Do you think your child is looking a bit pale, more moody than usual, complaining of being extra tired or getting lightheaded?
They could potentially have low iron levels or stores. Iron deficiency is very common in young children who could be more on the fussy side of eating, growing really quickly or are not the biggest fans of meat or meat products (these are our most iron rich foods).
A question may be asking yourself is – What is the function of iron?
Iron is a very important mineral that is found in our food that is involved in different body functions but most importantly the transport of oxygen in our blood. You can imagine how essential this is for helping us to function optimally and have enough energy to do the things we love. As kids grow, iron plays an important role in their brain development and establishing a well functioning immune system. So, in a nutshell, iron is essential for our body to function from birth and at every stage in life.
How do I know if my child is getting enough iron?
You might be thinking, what foods could I feed my children to ensure they are getting enough? Let’s start by explaining that there are two kinds of iron, haem and non-haem iron. The more available source for our body to absorb is Haem iron, which is derived from animal products. These foods include meat such as beef, lamb, kangaroo, pork, poultry such as chicken and turkey and Fish.
We can also obtain iron from plant sources. This is known as non-haem iron and is found predominantly in foods like wholegrain cereals such as bread and breakfast cereals, Fortified breakfast cereals, baked beans, chickpeas, dried peas, dried beans, lentils, green leafy vegetables such as spinach or broccoli, dried fruit such as sultanas, apricots, dates, prunes, eggs, peanut butter and nuts.
The beauty of Vitamin C…
When it comes to eating non-haem iron (plant-based), pairing these foods with a vitamin C rich food helps your body absorb the iron more easily. How cool is that! Speak to your Dietitian about how to do this.
Take home message…
Children who eat a great variety of foods, should have no problem getting the iron they need from their diet. For fussy eaters, offering foods such as fortified cereals or bread helps to increase their Iron intake across the day. If in doubt always talk to you doctor or Dietitian.