A Closer Look at Sweet Potatoes

Although sweet potatoes don’t spend nearly as much time on the average American plate as their paler cousins, they deserve a second look. Packed with nutrition, this traditional Thanksgiving food is a great choice any time of year.

With a yellow to orange colored flesh, sweet potatoes are often confused with yams; in fact, many people believe they are the same thing. They actually differ, with true yams being a little more rare in American supermarkets. Most of what people serve as yams are actually sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes have a sweeter, moister flesh than that of the yam, which is not actually grown in the United States, but is imported from Caribbean countries. Yams don’t have the same nutritional value as sweet potatoes, so you are better off with the more common version.

Although traditional sweet potato pies and casseroles are often seen at a Thanksgiving feast, there is a lot more that can be done with this healthy root vegetable.

The Nutrition in Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are full of Vitamin A, providing an incredible amount in every serving. They are also high in Vitamin C and B6 as well as a good source of dietary fiber, iron, and potassium.

Sweet potatoes are also a source of antioxidants that are known to fight all kinds of diseases including cancer. Low in calories and fat, sweet potatoes offer a whole lot of nutrition for the small bite they take out of your daily calorie intake.

Cooking with Sweet Potatoes

You have probably heard of sweet potato pie, and may also have encountered a sweet potato casserole or two, but those two options barely scratch the surface of the sweet potato’s culinary usefulness. Good with the same spices you would use to cook pumpkin, such as nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves, sweet potatoes make delicious desserts. They can be added to all kinds of batters, including pancakes and waffles and baked into cookies, quick breads, and muffins.

Sweet potatoes also have plenty of savory applications. For starters, you can replace your same old French fries with sweet potato fries for a burst of color, and extra kick of nutrition, and an entirely new flavor. The sweet potato can also be prepared in many other ways you might serve regular potatoes, from mashed to roasted. They can even be baked whole and served with just a little butter for an easy and delicious side dish.

Although it’s less popular than pumpkin pie, at least in most of the country, sweet potato pie is a delicious treat that packs a powerful nutritious punch along with the sweetness. Sweet potatoes are also often paired with pecans in a pie, and don’t require as much sugar to sweeten the mix as the less sweet pumpkin does. Instead of adding more refined sugar, the sweet potato makes use of natural sweetness.

Like pumpkin, cooked sweet potatoes can be frozen for later use, which is more economical than buying canned. They can later be thawed for use in a variety of recipes.

Bring the sweet potato into your regular menu for a tasty, nutritious and economical side dish, or even a sweet treat. You might find your kids like it even more than the regular potatoes they usually eat. With a burst of color and a sweeter flavor, they are sure to become family favorites.

Adding Leeks to Your Menu

Leeks are a little known but very flavorful cousin of the onion that deserve a place in modern cooking. With a mild flavor that lends itself well to all kinds of recipes, this delicious and healthy vegetable offers a great deal of nutrition. Although they appear to be a larger version of the green onion, a green onion actually has a much stronger taste. Leeks are a great choice for the onion flavor without overwhelming other elements of your food.

The Nutrition in Leeks

Leeks are a fantastic source of Vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate, which is essential to brain and eye development in young children. They are also a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium. Leeks are low in fat and sugar, and provide dietary fiber.

How to Cook with Leeks

Unlike other members of the onion family, leeks aren’t particularly well suited to eating raw, and are usually cooked and used to flavor a variety of dishes.

Because leeks grow up out of the ground and have many layers like onions, they tend to collect a good bit of dirt and sand in between the layers. One of the first things you will need to do with fresh leeks is to wash them thoroughly. Make sure to get through all the layers to remove all of the dirt. The best way to do this is to cut through the middle of the leek and fan it out under running water. Discard the dark green portion of the leek and cook with the white and light green parts for the best flavor.

There are many soups that use leeks, some of them quite famous, including cock-a-leekie soup, a Scottish dish made from leeks and chicken stock, and the French-named vichyssoise. Although this leek and potato soup is often thought to be of French descent, it likely has its roots in America, and may be one of the best known uses for leeks. As one of the national symbols of Wales, the leek appears in a number of traditional Welsh dishes as well.

You can use leeks in just about any recipe where you might use onions, but be aware that it will change the taste. This can be a good thing if your kids aren’t a fan of the strong taste of onions, adding the nutrition without the overpowering flavor. Leeks are also a great choice for a lightly flavored dip for vegetables or even chips (go for vegetables for a healthier choice, though!).

