The Best Iron Rich Foods for Pregnancy and Mother-Baby Health

Iron is essential in the human diet at all stages of life, but it’s perhaps more important than ever while a woman is pregnant. In fact, most women need about twice as much iron as they usually do while they are pregnant. Pregnant women’s bodies demand more iron because of the increase in blood supply they experience while carrying a child. This requires many pregnant women to eat more iron-rich foods during pregnancy and to take iron supplements to maintain optimal health for themselves and their growing babies.

This article will explain why iron is so important for women’s bodies during pregnancy and the best iron rich foods for pregnancy to eat when expecting a new baby.

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Low Iron in Pregnancy & What to Eat

According to the American Pregnancy Association, a woman’s body increases its blood volume by 30 to 50 percent during pregnancy, requiring the heart to work harder to nourish the fetus. Because of this higher blood volume, pregnant women need to consume more iron and folic acid in order to prevent iron deficiency anemia. The symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include fatigue, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, and weakness. These symptoms can all make a woman’s pregnancy much more difficult, and such a deficiency can even put her baby at risk of low birth weight and premature delivery.

Risk Factors for Low Iron During Pregnancy

Most pregnant women need approximately 27 milligrams of iron per day to avoid the potential risks of affecting a baby due to anemia. Certain factors put some pregnant women at more of a risk of low iron during pregnancy than others. For example, women who have a history of pre-pregnancy anemia, women who have a history of heavy menstrual flows, and women who frequently vomit due to morning sickness are more likely to become deficient in iron while pregnant.

Iron Rich Foods During Pregnancy

Fortunately, there are many nutritious foods that women can eat while they are pregnant to fuel their bodies and the bodies of their babies with the necessary iron. To begin, women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should take prenatal vitamins that contain iron. For some women, the iron contained in prenatal vitamins is insufficient for their needs, at which time a doctor may prescribe additional iron supplements.

The iron contained in meat and other animal-based products is absorbed most easily in the body. Therefore, some of the best iron rich foods for pregnancy are lean red meat, fish, and poultry. However, vegan and vegetarian women can also get the iron their bodies need during pregnancy from non-meat sources. For example, meat-free iron rich foods during pregnancy include dried beans, peas, prune juice, and iron-fortified breakfast cereal. It also helps to pair iron-rich foods for pregnancy with foods high in vitamin C, such as oranges and strawberries, to aid iron absorption.

To help women adjust their diets and plan meals around iron rich foods during pregnancy, here is a list of healthy foods that contain substantial amounts of iron for daily consumption:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Beets
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Lentils
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Fish
  • Tofu
  • Liver
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Oatmeal
  • Raisins
  • Prunes
  • Figs
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The PMS Diet and How Iron-Rich Foods and Supplements Can Help

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Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) affects many menstruating women to varying degrees of severity. While some women only have minor bloating and irritability, others experience extreme mood swings, food cravings, and even depression. PMS is felt differently in every woman’s body, but it is important to remember that PMS symptoms do not need to control one’s life. These symptoms can often be lessened and prevented by following a healthy PMS diet and making positive lifestyle changes.

Here is some information about iron deficiency PMS, as well as how to prevent PMS and treat its various symptoms each month.


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What Causes PMS?

PMS is caused by changes in a woman’s hormones, which also signal changes in brain chemistry. PMS can have an impact on serotonin levels in the brain, which can affect a woman’s moods, food cravings, sleep habits, and tendencies towards depression. The most common physical symptoms of PMS are pains in the muscles and joints, fatigue, headache, bloating, tender breasts, and flare-ups of acne. The emotional symptoms of PMS include depressed moods, increased crying, social withdrawn, libido changes, and anxiety.

The Iron Deficiency PMS Connection  

There are strong connections between what a woman eats in the days leading up to her monthly period and the occurrence and severity of PMS symptoms. Women’s bodies need a wide range of minerals for good menstrual health, especially iron and zinc. Iron, for example, is involved in many bodily processes and are also believed to help reduce the physical pain and emotional symptoms of PMS. This is because iron is instrumental in the production of serotonin, which means that low levels of this mineral can make women more susceptible to PMS and make symptoms worse.

Why an Iron-Rich PMS Diet Can Help

Scientists and researchers have found that non-heme iron foods and supplements can reduce a woman’s chances of developing PMS. The University of Massachusetts at Amherst researchers conducted a study on this topic and found that women who consumed more than 20 milligrams of iron per day had a 35 percent lower chance of being diagnosed with PMS. This study involved approximately 3,000 women that completed food intake questionnaires over a 10-year period.

