Feeling tired, sluggish, dizzy – I thought these were just side effects of my new physical condition at the beginning of my pregnancy. However, these things soon turned out to be symptoms of a severe iron deficiency. But why is iron so important and how do you recognize whether your body is deficient? And what can you do about it during your pregnancy?
Iron: an essential Element
If the body lacks nutrients, symptoms of this deficiency quickly develop. A nutrient that many pregnant women lack is iron. This trace element is essential for building and maintaining red blood cells; it has a significant impact on oxygen transport. It is also indispensable for many enzymes. Together with selenium and iodine, iron also ensures proper functioning of the thyroid gland.
Iron Deficiency often occurs in Pregnancy- how much is needed?
Especially during pregnancy, it is important to have enough iron. Blood circulation in pregnant women increases, and their blood volume grows by up to 40 percent. Both these processes require iron. The human organism usually contains up to 4 mg of iron, the required level for a pregnant woman can rise to 30 mg. That’s why an iron deficiency during pregnancy is not uncommon.
As new tissue and blood are constantly being formed by the body, the oxygen requirement is now higher compared to before the baby bump. The development of the baby also affects the mother’s iron supplies, because nature has set things up for the baby to be supplied first. Stable iron supplies are also useful during childbirth, as it allows the body to tap into these reserves and support blood formation.
Do I have an Iron Deficiency? What are the symptoms to look out for
An iron deficiency can be identified relatively quickly with a blood test. An iron deficiency is spoken of, if the hemoglobin level in the blood drops below 11 grams per deciliter.
Regardless, the following symptoms should never be ignored:
- increased fatigue
- physical weakness
- dry corners of the mouth
- lack of concentration
- a vulnerable immune system.
These signs may point to a deficiency and action should be taken quickly, since a lack of iron can lead to anemia, which in turn can affect the oxygen supply of both mother and child.
Fill up your Iron Supplies: Diet makes all the Difference
It does not even have to come to down to a deficiency; your iron levels can be improved with a well-balanced diet. Selecting iron-rich foods has a major impact. Nonetheless, iron supplements may also help. Make sure to first ask your treating doctor for advice, as not all iron supplements are approved or wholesome for pregnant women. If you are also taking magnesium supplements, a time window of at least three hours should be kept between taking the two supplements. Magnesium and iron interfere with each other, not allowing optimal intake and processing by the body.
Go natural: How to include ferrous Foods in your Meals
By including foods with a high iron content in every meal, you can prevent an iron deficiency. While some fruits and vegetables do contain a lot of iron, the iron content in meat such as calf’s liver or beef is highest and is absorbed best by the body. This does not mean that pregnant women should only eat meat, especially as the choice of food is often unpredictable thanks to pregnancy cravings and nausea. For vegetarians and vegans, plant-based alternatives are just as suitable. In the right combination with vitamin C, these alternatives can support the iron balance.
To make your meals as balanced as they are ferrous, it is advisable to have a wide selection of iron-rich foods at home. Oatmeal, wheat bran and pumpkin seeds, fruits and vegetables such as beetroot, spinach, parsley and red berries all have a high iron content.
Whether you eat meat, cereals, fruits or vegetables to improve your iron levels, you should always take some vitamin C along with it. Iron absorption is increased by the simultaneous intake of vitamin C.
Iron-rich Smoothies: wholesome and full of Nutrients
Smoothies are a perfect opportunity to stock up on iron. By combining ferrous foods such as oats, spinach, red berries or parsley and vitamin C from oranges or lemons, the body can absorb and process the trace element very well. Whether it’s a green smoothie, a wild berry smoothie or a smoothie bowl with oatmeal, the combination of all the necessary nutrients in a well-digestible form of a liquid drink are suitable for any pregnant woman. Smoothies are not too heavy, take little time to prepare and are a great source of energy on-the-go.
Want a groovy Smoothie? The right Mixer will help
Preparing your smoothies with the KRUPS Freshboost Vacuum Blender, has even more advantages besides the simplicity of preparation. The Freshboost Blender removes oxygen from the ingredients before mixing. With Nutrikeep ™ technology, color, texture and vital nutrients are retained for longer, as it slows down the oxidation process of fresh foods. This results in fresh smoothies rich in both color and nutrients.
Smoothies from the Freshboost Blender have up to three times more antioxidants. The body needs antioxidants to strengthen its immune system, replenish the nutrient reservoirs and slow down cell aging processes.
Since the removal of oxygen during preparation also results in fewer bubbles, the smoothie has a very creamy consistency and does not settle in individual layers. This means the smoothies are easier to digest and therefore especially suitable for pregnant women with a sensitive stomach and frequent heartburn. Of course, you can also use this blender to prepare soups or baby food. The practical perk: the KRUPS Freshboost Vacuum Blender comes with a to-go mug, so you can take your smoothie anywhere you go.
Fuelling your iron supplies can be easy and delicious. Some dishes in particular, helped me against my iron deficiency back then as well. I drank a green smoothie made from fresh spinach, kiwi, banana and some water every morning. Breakfast also included oatmeal with red berries and yes, I even grew fond of beetroot. It’s actually very tasty as a soup.
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