How much iron do I need during pregnancy?
Your body needs much more iron during pregnancy than usual. So you need to get more iron from your diet and if needed, your doctor will also prescribe iron supplements. Non-vegetarians need between 27mg to 30mg of iron per day and vegetarians 38mg per day. The non vegetarian sources of iron are absorbed more efficiently by the body than most vegetarian sources. So vegetarians need a larger amount of iron in their diet to fulfill the needs of the body.
The amount of iron your body needs increases during pregnancy because the fetus draws significant amounts for itself. Iron is also needed to produce hemoglobin – the protein in red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the various organs and tissues in the body. When you are pregnant, your body needs 50 per cent more blood than usual and hence your iron needs increase accordingly. Read our article about iron during pregnancy to know more.
The following list will make it easier for you to know whether you are getting enough iron in your daily diet:
- 1 cup spinach (paalak), boiled: 2.286 mg
- 1 cup mustard greens (sarson ka saag) boiled: 16.3 mg
- 1 cup green beans boiled: 2.6 mg
- 1 cup brussels sprouts (chhoti gobhi / kalai kos) boiled: 3.6 mg
- 1 cup green peas (hari matar) boiled: 3.0 mg
- ½ cup lotus stem (kamal kakri) dry: 60.6 mg
- 1 cup soybeans cooked: 10.4 mg
- 1 cup lentils cooked: 6.59 mg
- 1 cup kidney beans (rajma) cooked: 5.20 mg
- 1 cup chickpeas (kabuli chana) boiled: 7.4 mg
- ½ cup cowpeas (lobhia / karamani) cooked: 8.60 mg
- ¼ cup sesame (til) seeds: 5.24 mg
- 1 large potato: 0.48 mg
- ½ cup millet (bajra): 8.0 mg
- 1 cup semolina (rava /sooji ) cooked: 1.6 mg
- 1 slice whole wheat bread: 0.9 mg
- 1 slice white bread: 0.6 mg
- 5 dried figs (anjeer): 1.5 mg
- 5 dried apricots (khubani): 1.08 mg
- ¼ cup almonds (badaam): 1.56 mg
- ½ cup dates dried (khajoor): 7.3 mg
- 30 gm cornflakes: 0.9 mg
- 25 gm puffed rice (murmura / pori): 0.8mg
- 1 boiled egg: 1 mg
- 1 cup olives (jaitoon): 4.44 mg
- 1 chicken drumstick: 1.7 mg
- 1 chicken breast: 1.5 mg
Iron enriched recipes
Iron is needed to produce hemoglobin – the protein in red blood cells which carries oxygen to the various organs and tissues in the body. It becomes even more important during your pregnancy to meet the requirements of the increased volume of blood in the body as well as those of your baby.
You can try to keep your iron levels in the required range by making sure you have a diet rich in iron. Here are some interesting options to give your diet a boost.
Drinks and beverages
This beverage is packed with antioxidants, iron, vitamin C, potassium and folic acid.
- One small pomegranate anaar
- Freshly sqeezed juice from half an orange (santra)
- ½ cup of water
- Pinch of salt
- Some mint (pudina) leaves
- One tsp powdered sugar (optional)
Peel the skin of the pomegranate and separate the seeds. Run the seeds through a juicer.
Pour the freshly squeezed juice in a tall glass. Add the orange juice, salt and sugar and mix till well blended. Add some ice and a few mint leaves and serve.
Tip: Don’t throw away the left over seeds in the juicer. Mix them with other fruits, curd or eat them as they may help provide roughage and help you combat constipation.
Snacks and appetisers
Rich in iron, copper, potassium, zinc protein and carbohydrates
- ½ cup kidney beans (rajma), soaked overnight
- 1 small potato (aloo), boiled and mashed
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- ¼ tsp cumin (jeera) powder
- 4 tbsp chopped coriander (hara dhania)
- 1 tbsp roasted peanuts, crushed
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp oil
Cook the rajma in a pressure cooker for about half an hour in plenty of water till soft. Drain the water and mash rajma.
Mix the mashed rajma with potatoes, spices, coriander, peanuts, salt and lemon juice to form thick dough.
Divide into equal sized balls and flatten slightly to form a cutlet or tikki.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet (tava) and put 6-7 tikkis on it and shallow fry, drizzling a bit of oil when you flip the tikkis halfway through to brown both sides.
Serve warm with green chutney or ketchup.
Spinach with lentils (dal paalak / paruppu keerai)
Good source of iron, folate, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and lycopene.
- ½ cup split moong dal
- 1 bunch spinach (paalak) leaves
- 1 green chilli slit
- 1 inch piece of ginger (adrak)
- 2 cloves garlic (lehsun)
- 1 small tomato (tamatar) chopped
- Pinch turmeric (haldi) powder
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp oil
- 1 tsp cumin (jeera) seeds
- Pinch of asafoetida (hing)
Mix moong dal with turmeric, powder, green chilli, ginger, garlic and tomato with 3 cups of water. Pressure cook for two whistles or until well cooked.
Meanwhile wash the spinach leaves through several changes of water. Finely chop and keep aside.
Cool and whisk the dal. Add salt and chopped spinach and cook in a heavy bottomed pan for about 7 minutes till the spinach is cooked and blended with the dal.
Heat the oil for tempering in a small karahi, add cumin seeds. When it starts crackling add the asafoetida and pour over the dal. Serve hot with with rotis or rice.
Raw banana foogath (walakai porial)
Rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, protein and dietary fibre.
- 2 raw bananas, lightly peeled and cubed and kept immersed in water
- ½ tsp mustard seeds (rai/sarson)
- 1 tsp split Bengal gram (chana dal)
- 1 tsp split black gram urad dal
- 1 dried red chilli
- Pinch of turmeric (haldi) powder
- 1 sprig curry leaves (kadhi patta)
- 2 tbsp grated coconut (nariyal)
- 1 tbsp oil
Bring a pan of water to boil and put the raw banana pieces in it with a pinch of turmeric. Cook for about 7-8 minutes till the banana pieces are slightly tender but not mushy.
Take a non-stick pan and heat the oil in it. Add mustard seeds and when they splutter, add the red chilli, chana dal and urad dal. Sauté for 1 minute add curry leaves and then turmeric powder.
Fry well for about 1 minute, add the cooked raw banana pieces and salt to taste. Cover the pan with a lid and steam cook for about 5 minutes until banana is cooked and no visible liquid remains.
Stir gently in between and sprinkle a bit of water if needed.
When done, add the grated coconut. Remove from the flame after one minute and serve.
Date and almond rice pudding (khajur badaam phirni)
Good source of iron, vitamin E, riboflavin, magnesium, potassium, calcium and dietary fibre.
- 8 to 10 almonds (badaam)
- 10 dates (khajur seedless variety)
- 4 cups milk
- 2 tbsp rice
- 3-4 tbsp crushed jaggery (gur)
- ½ tsp cardamom (elaichi) powder
Soak rice in 2 cups of water for about half an hour. In a separate dish, soak the dates in 1 cup of warm milk for about an hour. In a glass bowl soak the almonds in hot water for fifteen minutes and peel.
Drain the rice and grind to a paste along with the peeled almonds and soaked dates (reserve the milk) adding a bit of the milk to make it a liquid paste.
Boil the remaining milk, reduce the flame and add some of the milk to the almond rice paste and then add the whole paste slowly to the milk stirring constantly so that it doesn’t form lumps.
Add the reserved milk from the dates to the mixture. Cook for about 10 minutes till the rice is completely cooked and loses the raw taste. Add the jaggery and cook till it melts completely.