Add leeks to stews, or throw some into the slow cooker with a roast or chicken. They are also a great addition to quiche, again offering a more mellow flavor than onions. Consider mixing leeks in with mashed potatoes to add a kick of savory flavor as well as extra nutrition. They are an excellent substitution for green onions (also known as scallions) or chives.

With a delicious mild flavor that is kid-friendly and a good dose of important vitamins and minerals, leeks are a great addition to your cooking routine, and will add new flavor to old dishes. Easy to find in most supermarkets, be sure to give leeks a try the next time you are looking to add a little more taste and a lot more nutrition to simple meals like soups or stews.

The Healthy Perks of Pumpkin

If you have never thought about pumpkin beyond your jack-o-lantern or Thanksgiving pie, you are missing out on a great ingredient that brings more nutrition to the party than you’d think. Cooked pumpkin has a number of great culinary uses in more than just pie. It is surprisingly versatile, and easy to use.

Although most people buy pumpkin canned, it’s very easy to cook your own from a fresh pumpkin. Pumpkins are a fall crop, but cooked pumpkin puree freezes wonderfully to be used any time you need it. Canned pumpkin is a quicker option, however, and still offers all the nutritional benefits, so don’t skip pumpkin just because you don’t have time to cook and puree it!

The Nutrition in Pumpkin

Pumpkin is an incredibly good source of Vitamin A, and also provides Vitamins C and E as well as many B vitamins including folate. It also offers calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron.

Low in fat and cholesterol, pumpkin adds a lot of nutrition for very few calories, making it a great food for those looking to fill up on a calorie-restricted diet.

How to Cook with Pumpkin

Look beyond your pumpkin pie; cookies, muffins, quick breads and scones are all a great place to use pumpkin. You will turn a sweet treat into something with a much bigger nutritional value simply by adding pumpkin to the batter. Baked goods involving pumpkin are often less sweet than other choices because pumpkin pairs so well with spices like nutmeg and cinnamon, which add a lot of taste without a lot of calories.

That’s not all you can do with pumpkin, though! Make a delicious pumpkin soup or stew, or add pumpkin to chili – it will work great with the spices and adds creaminess and a distinct flavor. Add pumpkin to pasta sauces and use it to top noodles or layer in a lasagna. It makes a great addition to vegetarian lasagnas, adding flavor and texture without meat.

Pumpkin is also perfect in risotto and other creamy dishes; a smooth pumpkin puree gives substance and thickens a sauce. It brings a nutritional boost to dishes not always known for being healthy!

Although any pumpkin will do for cooking, there are certain pumpkins you should look for depending on what you are planning to make. Pie pumpkins are the best choice for pumpkin pie of course, but also better for baked goods due to a smoother texture and slightly sweeter taste. Most supermarkets will have them, as well as farmer’s markets. They are smaller than the pumpkins used for carving jack-o-lanterns.

Pumpkin is great at breakfast too! Try pumpkin pancakes, or pumpkin oatmeal. With the right spices, you will think you are eating pumpkin pie for breakfast – and so will your kids!

Pumpkin doesn’t always have to be pureed. You can use chunks of pumpkin in much the same way you might use other types of squash. Roast it and mix it with other vegetables, or add it to a skewer with meat heading to the grill.

With its bright orange color, distinct flavor, and versatility, pumpkin can liven up many dishes and also add a great dose of vitamins and minerals. Keep some on hand in the freezer so you will have it available whenever inspiration strikes! Take pumpkin beyond Halloween and Thanksgiving for a great tasting, nutrition packed option that is perfect any time of the year.

Help Your Baby Get More Iron

Iron is one of the most important minerals for health, growth and development in babies and toddlers. In recent years the incidence of iron-deficiency anemia in babies has gone down due to iron-fortified infant formulas and supplementation, but the risk is still very real. Especially in the second year of life, after your baby has been weaned from the breast or from formula feedings, getting the right amount of iron is of vital importance.

Why Does Baby Need Iron?

Iron helps the body to create new red blood cells, which contain hemoglobin. Hemoglobin carries oxygen throughout the body to keep organs and muscles growing and functioning. Without enough iron, your baby’s body can’t grow and develop normally. When iron stores are depleted, your baby isn’t getting enough oxygen in the bloodstream, which can result in fatigue, poor weight gain, poor appetite and changes in heart rate. There are long term effects as well to severe cases of anemia, which could even lead to hospitalization and blood transfusions.

