Your body needs iron to make hemoglobin, the main protein in red blood cells. Red blood cells transport oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body’s cells, where it is used for basic metabolism. All cells need it.
Your iron needs to go up significantly during pregnancy in order to produce the nearly 50% increase in your red blood cells, as well as the blood cells in the developing baby.
The recommended amount of elemental iron needed during pregnancy is 27 mg per day, which your prenatal vitamin usually contains. Most women become slightly anemic (low iron level) as the pregnancy advances. Fatigue is the most common symptom. Your health care provider will often check your iron levels and suggest extra iron if you are anemic.
Some foods that are high in iron are red meat, fish, spinach and red kidney beans.
Iron supplements include ferrous sulfate, ferrous gluconate, and ferrous fumarate. They contain 20%, 12%, and 33% of elemental iron respectively. Iron supplements can cause constipation, nausea, and dark stools
For maximum absorption, it is best to take iron on an empty stomach or with Vitamin C rich foods such as orange juice, broccoli, strawberries, or tomato juice. Try to avoid taking your iron with calcium or antacids as they may reduce the absorption in your body.