The Best Iron Supplement for Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a special time that requires careful nutritional support to ensure the health of both the mother and the developing fetus.
But some 50% of pregnant women, even in developed countries such as the UK, are thought to be iron deficient. (1)
Iron deficiency anemia in pregnancy is linked to increased health risks for the mother, including respiratory issues, fatigue, and infections, and can lead to poor outcomes for the baby such as growth retardation, low birth weight, and cognitive and delays.
Unfortunately, however, almost all iron supplements come with unpleasant side-effects, making the process of balancing iron levels fraught with difficulty.
This article aims to provide a comprehensive analysis on the various iron supplements you might choose. We'll also focusing on why Nano Iron is the most effective option for iron supplementation during pregnancy, eradicating side-effects completely for most people.
How Much Iron Does a Pregnant Woman Need?
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of iron for pregnant women is 30 milligrams. This is nearly twice the amount of iron that nonpregnant women need.
During pregnancy, a woman's blood volume increases by about 50%, and she needs extra iron to produce more red blood cells to carry this extra blood. Iron is also important for the development of the fetus and placenta.
Most women can get enough iron from their diet, but some pregnant women may need to take an iron supplement. This is especially true for women who are carrying twins or triplets, have low iron levels at the start of pregnancy, or have difficulty absorbing iron from food.
Why Iron is not Given in First Trimester?
There are two main reasons why iron is not typically given in the first trimester of pregnancy:
- Iron can worsen nausea and vomiting. Iron supplements are a common cause of nausea and vomiting, even in non-pregnant people. This is because most types of iron can irritate the stomach lining. Morning sickness is already a common problem in the first trimester, so taking iron supplements can make it worse.
- There is some concern that iron could be teratogenic. Teratogenic means that it can cause birth defects. This is because iron is a powerful oxidant, and it can generate free radicals, which can damage cells. (2)
When Should a Pregnant Woman Start Taking Iron?
Pregnant women should generally start taking iron supplements at the beginning of the second trimester, around week 13. However, the timing may vary based on individual iron levels and overall health.
Healthcare providers typically check iron status during the first prenatal visit and continue monitoring it throughout pregnancy. Women with normal iron levels and a low risk of anemia may be advised to get their iron from a balanced diet during the first trimester. However, women with iron deficiency anemia or a high risk of anemia may be recommended to start iron supplements earlier.
Comparing the Best Types of Iron Supplement During Pregnancy
The simple fact is that the majority of the iron supplement market is made up of products containing forms of iron like ferrous sulfate. These are cheap to produce but cause a variety of side-effects, some of which can be very serious.
More specialist bands choose more refined or specfic forms of iron based on absorption efficiency, and reduced gastrointestinal issues. But, based on our research, none of these have managed to eradicate the side effects completely.
As you can see, Nano Iron comes out top on all fronts, but cost. But we feel it's worth paying a bit more for a product that doesn't cause severe side effects.
ARE IRON SUPPLEMENTS SAFE FOR PREGNANCY?
Yes, iron supplements are safe for pregnancy. In fact, they are recommended for most pregnant women who have tested as iron deficient.
Iron is essential for the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the baby. During pregnancy, your body's need for iron increases to support the growing baby and placenta.
If you do not get enough iron from your diet, you may develop iron deficiency anemia. This condition can cause a number of problems for you and your baby, including:
- Shortness of breath
- Increased risk of postpartum hemorrhage
- Increased risk of low birth weight and premature birth
The Best Iron Supplement for All Areas of Pregnancy
Based on the fact that every single other iron supplement (to our knowledge) contains at least a medium risk of some fairly unpleasant side-effects, we're confident that Nano Iron represents a significant evolution over any other product on the market right now.
We'll explain more below:
Best for Preconception and Postpartum
Nano Iron is a great choice for iron supplementation during the preconception and postpartum stages, and there's some science to back this up.
First, the small particle size in Nano Iron leads to excellent bioavailability. This means your body can absorb and use more of the iron compared to traditional supplements like ferrous sulfate, where less iron is absorbed. This is particularly crucial during preconception and postpartum, where iron needs are heightened.
