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Iron and Anemia

You will discuss anemia during your WIC appointments.  This page outlines the basics of anemia, and you can ask your WIC nutritionist for more information if you have any questions!


What is anemia?

What is anemia?

Anemia means there is not enough iron in your blood.  This is important because iron helps oxygen move around your body.   Without enough oxygen, you may experience some of the symptoms below:

Why does WIC want to know if I am anemic?

Pregnant Belly
Pregnant Women

Iron is an important nutrient during pregnancy.  It helps oxygen circulate through your blood to you and your baby.  Low iron during pregnancy can lead to preterm birth and low birth weight.  Pregnant women are more susceptible to anemia, so at WIC, we review your iron level to ensure that you are not at risk for health concerns.

Mother with her Baby
Postpartum Women

While your iron requirements are lower in the postpartum period than during pregnancy, it is very important to use the 6 weeks after you have your baby to increase your iron levels.  Low postpartum iron levels can put you at increase risk for "fatigue, altered cognition, and depressive symptoms".  WIC wants to help you achieve healthy iron stores so you can feel well and enjoy your time with your family.

Kid Playing with Wooden Toys

Iron is important for babies and young children.  Anemia can cause concentration issues, slow weight gain, appetite problems, and other health concerns.  At WIC, you will learn about what foods are high in iron and how to maximize your child's intake.  Check out our iron fact sheet below.

Symptoms of anemia

cold fingers and toes


extreme fatigue


What does my iron level mean?

What does my iron level mean?

Select your iron level and see what the number means

You have plenty of iron in your blood!  Keep up with eating your iron rich foods.  Remember to pair them with vitamin C to help your body absorb that iron more easily.

11.1 or more

Iron level: 11.1 or more

Your iron level is low and you are anemic.  You can improve your iron level by eating iron rich foods like meats, eggs, beans, dark green vegetables, and iron fortified grains.  You can eat vitamin C with these foods to help you absorb iron.  

Calcium will keep you from absorbing iron.  Avoid consuming too much dairy (over 16 ounces for children, and over 24 ounces for adults)

10.5 - 11

Iron level: 10.5 - 11

Your iron is very low.  You can help it increase by eating plenty of iron rich foods along with vitamin C, and consuming enough but not too much calcium.  You can talk with your doctor about an iron supplement, too.

under 10.5

Iron level: under 10.5

Pregnant women need to take in twice the amount of iron as non-pregnant women.  This is so the blood can carry enough oxygen to both mom and the growing baby.  Becoming anemic during pregnancy can put mom at risk of delivering early and having a low birth weight baby.

The CDC and WHO define anemia during pregnancy as a hemoglobin level under 11 during the first and third trimesters, and under 10.5 during the second trimester.

Anemia During Pregnancy

Anemia During Pregnancy

Help!  I'm anemic!  What can I do?

To improve your iron levels, you can:

  • eat more iron rich foods (see below for a list)

  • combine foods with iron and vitamin C

  • avoid eating dairy along with your iron rich foods

  • ask your doctor if you need an iron supplement

These foods are high in iron

Iron rich food
Roasted Turkey


Colored Eggs



Green Vegetables



Fruits and Nuts

Dried Fruit

Fresh Bread

Fortified Whole Grains

We are now requiring in person appointments for children over 2 years old for whom we need height, weight, and hemoglobin data.

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