Iron in pregnancy

Iron in pregnancy

Iron deficiency anemia

Iron deficiency anemia is a disease caused by a lack of iron in the body, which occurs very often during pregnancy . If you complain of tiredness , tachycardia , decreased concentration and pallor , you are most likely dealing with a state of anemia, the symptoms of which are determined, beyond the iron deficiency itself , by the poor oxygenation of the tissues. In fact, iron represents a fundamental mineral for the synthesis of hemoglobin , involved in cellular respiration and in the metabolism of nucleic acids .


Iron requirement

During the state of maternity, with particular reference to the last months of gestation, the need for iron increases, mainly due to the consistent dilution of the blood and the increased metabolic demand associated with the state of pregnancy. On average, an adult person needs 10-15 mg/day of iron, while a pregnant woman needs at least 30 mg/day of iron.

Choosing foods during pregnancy

As is known, during pregnancy it is necessary to choose foods with greater care, to protect the health of the woman and in particular of the child; for example, while knowing that red meat , especially raw, is an excellent source of iron, the woman should avoid consuming this food in its raw state, as it is likely a source of microorganisms that could harm the child, causing serious illnesses (such as toxoplasmosis ) . Among the foods to avoid, in addition to raw red meat , we mention raw eggs , soft cheeses with crust and molds , raw fish and unpasteurized raw milkof distributors. Furthermore, one should avoid eating too much fish , especially large ones, due to the risk of accumulating heavy metals , such as mercury , which can cause serious damage to the health of the baby.

Iron and Vit. B9

Although pregnant women generally pay close attention to following a correct diet , iron supplementation is still recommended, perhaps associating it with lactoferrin to favor its absorption; in fact, lactoferrin binds and transports iron to the intestine and by binding to the enterocytes it facilitates its entry into the systemic circulation.

It is known that folic acid supplementation is also essential for the development of the child during pregnancy : folic acid ( vitamin B9 ) is a coenzyme responsible for many cellular reactions and – since it is not synthesized by our body (even if a small amount is produced by the intestinal bacterial flora ) – it must be taken regularly with the diet. Whereas folic acid can correct anemia in pregnancy, studies have been conducted on the iron-folic acid connection, to verify whether the intake of folic acid can somehow increase the availability of the mineral. In this regard, it has been noted that the combined intake of iron and vitamin B9 improves blood parameters, correcting iron deficiency; to consider, however, that the joint integration of folic acid, lactoferrin and iron seems to be even more effective.

Iron deficiency

Iron deficiency in pregnancy is not a factor to be underestimated, as the baby could face many problems: it could be born before the established term, it could be underweight at birth or incur a greater risk of iron deficiency in the first months of life; he may have neurological and behavioral deficits in school age and be more likely to develop cardiovascular disease . From here we understand how important iron intake is for the mother throughout pregnancy, especially in the third trimester, when the body’s demand for iron increases considerably.

If a decrease in iron can cause serious consequences, moderate integration is practically risk-free and absolutely advisable to favor the deposit of the same in the unborn child and in the mother. This integration is used both for pregnancy and for the postpartum period.

Food pairing

Beyond the specific iron supplementation, pregnant women should also be advised to combine foods correctly, in order to promote maximum iron absorption: therefore, it is not enough to eat foods often such as whole grains, lean meat, fish , shellfish , nuts and green vegetables ; the bioavailability of iron is in fact increased if the foods that contain it are taken together with sources of ascorbic acid : vitamin C is very present in nature, especially in vegetables and fresh fruit. Vitamin C, in addition to making iron more bioavailable, has excellent benefitsantioxidant properties , which protect the body from the attack of free radicals .
There are foods that hinder the absorption of iron: for this very reason, excess tea , rich in tannins , and whole grains , rich in phytic acid , are not recommended .

Iron supplementation: risks

If suggesting iron supplementation during pregnancy is excellent advice, it is not always easy to put it into practice: in fact, the adverse effects attributable to iron supplementation are certainly not pleasant, so much so as to sometimes push women to interrupt the taking the supplement. Among the most common ailments that can derive from iron supplementation, there is considerable gastric irritability, which can cause not only cramps and nausea , but also vomiting . At the intestinal level, the woman can instead complain of constipation , diarrhea , pain and variations in the bacterial population ( dysbiosis ).

Tradition teaches

In ancient times, to try to counteract anemia, buckwheat honey was used , which boasts remineralizing and tonic properties . Particular was the ” apple and nails” technique , recommended to women immediately after pregnancy to avoid anemia: the practice consisted in inserting five long nails into an apple for two hours; after the necessary time, the nails were removed and the apple was eaten. This is because the apple, being rich in humidity, is able to oxidize the iron; in doing so, the fruit is enriched with this mineral, even if in a form that is not very bioavailable.



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