It is important to note that non-heme, or plant-based, iron is recommended for the prevention of PMS. This is the type of iron that was proven effective for this purpose in the study, and plant-based foods also help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation more effectively than meats. In addition to consuming more plant-based iron sources, such as spinach and legumes, women can fuel their body with iron supplements like Fergon.

More Solutions for How to Prevent PMS

In addition to consuming more iron to control PMS symptoms, there are many other things that women can to do prepare their body for their monthly cycles. Women can try eating smaller and more frequent meals throughout the day to reduce bloating and limit their intake of salty foods, caffeine, and alcohol. These are essential parts of the PMS diet. Foods rich in calcium and zinc are also great for PMS prevention.

Other tips on how to prevent PMS include exercising for at least 30 minutes per day, getting enough sleep, and practicing yoga or meditation to relieve stress. Try writing down notes each month about PMS symptoms and triggers to help isolate what may be causing PMS and then relay that information to a doctor if symptoms become more severe in the future.

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What Women Should Know About Perimenopause Iron Deficiency

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In regard to maintaining consistent iron levels among women, the focus is often on teenage girls, pregnant women, and menopausal women. However, perimenopausal women are certainly not immune to the challenges of keeping their iron levels up either.

Many changes are going on in a woman’s body during the premenopausal years, but the symptoms are often overlooked or misinterpreted.

This article will describe what perimenopause is, when premenopausal symptoms typically begin, and why iron levels can become lower during this time of a woman’s life. It will also explain how perimenopausal women can monitor their iron levels and when it time to consider iron supplements as an option.

What Is Perimenopause?

Perimenopause is a transitional time between menstruation and menopause, and it is characterized by hormonal shifts at the beginning of the end of a woman’s reproductive years. Although women typically experience lower fertility during perimenopause, they still ovulate and are still able to become pregnant.

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When Do Premenopausal Symptoms Begin?

Premenopausal symptoms begin in most women in the late 40s, but some women can begin to notice significant changes in their 30s. This transitional period may last a few months or a few years and be more noticeable in some women than others. Most women experience the perimenopause transition for about four years leading up to full menopause.

The production of progesterone and estrogen naturally decrease in the female body with age. But women who have a family history of early menopause, who smoke cigarettes, or who have never been pregnant may experience premenopausal symptoms earlier than their peers.

Can Perimenopause Cause Fatigue?

Fatigue is one of the most common premenopausal symptoms that women in their 30s and 40s experience because of hormone fluctuations. In addition to fatigue, other common symptoms include mood swings, irritability, irregular menstrual cycles, headaches, insomnia, vaginal dryness, and hot flashes. A physician can typically diagnose perimenopause based on a description of the symptoms and by taking a blood test to determine hormone levels.

Preventing Perimenopause Iron Deficiency

Because perimenopausal women commonly experience irregular periods and an unusually heavy blood flow, more iron is lost in each monthly cycle. This phenomenon may lead perimenopausal women to become iron deficient, even if they have never had an issue with retaining an adequate supply of iron in the past. Perimenopausal women should get their iron levels tested by a trusted medical professional at least once per year to determine if a perimenopause iron deficiency is to blame for fatigue and other symptoms. Fergon, a high potency iron supplement, may be recommended to treat a perimenopause iron deficiency.

The Optimal Perimenopause Diet

One of the most highly recommended diets for perimenopausal women is the anti-inflammatory diet, which includes plant-based proteins, fatty fish, fruits, vegetables, and fresh herbs and spices. Some of the best foods to incorporate in a perimenopause diet are beans, nuts, salmon, oatmeal, spinach, and cherries. In addition to diet, getting aerobic exercise, practicing strength training exercise, and engaging in stress-reduction techniques can help offset the effects of perimenopause symptoms.

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Understanding Chemotherapy Induced Anemia

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As if having cancer wasn’t challenging enough on its own, the treatments for cancer often cause an entirely new set of symptoms as side effects.

For example, there is a strong connection between chemotherapy and anemia, and this type of anemia has distinct differences from other forms of the disorder. Many cancer patients develop anemia even when they’ve had healthy iron levels earlier in life.

This article will answer the question of “Can chemotherapy cause anemia?” and discuss the condition known as chemotherapy induced anemia. It will also describe how chemotherapy anemia occurs, the symptoms of chemotherapy induced anemia, recommended treatment options.

