- The Role of Iron in the Body
- Causes of Low Iron Conditions
- Manifestations of Low Iron Conditions
- How to Remedy the Lack of Iron
- Choosing a Product, Containing Iron is Not Easy!
Low Iron Levels During Pregnancy
According to the World Health Organization, the frequency of iron-deficiency anemia varies from 21 to 80 %. People of both sexes at any age are subject to low iron, but the special risk group are pregnant women. As hypovitaminosis, it is one of the most common food-dependent conditions arising at future moms.
Low iron may be latent (hidden), in which pregnant women feel good, the level of hemoglobin and red blood cells remains normal, but the content of iron in the blood serum is reduced. When the inevitable and considerable daily loss of iron happens, i.e. hidden inhibited iron deficiency, hemoglobin level reduces and iron deficiency anemia develops.
The Role of Iron in the Body
- Iron is part of several important proteins, especially the hemoglobin which transfers oxygen from the lungs to all tissues, organs and cells. Giving off the oxygen, hemoglobin removes the carbon dioxide from the body . With low iron progressive hypoxia occurs at pregnant women (lack of oxygen in the blood), followed by the development of metabolic disorders. Reduction of iron in the body affects not only the quantity of hemoglobin. The role of iron metabolism is much wider. The biological significance of this microelement is determined by its participation in tissue respiration. In this regard, the low iron status, and especially iron deficiency anemia in pregnancy, is characterized by the development of tissue hypoxia, i.e. lack of oxygen in the tissues.
- Iron is part of myoglobin (muscle protein), which transports the oxygen inside muscle cells.
- Iron helps strengthen the immune system of the body, plays an important role in the functioning of the central nervous system.
Causes of Low Iron Conditions
Low iron condition occurs in women during pregnancy due to the increased demand for iron, which is needed to build the tissues of the fetus, placenta, increasing the mass of red blood cells. And if we add to this blood loss during childbirth, the total outgo of iron in pregnancy and childbirth shall be not less than 700-900 mg.
The increase in oxygen consumption during pregnancy dramatically (by 15-33 %) increases iron deficiency. At least 4 years will be required for a woman's body to restore the stock iron after delivery without the use of appropriate therapy.
Manifestations of Low Iron Conditions
External manifestations. In pregnant women they can be different: appearing paleness and dryness of skin, mucous membranes, cyanotic lips, cracks at the corners of your mouth, fractures and hair loss, brittle and transforming nails (becoming concave), increased fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, digestive problems, dizziness, changes in taste (the irrepressible desire to eat chalk, lime, toothpaste, ash, clay, sand, dough, raw meat, groats, etc.) and smell (occurs the crave for the smell of acetone, gasoline, kerosene, lacquer, paint, shoe polish, etc). Muscle weakness leads to abandon of habitual not heavy physical work. The weakness of sphincters occurs and therefore involuntary urination.
Pregnancy complications: the risk of preterm birth increases, labor pains weaken, increased bleeding during childbirth may develop. Postpartum period may be worsened by pyoseptic diseases.
Low Iron in pregnancy adversely affects the condition of the fetus and the newborn. Anemia contributes to fetal hypoxia (lack of oxygen) and to development of delay syndrome of fetus. At these children in the newborn period there is a big loss of body mass and a slower recovery, slowed mental development and the immune system is down, susceptibility to various diseases increases.
How to Remedy the Lack of Iron
Iron is pretty hard digested; its degree of absorption depends on the form in which it is. The so-called heme iron, i.e. iron, which is a part of proteins is digested best. The main source of this form of iron is the meat. Iron contained in the vegetable products is digested worse. In addition, in vegetable products, used as a source of iron, there are substances that inhibit its absorption. First of all it is dietary fiber, which we need for the normal work of intestines, removal of cholesterol and heavy metals from the body. But in doing so, they "accidentally" grab the iron.
Therefore replenish the low iron by apples is impossible: only 1-2 % of iron of them are digested! The cow's milk, tea, cheese, cereal dishes inhibit iron absorption from foods. The average degree of absorption of iron at a mixed diet of the pregnant woman is 10 %. Get the necessary amount of iron by the pregnant with a normal diet, which even includes meat products is not possible — especially if there is low iron at a pregnant woman. Therefore, for its prevention and treatment additional sources of iron in the form of special products are required.
Choosing a Product, Containing Iron is Not Easy!
World Health Organization experts recommend the use of drugs with delayed discharge of bivalent iron, because they are better endured. Daily dose of iron to prevent anemia and treatment of mild severity is 50-60 mg, and for the treatment of expressed anemia is 100-120 mg of bivalent iron. Iron medication for pregnant should be carefully selected, depending on the low iron condition.
Thus the wrong selecting of a dose of iron has undesirable side effects to the mother and fetus (she may experience nausea, vomiting, constipation; a one-time intake of large dosage threatens the loss of consciousness, the development of ulcerative lesions of gastric mucosa; in chronic overdose of the element the iron is stored in the internal organs and tissues-pancreas, liver, etc.; with an excess of iron it may accumulate in the organs and tissues of the baby).
To prevent complications, particularly of debilitated women and in cases of urgent need to use higher doses of iron, to iron preparations are added vitamin E, methionine (an essential amino acid that helps process fats), preparations of garlic. In some cases, it is recommended to use iron supplements, containing ascorbic acid and vitamins B, especially if a pregnant has avitaminosis. Also is taken into account the increased need of vitamins for the body of a pregnant woman.
Prevention of low iron using special preparations first and foremost is required for pregnant women with high risk of anemia. These could include women, who previously suffered from anemia or having chronic infectious diseases or chronic diseases of internals; women with multiple childbirths; pregnant women suffering from toxicity, and women who have for many years the menstrual cycle lasting more than 5 days. The prevention is the appointment of a small dose of iron supplements beginning from 12-14 weeks of pregnancy. At the same time the pregnant women are advised to increase the content of meat products in the daily diet.
Most iron supplements are absorbed and have the greatest effect if taken 1-2 hours before eating. If the pregnant has pains in the upper abdomen, stomach, indicating the occurrence of gastritis in response to iron intake, then it should be taken after or during a meal. After taking the drug, containing iron one should not eat apples, pears, plums, melons, fruit, jams, because pectins containing in them react with iron and almost completely remove it from the body, thereby dramatically worsening treatment results. It is desirable to reduce the intake of pasta dishes, because they inhibit iron absorption. Iron supplementation is good to be drunk with fruit juice (except juice of fruit listed above) and do not drink with milk.
You should not stop taking iron supplements after the normalization of hemoglobin and red blood cells. Normalization of hemoglobin does not mean restoring stocks of iron in the body. For this purpose the experts of the World Health Organization recommend after 2-3 months of treatment and elimination of anemia in the blood, to continue therapy, and only reduce by half the dose of iron. Because treatment of anemia is long-term and blood parameters do not change soon, but sometimes abruptly, rather than gradually, there is no sense in frequent blood analyses. The state of health of a woman is improving much sooner than a marked increase of hemoglobin in the body.
Iron and Pregnancy: The Myths and Facts!