What Baby Foods Provide Iron?

The best sources of iron in your baby’s diet are fortified infant cereals and meat. Continuing infant cereal into the second year of life can help to prevent iron deficiency anemia in your baby. Meat and poultry are also great sources of iron, but many babies and toddlers don’t eat much of these foods because they can be difficult to chew. You can mix meats with fruits or vegetables to make them more appealing, or try meat in a soup, where it has been cooked in broth and become very tender and easier to chew. If your baby isn’t interested in meat, try eggs, leafy green vegetables such as spinach, beans, peas, and whole grain bread. Choose fortified foods whenever you can to add extra iron.

One of the major causes of iron deficiency anemia in older babies is drinking too much milk. Make sure that your baby is not drinking more than 24 ounces of milk a day. Milk in large quantities can block the absorption of iron and also cause bleeding in the stomach lining, leading to iron loss. Milk is a healthy and important part of your older baby’s diet, but it is possible to drink too much and do damage to your baby’s body, so keep on eye on baby’s intake.

What About Iron Supplements?

Most multi-vitamins for children contain iron, but it is always a good idea to double check. The vitamin drops used for babies should clearly state on the label that they contain iron. Follow the manufacturer’s and your doctor’s instructions for dosage, and do not mix vitamin drops containing iron in with milk, as it blocks the absorption of iron. If you can’t get your baby to take it directly, which is not unusual as it has a strong smell and taste, mix it with a small amount of fruit juice, or add it to food. Just make sure when adding it to food that it is a portion you are certain your baby will finish eating, in order to get all of the supplements.

Children who have developed anemia may need a stronger iron supplement to recover the stores their bodies have lost. Your doctor will discuss this with you if it becomes necessary. Luckily, iron deficiency anemia is entirely avoidable in most cases, as long as you make sure to add extra iron to your baby’s diet early on.

Keeping Tabs on Baby’s Iron

Babies are at a very high risk for iron deficiency anemia, a condition that results from a lack of iron in baby’s system. Most anemia is caused by a diet that is low in iron. While the best thing you can do to prevent iron deficiency anemia in your baby is to make sure there is enough in baby foods, being vigilant about anemia is a good idea too. Because iron-deficiency anemia can be hard to distinguish from other problems, you will probably need your pediatrician’s help to make sure your baby is getting enough iron.

Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anemia

The most common symptoms of low iron are fatigue, dizziness, lack of appetite, paleness, and changes in heart rate. Most of these you are unlikely to notice in a baby, mainly because your baby can’t tell you what she is feeling, or because they require medical instruments and training to detect.

In the long term, iron deficiency can lead to behavior and learning difficulties, the severity of which depends on how long your child suffered from anemia and how serious the deficiency was. These long term effects, however, should be avoidable with vigilance and early detection of the problem.

Because the symptoms can be hard to notice and easy to confuse with other problems, your doctor is the best person to determine whether or not your baby is getting enough iron.

How Your Baby’s Doctor Diagnoses Low Iron

Most babies will have a simple blood test done between 9-12 months of age to check for hemoglobin levels in the blood. Because iron helps the body to create hemoglobin, low levels are a sign of iron deficiency. A CBC (complete blood count) test will also show the number and size of your baby’s red blood cells. If the count is low and the red blood cells are small and less pigmented, odds are good your baby isn’t getting enough iron.

There are other tests your baby’s doctor may perform, including checking iron levels in the blood directly, and checking your baby’s stool for signs of blood. In most cases however, a diagnosis won’t require extensive testing. The results of the blood tests should be enough for your doctor to recommend a therapy if necessary. This may involve both diet changes and iron supplements.

Preventing Anemia

The best way to prevent anemia is to make certain your baby’s diet contains enough iron. During the first year of life most babies will get the required amount of iron from breast milk or iron-fortified formula. After the first year, however, the risk may increase as babies no longer breast or bottle feed and switch to cow’s milk. Cow’s milk is known to block iron absorption in large quantities, so keep your baby’s consumption in check, not more than 24 ounces a day. Be sure to feed a diet full of iron rich foods such as meat and poultry, eggs, leafy green vegetables and legumes.

You can also give your baby a daily multivitamin supplement that includes iron. Serve it separately from milk to be sure it is absorbed fully. As long as you follow these preventative measures, your baby is unlikely to develop an iron deficiency. If you need more concrete assurance, however, you can request that your baby’s doctor perform the blood tests to check for iron deficiency anemia.

