I am pregnant and was told I am low in iron. I cannot take iron pills due to constipation / cramping.

Hi, great page, thanks for the info, especially on iron! I am currently pregnant and was told that I am low in iron 11.9-12.2 and absolutely cannot take iron pills for fierce constipation/cramping (also my levels never increase anyway). The only thing that works for me is red meat and liver. However, my family is very upset with me eating beef liver due to its “waste concentration” and high cholesterol. What shall I do? Do you recommend eating liver?

Yes, eat red meat i.e. beef and especially liver. Glad you like it (I do too). Other foods high in iron are pork, chicken, lamb and turkey liver, Braunschweiger (liver sausage) and pate (chicken liver spread). Dry cereals that contain 100% of the Recommended Dietary Allowances for iron would be another good iron source as well as a containing fiber.

Don’t know what you mean by waste concentration, as the liver is where your body stores fat-soluble vitamins. It is a very nutritious food to eat. Your liver processes toxins into substances that can be excreted by the body and are not stored in your liver. Your liver detoxifies substances like alcohol, however, alcohol is not recommended during pregnancy.

For now, don’t worry about cholesterol, even if you eat 4 oz of liver per week. You can offset the cholesterol by cutting out 2 egg yolks for every 4 ounces of fried liver you eat. Persons who want to limit cholesterol usually limit egg yolks to 4 per week. If you choose other low fat, nutrient-rich foods, I wouldn’t worry about your cholesterol going up. Your body needs cholesterol to make hormones and your hormones are elevated during pregnancy.

A therapeutic dose of iron is 30 to 60 mg per day. If iron supplements constipate you, have you tried switching to whole wheat bread, whole grain cereals (oatmeal or oat based dry cereals), more beans and legumes as well as fresh fruits and vegetables? All these foods are high in fiber and would help offset the constipating effect of iron supplements.

Also, since the amniotic fluid, your baby is floating in completely changes every 24 hours, remember to drink enough liquid. Are you drinking enough water? Constipation can occur from an inadequate fluid intake even if you are eating some fiber because of your body’s demands to continually produce amniotic fluid.

Thanks for your kind comments.