Common Chemotherapy Side Effects

Chemotherapy medications are designed to kill cells that grow quickly and target fast-growing cancer cells in the body. However, the medication cannot always distinguish between healthy and unhealthy cells, which is why side effects often occur with this cancer treatment.

The most common chemotherapy side effects include hair loss, fatigue, easy bleeding and bruising, nausea, and vomiting. Low red blood cell counts and iron deficiency anemia are other common side effects, and studies have shown that approximately 30 to 90 percent of cancer patients have anemia. While undergoing chemotherapy, a patient may also experience weight changes, mood changes, fertility problems, and appetite changes too.

Causes of Chemotherapy Anemia

People who are receiving chemotherapy treatment often see a reduction in healthy blood cells, which prevents normal transfer of oxygen to the various cells in the body. Platinum-based chemotherapy is more closely connected to the development of anemia than other types. Also, certain types of tumors, such as tumors of the ovaries or lungs, are more likely to lead to anemia. Finally, individuals who had low hemoglobin levels before they developed cancer are at a greater risk of chemotherapy induced anemia as well.

Symptoms of Chemotherapy Induced Anemia

The symptoms of chemotherapy induced anemia may include shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, dizziness, a fast heartbeat, and selling in the hands and feet. Walking and other activities may feel more exhausting, and the skin may take on a pale appearance as well. It is important to report any of these symptoms to an oncologist to determine whether a change in treatment plan is necessary.

Chemotherapy Induced Anemia Treatment Guidelines

Chemotherapy may be a patient’s best chance of beating cancer, so it isn’t necessarily recommended to stop chemotherapy treatments to treat a subsequent condition of anemia. The goals of anemia treatment in cancer patients is to treat the cause of the condition and also raise the hemoglobin level to alleviate symptoms.

Depending on how severe the anemia is, oncologists may recommend taking iron supplements like Fergon, eating more iron-rich foods, or having red blood cell transfusions. Red blood cell transfusions are a common way to treat anemia in people who have cancer, but this is typically only recommended for patients who have a hemoglobin level of less than 8 g/dL. This is the standard for moderate anemia, and life-threatening anemia is defined as having a hemoglobin level of less than 6.5 g/dL.

There are also medications that can treat anemia in cancer patients, but compared to transfusions, they take longer to have an effect. IV infusions of iron may be recommended, as well as erythropoietin hormone drugs to encourage the body to start making its own healthy new red blood cells. Fortunately, anemia is oven treatable for cancer patients, even alongside ongoing chemotherapy treatments.

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Mouth Sores & Iron Deficiency: What Causes Mouth Sores?

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Sores in the mouth can be caused by quite a few different things, including vitamin and nutrient deficiencies, an injury, and poor immune system functioning. But one cause of mouth sores that many people aren’t aware of is low iron levels.

Anemia can lead to mouth sores, and also cause soreness and swelling of the tongue and other parts of the mouth. These can all be warning signs that a person needs to eat more iron-rich foods or supplement the diet with a high potency iron supplement like Fergon.

This article will explore the connection between mouth sores and iron deficiency, as well as mouth sores symptoms and mouth sores causes and treatment.

Reasons for Mouth Sores: What causes mouth sores?

Mouth sores can be categorized as a canker sore, cold sore, herpes, syphilis, or other diseases. Mouth ulcers can appear on the insides of the cheeks, under the tongue, or under the lips. Other reasons for mouth sores include stress, ulcerative colitis, lupus, Crohn’s disease, and food allergies. Brushing the teeth excessively can irritate the sensitive tissue inside the mouth and lead to sores. A deficiency in iron, folate, or vitamin B12 can also cause mouth sores.

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Distinguishing Anemia Mouth Sores

With an iron deficiency, mouth ulcers appear as sore and white patches inside the mouth. The reason that anemia causes mouth sores is because low red blood cell counts slow down the transport of oxygen to the various cells in the body. The result is bodily weakness, fatigue, and other symptoms like sores in the mouth. Anemia mouth sores will go away once the iron deficiency is treated. However, mouth sores caused by other health issues will require additional forms of treatment.

Mouth Sores Symptoms

In addition to white patches inside the mouth, individuals who have mouth sores symptoms due to anemia may also experience dry mouth and tenderness in the tongue and throat. Other symptoms of anemia may also be present, such as shortness of breath, fatigue, and pale skin. Headaches, brittle nails, easy bruising, hair loss, and cold intolerance can also be symptoms associated with anemia mouth sores.

