Iron Levels are Crucial During Pregnancy

By Dr. Jake Rabinowitz

Summary

  • The growing baby gets all their iron from their mother 
  • Iron is crucial for healthy development, especially in the growing brain 
  • Mothers with high iron levels are less likely to have babies with iron deficiency 
  • Mothers with high iron levels are less likely to suffer from postpartum depression 
  • Iron Lift is a safe solution for highly absorbed iron and other essential micronutrients

How are iron levels are linked to the success of a pregnancy?

Iron levels during pregnancy are intricately linked to the success of the pregnancy and healthy development of the baby. In this post, we discuss why babies need iron, the adverse effects of low iron, and how much iron is the right amount.

Why is iron key critical to a baby’s healthy development?

The developing fetus and baby needs iron for nearly every aspect of growth, especially brain development.  Iron is essential for proper neurogenesis, including the formation of specific brain cells, regions, and pathways. This means that healthy iron levels can improve a baby’s sleep patterns, mood, and cognitive skills. Iron is also essential to the development of other organs, including blood, muscles, and the liver. 

How does a mother’s iron level impact the baby?

All that iron has to be supplied by the mom. During pregnancy, mothers should absorb 4x the normal amount of iron per day. That iron is mostly transferred to the baby by sharing of transferrin, an iron-transporting protein, through the placenta. This means that transferrin saturation, which is lowered in people with iron deficiency,  directly affects how iron gets to the baby. During breastfeeding, iron is similarly provided by the mom to the baby in breast milk. 

How does low iron threaten pregnancy?

Miscarriage might be every pregnant mother’s biggest fear. Unfortunately, low iron levels increase the risk of miscarriage because the body may not have enough nutrients to sustain the baby and itself. Less extreme consequences of low iron include premature birth and low birth weight, both of which risk the baby’s health during infancy and early childhood. 

What are the long-lasting effects of the baby’s iron levels?

Because of the body’s sophisticated system for storing iron, providing sufficient iron during pregnancy can reap long term benefits. For example, anemic mothers are more likely than non-anemic mothers to have babies with iron deficiency. Starting your baby with enough iron will help ensure they have enough to support all their crucial early-year growth. 

How much iron is too much iron? 

Despite all these benefits, iron should not be taken in excess. (Depending on a mother’s iron status, intake over 45-65 mg per day may start to be considered excess.) This is because iron can create free-radical molecules, which are harmful to the body and cause the side-effects commonly associated with iron supplements. 

During pregnancy, increased risk of various complications have been linked to increased oxidative stress. While the placenta has natural mechanisms to protect against oxidative stress, it’s best to minimize stress by taking highly absorbed iron, rather than excess iron. 

In rare cases, excess iron may also cause a mother to have high hemoglobin levels. This poses an additional risk to the baby’s health because blood with excess hemoglobin cannot as easily transfer through the umbilical cord. 

Can iron help the mother postpartum?

Moreover, iron levels are crucial to postpartum wellness. Anemia has been shown in many studies to significantly increase the risk of postpartum depression. This may relate to how iron-deficient blood disrupts oxygen flow to various parts of the brain, or to how iron is involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters like dopamine. Though the mechanism is unclear, the consequences have been shown: improved iron levels drastically reduce the risk of postpartum depression. 

Why is Iron Lift the right solution during pregnancy?

Smart Eats’ doctors designed Iron Lift to help during pregnancy. Iron Lift provides highly absorbed iron in moderate doses that deliver all the help, without the harm. It includes over 10 antioxidants to reduce oxidative stress and the possibility of side-effects. It also includes blood-building vitamins to help incorporate the iron into hemoglobin and prevent anemia. In addition, it has protein for muscles, prebiotic nutrients for the gut, and simple carbs for energy. 

Most importantly, Iron Lift is safe. Ingredients are sourced from world-class vendors, production occurs in a Safe Quality Food (SQF)-certified US plant, and the end product undergoes strict quality control testing. Based on this testing, Iron Lift meets California’s Prop 65 standard for lead exposure, which is the world’s strictest regulation for ensuring that supplements are free of harmful contaminants.  

Sources

Author

  • Dr. Jake Rabinowitz

    Dr. Jake Rabinowitz is a chemical engineer, PhD, and founder of Smart Eats, where he develops nutrition products with an industry-leading food scientist and a renowned gastrointestinal doctor / nutritionist. You can learn more about Jake's work career on his LinkedIn Profile and his highly-cited research contributions on his Google Scholar Profile.

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