Can you eat iron tablets when pregnant?

In this article, we are going to answer: can you eat iron tablets when pregnant, what is iron, what are iron tablets, what are the side effects of iron tablets, when do you need iron tablets, and what foods are rich in iron. 

Can you eat iron tablets when pregnant?

Yes, iron tablets are safe to eat when pregnant. Just not overdo iron if it is not medically necessary, your midwife or doctor needs to recommend it. Prenatal vitamins usually include iron and if you are healthy, taking your prenatal vitamins and eating some iron-rich food is enough. 

Too much iron from supplements can have side effects like nausea and vomiting. 

What is iron?

Iron is a mineral essential to our body. It is a major component of hemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells of the blood that carries oxygen from your lungs to all of the body. Iron is also essential to a lot of enzymatic processes in the body.

Iron is essential to all people but for pregnant women is even more important because it is part of the healthy brain development and growth of the baby by maintaining a good oxygen supply. 

The main storage of iron in the body is found in the liver, spleen, muscle tissue, and bone marrow as ferritin and is delivered throughout our body as transferrin, a protein in the blood that binds to iron. 

What are iron tablets?

Iron tablets are also known as iron pills and they are made from ferrous salt, the best iron supplement absorbed. The best ferrous salt is ferrous fumarate, ferrous sulfate and ferrous gluconate. They are usually administered with vitamin C to enhance absorption.

They are usually used to treat iron deficiency anemia or individuals who because of some medical conditions are more prone to have iron deficiency. 

It is very important to know that to enhance absorption they need to take with an empty stomach but they may cause a lot of stomach irritation. Manufacturers recommend taking it with small meals. You should avoid cereals, milk, tea, and coffee because they can decrease absorption. 

What are the side effects of iron tablets?

Iron tablets have side effects and cause a lot of discomforts. If you have morning sickness or any type of nausea or stomach discomfort, do not take your iron tablets or prenatal vitamins with iron. It can cause you to feel worse. 

Side effects of iron tablets may include

  • diarrhea 
  • stomach pain
  • vomiting blood
  • rapid breathing
  • pale hands
  • weakness
  • fatigue

Iron tablet overdose can cause preterm birth, gestational diabetes, and high blood pressure. Also, long-term high iron levels can damage your organs, especially your kidneys. 

When do you need iron tablets when pregnant?

Iron supplements are needed after you follow a high iron diet, and your blood panels and iron levels do not improve. Also, you may need an iron supplement if you have iron-deficiency anemia with iron levels or hemoglobin levels too low from the normal range. 

For pregnant women, if you are taking a prenatal vitamin, it likely has iron in it. If you are eating a high iron diet and taking your vitamins, you might not need an extra dose of iron. 

If you are taking your prenatal supplement with iron, try to take it at night because it can cause digestive problems like nausea and stomach pain. 

How much iron do pregnant women need?

Iron is essential to a lot of body functions but the most important is to transport oxygen throughout our body and organs. Women and men have different necessities for iron because women menstruate and when they lose blood, they need more iron. 

Also, when women are pregnant, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) doubles up because the baby requires extra blood circulation. Adolescents also need more iron because they are actively growing.

Men 19-50 years8 mg
Women 19-50 years18 mg
Women 51+8 mg
Pregnant women27 mg
Lactation0 mg
Adolescents 14-18 yearsboysgirls
11 mg15 mg

If you need an iron supplement, here is a link to the best iron supplement for pregnant women. 

What foods are rich in iron?

Iron is found in a lot of food. You can find it naturally or in iron-fortified food. In natural food, you can find heme or no heme. Heme iron is better absorbed by the body and there is some factor that can improve or inhibit the absorption of no heme iron. 

No-heme iron absorption can be improved by vitamin C. It can be affected negatively by fiber, large amounts of calcium, especially from supplements, and plant phytates and tannins that inhibit the absorption of nonheme iron. 

Sources of Iron-fortified food

  • Enriched rice
  • Enriched bread 
  • Enriched cereal

Sources of Heme iron

  • Oysters, clams, and mussels
  • Chicken liver
  • Organ meats
  • Canned sardines
  • Beef
  • Poultry
  • Canned light tuna

Sources of Nonheme iron

  • Beans
  • Dar chocolate
  • Lentils
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Potato with skin
  • Nuts, seed


This article answered can you eat iron tablets when pregnant, what is iron, what are iron tablets, what are the side effects of iron tablets, when do you need iron tablets, and what foods are rich in iron?”