The importance of iron during pregnancy

During your first prenatal appointment, your doctor will probably talk about dietary supplements or iron tablets because it is important.

It is much healthier for your body to absorb iron from food and it will help you avoid constipation. Why is iron so important during pregnancy? What foods are rich in iron?


Iron builds hemoglobin, the component of red blood cells that carries oxygen all around the body. If the blood lacks red cells (hemodilution), it is poorer in iron, poorer in oxygen and, of course, poorer in hemoglobin. That’s what we call anemia.


Anemia results in general fatigue, paleness, decreased appetite and weight loss. It generally affects the mood, causing irritability and a lack of interest in the outside world.

Because of menstrual bleeding, women need more iron than men and are more likely to suffer from anemia.


During pregnancy, the increase in blood plasma (the liquid component of blood) causes a normal drop in hemoglobin. This decrease begins at the 8th week of pregnancy and stabilizes between the 16th and the 22nd week. A pregnant woman should have a hemoglobin rate above 115g /L around the 22nd week. A rate under 100 g/L shows anemia. The higher the hemoglobin rate, the more in shape a woman will feel after giving birth.

Recommended Dose
  • Adult woman: 14 mg/day
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding: 30 mg/day
Dietary iron

Cereals (100g portion or 1/2 cup)


11,8 mg

Whole millet 

6,8 mg

Whole bulgur

6,8 mg


6 mg


6 mg

Oats (flour or flakes)

4,6 mg


3 mg


3,1 mg

Whole wheat (flakes or flour) 

3,1 mg

Whole rice

1,6 mg

White rice

0,4 mg

Meat and poultry (3-ounce serving)

  Be careful! The liver is a natural filter; it can contain unwanted elements, depending on the diet of the animal from which it comes. Eat it in moderation. Organic liver is the best choice.

Horsemeat also contains a lot of iron. You can buy horse in sausages, steaks or minced.

 Pork liver*

18 mg

 Veal liver*

13 mg

 Chicken liver*

9 mg

 Beef liver*

7.5 mg

 Beef kidney

7 mg


2,5 mg


2,2 mg


1,4 mg