Treating Mouth Sores Caused by Anemia

To treat anemia mouth sores, it is necessary to treat the condition of anemia first. This may include taking iron supplements to restore iron levels in the body back to normal levels. It is also a good idea to plan meals around getting adequate amounts of iron from food as well. Good sources of iron include liver, shellfish, leafy green vegetables, dried fruit, and beans. People with anemia also need to ensure that their diets contain enough vitamin C because vitamin C aids the absorption of iron in the body. But when a mouth sore is present, highly acidic foods, like oranges and lemons, can make the sores more painful and irritated.

It may also help to rinse the mouth with saltwater and baking soda, apply over-the-counter topical anesthetic products to the sores, or place ice on the sores to ease the pain. However, it is important to see a doctor if the mouth sores last more than a couple weeks or if they are accompanied by fever or severe pain.

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The Importance of Iron in the Breastfeeding Diet

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Many women become anemic during pregnancy and due to childbirth because of blood loss and increased nutrient needs. But once a baby is born, it is very important to follow a healthy breastfeeding diet to supply both mother and baby with all of the essential vitamins and nutrients.

Mothers who have anemia can still breastfeed their babies, but iron supplementation may be needed for both the mother and baby to avoid anemia symptoms.

Here is some information about iron deficiency in lactating women and the importance of iron in the breastfeeding diet. This article will also include which vitamins for breastfeeding mothers are most commonly needed and why breastfeeding nutrition matters so much.

Anemia in Lactating Mothers

Maternal iron depletion is very common due to blood loss from childbirth, inadequate nutrient intake, and during lactation. Some new mothers believe that their symptoms of fatigue and low energy are due to post-partum depression. But these can actually be symptoms of anemia instead, which is often easily treatable with iron supplements and iron-rich foods.

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Breastfeeding Nutrition

When babies are healthy and carried to full term, they often have enough iron stores to last for at least six months. Many pediatricians agree that babies need iron supplements after six months of age. Iron is typically absorbed better in a baby’s body through breastmilk than from other sources because breastmilk also contains vitamin C to help with iron absorption. Babies will very rarely develop anemia just because their mothers have anemia.

However, if a baby is born prematurely, he or she is at a greater risk of iron deficiency anemia. Also, babies with low birth weights or who are fed cow’s milk instead of formula fortified with iron are at a higher risk of low iron levels.

Vitamins for Breastfeeding Mothers

Mothers who have low iron levels after giving birth should talk with their doctors about taking a high potency iron supplement, like Fergon, to support their own bodies and their babies. Nursing mothers should also eat a breastfeeding diet with iron-rich foods like leafy green vegetables, dried fruits, beef liver, and lentils. Consume a food or beverage that is high in vitamin C right before or after eating iron-rich foods to help with the absorption of iron in the mother’s body.

In addition to iron and vitamin C, other important vitamins for breastfeeding mothers are calcium and zinc. The intake of these minerals is for the benefit of the mother and do not typically affect breastmilk levels. New moms who are cutting back calories may need additional magnesium, vitamin B6, and vitamin E in their diets as well. For new moms wondering how to increase breast milk, consider switching breasts at least three times during each feeding, nursing more frequently, and add pumping sessions between nursing sessions.

Some new mothers continue taking prenatal vitamins while breastfeeding their babies to help prevent anemia, but these vitamins aren’t typically enough to treat an existing anemia condition. Proper dosage and length of treatment should be discussed with a doctor before taking any new supplement while breastfeeding a baby.

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Why Anemia Causes Pale Skin and Other Signs of Low Iron

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Not only are the effects of anemia internal, but they produce outward symptoms as well that are visible to the naked eye. One of these external symptoms is pale skin, which is an abnormal lightness of the skin as compared to a person’s typical complexion.

Looking pale can make people feel less confident about the way they look and exhibit physical qualities of frailty, weakness, and tiredness.

Here is a discussion of the symptom of paleness associated with anemia and why pale skin is one of the outwardly visible signs of low iron. This article will also address treatments for skin looking pale as a result of low iron and anemia.

Why Am I Pale?

Human skin begins looking pale due to reduced blood flow, reduced access to oxygen, or a lower number of red blood cells than normal. The blood circulating throughout the body gives color to the skin and mucous membranes, so abnormal conditions of the blood and blood cells can alter a person’s natural color.

Various forms of paleness can be localized in just the face, in a single limb, or exist all over the body. Specific areas where paleness is common include the palms of the hands, the tongue, the fingernails, the inner membranes of the lower eyelids, and the mucous membranes inside the mouth.

