Iron supplementation during pregnancy is essential to help the pregnancy grow best. Although present in the body in very small amounts, iron is essential for life and is especially important for pregnant women. However, to complement properly and sufficiently, not everyone understands. The following article will help moms choose the right iron supplement during pregnancy, please refer.
1. Iron’s role for pregnant women
Iron is essential for making Hemoglobin – an important component of red blood cells – that transports oxygen from the lungs to organs and transports CO 2 from organs to the lungs for release. During pregnancy, the mom’s blood volume increases by 50% compared to normal, so the requirement for additional sources of hematopoietic materials such as iron also increases accordingly.
In addition, Iron participates in the structure of many enzymes, helps maintain a healthy immune system, and protects the body from infections.
What are the consequences of iron deficiency during pregnancy?
Iron is very important for the fetus. If the mom is lack of iron in the early stages of pregnancy from January to March, it is easy to cause miscarriage or stillbirth. If the mom lacks iron in the later stages, it can lead to the phenomenon of premature birth, the fetus is malnourished, cognitive retardation, and intellectual development in children in the future. Iron deficiency during pregnancy also puts moms at risk of bleeding at birth, life-threatening, which can lead to the death of both mom and baby.
Symptoms of iron deficiency during pregnancy are: fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath; even fainting – affects the safety of both mom and fetus.
3. Is excess iron dangerous?
Definitely yes! Excess iron leads to increased levels of free iron and increased hemoglobin levels in the mom’s blood, which hinders the blood supply from mom to baby, leading to premature birth, low weight, and increased risk of death for the pregnant women.
Excess iron is accumulated in the liver and spleen if prolonged accumulation can lead to liver failure, spleen failure and a host of other complications.
Signs of pregnancy when excess iron: constipation or diarrhea, black stools, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fatigue, etc.
4. How to supplement iron for pregnant women properly and sufficiently?
- 1. Correct addition
Depending on the specific pregnancy health situation, appropriate supplements may be taken.
Meet physiological needs: need to supplement iron from the drug at the recommended dosage.
When iron deficiency is pathological: When the test results show that you really have iron deficiency anemia (Hb <11g/l and Hematocrid <30ng/dl), it is necessary to add high-dose iron to not only meet enough physiological needs of the body but also make up for the deficits.
- 2. Sufficient addition
Meet physiological needs
The need for iron varies according to the stage of pregnancy.
- The first 3 months of pregnancy are very small, the iron needs are similar to when mom is not pregnant, even less because the mom does not lose blood due to menstruation.
- From the middle 3 months onwards, along with fetal development, the demand for iron begins to increase.
- The last 3 months are when the mom needs to provide the most iron to meet the increased demand during this period. Pregnant women should take the initiative in getting enough iron right from the first days of pregnancy to increase iron reserves and ensuring the body has enough iron in the last months of pregnancy.
Treatment of pathological iron deficiency (iron deficiency anemia)
If the test results show that you have iron deficiency anemia (Hb <1111g / dl and Ferritin <30mg / mL), then in addition to increasing iron-rich diets, moms need to add iron from high doses of drugs to treat effective treatment of iron deficiency anemia. At that time, moms need to follow the doctor’s instructions exactly.
Note: Always need the follow-up, periodic evaluation of doctors during the course of medication to adjust the dose if necessary. Absolutely not increase/decrease the dose or prolong/shorten the treatment time. By lack or excess of iron can cause adverse effects for the mom and fetus.
5. Measures to help supplement iron for pregnant women effectively
5.1. Enhance bioavailable iron-rich foods:
Getting iron from moms’ diet is always something to do first. As iron from food is easily absorbed organic iron, it does not cause side effects such as taking supplements. Further enhancing the diet can provide moms with many other essential nutrients, not just iron.
Iron in foods is available in 2 types, heme or non-heme iron.
- Heme form is found in animal-based foods, except eggs (such as phoscidine) and milk (such as lactoferrin). Heme iron is easily absorbed in the intestine.
- The hemoid form is plant-based, and the absorption of non-heme iron depends on the presence of certain substances that increase or interfere with iron absorption.
