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PLAYING: Iron-Rich Foods For A Stronger Pregnancy

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Iron-Rich Foods For A Stronger Pregnancy

From adolescence to adulthood and especially during pregnancy, the nutrient iron is every woman's best friend. When you are pregnant, your body needs more iron to make extra blood or hemoglobin for the baby growing in your tummy.

3 mins to read Nov 29, 2016

Why iron is a BIG must

  • Iron contributes to the normal formation of red blood cells and hemoglobin
  • It helps bring essential oxygen to your body cells and those of your baby
  • Iron deficiency leads to anemia, fatigue, a reduction in intellectual performance, and a weakening of the immune system

The iron requirements of women are higher than those of men: 27 mg/day for 19-29 year old women compared to 12 mg/day for 19-29 year old men. During pregnancy, iron must be increased to 34 mg/day in the 2nd trimester and increase again to 38 mg/day in the 3rd trimester.

These days, it is estimated that 25.2% of pregnant women and 16.6% of lactating women have anemia. Taking iron supplements such as ferrous sulfate has become quiet common. That's why women who plan to have babies are advised to consume iron-rich foods for pregnancy, even before they start expecting.

Iron-rich foods for pregnancy

Here are the top foods rich in iron for pregnancy:

  • Hot cocoa without sugar 100 grams = 20 mg iron
  • Cooked pork liver 100 grams = 17.9 mg iron
  • Squash seeds 100 grams = 15 mg iron
  • Chicken liver 100 grams = 13 mg iron
  • Seafood (Oysters, mussels, clams) 100 grams = 9.2mg iron
  • Wheat Germ 100 grams = 6.3 mg iron
  • Roast Beef 100 grams = 3.5 mg iron

Other sources of iron readily available in the local market are as follows:

  • Soybeans = 8.84 mg in one cup
  • Tofu = 6.65 mg in one cup
  • White Rice = 2.77mg in one cup
  • Sardines = 2.7 mg in one 3.75oz can
  • Bok Choy = 1.77 mg in one cup
  • Brown Rice = 1.03 mg in one cup

There are two different types of iron:

  • Heme - found in meat, fish; is easily absorbed by the body (about 25%)
  • Non-heme - found in cereals, legumes, fruit, veggies, dairy products; is not well absorbed (only 1 to 5%)

To get enough iron, you may opt to add meat (preferably red meat, especially organ meats or laman-loob) to a balanced meal. Make sure to include fruits and vegetables rich in iron.

Suggestions on how to prevent anemia in pregnancy:

  • Eat a portion of meat or fish for both lunch and dinner. Choose legumes (beans, chickpeas, black beans, etc.) to go with your meat so you get two different types of iron.
  • To boost iron absorption, consume vitamin C at the same meal: squeeze calamansi over your fish or have a dalandan for dessert.
  • Avoid tea and coffee, as they limit the absorption of iron, or drink your tea with a little lemon. Wait at least two hours after the meal before drinking tea and take only two cups a day.
  • Sprinkle your salads with two teaspoons of wheatgerm: this will give you an extra 1/2 mg of iron.
  • An iron supplement such as ferrous sulfate may be prescribed if you are a vegetarian or vegan, and also if you are expecting twins or if your last pregnancy was very recent. Don't hesitate to discuss this with your doctor and possibly to consult a dietician.

From the NESTLÉ Global Archive co-written with RND KATE PERALES