Is it compulsory to consume iron supplements during pregnancy?

Iron is a mineral found in many proteins and enzymes that the body needs in order to stay healthy. Most of the iron in the body is found in haemoglobin, the pigment of red blood cells. Haemoglobin transports oxygen to all of the tissues and organs in the body. If there is an insufficient amount of iron in the blood, the amount of haemoglobin in the blood decreases too. This will reduce the oxygen supply to cells and organs.


During pregnancy, a haemoglobin level of 11 g/dl or above is considered normal. Between 3 to 6 months of pregnancy, a small drop of 10.5 g/dl is also considered normal. Lower levels of haemoglobin are usually due to a lack of iron (iron deficiency). Usually, the level of iron in the blood is measured in order to find out whether a low haemoglobin level is due to a lack of iron.


For a pregnant lady with a normal level of iron in her blood, it is not compulsory to consume an iron supplement; some people might consume it as a precautionary measure, but studies involving more than 40, 000 women show that there are no noticeable health benefits for the pregnancy or the baby. Although iron supplements were found to lower the risk of anaemia, they did not influence the number of preterm births, the number of babies with low birth weights, or infections in pregnant women.


However, it is important to know some of the examples of iron-rich foods that can be beneficial during pregnancy and for overall health, such as pistachios, sesame, rolled oats, whole grain rice and pasta, tofu, strawberries, tuna, shrimp, lettuce, chickpeas, peas, meat, and internal organs (liver).


In conclusion, we normally get iron from the food we eat. Meat has a lot of iron in it from haemoglobin in the animal’s body. The liver (internal organ) is particularly high in iron. Other than these foods, iron can be taken in the form of iron supplement too.



1. Pregnancy and birth: Do all pregnant women need to take iron supplements? December 22, 2009. Last update March 22, 2018. National Library of Medicine. National Centre of Biotechnology Information. National Institute of Health (NIH).