When you’re growing another human, the last thing you need is an extra reason to feel sluggish and exhausted. During pregnancy, you are 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 have 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 you 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) supplement 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 has a number of other benefits, including decreasing your risk of heart disease, chronic disease, and helping to manage high blood pressure.
It also contains carbonyl iron to assist in slow iron absorption, which helps reduce constipation. The vegan, gluten-free one-a-day tablet is easy to swallow and easy on the stomach. The iron and extra vitamin help increase energy and decrease fatigue and sluggishness.
Finding a vitamin that doesn’t have adverse side effects is crucial, and this supplement does not have a bad aftertaste or seem to cause nausea, diarrhea, or constipation. Some consumers experienced more burping during the day, but the burping can be reduced by taking the tablet before bed.
What we love
- This product contains a high dose of both iron and vitamin C.
- The slow iron absorption helps avoid constipation.
- You only need one tablet a day.
- One of the more expensive options, though still not terribly pricey.
- This supplement may cause increased burping.
The 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 a fancy coffee. This supplement did not cause nausea or an upset stomach when taken with food but did cause side effects for some when taken by itself.
They are gluten-free and contain no synthetic dyes or artificial flavors. Nature Made is a well-known company that prides itself on making products proven to be beneficial and safe. This pill would be a good fit for pregnant women with anemia because it contains the highest level of iron supplementation. This level of iron will help increase red blood cells and have you feeling more like yourself in no time.
What we love
- This is a very inexpensive iron supplementation.
- There are no artificial flavors or dyes.
- They contain a high level of iron.
- For the ingredient-conscious mama, this one does contain a few extra ingredients.
Best Liquid Supplement
Blueiron Liquid Mineral Supplement (check price on Amazon) should not cause any uncomfortable side effects because of the easy liquid absorption. If you have an iron deficiency but have had stomach pains, nausea, or constipation from other products, Blueiron may just be worth a try. This product is made in Finland from mineral water and Nordic blueberries and is even safe for children two years and older. Even better? 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 (which has been 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 does need to be refrigerated.
What we love
- The liquid form makes it easy to take and absorb.
- A totally different take on iron supplementation.
- It also contains other vitamins and minerals that are great for pregnant women.
- There is a bit of a metallic aftertaste.
The YUM-V’s Complete Iron (check price on Amazon) is a chewable dietary supplement contains 10 mg of iron, 40 mg of vitamin C to aid with absorption, as well as folic acid and vitamin B12. There are 60 jellies in each bottle, and adults need to take two per day. These are a great option for anyone who has had trouble swallowing pills or liquid to up their iron levels.
Yum-V’s Complete Iron does not contain as much iron as some of the other brands, so it may be better for pregnant women who are looking for a vitamin with some iron but aren’t anemic.
No matter your dietary restriction, 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 adults and children and are made with pectin, so they remain soft and tooth friendly.
What we love
- The chewable jellies are soft and do not stick to teeth, and most people liked the taste.
- They are vegan and nut- and gluten-free.
- They also contain other vitamins and nutrients.
- Each gummy contains three 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 with 18 mg of iron each. These are simple and straightforward iron supplements, which is nice for pregnant women who are extra conscious of what goes in their bodies. They are 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 also gluten-free, and contain no binders, chemical preservatives, or artificial flavors or colors. Many product users with iron deficiency found that these capsules helped raise their iron levels without 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.
- This one is very affordable.
- The capsules are a decent size, so if you don’t like swallowing pills, look elsewhere.
The ingredient list of Nutrigold Iron Supplement (check price on Walmart) is unlike any of the other supplements 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 does come with a price; this supplement is the most expensive on the list, but I know many moms who would be willing to pay a little extra for a quality product.
This non-synthetic vegan capsule does not have any aftertaste, and reviewers did not report any side effects from this gentle and non-constipating product. This dose is ideal for raising iron levels without having a high enough amount to cause negative reactions.
It’s no surprise that Nutrigold is also free of allergens, sulfates, artificial preservatives, and dioxides. With this one, you can feel good about what you’re putting into your body 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 all the extra ingredients you don’t want.
- These capsules are the most expensive option out 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, and you take one small tablet each day. This is a good option for pregnant women who are anemic and need as much iron as they can get. Despite the high level of iron, these pills did not cause side effects for most people and quickly helped them regain energy.
These iron supplements are a very cost-effective option and do not contain unnecessary fillers or ingredients, making them the perfect addition to your regular prenatal vitamin. Some reviewers did find that newer batches of the tablets do not have a coating on them, which can lead them to dissolve in your mouth quickly and leave a bad taste.
What we love
- Take just one pill a day.
- It has a high level of iron, which is great for those with iron deficiency.
- These iron supplements don’t contain a lot of extra ingredients.
- They can leave a bitter taste when 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 his or her 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 is 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, 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 that contain 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 are vegan or vegetarian, it’s even more important that you watch your iron levels. Non heme iron is found in spinach, beans, tofu, and 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 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. Making an extra blood supply is exhausting, which is why we’ve got your back.