When you’re growing another human, the last thing you need is an extra reason to feel sluggish and exhausted.
During pregnancy, you’re more likely to experience iron deficiency because your body needs approximately twice the normal amount of iron while making extra blood for your baby.
Adding an iron supplement can help you reach that daily goal and keep you energized and healthy during your pregnancy.
We’ve carefully chosen products with minimal side effects because you don’t need one more symptom to Google in the middle of the night. Here are seven of the best iron supplements for pregnancy.
In this article:
Why do I need iron?
Iron is a mineral that our bodies need to form red blood cells. It aids in the production of hemoglobin, which delivers oxygen from the lungs to the rest of your body.1Subcommittee on Dietary Intake and Nutrient Supplements during Pregnancy, & Institute of Medicine. (1990). Iron nutrition during pregnancy.Nutrition during pregnancy., 272-98.
Getting enough iron during pregnancy is vital to you and your baby’s blood supply, as well as fetal brain development.
Taking iron helps boost the production of hemoglobin in your red blood cells, reduces fatigue, and improves your immune system.
Not every woman needs an iron supplement during pregnancy, especially if your prenatal vitamin already contains it.
While anyone can become anemic, you are at a higher risk if you’ve had back-to-back pregnancies, have severe morning sickness, are pregnant with multiples, or are vegan or vegetarian.
Your doctor will check your iron levels through blood tests to determine if your levels are too low.
What are the side effects of iron deficiency?
Iron deficiency can cause you to feel weak, dizzy, and very tired. While these may seem like pregnancy symptoms, extreme fatigue can indicate anemia.
Pregnant women suffering from anemia report barely being able to get out of bed, or sleeping 12 hours at night, and still needing a nap.
Anemia can also cause headaches, cravings for things that aren’t food (pica), and restless leg syndrome. In some cases, extremely low iron levels can contribute to low birth weight or premature birth.
How can I increase my iron levels during pregnancy?
Iron deficiency anemia is common in pregnancy, particularly in the second half, so it’s important that your doctor monitors your blood levels.
You can increase your daily iron by eating iron-rich foods. This can be challenging, however, as many pregnant women experience nausea, vomiting, and heartburn, causing them to gravitate towards bland or starchy foods.
Adding an iron supplement can help increase your iron levels. Keep in mind that while your symptoms can improve within a week or two, it may take a few months for your body to begin storing enough iron for iron levels to rise.
When reading supplement package labeling, it is important to look at the amount of “elemental iron” that is contained in the product. For example, one tablet of ferrous sulfate 325 mg contains 65 mg of elemental iron, while one tablet of ferrous gluconate 324 mg contains 38 mg of elemental iron.
Our picks of the best iron supplements
The Vitron-C Supplement (check price on Amazon) includes 65 mg of elemental iron, as well as 125 mg of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps your body to absorb the iron more effectively and is also known to boost your immunity, which certainly can’t hurt.
Vitamin C contains a number of other benefits, like decreasing the risk of heart disease and helping to manage high blood pressure. It also contains carbonyl iron to assist with slow iron absorption, which helps reduce constipation.
The vegan, gluten-free one-a-day tablet is simple to swallow and easy on the stomach. The iron and extra vitamins help increase energy while decreasing fatigue and sluggishness.
Finding vitamins that don’t have adverse side effects is crucial, and this supplement has no bad aftertaste, nor does it cause nausea, diarrhea, or constipation.
Some consumers have experienced more burping during the day, but this can be reduced by taking the tablet before bed.
What we love
- Contains high doses of both iron and vitamin C.
- The slow iron absorption helps avoid constipation.
- Only one tablet needed per day.
- One of the more expensive options.
- May cause increased burping in some cases.
Nature Made Iron Tablets (check price on Amazon) are incredibly affordable, with each bottle containing 180 pills with 65 mg of supplemental iron from ferrous sulfate.
Adults take one small pill per day with water and food, meaning that this bottle will last you six months for less than the price of a fancy coffee.
This supplement did not cause nausea or an upset stomach when taken with food, though did cause side effects for some when taken by itself. They’re gluten-free and contain no synthetic dyes or artificial flavors.
Nature Made is a popular company that prides itself on making products proven to be beneficial and safe.
This supplement is ideal for pregnant women with anemia because it contains a high level of iron, helps increase red blood cells, and enables you to feel more like yourself in no time.
What we love
- A very inexpensive iron supplementation.
- No artificial flavors or dyes.
- They contain a high level of iron.
- Does contain a number of extra ingredients.
Best liquid supplement
Blueiron Liquid Mineral Supplement (check price on Amazon) should not cause any uncomfortable side effects because of its easy liquid absorption. If you have an iron deficiency but have had stomach pains, nausea, or constipation from other products, Blueiron may be worth a try.
This product is made in Finland from mineral water and Nordic blueberries and is safe for children two years and older. What’s more, it’s vegan.
The daily dose for adults is 15 ml and contains 25 mg of plant-based iron, as well as vitamin E, zinc, B12 (known to help morning sickness), folic acid, vitamin C, and biotin.
The vitamins help boost your hemoglobin production and absorb the iron more quickly. Anemia is sometimes caused by a lack of folic acid and vitamin B-12, making this supplement a good choice for pregnancy (3).
Many buyers were happy with the blueberry taste and found themselves with more energy and less fatigue on a daily basis. Each bottle contains around 33 doses and needs to be refrigerated.
What we love
- Its liquid form makes it easier to take and absorb.
- A totally different take on iron supplementation.
- Contains other vitamins and minerals that are recommended for pregnant women.
- Has a little metallic aftertaste.