Ascorbic acid (vitamin C), animal protid and organic acids in fruits and vegetables work to increase the absorption of non-heme iron.
Iron absorption inhibitors are commonly found in plant-based foods, such as:
- Phytate is in rice and grains.
- Tannin in some vegetables, tea and coffee.
Therefore, the iron content of foods does not necessarily reflect the iron adequacy of the diet. And iron needs depend on the amount of iron absorbed in the diet.
5.2. Change eating habits
Certain foods enhance iron absorption; In contrast, others interfere with absorption as described above. What moms need to do to effectively supplement iron is to increase the foods that help better absorption of iron (meat, fish, poultry, seafood; foods high in vitamin C (oranges, grapefruit, guava, papaya, etc.) at the same time restrict foods that can hinder iron absorption such as tea, coffee.
5.3. Take the lowest dose of iron supplements from your medication
Our bodies operate in a perfect and perfect manner. When the need is not much, there will be a corresponding absorption reduction mechanism. Excessive iron supplementation will not optimize the effect and even increase the unwanted effects due to excess.
Not all the iron moms add will be completely absorbed. Only a small amount of iron is absorbed to meet the demand. The part that is not absorbed is the root cause of side effects on the gastrointestinal tract that pregnant women often experience such as diarrhea or constipation, diarrhea in the stool, warm stomach, etc. The absorption is increased and the unwanted effects are worse. Therefore, it should be calculated to iron supplements at the lowest possible dose only to minimize the unwanted effects that can occur.
High doses of iron supplements only when directed by a doctor in case the body is anemic iron deficiency.
6. What kind of iron tablets that pregnant women should take?
Currently there are three common iron supplements: iron sulfate, iron fumarate, and iron gluconate. In particular, the iron of organic origin such as Iron fumarate, Gluconate iron is more easily absorbed than inorganic iron and iron sulfate. It is also important to note the iron content of each product. Careful consideration should be given to selecting products that provide elemental iron at doses that meet the needs only.
In terms of finished products, the most common are two types: tablet and liquid form. In particular, iron is hard to drink water, causing nausea but easy to absorb and less likely to cause constipation. In contrast, iron tablets are easy to drink but difficult to absorb and cause constipation. Pregnant women can choose iron tablets prepared in the form of soft capsules: the taste of the drug is concealed by the capsule shell, does not cause discomfort when drinking; The inner drug is still prepared in liquid form, easy to absorb, less causing constipation.
Thus, to find the right iron supplements, moms need to specify:
- Actual iron needs of moms’ body
- The amount of iron that food daily provides
- Iron type, dosage form for easy absorption by the body
- The amount of elemental iron in each supplement.
For example: If moms have a normal pregnancy, moms should not have iron deficiency anemia and should have:
- The diet is relatively good, moms can eat 1-2 ounces of fish meat with vegetables/day, just adding a dose of iron at a basic dose of about 5 mg of elemental iron/day is enough.
- A slightly inferior diet requires a higher dose of iron supplement, which meets about 80% of the iron requirement – corresponding to 22-24mg of elemental iron/day (the rest of the food easily provides enough)
7. When should pregnant women take Iron tablets?
Before pregnancy and the first 3 months of pregnancy, the demand for iron is not high, if moms have a good diet, moms can eat 1-2 ounces of fish meat with vegetables/day, moms do not even need to add iron from medicines, or simply supplementing at a basic dose of about 5 mg of elemental iron/day is sufficient.
During the third trimester of pregnancy, the need for iron and other nutrients increases. Then in addition to the diet moms can add iron from drugs. However, note that using iron supplements in moderate doses satisfies the needs as recommended only.
Iron is best absorbed when hungry, so moms should take iron before meals for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Thus, to supplement iron effectively and minimize unwanted effects, the mom first needs to increase iron supplements from food daily, and change the diet to optimize the ability. Iron absorption of the body. Iron supplements from the drug are taken when the diet does not meet the needs and iron supplements should be at the lowest possible dose. Only higher doses than recommended by a doctor in case the body actually has pathological iron deficiency anemia.