Top 50 Iron Rich Food in Pregnancy

It is very exciting when women hear that she is going to be a mother. But along with excitement, pregnancy is an intimidating experience for her. Because she will not take care of herself but also the baby.

During pregnancy, a woman is very conscious about her diet. She will eat those foods which she dislikes on normal days.

You may hear that iron, zinc, vitamins, and other macronutrients are essential for the health of the baby.

It is very indispensable that all women should focus on iron rich food in pregnancy

During pregnancy, lots of physical and chemical changes take place. Among these changes, one change is an increase in blood circulation. An increase in blood circulation leads to increase in red blood cells, which are required by your body and your baby’s body. That is why iron rich food in pregnancy is very important.

Hemoglobin is necessary for the formation of red blood cells and iron is required for the formation of hemoglobin. It means that iron is essential for the production of red blood cells.

Hemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen from the lungs to the different parts of the body and baby developing tissues.

The human body is unable to prepare iron but luckily various iron rich foods are available that fulfill the requirement of iron.

If you can’t get enough iron then you will become the victim of iron deficiency anemia. When you develop iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy then there is a risk of low birth weight, premature birth, miscarriage, and postpartum depression.

Prevention of iron deficiency is very crucial both for mother and baby. The recommended daily intake for a pregnant woman is 27 mg per day.

In this article, we will discuss iron rich food in pregnancy.

Types of iron

Commonly iron is associated with animal proteins but if you are vegetarian or vegan, do not worry because iron is found in various fruits, vegetables, and beans. There are two types of iron, Heme, and non-heme iron.

  1. Heme iron

This type of iron is easily absorbed by the body and is mainly found in meat, poultry, liver, and seafood.

You can absorb up to 30% of the heme iron that you consume. Eating meat boosts your iron level dramatically compared to eating non-heme iron.

  • Non-heme iron

Non-heme iron is commonly found in plant based foods such as vegetables and fruits. But the iron in these foods is not absorbed completely. Only 10-20% iron is absorbed.

Non-heme iron is found in nuts, legumes, potatoes, spinach, kale, figs, etc.

Some foods are fortified with iron such as tofu, cereal, bread, and grains. By eating these foods you can fulfill the deficiency of iron.

Recommended daily intake of iron in pregnancy

For pregnant women recommended daily intake of iron is 27 mg.

The recommended daily intake of iron is:

  • Birth to 6 months    0.27 mg
  • 7-12 months             11 mg
  • 1-3 years                    7 mg 
  • 4-8 years                     10 mg
  • 9-13 years                  8 mg
  • 14-18 years                11 mg for males and 15 mg for female
  • 19-50 years                 8 mg for male and 18 mg for female
  • 51+ years                     8 mg for both
  • Pregnant women 14-50 years            27 mg
  • lactating women 14-18 years           10 mg
  • lactating women 18-50 years            9 mg 

Iron rich food in pregnancy from animal sources

Iron rich food in pregnancy includes:

  1. Seafood
  • Oysters
  • Clams
  • Shrimp
  • Sardines
  • Trout
  • Tuna
  • Mackerel
  • Haddock
  • Scallops
  • Shellfish

All of the above seafood foods are good sources of iron.

100 grams of clams contains 3 mg of iron or 17% of the DV. The content of iron in clams varies. Some types contain a high level of iron while some low level of iron.

Fishes are a good source of iron and have different varieties.

85 grams of tuna provides 1.4 mg of iron, which is 8% of the DV.

Besides tuna, other fishes such as haddock, sardines, mackerel, etc are an excellent source of iron which you should include in your meal.

  • Meat and Eggs
  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Dried beef
  • Liver
  • Eggs
  • Liverwurst
  • Veal

Generally, organ meats are very nutritious, especially kidneys, brain, liver, and heart. All these organs are rich sources of iron.

100 grams of beef liver deliver 6 mg of iron, which is 36% of the DV for iron

Organ meats are also a rich source of proteins, vitamins, and other minerals.

100 grams of ground beef has 2.7 mg of iron or 15% of the DV for iron. Researchers have told that iron deficiency is found in those people who ate the meat of poultry and fish on regular basis.

To compensate for the deficiency of iron in a short time red meat is the best option. Red meat is the single source of heme iron for those people who are prone to anemia.

Turkey meat is also a good source of iron. 100 grams of turkey meat provides 1.4 mg of iron, which is 8% of the DV.  White turkey meat of the same amount provides 0.7 mg of iron.

Iron rich food in pregnancy from plants sources

  • Fruits
  • Dates
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries
  • Prunes
  • Apricot
  • Apple
  • Dried apricot
  • Raisins
  • Peach
  • Banana
  • Bread and Cereal
  • Wheat products
  • Corn
  • Oat
  • Whole white Bread
  • Bran cereals
  • Rye bread
  • Enrich Rice
  • Pasta
  • Peanut
  • Maize
  • Vegetable
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Peas
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Beet greens
  • String beans
  • Dandelion greens
  • Collards
  • Mustard
  • Chard
  • Kale
  • Cauliflower

Spinach has innumerable health benefits with low calories. One cup means 100 grams of chopped spinach delivers 2.7 mg of iron, which is 15% of the DV.

Spinach is a non-heme iron source that is not completely absorbed but it contains vitamin C which boosts the absorption of iron.

Besides the health benefits of Broccoli, it is a good source of iron. 155 grams or one cup of cooked broccoli contains 1 mg of iron or 6% of the DV for iron.

  • Beans and other fortified foods
  • Dried peas
  • Dried beans
  • Canned beans
  • Lentils corn syrup
  • Canned tomato products
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Tempeh

Signs and Symptoms of iron deficiency in pregnancy

If you observe these symptoms during pregnancy, you should consult a doctor quickly.

  • Fatigue
  • General weakness
  • Pale skin
  • Chest pain
  • Brittle nails
  • Soreness of tongue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Cold feet and hand
  • Cravings for non-nutritive substances, like ice, starch, or dirt

Causes of iron deficiency in pregnancy

The main causes of iron deficiency in pregnancy are:

  • Insufficient intake of iron rich foods
  • Increased destruction of red blood cells
  • Gastrointestinal illness

How to overcome iron deficiency problem in pregnancy

The easiest way to get rid of this problem includes at least one iron rich food in your snack, lunch, and dinner.

For instance, include spinach or broccoli in lunch which is very inexpensive. Add beans or lentils to your snack and meal which will boost your iron level.

In simple words, add at least one iron rich food to your snack, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Bottom line

Iron is very important for all people but it is very crucial for pregnant women to get an adequate level of iron each day.

A new baby does not make iron but you have to eat iron rich foods that fulfill iron requirements both for you and your baby.

Iron is found in lots of foods such as meat, eggs, fish, vegetables, beans, and many other sources.


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