Reasons to Include Iron Rich Foods in Your Child’s Diet
There are many good reasons to include iron rich foods in your child’s diet. The mineral iron is an important nutrient in any healthy diet. Iron enables hemoglobin to carry oxygen in the blood, so that oxygen can get to the body’s tissues and organs. Iron is found in dark leafy greens and meats, and is also added to some foods.
Here’s how to include iron in your child’s healthy diet.
1. How much?
Infants who breastfeed usually get enough iron from their mothers. If not, a doctor can prescribe iron drops. Babies fed iron-fortified formula do not need a supplement. Toddlers 1-3 years old need 7 milligrams a day, kids ages 4-8 need 10 milligrams and kids 9-13 years old need 8 milligrams a day. Teen boys need 11 milligrams of iron a day, and teen girls need 15 milligrams a day. If your child is very active, they made need more iron to replace what they lose, so consult your pediatrician.
2. What is Iron Deficiency?
Teen girls, especially those with heavy periods, can be especially at risk for iron deficiency. Toddlers may also be at risk after they stop breastfeeding or eating iron-rich formula if they do not consume enough iron-rich foods to make up the difference. Iron deficiency can affect growth and may lead to learning and behavioral problems. If not corrected, it can lead to anemia.
3. Making Sure Your Kids Get Enough Iron.
Include iron-rich foods in your child’s diet, such as beans, tofu, lean meat and dark leafy greens. Iron fortified cereals, breads and pastas are also worth including. Also, serve iron-rich foods along with foods containing vitamin C, to help iron be absorbed efficiently.
If you are still concerned that your child is not getting enough iron, consult with our health coaches or pediatric registered dietitian.
Dr. Karen Leibowitz
Health and Medical Coach