Friday, February 11, 2011

Iron, iron and more iron

A lot of women have low iron or anemia during pregnancy and don't know it. I have anemia and know it because it's been getting worse. I spent three months taking iron supplements and eating the foods I thought would help, but I still got that dreaded test result phone call telling me that the shortness of breath, heart palpations, twitchy legs and extreme fatigue were because I didn't have enough red blood cells to carry an ample amount of oxygen to all the parts of my body. Hence - I need more iron.

Iron is one of those minerals that is not easy to absorb. In fact, I don't think I was absorbing much at all for the past several months. You can't eat it with coffee, tea or dairy - because all of these will inhibit absorption. Iron found in veggies ( hello spinach...) is very difficult to absorb with out extra help. In fact, spinach turns out not be a very good source at all. It actually inhibits iron absorption! Something I never would have guessed. Here's a list of iron absorption inhibitors:

  • Red Wine, Coffee & Tea
  • Vegetables: Spinach, chard, beet greens, rhubarb and sweet potato
  • Whole grains and bran
  • Soy products
I don't think I ever took an iron supplement or ate an iron rich food without one of those things. No wonder I kept getting worse!

These are the absorption enhancers:

  • Meat/fish/poultry
  • Fruits: Orange, Orange Juice, cantaloupe, strawberries, grapefruit etc
  • Vegetables: Broccoli, brussels sprouts, tomato, tomato juice, potato, green & red peppers
  • White wine

My midwife has change my supplement dose from 29mg a day to 650mg a day and I'm doing everything I know now to ensure it sticks. I'm really hoping for some more red blood cells to be born soon so I can stop feeling so icky.

To find what foods are good for increasing iron and what foods are not, here's some great lists and information.


Carrie, The Modern Housewife said...

are those sardines?!?!?! i bought a can recently, since they are supposed to be so good for you. i can't bring myself to open it.

Amanda Conley said...

Carrie, actually they are smoked oysters. Really high in fat - but really high in iron too. I've been eating them with mustard on crackers.
I have a can of sardines too - but they sound terrible to me right now. :/