It's very common for your iron levels to drop during pregnancy, this is because your blood volume increases and is therefore diluted.
Lower levels of iron are expected but if you feel tired, lethargic, fatigued, dizzy or your heart races then speak to your midwife about iron supplementation. You can have a blood test but usually your symptoms are a better guide than the numbers on your test, as different people seem to tolerate different levels of iron.
Iron Rich Foods
Iron is very difficult to digest and anaemia is often caused by weak digestion, so eating more iron is often not enough.
Many people assume that meat is the best way to increase your iron but "the incidence of iron-deficiency anaemia in vegetarians is not significantly different from that in omnivores".
The following foods all help with anaemia even though they are not all high in iron. They are strengthening and liver cleansing, aid digestion and assimilation of iron, or are gently laxative.
- Soaked dried fruit, particularly dates or black sultanas;
- jaggery, ghee, milk;
- turmeric, saffron, cinnamon;
- dandelion root tea, licorice tea;
- sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, ground black sesame seeds;
- asparagus, broccoli, mung dhal.
Foods To Avoid
Tannins inhibit your body’s absorption of iron. Tannins can be found in tea, coffee and chocolate. You don’t have to give up these foods altogether, but enjoy them at a different time of day than when you take your iron supplement.
Supplements To Avoid
Medical staff generally recommend Ferrograd or Maltofer as high dose iron supplements. However many pregnant women experience abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, constipation and diarrhoea.
If you have tried these supplements and they are working fine for you then continue taking them! Maybe you have a strong stomach.
If you are struggling to take these supplement there are plenty of others you can try.
I love Floradix! It gets a bad rap because the actual concentration of iron is low, but I love it because it reminds me of Ayurvedic herbal wines called arishtams. Ayurveda teaches us we are not what we eat but what we digest. The efficiency of a medicine in not measured in a lab but in your body.
I suspect the bioavailability of the iron in Floradix is much higher than other supplements because the fermentation process increases appetite and digestion, plus the combination of herbs can aid with absorption. Take a double dose twice a day if you are really in need of a boost.
This is an excellent natural iron tonic but it is no longer available in Australia. It is made from clay and is safe and highly absorbable. If you can get hold of it let me know! It is still available in other countries.
I discovered this supplement when Red Iron was no longer available. You need a ‘prescription’ which is really just a marketing gimmick. It’s not technically a prescription drug, but you need a naturopath or chiropractor or similar to write a note to your pharmacist in order to buy it. If you can manage to jump through this frustrating hoop you’ll find it’s an easy to digest and natural supplement that really works.
Lucky Iron Fish
This is such a cool product!!! An ancient Ayurvedic remedy for iron deficiency is to cook in cast iron pots, but this lucky fish makes it easier and more accessible. You just pop the iron fish into your cooking pot with a touch of acid like lemon and the iron is absorbed into your food.
It’s unlikely there is a very high amount of bioavailable iron, but every bit helps. Lucky Iron Fish adds a little iron to every meal and is a good way to maintain iron. Make sure you top up with a supplement if you are actually deficient.
I always love buy-one, give-one brands and with 3.5 billion people iron deficient around the world this is a really smart business idea.