It is important to eat foods rich in iron and calcium, as it is important to take vitamins during pregnancy. Most foods that are available to pregnant women, especially in developing countries are foods that are high in energy. Even though they are also important in pregnancy, foods rich in minerals that help the body organs function optimally are equally important.
Iron is a mineral that is essential in the production of blood, oxygen transportation from the lungs to the cells and their storage. It is also a pert of many enzymes in the body. Calcium is another important mineral that gives us strong bones and teeth. It also helps in blood clotting, heartbeat regulation, and muscle contraction.
While these two minerals are important, they should not be over-consumed as it may lead to some health challenges. Also, they should not be under-consumed to avoid some deficiency symptoms that may arise from this. when eating foods rich in iron and calcium, it is best you know what amount is recommended.
In this article, let us look at the individual importance of iron and calcium. We will also see the food sources from which we can get these individual minerals and a combination of them. We won’t leave out how much of foods rich in iron and calcium you should eat daily.
Iron and Calcium during Pregnancy
Iron During Pregnancy
Iron is a tricky nutrient to come by in foods. Despite its importance, it is difficult to get the required amount on a daily basis. However, there are diet supplements that provide iron that are easily absorbed by the human body. For expecting mothers, there are prenatal vitamins with iron that you can take to supplement your diet.
You might feel iron isn’t so important but for the fact that it is important in the transportation of oxygen from the lungs through the arteries and to the muscles, with the help of hemoglobin, is as important as protein and carbohydrates. Those times you’ve felt out of breath after climbing a set of stairs despite being physically fit, they likely point to your iron deficiency. A shortage of iron in the body leads to oxygen deprivation. Imagine what happens to you when your brain is deprived of oxygen.
Iron does not just function as a constituent of the red blood cells. It also functions as part of the organic catalysts we call enzymes to make biological processes such as metabolism faster. Metabolism is the process by which digested food materials are further broken down to release energy and carbon dioxide. While the carbon dioxide is removed from the body, the energy is important in keeping the body running.
As a pregnant woman, you cannot afford to be low on energy or oxygen. Both situations if nit quickly addressed may lead to the loss of your child, which you probably don’t want. It is important for humans to consume iron but more important for pregnant women to consume iron within the safe limits, especially from natural food sources.
Calcium During Pregnancy
Your baby’s needs take precedence over yours when you are pregnant. Your body takes nutrients from you even when it’s not enough and give them to your child. This is why you need to eat more than you normally would when you’re expecting.
Calcium is abundant in your bones and teeth and your body takes from this calcium storage to help your baby build its own bones.
Calcium does not function as builder and strengthener of bones and teeth alone, it is also important in the relay of messages from the brain through the nervous system to the target cells, tissues, and organs. It is also important in the contraction of muscle, thereby making it important in the regulation of heartbeat.
All of its importance makes it essential that calcium be a part of your diet as a pregnant mother; for your good and your child’s.
How Much Calcium and Iron do You Need During Pregnancy?
You need iron and Calcium every day, even when you are not pregnant. However, your requirement for these two minerals increase when you are carrying a child or children in you. Despite this increased need, it is important that you do not take more than is recommended to avoid iron toxicity and calcium overload in your body.
Therefore, seek a doctor’s advice before you take iron and calcium supplements to cover for the inadequacy in your diet.
During pregnancy (as an adult above 18 years old), you need at least 1,000 mg of calcium every day. However, if you’re below the age of 18, a daily recommendation of 1,300 mg is advisable.
According to the World Health Organization, iron should be taken orally at a range of 30 mg to 60 mg – that is 150 mg to 300 mg of ferrous sulfate – for pregnant women. This is to avoid cases of low birth weight, maternal anemia, and preterm birth.
Foods Rich in Iron and Calcium
The primary source of iron and calcium is your diet. However, it is common knowledge that it is almost impossible to get all the daily recommendation from what you eat. This is where supplements come in. you shouldn’t rely solely on supplements to provide you these nutrients, that is why this list is of foods rich in iron and calcium.
Foods Rich in Iron
Iron is not an easy mineral to come by, even at the elemental state. However, we have compiled a list of foods that are rich in iron.
- Sea food
- Red meat
- Organ meats
Foods rich in Calcium
Calcium-rich foods are abundant and some of them are what we eat every day. However, they may still not be able to meet the required daily dose for you as a pregnant woman. Here are some of them.
- Sesame seeds
- Chia seeds
- Collard greens
Foods Rich in Iron and Calcium – A combination
The list given above states foods that are rich in individual minerals (iron and calcium). However, there are some foods that have both iron and calcium. This section will give you those foods and how much of each of the two minerals it contains. in essence, you will get a list of foods rich in iron and calcium.
|Food Item (100 g)||Iron (mg)||Calcium (mg)|
To get an impressive amount of iron and calcium into your body, eat foods that are high in protein, they are likely to be high in iron and calcium as well. Examples are found in legumes, beans and lentils. Leafy greens are also rich in vitamins and minerals. For Iron and calcium, eat more of spinach, broccoli, and kale.
From seeds such as pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, poppy seeds, and sesame seeds, you can have very high amount of calcium and some levels of iron. Some fishes like tuna, salmon, and sardines are rich sources of iron.
Iron and Calcium are important minerals needed by the body ordinarily. Their importance increases when you, as a woman, gets pregnant. It is almost impossible to meet the daily requirement of these minerals from our diet alone, which is why supplements are available. However, it is essential that a portion of these minerals come from foods rich in iron and calcium.
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Ayomide, is a Health professional, who has worked in most healthcare unit and has a background in Nursing.