Iron During Pregnancy For Indians: Benefits, RDA, Sources, Risks of Iron Deficiency

  • Swapna C

    Content Head

  • Posted On July 14, 2019


Iron is a mineral needed for haemoglobin in the red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout the body. Dietary iron deficiency is the biggest cause of disability in India according to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017.

Role of Iron in Pregnancy

During pregnancy the mother’s blood volume increases and the iron requirement doubles to support both the mother and the growing foetus.

Severe iron deficiency during pregnancy puts the baby and mother’s health at risk. Iron deficiency during pregnancy can lead to low birth weight or preterm birth. A premature or low birth weight baby may have developmental issues.

Iron deficiency anemia can not only lead to fatigue but if left untreated it can cause serious health problems as it damages the organs over time.

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)

During pregnancy, Indian women need around 35 mg iron, which is higher than the normal requirement.

Sources of Iron

There are two types of iron. Plant sources of iron are non heme iron and these are difficult to absorb as compared to heme iron from animal sources. This is the reason vegetarians find it  difficult to meet their daily iron requirements.

Here are some sources of iron that you can include in your daily diet.

Iron Rich Vegetarian Food Iron per 100g
Lotus Stem (100g) 12 mg
Soya chunks/Granules 5mg
Mukarrate Keerai 3.68 mg
Buckwheat/Kuttu atta 3.9 mg
Paruppu keerai 3mg
Iron Rich Non-Vegetarian Food Iron per 100g
Goat Liver 14 mg
Mutton 2 mg

Iron Rich Vegetarian Recipes

A Small bowl of Lotus Stem Bhaji (about 100g) with a Medium bowl of Vegetable Pulav (150g)

This meal will provide you with 10 mg iron.

Soyabean aloo matar subzi (1 medium bowl: 150g, granules/chunks) + 1 medium Amarath/rajgeera paratha (100g)

Iron in this meal: 7 mg

Iron Rich Non-Vegetarian Recipe

A Small bowl Liver masala curry (about 100g) with 2 Palak Ajwain Rotis (about 120g)

This meal will provide you with 7 mg iron.

Iron Supplements During Pregnancy

During pregnancy doctors typically prescribe iron supplements to meet the extra requirement especially if the haemoglobin count is low. If the person is anemic then serum ferritin also may be tested. Even if hemoglobin level is normal in early pregnancy, it may fluctuate later. That is why you need to make sure you do all the blood tests your doctor orders, even if it is repeated in later trimesters and show the reports to your doctor.

Some doctors may give you a multivitamin supplement which contains iron. Do not take calcium supplements at the same time as it affects the absorption of iron. Please follow your doctor’s advice for all supplements during pregnancy.

Even if you are taking iron supplements you need to have a healthy balanced diet, preferably under the guidance of a pregnancy and lactation nutrition expert like the dietitians at the Fitterfly Pregnancy Nutrition Program.

Food for Proper Absorption of Iron

Vitamin C is important for proper absorption of iron. Ideally, when you are eating an iron rich meal, try to squeeze fresh lime juice over your salad in the same meal to improve the absorption of iron.

Try to avoid coffee, milk or tea while eating iron rich meals as some studies show they can hinder the absorption of iron.

If you have been prescribed supplements,


Daily iron and folic acid supplementation during pregnancy

Global Burden of Disease Study 2017

Pregnancy and birth: Do all pregnant women need to take iron supplements?

Nutrition During Pregnancy: Part I Weight Gain: Part II Nutrient Supplements.

14 Iron Nutrition During Pregnancy

About Fitterfly:

Fitterfly is a Digital Therapeutics company run by doctors, nutritionists and wellness experts to help people prevent, reverse and manage their diseases. Fitterfly digital therapeutics programs provide best in class care and outcomes for Diabetes, PCOS, obesity, pregnancy, gestational diabetes and child health. Our qualified Coaches, award winning Fitterfly Wellness platform and a caring team provide detailed customized guidance according to your age, health condition, and personal preferences. To know more, download and use ‘Fitterfly Wellness’ app from play store or app store or just call our hotline at +912248971077 and choose the right program.

Download App

Disclaimer: All information here, including text, images, tables, videos and any other content is for your knowledge only and we do not guarantee any specific result by following these recommendations as it may vary from person to person. The information is not a substitute for qualified medical advice from a doctor or other medical health expert.