Second, Nano Iron is designed to be easy on the stomach. Traditional iron forms often cause side effects like nausea or constipation. The nanoparticulate form of Nano Iron eradicates these issues, making it a more comfortable option.
Additionally, Nano Iron is a pure and simple product. It's just iron particles suspended in water, without any extra substances. This can be an advantage if you are sensitive to other ingredients commonly added to iron supplements, like certain vitamins or fillers.
Best Pregnancy Iron Supplement for Nausea & Indigestion
Traditional iron supplements often lead to gastrointestinal side effects for a couple of key reasons. Firstly, these supplements typically contain iron in a form that is not readily absorbable, requiring the digestive system to work harder to extract the necessary elemental iron. This process can irritate the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in symptoms such as nausea and constipation. Secondly, the unabsorbed iron enters the colon, where it can disrupt the microbial balance, further exacerbating digestive discomfort.
Nano Iron operates differently due to its unique nanoparticulate form. The tiny particle size allows the iron to be directly absorbed through the mucous membranes in the digestive system. This mechanism bypasses the need for the digestive system to break down the iron, thereby reducing irritation to the gastrointestinal lining. Additionally, because Nano Iron is efficiently absorbed earlier in the digestive process, there is less unabsorbed iron reaching the colon. This minimises the disruption to gut flora and reduces the likelihood of gastrointestinal side effects.
Best Non-Constipating Iron Supplement for Pregnancy
For those concerned with constipation, a common side effect of iron supplementation, Nano Iron emerges as a top choice.
Traditional iron supplements often cause constipation due to their poor absorption rates. The unabsorbed iron moves to the colon, where it interferes with water absorption and gut flora, resulting in hard, dry stools.
In contrast, Nano Iron's nanoparticulate form allows for direct absorption through the mucous membranes, skipping the usual digestive hurdles. This efficient absorption means less iron travels to the colon, which reduces the chance of constipation.
Best Iron Supplement to Avoid Dental Staining in Pregnancy
Traditional iron supplements, particularly those in liquid form like ferrous sulfate solutions, often contain iron in a state that readily interacts with the tooth enamel. This interaction causes a chemical binding with the teeth, leading to noticeable staining over time. In some instances, even capsule forms can cause staining if the capsule breaks open in the mouth rather than in the stomach.
Nano Iron, however, is an odourless, colourless liquid that tastes like water. Its nanoparticulate form does not bind to tooth enamel in the same way that traditional iron solutions do. This characteristic makes it less likely to cause staining, offering an aesthetic advantage in addition to its high bioavailability and reduced gastrointestinal side effects.
Best Liquid Iron for Pregnancy
For those who find swallowing pills uncomfortable or have dietary restrictions that make solid supplements less feasible, liquid iron supplements are often the go-to solution. Liquid supplements can also offer faster absorption rates, making them an appealing option for individuals who require immediate iron intake.
Nano Iron is a colorless, odorless liquid that has a water-like taste, effectively eliminating the common taste-related barriers associated with liquid iron supplements.
Best High Dose Iron for Pregnancy
For some expectant mothers, the journey through pregnancy comes with added challenges due to existing health conditions like anemia. The body's need to nourish the developing fetus can exacerbate these conditions, making adequate iron intake critical. Additionally, mothers expecting twins or triplets face a similar predicament, as their bodies must work doubly or triply hard to absorb and disperse nutrients effectively to each fetus.
Traditional high-dose iron supplements are often insufficient in these scenarios. Their poor absorption rates mean that much of the iron isn't effectively used by the body. Additionally, side effects such as gastrointestinal issues can make it hard for mothers to stick with a high-dose regimen.
Nano Iron offers a solution uniquely suited to these challenging circumstances. Its nanoparticulate form ensures efficient absorption and no digestive side effects, making it more viable for long-term, high-dose use.
Best Iron Supplement for Pregnancy with Zero Additives or Fillers
Many supplements contain additional nutrients to aid in absorption, fillers for bulk, and sometimes artificial preservatives or colours. While these additives may serve specific functions, they also introduce the possibility of sensitivities or allergic reactions. For those who are vigilant about what they consume, this can be a concern.
