What Makes Iron Absorption Difficult During Pregnancy?
Pregnancy incorporates a lot of changes in your body. With all the physiological and hormonal changes taking place in you, your requirement for more vitality and energy certainly increases and one way to ensure you’re supplying yourself with enough of it is to keep a strict check on your diet, especially your nutrient intake.
What is it that boosts your vitality during pregnancy?
Talking about foods, one of the nutrients that supplies you with enough energy during pregnancy is iron, and its intake anyway is extremely important for any woman (pregnant or not). For a woman who’s menstruating before pregnancy, it is the significant amount of blood loss on regular intervals that increases her requirement for iron intake. Being the catalyst that boosts your hemoglobin - basically the rate at which your red blood cells circulate oxygen into the whole body - iron becomes a must for every woman.
During pregnancy, iron intake becomes highly important for another set of reasons. In case the mother doesn’t consume enough iron during her pregnancy, she’s inevitably putting her baby’s life at risk. If you didn’t know this already, iron deficiency can lead to severe consequences such as poor fetal development. Iron is the most important nutrient for the development of the brain and it is therefore crucial. The development issues can range from a delay in your child’s speech to severe cases of depression and anxiety when they grows up. Hence, iron intake is something that must not be neglected during pregnancy at all.
Iron deficiency also causes anemia, which affects your hemoglobin drastically and can have dangerous consequences during pregnancy such as preterm labour, infant mortality or an underweight infant. It can also be fatal to the mother.
Having understood the importance of iron, for both gestational purposes and otherwise, let us understand what hinders iron absorption in your body. There exist a lot of nutrients and chemical compounds that absolutely negate any effect iron is supposed to have on your body and hence, it is important you know about them in order to avoid their consumption in the future, especially during pregnancy.
1. Foods with calcium
Calcium hinders both the absorption of heme and nonheme irons (heme being a protein required for growth and energy). You must cut down on foods such as milk, cheese, soy, and broccoli. We know calcium is important for you, but having a balance of both calcium and iron in your body to ensure proper fetal development is important. Don’t consume anything in excess is what we’re saying and you must pay attention to it.
2. Caffeinated products
You must limit your intake of food and beverages that contain high amounts of caffeine. The reason being that caffeine contains certain elements that hinder your body from absorbing iron, thereby weakening your body.
It has been found that women who consume caffeine more than the required amount tend to experience stillbirths, spontaneous abortions and even miscarriages during or after their third trimester. They may also deliver an underweight or underdeveloped baby. So, if you’re a coffee addict and are going to a mom soon, we’re sorry to tell you but, “Quit it!”
3. Foods with polyphenols and phenolic acid
Both these chemical compounds have been found to hinder iron absorption in your body and hence, you must stay away from any food item that contains any of these two, or both. A few of them include dark chocolates (cocoa contains huge amounts of polyphenols), strawberries, hazelnuts and soy yogurt.
4. Food with phytates
Another compound that hinders the effects of iron absorption in the body during pregnancy is phytates or phytic acid. The foods that contain this chemical compound include whole grain wheat, nuts and potatoes.
Make sure you eat plenty of foods that are rich in Vitamin C, as they counter attack phytic acid, helping you absorb more iron.
Also, eat foods that are rich in ascorbic acid for this chemical compound enhances your iron intake the highest. Foods such as meat, fish, oranges and green vegetables will help you intake enough ascorbic acid. Make sure to include these foods in your diet.