What is the best iron supplement for pregnancy anemia?
Around 20% of pregnancies are affected by anemia. The most common type of anemia is low iron levels in the blood. Iron is essential for carrying oxygen around your body and to your baby. We’ve developed this guide to give you more info on Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA) and how it affects your pregnancy.
If you’ve been diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia in your pregnancy you will need an iron supplement. This will boost your iron levels and make you feel healthier and prepare your body for birth. There are a lot of choices which can leave you feeling confused about which one is right for you. We’ve researched the market for you to find which ones are the best rated. Let’s see what we found.
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Related: Coping with Low Iron Levels After Birth
Top 5 Best Iron Supplement for Pregnancy
1. Solgar Gentle Iron
- Type: Capsule
- Dose: 25MG
- Iron: Ferrous bi-glycinate
The Solgar Gentle Iron are our best rated supplements for pregnant women. We are highly recommended them if you usually have tummy troubles when taking iron. They are also non-constipating due to the type of iron used. Although it’s a small dose of iron studies have shown that 25mg of iron bi-glycinate is as effective as 50mg of iron sulphate. That means less tablets to take to tackle your anemia. The capsules are regular size around about the length of a cent. If you have borderline severe anemia check out our next recommendation.
2. Ferro-Sequels High Potency Iron
- Type: Capsules
- Dose: 65mg
- Iron: Ferrous Fumarate
The Ferro-Sequels high potency iron is the best option for high strength iron. These tablets are very effective at building up your iron levels quickly. We would highly recommend them if you are close to needing an IV iron drip or very close to your due date with anemia. They contain vitamin c which makes the body absorb more of the supplement. The slow release formula makes them very easy on the stomach and reduces side effect such as nausea and diarrhea.
3. Nature’s Plus Iron
- Type: Chewable
- Dose: 27mg
- Iron: Ferrous Fumarate
The Natures Plus chewable iron tablets are perfect if you find it hard to swallow capsules. Unlike regular iron tablets they taste really nice, which make them easier to take every day. The tablet is the size of a nickel and because they are chewable you won’t need to force the down. They contain 27mg iron so you may need to take a few a day depending on how severe your anaemia is. With added vitamin c you won’t need to worry about taking extra vitamins to help absorb as much as possible.
4. Floradix Floravital Iron
- Type: Liquid
- Dose: 10mg
- Iron: Ferrous Gluconate
Floradix liquid iron is highly recommended by obstetricians and midwives. If you struggle to swallow tablet iron then a liquid may suit you. The liquid is very gentle on the stomach and will digest without causing upset or vomiting. It’s suitable for both vegetarians and vegans as there are no binders or capsules. The taste is quite strong, however you can add it to a cherry or grape flavoured juice to mask it. This liquid is also a great option if you want an iron supplement which is gluten-free.
5. Garden of Life Vitamin Code Iron
- Type: Capsule
- Dose: 22mg
- Iron: Non- Haem
The Garden of Life Vitamin Code Iron is a great capsule alternative to the Floradix. The brand is focused on providing organic vitamin derived from plants. As this is a non-haem iron we strongly recommend using with a vitamin c supplement to improve the absorbency. It’s much easier on the digestive system and won’t leave you feeling constipated after regular use.
Type of Iron Supplement
The type of iron supplement has a huge effect on how easy it is for you to take. There are four common types available.
- Capsules – This is the most common type. They usually are the most potent type of iron and can be harsh on the stomach. You will need to check if they contain binders or ingredients which are suitable for your diet e.g. vegetarian, soy/gluten free.
- Liquid – This type is a great option for those who have trouble swallowing tablet forms. You can add juice to mask the taste as it’s usually very strong. Liquid is often suitable for most diets and are easier on the stomach. The iron levels are usually lower in liquid forms.
- Chewable – A great in-between for liquid and tablets. If you need a stronger dose but hate to swallow hard capsules a chewable supplement is great. They often have a metallic or chalky taste to them, however, women usually find them easier to stomach than capsules.
- Soft Gels – Not as commonly available as the other types. They are easier to take than capsules and have a softer effect on the tummy. Check the ingredients of the capsule as often they are usually aren’t suitable for vegetarians.
Iron Supplement Buying Guide
This is the criteria we used to find the best iron supplement for pregnancy. If you are undecided about which brand to opt for then use this list to find one that’s right for you.
We’ve already discussed above the types of iron supplement you can get. Choose one which you feel will be most suitable for you and help you keep a daily routine.
Most iron tablets have a strong metallic taste, especially in capsu
le form. Liquid iron is known to taste particularly strong. Chewable tablets are often rated best for taste as they are usually flavored to make them easier to swallow.
The type of iron which is used in the supplement can affect how well it works for you. Iron is one of those vitamins that work differently for everyone. You may find that one type works better for you than another. If you have a lot of side effects with one type, try switching to another and see if it helps. Most common types of Iron (Ferrous) used in supplements are:
Consider the size of the tablet, especially if you find it difficult to swallow large supplements. Remember you may need to take these tablets up to four times a day. If they are too large you will struggle to force them down and keep up your medicine routine.
For iron deficiency anemia it is recommended you supplement with 60-200mg of iron daily. The dose of the tablet will determine how many you need to take to meet those requirements every day. Supplement are usually between 10-60mg.
