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IRON AND its BENEFITS Iron is important in everyday health as it has a key role in building red blood cells, delivering oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, and brain function. Babies, children, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers will need a steady supply of iron for heathy growth and development. Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia found during pregnancy and can be a result of inadequate intake or poor absorption of iron. *Please discuss with your midwife if you have a history of anemia of any kind. HOW MUCH IS NEEDED IN PREGNANCY: - During pregnancy, your daily prenatal or multivitamin should contain 20 – 30mg of elemental iron. Eating foods rich in iron daily will also help. HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU NEED TO SUPPLEMENT WITH EXTRA IRON? - Your midwife will often offer/recommend a blood test around 26-32 weeks to determine if you require extra iron supplementation in addition to your prenatal vitamins. WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH? - Having a baby before they are due, or a baby who is underweight are some of the poor outcomes found with mild to moderate anemia. Luckily, the baby will often take what they need from the mother but that will leave you feeling more tired after the birth of the baby since bleeding like the flow of a period will often happen. FOODS HIGH IN IRON Iron can be found in two different types of food: - Heme iron: egg yolks, meat, poultry, fish turkey. These are better absorbed in our bodies. Non-heme iron: dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, dark molasses, tofu. These sources are often not as well absorbed. Eating the non-heme iron rich foods with vitamin C, like orange juice or tomatoes, will allow for better absorption by as much as 30%. REFERENCES: 1. Anemia Guide For Family Medicine. 2008. 2nd Edition. 2. Sinclair, C. A Midwife’s handbook 2004. 3. Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties (CPS) 2010. - Avoid eating calcium rich foods ie, cheese, milk and drinking beverages like tea, pop or coffee when consuming iron rich foods. The listed products can actually prevent good absorption of iron when taken together. IRON SUPPLEMENTS *please discuss with your midwife first before starting any kind of iron supplements as taking too much iron can be harmful. - Ferrous fumarate: 300 mg daily or twice a day will give you 100 mg of elemental iron each dose - Ferrous gluconate: 300 mg twice a day or three times a day will give you 35mg of elemental iron each dose - Ferrous sulphate: 300 mg daily or twice a day or three times a day will give you 60 mg of elemental iron each dose Do not exceed 200mg of elemental iron daily Iron supplements can cause side effects like either constipation or diarrhea, so it’s important that you drink enough water and eating enough fiber daily. By taking the iron with meals (versus at bedtime) and separately from your daily prenatal vitamin, may minimize unwanted side effects. Starting with the one dose and slowly increasing to the full dose can also allow your body to get use to the medication. Alternatives for women with difficulty with the above might include a brand change to the iron source listed below: - Floradix iron (liquid iron) 20mls daily will give you 20 mg of elemental iron in each dose (often found in health food stores). - Slow-Fe in 160 mg daily of twice a day FOLLOW-UP Your midwife often will redraw your blood 4 week after you have started the iron supplementation to ensure you are on the right track. REFERENCES: 1. Anemia Guide For Family Medicine. 2008. 2nd Edition. 2. Sinclair, C. A Midwife’s handbook 2004. 3. Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties (CPS) 2010. REFERENCES: 1. Anemia Guide For Family Medicine. 2008. 2nd Edition. 2. Sinclair, C. A Midwife’s handbook 2004. 3. Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties (CPS) 2010.