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Is iron supplement necessary during pregnancy?

Q: Why has the doctor prescribed Orofer XT of Emcure company to my wife? It is a ferrous ascorbate tablet i.e. 100 mg elemental iron per tablet, whereas I have read that RDA of iron during pregnancy is just 30 mg per day.

A:As a matter of fact in western countries, unless a pregnant woman is suffering from anaemia, unlike folic acid, iron supplementation is not routinely given during pregnancy. In India due to a variety of reasons (malnutrition, vegetarian diet, deep frying of green vegetables, etc), it is assumed that most women are iron-deficient and hence supplementation is routinely given. Unfortunately, iron is not well absorbed: no more than 5-15% of the dietary iron (about 10mg in normal diet). Since iron is stored in the body (total iron 4g), the actual requirement of additional iron is about 1mg in normal persons. In US, the RDA during pregnancy is actually 27mg. But their diet is richer in iron. It is preferable to give a slow release preparation that is dissolved and absorbed over 24-hours such as Fecontin-Z Continus (one a day) to avoid side effects such as irritation to gastro-intestinal tract that can lead to nausea and vomiting. It contains required quantity of folic acid 0.5mg as well as zinc.

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