Q: I just found out I’m pregnant. I have been taking iron supplements and prenatal vitamins. Could I be taking too much iron?
– Melissa from Bolivia
A: Possibly, but probably not. Most women approach pregnancy marginally nourished in iron and then pregnancy just adds to the body’s iron needs. Pregnant women can take between 30mg and 60mg of supplemental iron usually with no problem. But, to be safe, you should have your iron status measured, and not just for anemia, which is the final stage of iron deficiency. For weeks and months prior to becoming anemic, a women can be iron deficient with similar symptoms of fatigue, poor concentration, and increased susceptibility to colds. So besides the tests for anemia (hemoglobin and hematocrit tests), ask you physician for a serum ferritin test and a total iron binding capacity (TIBC) test. Then ask for the results. If your serum ferritin is below 20, or your TIBC is above 450, you are iron deficient. If not, or if your serum ferritin is above 200, then you should cut back on supplemental iron. -Elizabeth Somer