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Ashley Roman, MD
OB-GYN

Iron Supplements And Pregnancy

Feeling tired? Find out how to boost your energy with iron-rich foods and when you might need iron supplements instead.

The best way to get the iron you need is by eating iron-rich foods like green leafy vegetables, lean red meat, almonds, lentils and dried fruit. Vitamin C can help your body absorb iron so drink a glass of orange juice with your meal as well. It's normal to feel extra tired when you're pregnant, especially in the first and third trimester, and including these foods in your diet can help. If, however, you're pale, extremely exhausted and/or getting short of breath or heart palpitations you could be anemic. In that case your doctor will likely talk to you about ways you can supplement your iron supply.

Ferrous sulfate (325 milligrams twice a day) is one of the more common ways to treat iron-deficiency anemia. As we mentioned, taking Vitamin C with the iron supplement can help improve absorption in the gastrointestinal tract. In fact, there are some prescription supplements like Chromagen that have both iron and Vitamin C in one pill.

But, keep in mind that iron is known to be associated with constipation, a symptom that many pregnant women are already prone to, so you'll probably need to accompany your treatment with a stool softener. Also, iron may exacerbate the nausea and vomiting of early pregnancy. Because of these issues, you should only take iron supplements under your doctor's supervision. Another thing to note is that there are some kinds of anemia that aren't treated with iron supplementation. In these cases, taking iron may do more harm than good.

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