How Long to Continue Baby Cereal

How long your child should continue to eat infant cereals depends on a number of factors. Your child’s diet, timing of weaning from breast-feeding or formula, and your doctor’s opinion are all considerations when deciding at what point to stop infant cereal and switch to more grown-up baby food.

Why Infant Cereal?

It may seem like oatmeal is oatmeal, but there is a difference between baby cereals and those meant for adults. Baby cereals are designed to meet the nutritional needs of infants, which differ from those of adults. Because most babies are not able to eat the same varied diet as a grown person, they require extra nutrients. They are also growing and developing at a rapid rate, which means their little bodies need certain things more than an adult might.

The main difference between a baby cereal and the average box of oats is iron. Cereals designed for babies have been fortified with this important mineral, which helps your baby’s growing body to create new red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. Some infant cereals are also fortified with DHA and ARA, which are thought to support eye and brain development. In addition to these, baby cereals contain a number of other vitamins and minerals to help your baby grow.

At a certain point, when your child has become proficient at chewing and swallowing other foods, it will be possible to get the entire spectrum of required nutrients from a varied baby food diet. Particularly during the first two years of life, however, most children need an extra boost in the nutritional department.

Other Sources of Iron

Fortified infant cereal isn’t the only way your baby can get extra iron. Most doctors will recommend a liquid vitamin and mineral supplement for your baby, especially after weaning from the breast or bottle is complete. Some of these supplements contain iron – be sure to check the label to be sure before you buy.

If you are planning to breastfeed into the second year, your baby will get more iron than if you switch entirely to whole milk. This still may not be enough, especially as your baby nurses less often over time.

Keeping Infant Cereal in The Mix

As your baby gets older and enjoys thicker, chunkier foods, infant cereal might not be as interesting, especially as it tends to be bland. There are a number of ways to make infant cereal a bit more interesting to an older child, Mix it with chunkier fruits or vegetables, or add raisins and a touch of honey for taste – but don’t do this until after a year old, as honey is not safe for babies under one. You can also blend it with a thicker oatmeal that might be more interesting to your older child’s palate.

If you can’t get your older child to eat infant cereal, don’t despair. There are many other ways to get enough iron in your little one’s diet. Be sure to use iron supplements, and offer iron rich foods such as meat, poultry, eggs, green vegetables and beans. There are also some cereals on the market meant for adults that have been fortified with iron, such as instant oatmeal. Check labels to look for added iron before you buy.

If you are concerned about your child’s iron intake, talk to your pediatrician. A simple blood test can check for anemia to make sure your little one is healthy.

Why Your Baby Needs Iron

Iron is a vital mineral to life, for people of all ages. Babies, however, have a special need for iron as their bodies are growing and developing at a rapid pace. Many babies are not getting enough of this essential nutrient, and serious health problems can result.

What Iron Does

Iron helps the body to create hemoglobin, which is what keeps red blood cells healthy, and makes them red. It carries oxygen throughout the body and provides it to muscles and organs, all of which require oxygen to function properly. As babies are growing quickly, their bodies require iron to create new red blood cells.

Dangers of Iron Deficiency

Babies get iron from their mother in the womb, but after birth it must be included in baby food diet for healthy weight gain and development. Babies who do not get enough iron can develop iron-deficiency anemia, a condition which can cause numerous problems including poor weight gain, fatigue, dizziness, rapid heart rate and decreased appetite.

Iron deficiency symptoms can be slow to appear, as the body’s stores of iron are depleted over time. If they are not replaced, the symptoms will start to manifest. Most cases of anemia are caught prior to symptoms developing thanks to routine testing for hemoglobin levels in babies between 9-12 months of age. Rare serious cases of iron-deficiency anemia do occur, however, resulting in hospitalization.

What Leads to Iron Deficiency

In most cases, a lack of enough iron in the diet is the reason for a baby or toddler to develop anemia. There are other potential causes as well, however.

When your baby makes the switch to cow’s milk at around a year old, the risk of anemia from low iron increases due to two factors. First, your baby is no longer receiving the extra iron found in breast milk or iron-fortified formula. Second, too much milk can actually block iron absorption. This is a big reason why babies under a year old are not advised to drink cow’s milk. Too much milk can damage the lining of the stomach and result in internal bleeding that can further deplete iron supplies. To prevent this cause of iron deficiency, keep your baby’s milk intake to no more than 24 ounces a day. If your baby is taking an iron supplement or multivitamin with iron, serve it separately from milk.

