for infants and children
is iron so important in the diet of infants and children?
Iron is a vital
nutrient which is essential for healthy blood and normal growth and development.
Infants and young
children grow much more rapidly than adults, therefore iron is even more essential
for them during this crucial stage.
happens if my infant does not get enough iron?
Your baby is born
with a store of iron which they use up during the first few months of life.
Between four and
six months, this iron supply becomes depleted, eventually running out by the
time the baby is six months old. Therefore, it is important that you introduce
iron into the diet at the four to six month stage.
is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world and can affect the growth
and development of infants.
Infants who do
not get enough iron can develop iron deficiency anaemia. Anaemia is a reduction
in the quantity of the oxygen-carrying pigment haemoglobin in the blood. Symptoms
include excessive tiredness, pallor (abnormal paleness of the skin) and poor
resistance to infection.
There are many
causes of anaemia, but when it is caused by a lack of iron, it is known as iron
According to Bord
Bia, the Irish Food Board, approximately one in ten two-year-olds were recently
found in Ireland to be anaemic.
are the best sources of iron?
The best source
of iron is from meat, chicken and fish.
Iron is also available
in cereals, eggs, vegetables and beans, however it is not as easily absorbed
into the body as the iron from meat, chicken and fish.
The best thing
is to provide a mixture of these foods in the diet.
It is extremely
important that you consult a doctor or nutritionist if you plan to raise your
child as a vegetarian or vegan. Since the infant won't be eating the very foods
which provide the most iron, i.e. meat, they will be at a greater risk of developing
problems from iron deficiency. You must ensure they get adequate iron levels
through some other source.
Do not give tea
or coffee to infants or toddlers as these inhibit the absorption of iron.
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