Can you eat iron when pregnant?

In this article we are going to answer: can you eat iron when pregnant, what is iron, how much iron do pregnant women need, what foods are rich in iron, when do you need iron supplements when pregnant and how can you add iron to your diet.

Can you eat iron when pregnant?

Yes, you can eat iron when pregnant. It is a vital mineral that we all need, especially pregnant women. Iron is a vital nutrient that you need when pregnant to support the baby’s developing blood supply and your blood supply too. When you are pregnant, your iron daily intake doubles up. 

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. 

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

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

When do you need iron supplements 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. 

Be careful to don’t overdo your iron supplements because too high iron levels in pregnancy may increase preterm birth, gestational diabetes, and high blood pressure. Also, long-term high iron levels can damage your organs, especially your kidneys. 

Symptoms of iron overdose may include

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

How can you add iron to my diet?

The easiest way to add iron to your diet is to include at least one food in each meal and a snack rich in iron. For example, if you are eating a salad at your meals, consider adding some spinach or kale and use some lemon with your dressing to improve absorption. 

Beans and lentils are an inexpensive way to add iron to your diet. You can cook some lentils with spinach or beans with broccoli, just add some vitamin C-rich food like chili peppers, parsley, or orange.


Here is a link for some iron-rich recipes


This article answered can you eat iron when pregnant, what is iron, how much iron do pregnant women need, what foods are rich in iron, when do you need iron supplements when pregnant and how can you add iron to your diet?”


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Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.