What Does It Do?
- Fights fatigue
- Essential component of hemoglobin, the protein that transports oxygen in the blood
- Needed for red blood cell formation and function
- Important for psychomotor and mental development in infants and children
- Supports a healthy immune system
How Much Do We Need?
During your second trimester, your iron needs increase by almost 50%. This is because your blood volume increases dramatically to accommodate the growing nutritional needs of your baby. While pregnant, doctors recommend you get 27 mg of iron per day. You should get at least 9 mg of iron while breastfeeding too, to help your baby ward off anemia. To complement the iron you get from food, Health Canada recommends a daily multivitamin with 16-20 mg of iron throughout your pregnancy.
Where Can I Get It?
- Whole and enriched grains
- Dark green or leafy vegetables (spinach, kale)
- Your body absorbs the iron from meats, poultry and fish more easily than from plant-based foods.
- To help your body better absorb the iron from plant-based foods, eat them with foods that are high in vitamin C (such as berries, tomatoes, peppers, orange juice, citrus fruits, broccoli, cantaloupe, cauliflower, kale and potatoes).
- If you drink tea or coffee, consume 1 or 2 hours between meals rather than with meals. These drinks can interfere with the amount of iron that your body absorbs.
- Do not take a calcium supplement or calcium-containing antacid with meals. Too much calcium can reduce the amount of iron absorbed by the body. Wait 1-2 hours after a meal.
- Read Food labels and choose grain products fortified with iron.
- Try our iron-packed roast beef wrap recipe
Visit Health Canada's Prenatal Nutrition Guidelines on Iron.