Sources of Iron in Pregnancy

Throughout my pregnancy I have been amazingly tired leading me on a search to find more iron in my diet. During my first trimester I was sleeping about 18 hours a day – at times more. Now in the second trimester I seem to cycle through a few good days and then crash out on the 3rd day exhausted again. I realize I am building a human from scratch!! But does it have to be this bad?

The standard recommendation for pregnant women is 27 mg of iron/day (and some sources say 30mg). Most women who are NOT gluten-free have an easy time accomplishing this by eating iron-fortified foods. Guess what? There are hardly ANY gluten free fortified foods.

Gluten Free Rice ChexI went to see a nutritionist a few weeks ago at the Celiac Center at Columbia University Hospital  to see if she had any great ideas on what I could be doing to improve my “situation.” We talked about many things that I will post about but her recommendations around iron surprised me.

  • She advised me to make sure I was combining Vitamin C and Vitamin A with everything I ate that has iron, like nuts and beans (non-heme iron) to help with absorption.
  • She recommended I eat Rice Chex.

I am probably the last person you will see woofing down Rice Chex. I hate milk! But after talking it through with her she made a compelling case for how advanced the fortification of iron is in a product like Rice Chex (make sure it says Gluten Free on the box) verses other small Gluten Free food companies that are trying fortify their products.

I was pretty blown away to see that Rice Chex has between 45-50% of the recommended daily iron intake. WARNING!! This is not 45-50% of a pregnant woman’s intake!! A good guideline is to assume your intake is two times the intake of the recommended intake used for nutrition labels. Women are supposed to get 18mg vs 27 mg while pregnant. Quick math is that a product with 50% of the daily intake only meets 25% of a pregnant woman’s daily intake.

 

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