Nano Iron offers a clear advantage in this regard. Its formulation includes just two components: purified water and elemental iron in nanoparticulate form.
Best Gentle Iron Supplement for Pregnancy
Traditional iron supplements, even those marketed as "gentle," frequently contain forms of iron that are not easily absorbed by the body. This often leads to a catch 22 for pregnant women of being unable to optimise their iron levels without unpleasat digestive issues such as constipation or diarrhea.
Nano Iron offers a uniquely gentle alternative for those looking to supplement their iron intake without digestive discomfort. But this gentleness does not compromise efficacy. Nano Iron delivers a potent dose of elemental iron, meeting the body's nutritional needs without the drawbacks of traditional supplements.
When Should You Begin Prenatal Iron Supplementation?
The demand for iron increases significantly during pregnancy to support both fetal development and the mother's expanding blood volume. Medical guidelines in the United Kingdom generally recommend starting prenatal iron supplementation in the second trimester.
However, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice, as iron needs can vary depending on factors such as pre-existing iron levels and dietary intake.
How to Choose the Right Iron Supplement During Pregnancy
Choosing an iron supplement during pregnancy is a crucial decision, as iron is essential for the health of both the mother and the developing fetus. When making your selection, it is important to consider the following factors:
- Bioavailability: This refers to the amount of iron that is absorbed into the bloodstream. Nano Iron has a high bioavailability, meaning that more of the iron it contains will be available to your body.
- Form of iron: Nano Iron is a nanoparticulate form of iron, which means that the iron particles are very small. This makes them easier for the body to absorb.
- Compatibility with other nutrients: Nano Iron is compatible with other nutrients, such as vitamin C, which can help to further enhance iron absorption.
- Gastrointestinal tolerance: Iron supplements can sometimes cause gastrointestinal side effects, such as constipation and nausea. Nano Iron is often better tolerated than other forms of iron, making it a good choice for pregnant women.
Nutrients That Improve Iron Absorption During Pregnancy
The effectiveness of iron supplementation is not solely dependent on the type or dosage of iron, but also how well the body can absorb it. Several nutrients are known to facilitate the absorption of iron, thus enhancing the overall efficacy of the supplement.
Vitamin C: This nutrient forms a complex with iron, increasing its solubility and absorption. Consuming foods rich in Vitamin C like citrus fruits alongside your iron supplement can improve bioavailability.
Heme Iron: Found in animal sources, heme iron is generally more easily absorbed than non-heme iron found in plant sources. If your supplement contains heme iron, it may lead to better absorption rates.
Copper and Manganese: These trace elements are not as well-studied as Vitamin C, but some evidence suggests they could also aid in iron absorption.
Amino Acids: Some amino acids, like lysine, have been found to improve iron absorption, making protein-rich foods a good companion to iron supplements.
Optimal Time of Day for Iron Intake During Pregnancy
The timing of iron supplementation can significantly influence its absorption and efficacy, and several factors come into play when determining the optimal time for intake.
Empty Stomach: Taking iron on an empty stomach can improve its absorption; however, this can also lead to gastrointestinal discomfort for some individuals.
Meal Timing: If taken with a meal, it's advisable to consume iron-rich foods or those that enhance iron absorption. However, certain foods like dairy, tea, and coffee can inhibit iron absorption and should be avoided.
Medication Interactions: If you are taking other medications, particularly antacids or calcium supplements, the timing should be staggered to avoid interference with iron absorption.
Consistency: Maintaining a consistent schedule for iron supplementation
Natural Alternatives to Iron Supplements During Pregnancy
There are a number of natural alternatives to iron supplements that you can eat during pregnancy to help meet your iron needs. Some of the best sources of iron include:
- Red meat: Red meat is the best source of heme iron, which is the type of iron that is most easily absorbed by the body. Good choices include beef, lamb, and pork.
- Poultry: Poultry is another good source of heme iron. Chicken and turkey are both good choices.