Periods of rapid growth can also deplete iron stores, as the body is using them up at a quicker pace than normal. If you see signs of a growth spurt in your baby, try to add extra iron either in the form of supplements or food in order to replace the stores that are being used up.

If your baby was premature or had a low birth weight, the risk of iron deficiency anemia is increased. Because larger babies who spent longer periods in the womb were able to absorb and store more iron, their supply will last longer and not need to be replenished quite so quickly. A premature or low birth weight baby will need extra help to build up iron stores and avoid anemia.

If you suspect iron deficiency anemia in your baby, talk to your baby’s doctor. Once the diagnosis has been confirmed, your pediatrician will be able to guide you in the right steps to take in order to bring iron levels back up.

The Role of Iron in Formula

Iron is an essential mineral to your baby’s growth and development. It is vital to the blood supply, helping to create the hemoglobins that carry oxygen through the blood. Most formulas today are fortified with iron, in accordance with AAP recommendations for preventing an iron deficiency, or anemia, in babies. There are some concerns regarding iron in formula, usually in relation to constipation or other stomach problems; however, the recommendation is still to choose iron-fortified formula over low-iron versions.

Iron in Formula vs. Breast Milk

Some advocates of lower iron formulas argue that breast milk contains far less iron than the average fortified formula. This is true; however, the iron in breast milk is much more easily absorbed by and used by a baby’s body than that found in formula. Therefore a lower amount can have a greater effect. Some doctors do recommend an iron supplement for breast fed babies, but the research is not yet clear on how helpful this is in preventing anemia.

Does Iron in Formula Cause Gastrointestinal Distress?

The main reason why parents choose to switch to a low-iron formula is the belief that the iron in the formula is responsible for such problems as colic, constipation, gas and diarrhea. Because iron supplements in adults can cause constipation, it seems like a logical conclusion that iron would have the same effect on a baby. The research on the topic, however, discredits this belief. There is no evidence of any difference in any of the above issues between babies fed iron-fortified formula and those fed low-iron versions of the same formula.

There is, however, a difference between breastfed babies and formula fed babies in levels of constipation and gas, as well as other stomach issues. This is not because of levels of iron, however, but because breast milk is much easier for the baby’s body to digest than formula. It is also used so effectively by the body that it often leaves less waste to clog up the baby’s system.

The Benefits of Iron in Formula

Since manufacturers started adding iron to formula in the 1970’s, the rate of anemia in infants has dropped dramatically, from 20% to 3% of formula fed babies. Iron is vital to your growing baby’s health, allowing the creation of new red blood cells.

At this time, the AAP recommends that you use a formula fortified with iron, if you are not breastfeeding your baby. Formulas with higher amounts of iron are a better choice because a very small amount of the total iron is actually absorbed and used by the body. Cow’s milk formulas have an absorption rate of only about 12% of iron, while soy formulas are even lower. Compared to the 50% rate of absorption from human milk, it becomes obvious why adding iron to formula is necessary to provide baby with an adequate supply of iron.

At this time, there is no evidence to support the use of low-iron formulas, but despite efforts to educate new parents, low-iron formulas are still available and are still being chosen by parents based on inaccurate information. If you have concerns about iron in your baby’s diet, talk to your pediatrician. It is difficult to see a baby suffering from gastrointestinal distress, but blaming it on iron and removing this important nutrient from baby’s diet can have a damaging effect on health and is unlikely to improve the problem.

A Healthy Eating Plan for Pregnancy

When you are pregnant, good nutrition is more important than ever before. Your baby is depending on you to provide everything necessary for normal growth and development. Because the baby will draw on your body’s stores of important vitamins and minerals, you must be sure to replace them through your diet. It’s important to be extra-cautious with those nutrients that the body isn’t able to produce or store on its own; these must be replaced on a daily basis.

A Balanced Diet

Eating a balanced diet from a variety of food choices in the best way to ensure adequate nutrition for yourself and for baby. Fill up on healthy choices such as fruits and vegetables, and avoid empty calories from sugary choices. You will need to eat from all of the food groups every day, in the appropriate amounts, so it will require close attention to what you are consuming.

