Iron deficient

Anaemia is a condition that is common in mothers during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Women normally require higher levels of iron, however during pregnancy and breastfeeding, this requirement increases.

Symptoms of anaemia can include shortness of breath, constant fatigue, headache, nausea, insomnia, loss of appetite, and a rapid pulse. Anaemia during pregnancy can however, have more severe consequences for the baby, including irreversible affects on brain development and behavioural problems following birth, as well as the risk of death in severe cases.

The main function of our blood is to deliver the nutrients needed by every cell in our body. Your red blood cells are required to transport oxygen throughout your body and they do so because they have a special molecule called haemoglobin, which has the ability to pick up oxygen from the lungs and drop it off to the cells in need. When the number of your red blood cells is low, or the amount of haemoglobin is low, you become anaemic.

There are many causes of anaemia [4,5], but the most common cause is due to a lack of iron in our diets [1]. Other causes may include genetic diseases like thalassaemia, parasitic infections such as malaria and hookworms, or a deficiency in folic acid and/or vitamin B12 [1]. In this article, we will focus only on iron-deficiency anaemia: So, what are the health consequences and what you can do to prevent it.

Anaemia is a common condition more likely to affect women as we tend to lose blood through our menstrual cycle [1]. In fact, more than a third of all women worldwide are considered anaemic, according to the World Health Organization [7].

How do you know whether you are anaemic? If you are constantly feeling tired this may indicate that you are anaemic. There are often no other signs of anaemia until it becomes very severe, in which case you may experience shortness of breath, headache, nausea, insomnia, loss of appetite, and a rapid pulse [3]. Often, the only way that women became aware of their anaemia is when they have their blood tested by a healthcare professional [5]. So if you plan to conceive, or if you are already pregnant, it’s a good idea to get your blood checked, and have it monitored throughout your pregnancy.

Pregnancy can substantially increase your need for iron [6], especially during the second and third trimester. During these times, iron is required to meet the increasing blood volume of yourself and your developing baby, as well as the needs of the placenta. Your iron requirement will continue to remain high after your baby is born, to replace the blood lost during delivery, and to support breastfeeding.

If you are mildly anaemic, pregnancy can further deplete the level of iron in your blood, and increase the severity of your anaemic condition. Anaemia during pregnancy can affect brain development, leading to your child having behavioural problems following birth, with the risk of death in the worst conditions for you and your baby [2]. This is why it is important to have your blood checked during pregnancy.

The best way to prevent anaemia due to iron-deficiency is to increase your dietary iron intake [1]. There are two types of iron present in foods: haem and non-haem iron. Haem iron is found in animal-derived foods such as red meat, in particular animal organs like liver and kidney, while non-haem iron is generally derived from plant foods.

Another way to increase your iron intake is through supplements [1], especially if you are vegetarian or vegan. But do speak to your healthcare professional as supplementation may not be for everyone.

It is also important to know that all the iron-rich foods that you eat will amount to nothing if the iron is not taken up by your body. Haem iron is easier to absorb than non-haem iron [8]. But you can increase your iron absorption from non-haem sources by lightly cooking your vegetables, and by eating them along with meat protein. It is also important to know that some substances such as tea, coffee, red wine, soy beans, and unrefined cereals can all reduce our iron absorption. This is because many of these foods contain phytates. Taking vitamin C can boost your iron uptake, assisting iron absorption and counteracting the effect of phytates.

So, how to avoid iron-deficiency anaemia? By increasing your iron intake from your diet, or through the use of supplements like PMProcare.

PMProcare is a multi-vitamin/mineral supplementation scientifically formulated to meet your increasing nutritional needs for the times before, during and after pregnancy. PMProcare contains iron, as well as vitamin C to assist iron absorption, plus other nutrients that will help you to cope with pregnancy and ensure a healthy baby.

PMProcare is a product of PharmaMetics. At PharmaMetics, we are committed to bring you quality products that will benefit the health and well-being of you and your child. PMProcare is manufactured in Australia from quality ingredients according to Good Manufacturing Practice guidelines. Both the raw materials and the final product undergo rigorous testing to ensure that they meet quality standards. PMProcare is listed with the Australian Therapeutics Goods Administration, one of the most strict health authorities in the world. These procedures ensure that all PM products are of the highest quality, and have a scientifically proven basis to maintain and support your health.


  1. Dugdale M (2001) Anemia. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am 28(2):363-381
  2. Hurtado EK, Claussen AH, Scott, KG (1999) Early childhood anemia and mild or moderate mental retardation. Am J Clin Nutr 69:115
  3. Lozoff B, Brittenham G (1986) Behavioral aspects of iron deficiency. Progress in Hematology XIV:23
  4. Benson V, Marano MA (1998) Current estimates from the National Health Interview Survey. Vital and Health Stat 10 199:80,82
  5. DeMaeyer EM, Adiels-Tegman M (1985) The prevalence of anaemia in the world. World Health Stat Q 38:302
  6. Lops VR, Hunter LP, Dixon LR (1995) Anemia in pregnancy. Am Fam Phys 51:1189-1197.
  7. World Health Organization (1992) The prevalence of anaemia in women: a tabulation of available information (WHO/MCH/MSM/92). 2nd Edition. Geneva: WHO, Maternal Health and Safe Motherhood Programme, Division of Family Health
  8. Williams MD, Wheby, MS (1992) Anemia in pregnancy. Med Clin of North Am 76:631-647
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