Why iron is important in pregnancy

Learn more about the role of iron during pregnancy and common myths about iron supplements.

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Why iron is important in pregnancy

Women who aren't pregnant need 0.8mg iron a day, women who are pregnant need 8mg iron a day

When you are pregnant you need ten times more iron to keep healthy.

Iron is important in pregnancy because it helps create red blood cells which carry food and oxygen to the baby as well as the pregnant woman.

Not having enough iron causes anaemia. This can lead to pregnant women being more tired and breathless, and sometimes complications for the baby and woman during pregnancy.

Iron supplements and pregnancy

Iron supplements have been given to pregnant women for decades and we know they are safe for women to take.

Taking iron supplements is the easiest way to safely boost iron levels and prevent anaemia.

Whilst iron supplements are completely safe for pregnant women and their babies, they can sometimes cause minor side effects.

These side effects can be unpleasant and may stop women from taking iron supplements.

The PANDA trial is trying to work out how much iron is best to give women during pregnancy.

It will look at the benefits of taking supplements to prevent anaemia whilst minimising side effects.

Myths about iron and pregnancy

While we can get iron from food, women need much more iron during pregnancy - approximately ten times more - to help the baby grow and to stay healthy.

Although most women get the iron they need from the food they eat, it can be difficult to get the extra iron needed in pregnancy from food alone.

Iron supplements are probably the best way for women to safely get the extra iron they need.

In order to get the right amount of iron from food alone, you would need to eat one of the following every day:

3 bags of spinach

3 large bags of spinach

8 boiled eggs

8 boiled eggs

2.6 tins of sardines

2.6 tins of sardines