Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world with immense public health consequences. It has a complex etiology and prolonged imbalance between dietary intake, absorption, and body needs which leads to iron deficiency anemia. If developed during pregnancy, it significantly alters pregnancy outcomes. Low birth weight is one of the main features, and those infants are at increased risk of developing anemia later in life. Along with widely recommended and practiced supplementation during pregnancy, proper combination of foods remain the best way for an optimal absorption of iron. Dietary iron is directly related to the total dietary energy intake, but depending on the type of its dietary source, maximum absorption is up to 40% of the total intake. Plant foods, the basis of everyday diet, contain significant number of dietary factors that inhibit iron absorption in the gut. Therefore, planning a well-balanced diet in order to achieve maximum absorption of iron from foods can be challenging. Pregnancy, especially its earliest period, is considered as the critical window in fetal programing, an ideal time frame to reduce risk factors for a number of health conditions in a newborn. Healthy pregnancy should be observed as a prerequisite for a healthier society.
Part of the book: Current Topics in Anemia