Foods for anemia in pregnancy

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Anemia in pregnancy, let's get to know it better

Iron deficiency anemia (IronDeficiencyAnaemia-IDA), present for 35-75% in pregnant women in developing countries, is very common.

As the need for iron during pregnancy increases from 1-2 to about 30 mg / day for the reasons that we will see (with a maximum peak in the third trimester), the need arises to prefer foods rich in iron that can help the woman, who is in this particular moment of her life , in dealing with anemia. 

Only 10-35% of the iron present in animal foods and 2-10% of that contained in vegetables (legumes and vegetables) is actually absorbed (we talk about bioavailability).

This is because the iron found in the foods of animal origin (lean red meats, turkey, chicken, fish such as tuna, cod, salmon etc.) is the iron eme which is more easily absorbed by our intestines, while in the foods of plant origin (cereals, legumes and vegetables) we find the iron not eme which is absorbed less.

The use of iron supplements, conditions in which the administration of external sources of iron is expected under medical prescription, it is justified and required if there are some important risk factors since food alone may not be enough to rebalance important deficiencies such as severe anemia.

From what has been said it is clear that to give the body the possibility to fill up with iron, it is therefore necessary not only to choose foods rich in this important mineral but also associate foods correctly in the diet.


Find out which foods are rich in iron and how to combine them in your diet


What foods help fight anemia in pregnancy?

In general, the first step is to establish a pregnancy during pregnancy balanced diet and varies that takes into account foods rich in iron, but what are they?

  • Red meat isn't as overflowing with iron as some iconography would like, compared to white meat and fish. As regards the white meat, in fact, if we consume the richest cuts of muscle tissue such as the thigh upper thigh or, the melted, the amount of iron (1,5-2 mg / 100 g) is close, if not equivalent, to the iron content of red meat (about 2,5 mg / 100 g). Frog meat, with its 6 mg / 100 g and horse meat with about 4 mg / 100 mg, are among the richest meats together with offal (bovine spleen even contains 42 mg / 100 g!). If there is a shortage, rather than eating steak every day, it is better to eat a plate of clams once a week or a slice of liver (from an animal that has eaten natural foods) a month. However, the bioavailability of iron is generally higher when it comes taken with meat, fruit rich in ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or vegetables dressed with lemon.
  • Legumes are rich in iron but also in phytate. With an iron content between 5 and 9 mg / 100g, these foods are rich in potent inhibitors of iron absorption - the phytates in fact - which have a chelating effect, ie a "sequestration" against microelements such as iron, copper and zinc. These "antinutrients" have decreased from the practice ofsoaking which must be done with lukewarm and slightly acidified water (adding some lemon juice) and from cooking which must proceed, after replacing the soaking water, with new water. Pasta with chickpeas, lentils with meat and curried beans with the combination of the type of meat you prefer are the right combination for an excellent iron intake.
  • Vegetables. Non-heme iron, present in vegetables, is favored by the intake of Vitamin C within the same meal (absorption increases up to 2-3 times). With the help of vitamin C, the iron ions are transformed, by chemical reaction, into an absorbable form. We therefore recommend season the vegetables with a few drops of lemon or consume them at the same time foods rich in vitamin C.
  • In general, the absorption of iron is positively influenced by all foods which, by stimulating the secretions of the stomach, contribute to maintaining the acidity of the digestive environment high, since gastric juices facilitate the dissociation of iron ions from the rest of the food. (dissociation which is also favored by cooking). In this sense, it may be advisable to use aromatic herbs (capable of stimulating gastric secretions) which, in addition to flavoring meat and fish and being particularly rich in iron, allow us to make iron more bioavailable. 

One precaution to take is to do not dine with tea or drink coffee close to iron-rich meals (even an hour away from meals).

It is scientifically proven, in fact, that these drinks reduce the absorption of iron (39% for coffee, 64% for tea) due to the presence of antinutrient substances such as tannins and some polyphenols which, by binding iron, do not make it available for absorption.


How to experience pregnancy naturally?


What are the causes of anemia in pregnancy?

Anemia can be defined as one reduction in the amount of hemoglobin normally contained in the blood and is considered, if it occurs in pregnancy, a possible risk factor for both mother and baby. 

Le maternal consequences are mental and physical fatigue, immunodeficiency, depression, cardiovascular symptoms, risk of transfusion therapy before, during or immediately after childbirth.

Source for the child they range from low birth weight to the risk of iron deficiency in the first months of life, from the rupture of the amniotic sac to the infectious risk.

Low iron levels are usually reached in the third quarter when there is an increased demand for iron since, in addition to an increase in the number of red blood cells essential for the mother because they carry oxygen to the tissues, there is a passage of iron through the placenta, due to the increased demand in growth processes of child.


To learn more:

> Natural supplements for pregnancy: what they are and when to take them
> Natural supplements against anemia

> Anemia and health consequences



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