Both iron deficiency and hyperglycemia are highly prevalent globally for pregnant women. Iron supplementation is recommended during pregnancy to control iron deficiency. The purposes of the review are to assess the oxidative effects of iron supplementation and the potential relationship between iron nutrition and gestational diabetes. High doses of iron (~relative to 60 mg or more daily for adult humans) can induce lipid peroxidation in vitro
and in animal studies. Pharmaceutical doses of iron supplements (e.g., 10× RDA or more for oral supplements or direct iron supplementation via injection or addition to the cell culture medium) for a short or long duration will induce DNA damage. Higher heme-iron intake or iron status measured by various biomarkers, especially serum ferritin, might contribute to greater risk of gestational diabetes, which may be mediated by iron oxidative stress though lipid oxidation and/or DNA damage. However, information is lacking about the effect of low dose iron supplementation (≤60 mg daily) on lipid peroxidation, DNA damage and gestational diabetes. Randomized trials of low-dose iron supplementation (≤60 mg daily) for pregnant women are warranted to test the relationship between iron oxidative stress and insulin resistance/gestational diabetes, especially for iron-replete women.