Nutrients of Special Importance During Pregnancy

The job of growing a little person in your womb requires certain nutrients more than you might previously have been consuming them. Make sure you are getting enough of these key nutrients for a healthy baby:

  • Folate or folic acid: Found in leafy greens such as spinach and kale, folate has been shown to greatly reduce the likelihood of a number of birth defects, including spina bifida. Pregnant women should increase their intake of foods rich in folate early on – in fact it’s a good idea when you are just starting to try to conceive.
  • Calcium: Your baby is developing his new bones, and this will require a great deal of calcium to make them grow strong. Pregnant women should get extra calcium to prevent the baby from depleting their body’s stores.
  • Iron: Women often become anemic during pregnancy as the baby draws on the body’s iron supply.

Of course, these are just a few of the many nutrients vital to a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Every vitamin and mineral should be represented in your diet, as well as the proper balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat.

Prenatal Supplements

Almost every woman will be told to take a prenatal supplement throughout their pregnancy. Especially when you are feeling ill in the first trimester, this can help your body to continue feeding the growing child. Making sure you are getting everything your baby needs by taking a supplement is a good safeguard against oversights in your diet.

While prenatal supplements are available over the counter, you can also ask your doctor to write you a prescription. These supplements may be of higher quality, and as an added bonus, your insurance plan will likely cover the cost.

Weight Loss and Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your body will naturally gain weight. It is never a good idea to cut calories or attempt to lose weight while you are pregnant. If you are concerned about your weight gain, talk to your doctor. Avoid high-calorie, low-nutrition foods and replace them with healthy choices to keep from putting on unnecessary pounds. If you are eating a balanced diet during your pregnancy, you should not gain weight at more than the normal rate. If you feel this is the case, it is possible you have gestational diabetes. Most women will be tested for this during pregnancy, but if you have not been and are concerned, ask your doctor.

Eating right during pregnancy is vital to a healthy mother and baby too. Throughout your pregnancy, take extra care to ensure your diet contains everything your baby needs.

Vital Minerals for your Pregnancy Diet

There are a number of minerals that are essential to life, and they should already be a part of your diet prior to becoming pregnant. However, once you have a baby growing inside you, there are a few minerals that become extra important to support that baby. Getting more of these minerals in your pregnancy diet will ensure your baby is growing and developing right on track.

Some minerals can be stored in the body, while others can not. Those that can be stored will offer a supply for the baby to draw on throughout the pregnancy. You will need to replace them daily, however, so that your own needs are being met as well. Those that the body does not store are even more crucial to your daily diet. You need to replace them every day through the foods you eat to make sure there is enough for you and your baby too.

Make sure that you are getting enough of these two absolutely essential minerals during your pregnancy, along with all of the minerals your body needs.

Calcium for Bones and More

Well-known as the mineral that supports healthy bones, calcium also does a lot more. It also supports the muscles, circulatory system, and the nervous system as well. It’s an essential mineral for a healthy body, and it becomes even more essential during pregnancy. As the baby draws on the mother’s calcium supply through the placenta, the mother must continue to replace it. Otherwise, the baby will draw on the stores of calcium from the mother’s bones, which can result in problems such as osteoporosis later in life.

Consume calcium along with vitamin D to ensure it is absorbed well into your system. Dairy products are the best source of calcium, but other foods such as leafy greens can provide it as well. This mineral becomes especially essential during the second and third trimesters, but you should go ahead and increase your intake right when you find out you are pregnant.

Iron for Your Blood

Because the volume of blood in your body increases dramatically during pregnancy, iron becomes more important than ever before. Iron helps to create red blood cells which carry oxygen throughout the body. Too little can result in anemia which is unhealthy for mother and baby too. Iron is also responsible for helping baby’s muscles to develop properly.

Iron rich foods such as red meat, poultry, and fish are great sources of this important mineral. Beans, green vegetables such as broccoli and berries like raspberries and strawberries also provide iron. If you are at risk of anemia or have already been diagnosed, your doctor may prescribe a supplement. You will likely be tested for anemia during your pregnancy as a precaution.

Like calcium, iron will become even more important in the second and third trimesters of your pregnancy. But making the right changes to your diet as soon as you know you are pregnant will make it easier to get all of the iron you need for yourself and baby as well.

These two minerals are the most essential to your baby, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the minerals in your prenatal supplements aren’t important. You need a complete and balanced diet, along with the help of a supplement, to make sure you are getting everything you need.

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