Foods high in iron are important during pregnancy

Which foods are high in iron? I don’t want to take a supplement as I’ve heard they can cause constipation.

Pregnant woman do need extra Iron at this time in their lives, but there is no real need to start looking at ways of increasing your intake if your diet is already well balanced and contains enough.

Remember, too much Iron is dangerous and toxic and it is also known to slow down the whole digestive system i.e. constipation.  If you already eat a good balanced diet with enough Iron included, you won’t need to take supplements.  However, if you are not sure and just want to play it safe, make sure that your diet includes a small daily amount of animal produce; for example; steak, lamb, chicken, turkey. 

Fish comes with a few challenges (i.e. Tuna contains excess mercury, so avoid too much of it), and also we are conscious of the ‘over-fishing’ reports, so I would suggest sardines, pilchards, mackerel and even Salmon.  

Also if you are a vegetarian you can find Iron in dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, legumes (lentils, chick peas, peanuts) and all types of beans.  A spoonful of Blackstrap Molasses is what my grandmother used to give us if we looked ‘peaky’ i.e. lacking in Iron! So do add this to soups, stews, and even hot drinks. 

Plant based Iron is not as absorbable as animal products, so make sure that your vitamin C intake is always good (vitamin C helps the body to absorb iron – that’s why we squeeze lemon on fish!) also, drinking coffee with your dinner is not a good idea as this is known to inhibit iron absorption. 

But back to the question; if a complete meal is hard to keep down through nausea, nibble on dried apricots throughout the day (50g = 1.6mg of Iron), also eat a handful of Cashew nuts and Almonds every day, only eat Wholegrain bread (one slice = 1.6mg of iron), and you will find that your Iron intake is absolutely adequate.

Of course the best source of Iron is found in Liver and Kidney products, but not a good idea during pregnancy because they are also high in vitamin A – which can harm unborn babies...  

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