Like with most supplements you will find good brands to fit all budgets. The quality of ingredients will affect the price. A basic iron tablet is effective and fairly inexpensive however they often cause a few side effects. Expect to pay around $3-$30 for a month’s supply of iron supplements.
Benefits of Iron Supplements in Pregnancy
Improving your iron levels will stop all those nasty effects of anemia. You’ll notice that as you iron levels improve you’ll feel less breathless, dizzy and have fewer palpitations when you exert yourself.
Feel exhausted is part of pregnancy but anemia makes this a million times worse. You should start to notice an improvement in your energy levels when you take an iron supplement. Your organs are getting more oxygen and have the energy to work well.
Low iron levels can make you more likely to get an infection. Common infections like a UTI are be made worse by anemia. Infections are serious in pregnancy and can cause a lot of complications. Taking an iron supplement can prevent this happening.
Pregnancy anemia with a big blood loss after delivery terrible for your body. You’ll already feel exhausted after birth, but anemia fatigue on top will leave you feeling wiped out. A good iron supplement can prevent this before delivery or aid you after.
Improve Baby Growth
If you have severe anemia in pregnancy it prevents oxygen getting to baby. Without oxygen, your baby will have problems growing and developing in a healthy way. Babies who are born too small are at greater risk of infection which can mean a prolonged hospital stay. A good iron supplement will improve your oxygen levels which means more oxygen for your baby.
Prevent anemia can improve your milk supply after delivery. Breast milk is made from your blood supply. If it’s not healthy then your milk supply if affected. Again if you develop an infection such as mastitis you may take a longer time to heal if you are anemic.
Side Effect of Iron Supplements
You may experience nausea or vomiting whilst taking an iron supplement. Avoid taking your supplements on an empty stomach to reduce this side effect.
Cramping or stomach irritability is another common side effect of iron tablets. Try to take you tablet at mealtimes to avoid this.
Iron can make you really constipated in pregnancy. To prevent this happening you should increase your fluid intake, fiber intake and keep as mobile as possible.
Severe Anemia Treatment
Treatment for anemia will depend on your iron levels. Iron supplements the first line of treatment if your iron levels fall between 85-109 (or 8.5-10.9) during pregnancy.
An IV drip of iron may be recommended if your iron levels fall below 85 (8.5) during pregnancy. These are very simple to administer and usually only require a short stay appointment. IT helps to quickly increase your iron levels especially if you are close to delivery. The downside is that some women have a severe allergic reaction to the solutions used.
This method isn’t used as often, however, it is another between tablets and an IV drip. The injections are very effective at increasing iron levels quickly. They are however quite painful and can result in skin staining.
When your levels fall below 70 (7) then you will be offered a blood transfusion. Iron level this low can start to cause permanent damage to your body due to lack of oxygen. A blood transfusion is the quickest way to improve your iron levels. You will need to continue iron supplement after your transfusion to make sure your iron levels remain high.
Adding iron-rich foods to your diet will help to improve your iron levels. By the end of pregnancy, you need at least 30mg of iron a day. That is 3 times more than you need outside of pregnancy.
- Iron Type – Animal-based (haem) iron such as meat and fish is absorbed better than plant-based (non-haem) iron.
- Vitamin C – Increasing your vitamin c intake improves the absorbency of iron. Taking your iron supplement with a glass of orange juice it a great way to increase absorbancy. Other great sources include bell peppers and strawberries.
- Food to Avoid – Cereals, beans, tea, and coffee all contain ingredients which reduce iron absorption. You don’t need to exclude these from your diet but try to reduce your intake of them.
Pregnancy Anemia FAQ
What is anemia?
In pregnancy, the most common cause of anemia is low levels of iron (IDA). Other types of anemia include low vitamin B12 levels, low folic acid or a blood disorder known as sickle Cell.
What causes anemia in pregnancy?
Some women have a poor diet in pregnancy. This may be because of constant morning sickness or bad heartburn when they tend to eat less. Around 32 weeks of pregnancy you make a lot more blood to prepare for delivery. This increase can sometimes cause a temporary anemia in some women.
Who is at risk of anemia?
Women who are at higher risk of anemia in pregnancy are those with:
- Reduced food intake
- Heavy periods
- Small gap between pregnancies
- Multiple pregnancy
- Vegetarian or vegan diets
When you book with your doctor or midwife they will advise you about eating well in pregnancy. Eating an iron-rich diet is particularly important if you fall into any of the above categories.
What are the symptoms of anemia?
Common anemia symptoms include pale complexion, dizziness, lightheaded, fatigue, breathlessness, palpitations and hair loss. Some of these symptoms may just be a result of pregnancy hormones. Alert you caregiver if you are experiencing a few of these symptoms and they will test you for anemia.
How do they test for anemia?
A simple full blood count will inform your caregiver if you are anemic or not. Most caregivers do a routine test to pick up those who are anemic but don’t have any symptoms.
Is anemia dangerous in pregnancy?
Most women just feel rubbish when they are anemic. If the anemia is severe the worry is that you will become very ill if you hemorrhage at birth. A hospital birth is advisable so you can receive quick treat should this happen. Also, a ‘managed’ third stage, which involves having an injection to remove you placenta will reduce the risk of bleeding.