thread: Low iron levels

  1. #1
    BellyBelly Life Member

    Nov 2003

    Low iron levels

    I got a message on the phone this morning from a gyno at the hospital (just whoever was rostered on at the time I'm guessing!) saying that my iron levels were 'marginally low' and whilst I'm not anaemic he thinks I should go to the pharmacy and get an iron supplement. He didn't give the exact levels but since he said marginally and emphasised that I'm not anaemic then I assume my levels aren't too bad.

    However... a lot of what I've been reading suggests a supplement may not be necessary.

    This diagnosis ignores the fact that pregnant women's bodies use nutrients more efficiently and will be absorbing more iron from their food than they would in their non-pregnant state. It also ignores severel other biochemical facts: a woman's blood volume does double during pregnancy but the 'ingredients' of the blood, the red and white cells and the plasma, do not increase proportionately. The largest increase is in plasma - the fluid which transports red and white blood cells around the body.

    A pregnant woman may actually have more iron circulating in her body, but testing methods used primarily on non-pregnant individuals do not allow for the uneven increases in blood constituents.
    The only way to tell for sure if you are anaemic is to have a blood test, and even then the results are open to wide interpretation. The normal range of haemoglobin in the blood is 13-15 grams per decilitre at less than 8 weeks' gestation. This drops naturally to between 10-12 g/dl from about 28 weeks' gestation.
    The body chemistry of a healthy woman changes throughout pregnancy to allow greater absorption of iron. At 36 weeks her body's ability to absorb iron is nine times greater than in early pregnancy
    It may even be that a drop in iron levels is a normal adaption of pregnancy. Certainly there is evidence that women with low iron levels during pregnancy tend to have bigger, healthier babies.
    Giving a woman an iron tablet may not help boost her blood iron levels. What the woman may really need is a boost in her vitamin C intake, either through supplements or by simply having a glass of citrus juice with her meals. In addition, excessive iron supplementation can deplete the body of another essential nutrient, zinc.
    From what I've been reading it seems that trying to boost your iron levels with supplements can cause a whole range of side-effects that don't occur when you get iron naturally from the food in your diet. Also, synthetic irons aren't as easily absorbed and can place greater strain on your body.

    So. Given all that (plus the fact that I hate taking tablets), I was thinking that if I just increase my intake of iron-rich foods and have a glass of orange juice with dinner it would fix any slight iron deficiency that I may have. What do you think? Has anyone heard anything similar about iron levels or anything to discredit any of the above info?

  2. #2
    mooshie Guest


    my first two pregnancies my iron levels were very low and i needed supplements, however with dd pregnancy by iron levels were low but not low enough for supplements. i have a reasonably good diet and my iron levels are always on the low side. i take all my vitamins with oj to help with the iron absorbtion.

    my ob/gyn gave me a leaflet on some good iron rich foods, can't remember most of them off hand but i do remember his nurse telling me to snack on dried apricots - which seemed to have done the trick

  3. #3
    BellyBelly Member

    Oct 2004

    I would think that eating iron rich foods and having something like orange juice at the same time would help. I think Vitamin C helps you absorb more iron easier, and Ive also read that calcium makes you absorb less iron.
    I've also been told about dried apricots too.

  4. #4
    Melinda Guest

    Yeah Vitamin C helps with the absorption of iron. You can actually get Iron tablets with Vitamin C added.

    You may remember that I recently had low iron levels Angel - very low apparently, and had to take a double dose of iron tablets on a daily basis! Yucko.....

  5. #5
    Melinda Guest

    Iron Levels

    That's where it was discussed briefly before Angel....

  6. #6
    BellyBelly Member

    Sep 2006
    Perth WA

    i was told about 6weeks ago that i have realy low iron levels and was given the name of one that is great for pregnancy and only gives you iron nothing eles
    it is called (FEFOL -Iron & Folate supplement- Each capsule contains Dried Ferrous Sulphate 270mg- Folic Acid 300mcg at first i realy was unsure about takening the tablet but i felt i wouldnt be able to give myself and bubba the right amount of iron each day by just changing what i eat and didnt want to risk things going wrong because i didnt get my iron up
    I feel a hole lot better now that i am taking them.

    Take care

  7. #7
    BellyBelly Member

    May 2004

    Angel i have got low iron levels and have had for a few weeks now when i remember i take my iron tablet with a vitamin c tablet i was told to take it that way after i had Alex. I think they want to just get your iron levels up just in case you bleed when having the baby.

  8. #8
    BellyBelly Member

    Dec 2006

    I wonder what "Marginally Low" actually means.
    I would be relucatant to take un-necessary suppliments without knowing what the level actually was. Your research is correct. A physiological drop is normal.
    Are you symptomatic.namely, short of breath, pale, tired despite being rested?

    Caffiene inhibits iron absorption and has no place in a healthy pregnant diet.
    Vit C does help iron absorption but must be taken at the same time as the iron.

  9. #9
    Registered User

    Aug 2004
    Hunter Valley, Wine Country, NSW

    Angel - I was anaemic after Adrian was born and moreso after my PPH, I put it down to the fact that I was BFing Matthew up to 5 weeks before Adrian was born as to why I was anaemic in the first place.

    If you are requiring to go onto tablets I was told FerroGrad C was the best one, it has the highest amount of iron and also includes Vitamin C.

    I was on double dose of iron for about 3 months

    Are you symptomatic.namely, short of breath, pale, tired despite being rested?
    - I had all these symtoms plus more, yet told I was a weird one and sent home, just to get even more anaemic and have a PPH 2 days later.

  10. #10
    BellyBelly Life Member

    Nov 2003

    I would be relucatant to take un-necessary suppliments without knowing what the level actually was.
    My thoughts exactly.

    As for being symptomatic... I do get tired easier these days but with the usual 27w PG symptoms plus running after a 19m old all day it's a bit hard to tell if it has anything to do with iron levels LOL! I have Graves Disease as well so that makes differentiating symptoms a little more difficult too.

    I think for now I'll just do more to get the iron from natural food sources (had some dried apricots & juice for morning tea LOL). I see my midwife again in a couple of weeks so will find out exactly what my iron levels are then.

    Thanks heaps, everyone