By Zeynep Uraz, Naturopathic Doctor
Note: This is Part 2 in our Preconception Health series. Click here to read Part 1.
Our goal is to make the most of this time while many of you are waiting for the clinic to reopen and your fertility treatments to resume.
Some of you may be waiting for cycles to resume in the natural conception program, others may be waiting for IVF/egg freezing. Others may be waiting for embryo transfers of already-frozen embryos.
Regardless of where you are in your journey, today’s topic is relevant to you, because a deficiency of this mineral is not uncommon and can impact pregnancy outcomes.
You may have guessed, our topic is iron.
Iron is a critical mineral, and plays an important role in pregnancy outcomes. Now is a great time to review your diet and supplements to make sure you are getting enough. Since it can take a few months to increase iron stores in the body, why not take this time to optimize iron stores if you are deficient?
You likely already know that iron is a critical mineral in the body and is also especially important for a healthy pregnancy, so we won’t go too deep into that. But you can read more here.
At this moment, when it is difficult to get iron monitored through lab testing, it’s more prudent not to supplement high doses of iron.
A more practical approach would be to continue to take your prenatal supplement that already has iron in it (and/or the dose of iron your health professional has prescribed), and to eat your iron-rich foods.
However, if you are one of those individuals who has a hard time getting their iron stores up or know that you are borderline, or even deficient, here are some ideas for you:
- If you can remember, take your iron supplement every other day instead of daily. The body responds with better absorption of the iron.
- Try taking it on an empty stomach, if tolerated.
- Be mindful if you are having your supplement close to black tea (due to tannins and polyphenols) or things with phytates (in bran, oats). These compounds can block the absorption of iron.
Some forms of iron supplements may be better absorbed than others, but these recommendations should be
- Take it with 250 mg of Vit C (this helps with absorption of iron).
- Try cooking with cast iron pots/pans or an “iron fish.”
And while it is not nearly as common as iron deficiency, iron overload can be harmful too.
So it’s important particularly if you are supplementing, only take it for the duration that it was prescribed and not longer.
As always, it’s important to follow the prescribed supplement regimen and check in with your doctor or naturopath as recommended.
Until next time!
About the Author
Zeynep Uraz ND
Zeynep is a Licensed Naturopath and an Associate Professor at The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine where she teaches Integrative Fertility and leads the fertility care centre at the college’s teaching clinic. She is also a member of both the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society and the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.