.

Very much like calcium, iron is necessary for the babyÕs blood cells. The total amount of iron that is necessary for a healthy pregnancy is 1,000 mg and is shared by the mother and her unborn baby. The mother needs extra iron for the extra blood volume and to replace her daily losses (unavoidable normal losses) and the fetus needs the iron for his/her new red blood cells. Because only a very small portion of iron is absorbed through the intestine, pregnant women should consume a daily supplemental iron dosage of 500 to 1,000 mg (depending on the formulation, since some formulations deliver more elemental iron). Iron supplementation during pregnancy is very important because most menstruating women enter pregnancy already with deficient iron supplies, unless they take iron supplements prior to pregnancy. Because many women become constipated when taking iron supplements they should try to eat foods rich in iron such as enriched breakfast cereals, cooked beans and lentils, pumpkin seeds, clams, oysters, mussels and of course liver.