Why you need iron during pregnancy
Even before you’re pregnant, your body needs iron for several reasons:
- It’s essential for making hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to other cells.
- It’s an important component of myoglobin (a protein that helps supply oxygen to your muscles), collagen (a protein in bone, cartilage, and other connective tissue), and many enzymes.
- It helps maintain a healthy immune system.
But during pregnancy you need a lot more of this essential mineral. Here’s why:
- The amount of blood in your body increases during pregnancy until you have almost 50 percent more blood than usual. You need extra iron to make more hemoglobin.
- You need extra iron for your growing baby and placenta, especially in the second and third trimesters.
- Many women need more because they start their pregnancy with insufficient stores of iron.
- Iron-deficiency anemia during pregnancy is associated with preterm delivery, low birth weight, and infant mortality.
How much iron you need
Pregnant women: 27 milligrams (mg) of iron per day
Nonpregnant women: 18 mg
You don’t have to get the recommended amount of iron every day. Instead, aim for that amount as an average over the course of a few days or a week.
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