In 2011, we began to research why pregnant women did not take their iron tablets, despite having access to them. Our literature review and qualitative/quantitative interviews with hundreds of pregnant women across India told us:
According to the most recent Indian National Family Health Survey (NFHS-IV), only 39% pregnant women who had access to iron tablets took them for the recommended 100 days or more.
The issue of non-compliance to iron tablets isn’t restricted only to pregnant women in rural areas. Just 49% women in urban areas stick to their iron tablets routine during their pregnancy. Also, the more pregnancies a woman has had, the less likely she is to take iron tablets.
To address this issue of non-compliance and fulfil critical iron needs during pregnancy, Violet Health researched, formulated, and clinically tested MamaBix. MamaBix contains crucial nutrients including iron, folic acid, vitamin C, and protein. Learn more about these special iron-folic acid biscuits here!
Vitamin C increases the absorption of iron
5 top protein rich foods in pregnancy
Seafood is a great source of protein, iron and zinc — crucial nutrients for the baby's growth and development.The omega-3 fatty acids in many fish, including DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), promote your baby's brain development. Fish are also rich sources of other nutrients required for fetal neurodevelopment including iodine, selenium, choline, vitamin D and long-chain n-3 fatty acids.
However, one concern is mercury levels in large predatory fish (in high doses) could be harmful for the brain development of your baby. (Taylor, Emmett & Emund)
Some seafood that’s safe to consume during this time include:
Seafood to avoid include:
Due to limited clinical studies conducted in India regarding local seafood and their effects on pregnancy, it is always suggested to consult your physician/ nutritionist about the type and serving size of each type of fish that you consume.
Iron and calcium needs increase considerably during pregnancy. To fulfil the increased demand of the mother and baby, doctors recommend iron and calcium supplements in this time.
However, calcium supplements should not be consumed at the same time as iron supplements. Why? Calcium and iron compete for the same receptors, and as a result, calcium inhibits the absorption of iron when taken together.
Studies on human subjects have shown that calcium (Ca) can inhibit iron (Fe) absorption, regardless of whether it is given as calcium tablets or in dairy products (Lönnerdal B)
Indeed, studies have shown calcium tablets reduce both heme and non- heme iron absorption. (Sean R Lynch)
Some of the rich sources of calcium include milk, yogurt, cheese, sardines, canned salmon, tofu, broccoli, almonds, figs, turnip greens and rhubarb.
Therefore, iron supplements (like MamaBix) should not be consumed with milk, coffee, tea, other dairy products (or along with calcium tablets) for better iron absorption. Calcium supplements should be consumed near bedtime when necessary.
Iron is particularly important during pregnancy and infancy to meet the high demands for hematopoiesis (formation of blood), growth and development. Iron is essential for the production of hemoglobin, which functions in the delivery of oxygen from the lungs to the tissues of the body, and for the synthesis of iron enzymes, which are required to utilize oxygen for the production of energy.(Institute of Medicine (US) Committee)
Iron during pregnancy helps in :
It is very difficult to satisfy the growing need of iron in your body during pregnancy through normal routine diet. As a result, iron supplements (such as iron tablets and MamaBix) are recommended in World Health Organisation and Indian Government guidelines, in addition to being prescribed by the doctors in the second and third trimesters.
Unlike iron tablets, MamaBix was formulated in association with nutritionists, doctors and pregnant women to introduce iron supplementation in a food form to address the issue of compliance with minimum side effects.
Make sure you incorporate a lot of iron-rich foods in your diet and take your iron supplements regularly!
Remember, Vitamin C increases the absorption of iron.
When you’re expecting, you need extra iron to nourish your growing baby. If you don't get enough iron from your diet or supplements, you can become deficient.
The main symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include :
Clinically, the classic laboratory findings of iron deficiency anemia include a decrease in the hemoglobin (Hb) level, serum iron concentration, serum transferrin saturation, and serum ferritin level, and an increase in total iron-binding capacity.
To get technical, a serum ferritin concentration <30 μg/L together with an Hb concentration <11 g/dL during the 1st trimester, <10.5 g/dL during the 2nd trimester, and <11 g/dL during the 3rd trimester are diagnostic for anemia during pregnancy. (Api, Breyman, Cetiner)
Anemia affects more than 1.5 billion people worldwide according to WHO. Also, Anemia in India is an epidemic.
Iron deficiency Anemia can have severe effects on maternal and fetal health including post-birth effects on the infant as well. Therefore, ensure you include iron rich foodsin your diet and iron supplements (Check MamaBix) to make your pregnancy healthier and happier!
Protein during pregnancy provides the nutrients your body needs to grow and repair muscles and other tissues. A balanced diet with sufficient protein during pregnancy improves fetal growth and increases infant’s birth weight. (Liberato, Singh, & Mulholland, 2013).
