Pregnant women need 2 to 3 times more iron than normal. Additional iron supply is required for the growing foetus and placenta and to increase the maternal total red cell mass (of the blood). This leads to a marked increase in demand for iron, particularly in the third trimester.
To partially compensate for this, the body conserves iron even more than usual with iron absorption increasing by up to three times. There is also a reduction in iron losses due to the cease of menstruation during pregnancy.
Poor iron intake during pregnancy will impact on the mother’s iron status more than on the developing infant. The iron needs of the developing infant will be met at the expense of the mother.
The recommended daily iron for pregnant women is 27 mg.
Although liver provides an excellent source of iron, pregnant women should limit their intake of liver to 100 grams per week, due to the potentially toxic effects of concentrated levels of vitamin A on the developing foetus. If using liver in a pate form, it should be cooked well and heated to over 70°C before consumption, which in practical terms, excludes shop-bought products.