Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My Baby is Stealing My Iron

I had a check-up with my OB last week - I'm now 28 weeks along in my pregnancy. I was shocked to find out that my iron is low and that I'm technically anemic. I've felt so good this last trimester and starting into my third that I wouldn't have imagined that my labs would show anemia.

I did a little research on iron deficiency and surprise - surprise, infants in the womb begin to stock pile all the iron in their liver that they will need their first year of life prior to birth as breast milk is fairly low in iron. The little thief! :) I did a little research on iron's purpose in the body and how to supplement naturally with foods as that is always my first line of defense.

Functions in the Body

  • Primary ingredient in the formation of hemoglobin the oxygen carrying component of blood.
  • Iron attracts oxygen. Without an iron reserve, oxygen cannot be attracted to the body. With iron deficiency naturally comes oxygen deficiency.
  • Increases vitality and energy.Improves circulation, digestion, elimination, respiration, and augments tissue oxidation.
  • Helps prevent colds.

Signs of deficiency

  • Depression and melancholy
  • Low oxygenation and oxidation
  • Susceptibility to colds
  • Low blood pressure
  • Anemia
  • Slow speech
  • Poor memory
  • Poor respiration with shortness of breath

Women tend to need more iron anyway...

  • Women also require more iron than men due to their menstrual cycles and consequent loss of blood.
  • Interesting pregnancy and iron fact: Newborn infants and animals have four times the supply of iron in the body than adults. The mother supplies the offspring with enough iron, stored in the liver, for the entire first year of life. Milk lacks iron, therefore, newborns would suffer from anemia otherwise.

Highest Iron Foods: Agar, almonds, apricots, bananas (red are best), beet greens, blackberries, *black cherries, black strap molasses, black walnuts, butternuts, cashew nuts, dandelion greens, dates, *dried fruits, *dulse, eggs, English walnuts, fennel, figs, goat milk, *greens, Irish moss, kale, *kelp, lentils dried, lima beans dried, millet, mung beans dried, mustard greens, parsley, peaches dried, peas dried, pinto beans dried, prunes, pumpkin squash seeds, radishes, raisins, red beans, red peppers, *rice and bran polishings, rye, sesame seeds, sorrel, soybeans, spinach, sprouted seeds, sunflower seeds, Swiss chard, wheat bran and germ, and white beans.

*These are the foods highest in iron.

So I need to get busy increasing my iron intake. I'm thinking a bag of frozen black cherries or a spinach salad with sunflower seeds and dried cherries - Yum! I'm also going to start seasoning everything with a little dulse. I've kind of forgotten to do that lately.



MXH said...

Just stumbled onto your blog. Pretty interesting. Iron deficiency is something important to be aware of during pregnancy (and should be part of a regular prenatal checkup). The foods you list have a lot of iron in them, but with many of them the body does not absorb the iron well because of other chemicals they contain. For example, spinach has a lot of iron, but it also has high levels of oxalates, which bind the iron in the stomach (so they can't be absorbed). Taking Vitamin C (or orange juice) at the same time can help (by binding to the oxalates before the iron does), but if you're really anemic, iron pills will work better.

Hanlie said...

My dad once gave me a whole box full of raisins because I had low iron levels... I'm not too fond of raisins though!

The previous commenter is correct, vitamin C helps us absorb iron, so your cherries will help in that regard.

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