Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional risk factors during pregnancy and childbirth as well as childbed and lactation. Countless women have little filled or largely empty iron stores at the beginning of pregnancy. As a result of the mother's anemia, miscarriages and premature births can occur. The iron requirement is particularly high during pregnancy because of the increasing blood volume of the mother and the necessary iron storage in the child's tissues.
A micronutrient for iron health
Iron is a vital trace element for the human organism that needs to be ingested daily with food. In the gastrointestinal tract of the micronutrient is absorbed and forwarded from there into the bloodstream. Day after day, small amounts of iron are lost through the intestines, skin and kidneys. If these losses are not replaced, iron deficiency may develop over time. Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin in the red blood cells, the erythrocytes. These are tireless oxygen transporters, providing the entire organism with its 60-100 trillion cells with the elixir of life. Likewise, iron is a component of the red muscle pigment (myoglobin) and numerous enzymes that are directly involved in the energy supply. Three to five grams of iron are stored in the body. These stores include the proteins hemosiderin and ferritin. They are present in the liver, bone marrow, spleen and musculature.
How is iron deficiency shown?
Symptoms of iron deficiency include: fatigue, decreased performance, lack of concentration, headaches, brittle fingernails and dry, pale skin, torn corners of the mouth, tingling in the hands and feet, hair loss, dyspnoea, palpitations and susceptibility to infectious diseases. If there is insufficient iron supply, the iron stores empty only slowly. Symptoms usually occur only when the formation of red blood cells is hindered. Iron deficiency in a gradual form is caused by blood loss, for example, in injuries, bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract and especially in women by the menstruation. A disorder of iron absorption takes place in gastrointestinal diseases, for example, if too little gastric acid is formed and the food does not contain enough iron.
Women - Risk Group No. 1
Due to the monthly bleeding, women aged 12-50 years are more at risk of iron deficiency than men; their need is 50% higher. While men need 10 milligrams of iron every day, women need at least 15 milligrams. The fact is that almost 50% of women of childbearing age are not optimally fed with iron. Many have no reserve of their own, so that the risk of iron deficiency anemia in the event of pregnancy leads to a doubling of the risk. The growing uterus with the placenta and the fetus need to be oxygenated. Therefore, the iron requirement in the last third of pregnancy at 30 milligrams per day is twice as high as normal. The newborn receives an iron supply at birth, which is sufficient for about 4 months. In addition, the baby is supplied with milk via the breast milk, which, however, can only be used by the baby to 50%. The iron requirement of a nursing mother is around 20 milligrams per day.