The top 5 sources of protein in pregnancy are:
•Dairy (e.g., milk, cheese, curd).
•Pulses and legumes (e.g., sprouted grams, beans, peas).
•Eggs, lean meats.
•Fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel, sardines).
As a result of your baby’s rapid growth, protein is especially important during a pregnant woman’s second and third trimester.
Hence, make sure you incorporate a lot of protein in your daily diet for a healthier pregnancy!
Three MamaBix biscuits contain nearly 3 grams of protein.
Related article : 10 super iron rich foods during pregnancy and lactation
Having a baby is a blessing which comes with happiness and responsibility. Pregnant women and their baby’s health depends on the foods she eats and their nutrients. As you may have seen elsewhere on this website, essential during pregnancy is iron - truly a shakti nutrient!
What’s lesser known is that Vitamin C is also essential in keeping you and your baby healthy during pregnancy. It is recommended throughout pregnancy to prevent iron-deficiency anemia as well as many other maternal, fetal and neonatal diseases.(Shu, Ogbodo, Shu, & Ogbodo, 2005)
In particular, Vitamin C increases the absorption of iron from your diet. According to Lynch & Cook, 1980 , Iron rich foods can either be heme or non-heme based.
Heme based iron foods are derived from meat (non-vegetarian), whereas non-heme based iron foods are derived from plants (vegetarian). (Read 10 Super Iron-Rich Foods for Pregnancy & Lactation). The absorption of iron from heme based foods is easier than non-heme based foods. Vitamin C is a powerful aid in absorption of iron from non-heme sources.
Calcium, on the other hand, inhibits the absorption of iron by forming phytates. Also, the amount of iron absorption is directly proportional to the amount of Vitamin C in your diet.
So pregnant women, remember: take Vitamin C (such as fruit juices (lime, orange, amla), vegetable juices (tomato, carrot), whole fruits (e.g., orange, kiwi, mango, strawberries), whole vegetables (e.g., capsicum, tomato)) when you take your iron supplement.
Mamabix, unlike other iron supplements, contains Vitamin C for just this reason!
At the same time, avoid taking calcium and caffeine at these moments, as they inhibit the absorption of iron.
Iron deficiency anemia is a public health condition of epidemic proportions. It is considered by the WHO to be among the most important contributing factors to the global burden of disease.
It is estimated that about 20% of maternal deaths are directly related to anemia and another 50% of maternal deaths are associated with it. (Anand, Rahi, Sharma, & Ingle, 2014).
In India, over half of all pregnant women suffer from anemia. In the past twenty six years, this prevalence has only decreased by 3.5%.
Why hasn’t it gone away?
Unfortunately, even when pregnant women have access to iron-folic acid supplements, more than 60% do not take them for the recommended amount of time.
This is why we started Violet Health and have created MamaBix -- to make a superior iron supplement for the many pregnant women who didn’t like to take iron tablets. Learn more about MamaBix here.
Together, we all can work towards a world without iron deficiency anemia!
Maintaining a regular exercise routine in pregnancy can help you feel healthier and happier! According to the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI), a moderate course of exercise during pregnancy is not associated with adverse outcomes. (ICOG FOGSI Recommendations for Good Clinical Practice)
Regular physical activity in all phases of life, including pregnancy, promotes health benefits. There is evidence that exercise may also help in the prevention of gestational diabetes (diabetes brought on by pregnancy). (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.)
Exercise during pregnancy helps in better weight control, elevated mood, decreased risk of hypertension and pre-eclampsia. It also helps in improved fitness, reduced back pain, stress relief, improved posture, better blood circulation, better sleep quality, less fatigue and increased stamina.
According to a 2011 study, "Aerobic-dance exercise for sedentary pregnant women appeared to be safe and was not associated with any reduction in newborn birth weight, preterm birth rate or neonatal well-being.” (Haakstad & Bø, 2011)
However, exercise during pregnancy has to be carried out under proper observation of a healthcare provider. Heavy exercises are not advised at all during pregnancy and should not be carried out in complicated cases. (Nascimento, Surita, & Cecatti) Safe exercises during pregnancy include swimming, walking and basic yoga taught by a certified yoga trainer.
Therefore, if you already have an exercise routine before you get pregnant, you can continue it as far as it doesn’t strain your body too much for all the benefits it brings you and your baby!
Iron is essential during pregnancy and lactation.
It gives stamina to the mother, and is essential in proper brain development and blood cell formation for the baby. Also, it helps in treating and preventing iron deficiency anemia! Hence, incorporating iron-rich foods in your diet is extremely important for a healthy pregnancy and baby.
Iron rich foods can either be heme or non-heme based. Heme based iron foods are derived from meat (non-vegetarian), whereas non-heme based iron foods are derived from plants (vegetarian).
Non-Heme sources of iron include :