- Fish: Fish is a good source of both heme iron and non-heme iron. Non-heme iron is not as easily absorbed as heme iron, but it can still be absorbed by the body, especially when eaten with foods that contain vitamin C. Good choices include salmon, tuna, and mackerel.
- Beans and lentils: Beans and lentils are good sources of non-heme iron. They are also a good source of fiber and other nutrients.
- Leafy green vegetables: Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collard greens, are good sources of non-heme iron. They are also a good source of vitamin C, which can help the body absorb iron.
- Dried fruits: Dried fruits, such as apricots, raisins, and prunes, are good sources of non-heme iron. They are also a good source of fiber and other nutrients.
In addition to eating iron-rich foods, you can also help your body absorb iron by eating foods that contain vitamin C. Vitamin C helps the body to convert non-heme iron into a form that is more easily absorbed. Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, and broccoli.
Frequently Asked Questions on Iron Supplementation During Pregnancy
What role does iron play in fetal development during pregnancy?
Iron is crucial for fetal brain development and the formation of healthy red blood cells. It also helps prevent anemia in the mother, which can lead to complications such as preterm birth and low birth weight.
How does the iron requirement change across different trimesters?
Iron requirements generally increase as pregnancy progresses. Iron tablets are generally not prescribed in the first trimester unless the mother has been diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia. However, as you enter the second and third trimesters, the demand for iron increases significantly to support the expanding blood volume and fetal growth.
Is it possible to develop iron-deficiency anemia during pregnancy, and what are the risks?
Yes, it's possible to develop iron-deficiency anemia during pregnancy. Risks associated with this condition can include increased fatigue, low birth weight, preterm delivery, and in severe cases, developmental delays in the child.
Are there specific tests to determine my iron levels during pregnancy?
Common tests for determining iron levels include a complete blood count (CBC) and a serum ferritin test. Your healthcare provider will guide you on when and how often these tests should be conducted.
What are the common side effects of iron supplements during pregnancy?
Common side effects of traditional iron supplements can include gastrointestinal issues such as constipation, nausea, and diarrhea. These effects can sometimes make it difficult to adhere to a supplementation regimen. Most or all can be avoided with Nano Iron.
Can I take iron supplements alongside other prenatal vitamins and minerals?
Yes, iron supplements can generally be taken with other prenatal vitamins, but it's important to consult your healthcare provider for specific advice, as some vitamins and minerals can interact with iron absorption.
Which iron supplement is best during pregnancy?
Nano Iron is considered one of the best supplements during pregnancy due to its high bioavailability and lower incidence of side effects like gastrointestinal discomfort, which can be particularly beneficial for expecting mothers.
What is the best time to take iron tablets during pregnancy?
The optimal time to take iron tablets is usually in the second and third trimesters, as iron demands increase. Iron supplements are best absorbed on an empty stomach, but if they cause stomach upset, they can be taken with a small amount of food. Avoid taking them with calcium-rich foods or drinks, as calcium can interfere with iron absorption.
What is the best iron supplement for pregnancy in the third trimester?
Nano Iron is particularly beneficial in the third trimester when the demand for iron peaks due to rapid fetal growth and the need to build maternal and fetal iron stores for delivery and lactation.
What is the iron supplement dosage for pregnancy?
The typical dosage for an iron supplement during pregnancy is 30 to 60 mg of elemental iron per day, as recommended by healthcare providers based on individual needs.
When should I stop taking iron tablets in pregnancy?
Iron supplements are usually continued until the hemoglobin and ferritin levels return to normal. Some healthcare providers recommend continuing iron supplements until the postpartum checkup, while others may advise continuing them for several weeks postpartum, especially if the mother experienced significant blood loss during delivery. Always follow the guidance of your healthcare provider.
(1) Abu-Ouf, N. M., & Jan, M. M. (2015). The impact of maternal iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia on child’s health. Saudi Medical Journal, 36(2), 146-149. https://doi.org/10.15537/smj.2015.2.10289
(2) Weinberg ED. Can iron be teratogenic? Biometals. 2010 Apr;23(2):181-4. doi: 10.1007/s10534-009-9285-5. Epub 2009 Dec 19. PMID: 20024603.