YUM-V’s Complete Iron (check price on Amazon) is a chewable dietary supplement containing 10 mg of iron, 40 mg of vitamin C (to aid with absorption), as well as folic acid and vitamin B12. Contains 60 jellies in each bottle, and adults take two per day.
A great option for those who have trouble swallowing pills or liquid to up their iron levels. This supplement does not contain as much iron as some other brands, so it may be better for pregnant women who aren’t anemic but are looking for a vitamin with some iron.
Whatever your dietary needs, YumV’s has it covered: these are vegan, kosher, and free of nuts, gluten, gelatin, and GMOs.
These iron-rich supplements help increase red blood-cell production to boost your energy, support your immune system, and stay healthy throughout your pregnancy.
The grape-flavored jellies are safe for both adults and children and are made with pectin, so remain soft and tooth-friendly.
What we love
- The chewable jellies are soft and do not stick to teeth, while most people liked the taste.
- They're vegan + nut and gluten free.
- They also contain other vitamins and nutrients.
- Each gummy contains 3 grams of sugar.
Best vegan iron pill
Amazon has a knack for coming up with an affordable version of whatever you’re looking for, and this Elements Iron (check price on Amazon) product is no exception. You pay a little over $10 for 195 capsules containing 18 mg of iron each.
These are simple and straightforward iron supplements, perfect for pregnant women who care about what goes into their bodies. They’re made with iron from ferrous bisglycinate, which is a non-heme iron.
The capsules are tested for potency, purity, and integrity, based on federal guidelines, which I think we can all appreciate, pregnant or not. These vegan supplements are gluten-free and contain no binders, chemical preservatives, artificial flavors, or colors.
Many product users with iron deficiency have found that these capsules helped raise their iron levels with no side effects.
What we love
- Since it’s an Amazon product, you know returns and refunds will be easy.
- It’s vegan and free of chemical preservatives.
- Very affordable.
- The capsules are fairly large, so if you don’t like swallowing pills, look elsewhere.
The ingredient list of Nutrigold Iron Supplement (check price on Walmart) is unlike any other on this list. Includes an organic, sprouted blend of curry, quinoa, millet, garbanzo beans, lentils, broccoli, and chia, among others.
All this real food goodness comes with a price, and though this supplement is the most costly on the list, I know many moms who are willing to pay extra for such a high-quality product.
This non-synthetic, vegan capsule leaves no aftertaste, and reviewers have reported no side effects from this gentle, non-constipating product.
The dose is sufficient to raise iron levels without causing negative reactions. Unsurprisingly, Nutrigold is also free of allergens, sulfates, artificial preservatives, and dioxides.
With this one, you’ll feel great about what you’re ingesting to boost those iron levels.
What we love
- This product is made with organic whole foods.
- It’s gentle and won’t cause constipation.
- Free from unnecessary ingredients.
- The most expensive option of the bunch.
The best tablet for iron supplementation
Nature’s Bounty (check price on Walmart) is another well-known vitamin and mineral company committed to scientific research and quality products. Each bottle has 100 tablets that contain 65 mg of iron from ferrous sulfate (one recommended per day).
This is a good option for pregnant women who are anemic and need as much iron as possible. Despite the high level of iron, these pills did not cause side effects for most people and helped them to quickly regain energy.
A very cost-effective option that doesn’t contain unnecessary fillers or ingredients, making them the perfect addition to your regular, prenatal vitamins.
Some reviewers found that newer batches of these tablets have no coating, which led them to dissolving quickly and leaving a bad taste.
What we love
- Only one pill a day required.
- Comes with a high level of iron -- great for those with iron deficiency.
- These iron supplements don’t contain a lot of extra ingredients.
- They can leave a bitter taste if not swallowed quickly.
Is taking iron supplements during pregnancy safe?
Yes! The CDC recommends taking 30 mg a day starting with your first prenatal appointment. This amount may be adjusted if your iron levels are low. Talk to your doctor about their recommendation.
What should I look for in an iron supplement during pregnancy?
The last thing you want is to add to any existing nausea, constipation, or discomfort. Look for a supplement that’s easy to take and doesn’t cause stomach troubles.
The amount of iron you want in a supplement will depend on your current iron levels, whether you are anemic, and how many iron-rich foods you typically eat.
Editor’s Tip: For iron supplements containing solely iron, taking it with a glass of orange juice is beneficial as Vitamin C facilitates proper absorption.
What are iron-rich foods?
Poultry, red meat, pork, eggs, and plant-based foods like spinach, beans, and tofu are all rich in iron. You can also find iron in cashews, dark chocolate, cereal, and oatmeal.
Some foods that help iron absorption are beef and poultry, as well as those containing vitamin C and vitamin A. On the other hand, taking your iron supplement with antacids, certain antibiotics, milk or dairy products, or caffeine may prevent proper absorption.
What is heme and non-heme iron?
Heme iron is the most easily absorbed by your body and can be found in beef, turkey, pork, and chicken. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, it’s even more important to monitor your iron levels.
Non-heme iron is found in spinach, beans, tofu, cereal, and oatmeal with added iron. These are not absorbed as easily but are still valuable, and eating them along with vitamin C helps with absorption.
The bottom line
Our top pick is the Vitron-C supplement (check price on Amazon), for packing a punch with a high dose of elemental iron and vitamin C to help with absorption. It’s easy on the stomach and the added benefits of the extra ingredients help keep you energized and healthy.
You may need less iron in your diet or prefer taking a liquid supplement or gummies, but we’re confident that one of the supplements on our list will check your boxes. Creating extra blood supply is exhausting, which is why we’ve got your back.