Iron is an essential nutrient for everyone. Your body uses iron to help your blood carry oxygen throughout your body. This nutrient becomes even more important during pregnancy since the amount of blood you have increases, and your baby needs oxygen! Women who don’t get enough iron during pregnancy may become fatigued, at risk for infections, and are at a greater risk of preterm delivery and having a low birth weight baby.
One of the best ways to ensure that you’re getting enough iron is through the foods you eat. Try these foods to boost your iron intake:
- Fortified cereals
- Whole grains
- Legumes like beans, lentils, and peas
- Canned beets
- Dried fruits like apricots, raisins, and pineapple
- Dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and collard greens
- Animal proteins such as red meat, fish and poultry
Make the most of your iron
- The type of iron in animal proteins is more easily absorbed by the body. If you’re able to, concentrate on getting much of your iron from these foods.
- You can help your body absorb iron more efficiently by ensuring that you also have proper levels of Vitamin C. When eating an iron-rich meal or snack, enjoy it with a glass of orange juice or eat a bowl of strawberries for dessert.
- Also, when eating iron foods, avoid consuming them with high-calcium foods like milk and other dairy products, as they can reduce the amount of iron absorbed.
Do not take supplements without consulting your doctor first, especially if you’re pregnant. Too much iron, particularly from supplements, can be harmful!
For Health Advocate members
If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to the wellness coaching component of our Wellness Program, call your coach today for more tips and guidance about eating nutritious meals.