Healthy Diet & Pregnancy: Guidelines For Iron-rich Nutrition

Healthy Diet & Pregnancy: Guidelines For Iron-rich Nutrition

Pregnancy is an extraordinary period in a woman’s life - not only does her body change, but also her mind and hormonal balance undergo significant modifications. That is why it is extremely important to take care of proper nutrition during this period, so that both the future mother and her child could develop correctly and problem-free. 

It is no secret that maintaining a healthy, balanced diet contributes to overall health and well-being, which becomes even more crucial in the case of pregnant women. The role of different nutrients and macroelements during pregnancy is simply inestimable. One of the most vital nutrients for future mothers is iron. In this article, we will discuss its role in the diet of pregnant women, as well as potential iron deficiency consequences. 

Why Is Iron Important for Pregnant Women?

Iron is a mineral with diverse roles in the human body. It plays a crucial part in transporting oxygen to tissues and aiding muscle metabolism, and it's essential for functions such as neurological development, physical growth, and cellular processes. With so many crucial roles within the human organism, iron is also an inevitable nutrient for pregnant women.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 37% of pregnant women suffer from anaemia. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence warns that 8% of all women in the UK struggle with this condition. At the same time, iron deficiency, primarily due to inadequate dietary iron intake, is considered the most common nutritional deficiency leading to anaemia. 

Guidelines for Iron-Rich Nutrition During Pregnancy

While the treatment of iron deficiency anaemia varies depending on its particular cause, there are certain guidelines that could be applied in the case of pregnant women who suffer from anaemia. First of all, it is vital to take proper care of iron, folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin A adequate dietary intake. Furthermore, consuming a well-balanced diet consisting of a range of nutritious foods and considering supplementation when advised by a qualified healthcare professional is advised for pregnant women.

There are a variety of natural iron sources for pregnant women, categorized into two main groups: those with haem iron and those with non-haem iron. Haem iron is found in meat, seafood, and fish, with lean meat being the most abundant source of this mineral. Non-haem iron is primarily present in fortified cereals, pasta, legumes, and dark leafy greens.

Iron Deficiency Consequences 

The repercussions of iron deficiency may be dangerous for everybody’s health, but in the case of future mothers, its consequences seem to be even more alarming. Among them, specialists distinguish iron deficiency anaemia, which may result in lower birth weight for the baby, potentially leading to health issues. 

What is more, one of the anaemia symptoms is excessive tiredness and weakness, which may disturb the daily balance of a pregnant woman and exclude her from everyday functioning. Finally, untreated anaemia increases the risk of preterm birth, which can pose health risks for the newly born child. Maintaining a balanced diet and proper supplementation, as well as being under regular medical supervision may diminish the risk of the abovementioned health hazards.

A Balanced Diet for Pregnant Women: Conclusion

Apart from iron supplementation, every pregnant woman should be aware of other key elements of a balanced diet which supports the health of both the future mother and her child. It is important to know that pregnant women need an increased intake of folate, which plays a vital role in the early development of the child's neural tube. Foods rich in folate include leafy greens, citrus fruits, and fortified cereals. Furthermore, the presence of calcium, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids is necessary for proper development of the fetus. 

Remember that every pregnant woman should be under regular medical supervision. Any doubts or questions should be discussed with a gynaecologist or other specialist who is aware of pregnant females’ special needs and medical requirements. If you are pregnant and you experience any difficult or unknown symptoms, do not hesitate to contact your local medical centre for further advice.