Why Foods with Iron in Prenatal Smoothies
Written by Jamie Adams, MS, RD, LDN, RPYT
If you are currently pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, you may have been told by your healthcare provider to take a prenatal vitamin with iron, or to add an iron supplement to your daily routine.
You might be wondering what is iron, and why is it important during pregnancy? And, is this something I can get from foods too?
To start, iron is a mineral naturally found in foods that is essential to form hemoglobin in the body, which carries oxygen in the blood. As your blood volume increases throughout pregnancy, so do your iron needs, by up to 1.5 times to help transport oxygen to your organs and baby.
There are two types of iron found in food, heme and non-heme:
- Heme-iron is found in animal food sources such as meat, poultry, and fish.
- Non-heme iron is found in plant-based food sources such as grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
Continue to read on to learn more about iron during pregnancy, and superfoods rich in iron to include in your diet to help meet your iron needs.
Why iron is an important prenatal vitamin during pregnancy
Iron deficiency anemia is the most common blood disorder among pregnant women and is most commonly caused by low iron stores prior to pregnancy. Iron deficiency can lead to complications for both you and baby, including preeclampsia, preterm birth, low birth weight, and decreased iron stores for baby.
A daily minimum iron intake of 27 milligrams is recommended for most healthy pregnancies to help meet the increased demand as blood volume increases. The World Health Organization recommendations are higher, up to 30 - 60 mg per day. More may be needed for women carrying multiples or those suffering from iron-deficiency anemia pre-pregnancy.
Unfortunately your body doesn’t make iron on its own. Iron must be obtained from supplements and whole foods. That is why it is important to include iron rich foods throughout pregnancy to help prevent iron deficiency anemia.
Superfoods with iron to include in a healthy smoothie for pregnancy
Having a healthy smoothie during pregnancy is a quick and simple way to pack in superfoods rich in iron to help you meet your increased needs.
Some great superfoods with iron to include in your prenatal smoothie include:
- Coconut Milk - 7.46 mg/ 1 cup canned coconut milk
- Spinach - 3.85 mg/ ½ cup cooked
- Oats - 3.4 mg/ 1 cup cooked oats
- Chia Seeds - 2.2 mg/ 2 Tbsp
- Peanut Butter - 1.2 mg/ 1 Tbsp
- Almond butter - 1.2 mg/ 2 Tbsp
- Beets - 1.09 mg/ 1 cup raw
Most foods added into smoothies are likely plant-based (or non-heme) food sources of iron. Pairing the above non-heme iron rich food sources with foods rich in vitamin C can help enhance the absorption of iron.
Foods rich in vitamin C to pair with non-heme iron rich foods include:
Looking for some healthy pregnancy smoothies optimally designed to incorporate foods rich in iron and vitamin C? Leto’s Greens smoothie combines avocados and spinach, while our Berry smoothie is packed with iron rich oats, coconut milk, and vitamin C dense strawberries. In need of a chocolate fix? Check out our Peanut Butter smoothie with smooth peanut butter, carob (a caffeine free alternative to chocolate), and cauliflower.
Takeaways from the nutrition experts at Lēto Foods, a prenatal superfood smoothie company
It is no secret that iron is an essential nutrient during pregnancy. While taking iron in the form of a supplement is an option, these can often lead to constipation, nausea, and heartburn, which is why I recommend getting as much iron through real whole foods as you can.
Incorporate iron rich foods into your diet to help prevent iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy. Enjoying smoothies while pregnant is a great way to pack in superfoods with iron to help you meet your increased needs throughout pregnancy. Even more, pairing plant-based iron rich food sources with vitamin C in your smoothie can help enhance absorption so you can get the most bang for your buck!
*Cauliflower is also an excellent plant-based source of choline. Another nutrient essential during pregnancy.
Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is for educational purposes only, and does not substitute for medical advice. Always consult a medical professional or healthcare provider related to medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment.
About the author:
Written by Jamie Adams, MS, RD, LDN, RPYT. Jamie is a registered dietitian nutritionist, blogger, and new mom with a passion for women’s health and pediatric nutrition who believes every woman deserves access to evidence-based nutrition information. You can learn more at www.wellnourishedmamas.com or connect with her @wellnourishedmamas on Instagram.