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Iron Supplements in Pregnancy

Iron is such an important mineral - it is responsible for the transportation of oxygen throughout the body, plays an important role in normal energy metabolism, cognitive function, immune function, cell division and for the formation of red blood cells and haemoglobin.

In short, Iron is pretty important stuff at any time in life but even more important pre-pregnancy and during pregnancy.

Physiological changes during pregnancy 

Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency worldwide, affecting 1 in 4 women. During pregnancy, blood volume increases by up to 50% and there is an increase in plasma but not as muhuc of an increase in red blood cells leading to something known as haemodilution. This is normal and natural bit it does put women at high risk of developing iron deficiency. 

During pregnancy you are, of course, literally building another body so the combination of an increase in blood volume and cell division leads to a 2-3 fold increase in iron requirements. Low iron levels affect around up to 40% of pregnant women - which equates to almost a quarter of a million women every year in the U.K alone. 

Whilst we can get iron from food, it may not be absorbed well or be sufficient to meet the increased requirement for iron during pregnancy. Once you become low in iron during pregnancy diet alone can’t increase levels enough. In this case, iron supplementation is usually recommended.

The need for iron is even higher for certain groups:  

  • Two closely spaced pregnancies <1 year
  • Are pregnant with more than one baby
  • Follow a vegetarian or vegan diet 
  • Teenage pregnancy
  • Don't consume enough iron-rich foods
  • Have a heavy pre-pregnancy menstrual flow
  • Recent history of significant bleed
  • Have a history of low iron before pregnancy

UK dietary surveys indicate that many women are not getting enough iron from their diet - it can be really tough to consume enough iron. Furthermore, iron‐depleted women are often not yet low in iron when they are first seen by a midwife or doctor during early pregnancy; yet by the time they are seen again later on during pregnancy they may have already become deficient or anaemic. 

Low iron signs and symptoms include:

  • Tiredness / Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Headache
  • Pale or yellowish skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Craving or chewing ice (pica)

Symptoms of severe anaemia may include:

  • A rapid heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Difficulty concentrating

Some of these symptoms may be thought as normal pregnancy symptoms, but it’s important to mention this to your midwife or GP if you are getting any of the above symptoms. They will then be able to fully assess you, your risk factors for developing iron deficiency anaemia and support and potentially advise another blood test to check ferritin levels (iron stores) as well as haemoglobin levels.

The Benefits 

I have seen so many mums affected by the symptoms of anaemia, most commonly feeling very tried and breathless. The benefits of taking iron, if you are low or of an increased risk, are not only vital in supporting a healthy pregnancy for both mum and baby but may also lead women to have more enjoyable pregnancies by reducing symptoms that become a daily challenge - such as tiredness and fatigue. I have seen women go from feeling exhausted, weak and pale to having more stable energy levels, looking and feeling much better following iron supplementation.

The Challenges 

People often ask me, what are the best iron tablets for pregnancy. Iron supplements offer a great solution for those who struggle to meet iron requirements through diet alone. However, not all iron supplements are created equally. In many high dose iron supplements only a small percentage of the iron is actually absorbed (10–15%), which commonly leads to unpleasant gastrointestinal (GI) side effects such as nausea, constipation, heartburn and diarrhoea. These side effects of iron supplementation can be made worse during pregnancy. So many women have told me they really can’t continue to take iron. In fact, 8 out of 10 people report side effects. As a result up to 50% of women stop taking iron supplements. If a woman is anaemic and unable to take supplements that may result in the need for intravenous (IV) iron supplementation - usually during the third trimester. I have treated many women with IV supplementation.

So why Active Iron?

I’m a big fan of Active Iron for many reasons and really believe it is one of the best iron supplements for pregnancy. Active Iron is different and works with your body, not against it! Its non-constipating formula is clinically proven to deliver 2X better absorption of iron sulfate and is 6X less likely to cause gut irritation compared to other iron supplements This is an amazing given the side effects of taking iron may prevent women from taking supplements. Active Iron is also clinically proven to increase iron stores by 94%, resulting in a significant improvement in energy levels. 

Active Iron Pregnancy Plus – is a great option because it offers a complete nutritional solution for mum & baby and in my view is the one of the best iron supplements for pregnancy.   It is a specially developed, combination product with 21 essential nutrients to provide complete nutritional support to mum and baby throughout pregnancy. 

Active Iron Pregnancy Plus contains 3 components: 

•25mg of non-constipating Active Iron.

•100% sustainably sourced omega-3 DHA fish oil capsule, with AlaskOmega® omega-3 concentrates.

•A specially designed multivitamin tablet with Vitamin D and folic acid as L-methylfolate. L-methylfolate is an active, naturally occurring form of folic acid, that delivers 3X greater absorption compared to standard folic acid.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of iron supplementation Active Iron has a brilliant and informative website, please visit

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