Anemia is a very common cause of paleness because this is a condition that prohibits the body from producing an adequate number of red blood cells. Other causes of paleness besides anemia are cold exposure, lack of sunlight, shock, and arterial blockages.

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The Visible Effects of Anemia

However, pale skin isn’t the only external sign of anemia that a person may exhibit. People who have anemia may also lose their hair and have brittle nails. The hair that doesn’t fall out may lack luster and shine, displaying a dull and lifeless appearance.

Another one of the external effects of anemia is cracks around the mouth. Anemia may also make a person appear more irritable, anxious, or clumsy. Anemia sufferers are more likely to develop bruises, which are visible on the exterior of the skin.

Treatments for Skin Looking Pale

Since paleness is not a medical disorder in and of itself, it is important to determine the root cause of one’s paleness to seek an effective treatment. A thorough evaluation of other symptoms that accompany paleness must be conducted to determine if serious conditions like arterial blockages or chronic anemia exist. Other conditions that are associated with pale skin as a symptom include dehydration, hypothyroidism, thalassemia, a vitamin B-12 deficiency, depression, eating disorders, and hypoglycemia. Of course, each of these conditions is treated in a very different and specific way.

If an iron deficiency is to blame for pale skin, then Fergon, a high potency iron supplement, may be able to help restore skin to its natural color. Vitamin B-12 and folate supplements may be recommended as well, depending on the cause of one’s paleness. Overall, eating a well-balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables is a great preventative measure to keep skin looking fresh and healthy every day.

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Hypothyroidism and Anemia: An Important Link to Consider

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Hypothyroidism is the condition of having an underactive thyroid. It results when a person’s thyroid gland isn’t producing enough hormones to keep the body functioning as it should.

Having too little of the thyroid hormone can make someone feel tired, cold, dry, constipated, forgetful, and even depressed. The condition can also cause other serious medical conditions, such as anemia. Unfortunately, there is no definitive cure for hypothyroidism, but there are ways to manage it and help the condition be less severe.

Here is an explanation of the link between hypothyroidism and anemia and how this condition can lead to a severe iron deficiency.

Hypothyroidism Symptoms

Based on how severe a person’s hormone deficiency is, a range of symptoms can present themselves. The symptoms are often barely noticeable at first but develop and multiply over time. Some of the early warning signs of hypothyroidism are weight gain and fatigue. People who have this condition may also begin to feel cold more frequently, feel constipated, have drier-than-normal skin, and experience muscle weakness. Hypothyroidism symptoms also include thinning hair, a slower heart rate, irregular menstrual periods in women, and higher blood cholesterol levels.

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Who Is at Risk of Hypothyroidism?

Medical data shows that women over the age of 60 are most likely to develop hypothyroidism. However, anyone can have this condition, even infants and children. Babies can be born without a fully functional thyroid gland and have hypothyroidism. These babies may exhibit yellowed skin, an enlarged tongued, and a puffy face. Babies may also be constipated and excessively tired when they have hypothyroidism. In children, hypothyroidism can cause delayed mental and physical growth.

The Phenomenon of Hypothyroidism Causing Anemia

Numerous studies have been conducted to explore the connection between hypothyroidism and anemia. Hypothyroidism is known to cause microcytic, normocytic, and macrocytic anemia. In fact, anemia is often one of the first signs that an individual has hypothyroidism. Both hypothyroidism and anemia are connected to iron levels in the blood, and the rate of anemia in individuals with symptomatic hypothyroidism is approximately double that of the general population.

Treatments for Hypothyroidism Iron Deficiency

If iron deficiency anemia has been caused by the condition of hypothyroidism, then it is necessary to treat the hypothyroidism in an efficient way. It is necessary to consult a doctor for a thyroid function test to diagnose hypothyroidism and determine how much the disease has progressed. Modern blood tests are able to detect hypothyroidism much earlier than in the past.

To bring iron levels back up to a healthy level and keep them that way, hypothyroidism patients may be advised to take iron supplements like Fergon. The conventional treatment for hypothyroidism is a synthetic thyroid hormone called levothyroxine and used daily. This is an oral medication used to restore the thyroid hormone to healthy levels, and most people begin to see results after just a couple weeks after starting treatment. However, it’s important to take the correct dosage of this hormone because an excess could cause insomnia, heart palpitations, and shakiness. Hypothyroidism patients should talk to their doctors about foods or supplements they are taking because these things may affect the body’s ability to absorb levothyroxine and ultimately reverse the effects of hypothyroidism.

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