- Benefits for Moms
Tired and scattered? Most new moms are -- it goes with the territory. But for many, poor iron intake, not just 2 a.m. feedings, is partly to blame. Only about 25% of women ages 20 to 40 take in at least the recommended amount of iron daily, according to the USDA. When your iron level is low, less oxygen gets to your brain. This lowers your energy level and interferes with your ability to concentrate. Plus, falling short on iron makes you more prone to picking up your child's colds and infections. If you suspect that you're iron-deficient, ask your doctor to run a blood test.
Your Daily Needs
18 mg for women ages 19 to 50, 27 mg if you're pregnant, but only 9 mg if you're breastfeeding
- Great Sources
3 oz. lean sirloin (2.9 mg), 3 oz. chicken, pork, or fish (1.1 mg). Your body absorbs iron from meat, poultry, or fish two to three times better than from other sources.
1 oz. fortified cereal (4.5 to 18 mg), 1 cup canned kidney beans (3.2 mg), 1 medium baked potato with skin (2.8 mg), 3/4 cup prune juice (2.3 mg), 1/2 cup cooked Swiss chard (1.9 mg), 1 cup raw spinach (1.5 mg), 1/3 cup raisins (1.1 mg)
Prenatal vitamins usually supply all the iron that a pregnant woman and her unborn child need. If you breastfeed, your iron needs decrease because you're not losing the nutrient during your period. Otherwise, opt for a multivitamin with 18 mg of iron if you don't get enough in your diet, suggests Alison Eastwood, R.D., a lactation educator at Day One Center in San Francisco. Avoid taking more than 45 mg daily because too much iron has been linked with heart disease and cancer.