Why is iron so important for children?

A child’s health is paramount to parents, but do we know enough about what makes and keeps our children healthy?

Why is iron so important for children

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One problem that strikes some children is an iron deficiency. It all starts with your red blood cells, which deliver oxygen to the organs and body tissue. Each red blood cell contains iron in its haemoglobin; this is the part that carries oxygen from the lungs to your body. It’s the iron that gives the haemoglobin the strength to carry oxygen in the blood, enabling oxygen to get where it needs to be. The body cannot make haemoglobin and makes fewer red blood cells when iron is deficient.

Where can we get iron?

We get iron from foods that originally contained haemoglobin, such as red meats, fish and poultry. It can also be found in dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, beans, peas, in addition to dried fruits such as raisins and apricots. Iron can also be sourced from pasta, bread and cereals that have been fortified with iron.

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What is iron deficiency?

Iron deficiency can affect growth and may lead to learning and behavioural problems. If it is not corrected, it could lead to anaemia, a reduction of red blood cells in the blood. There are several tell-tale signs that can indicate iron deficiency: fatigue, pale skin, poor appetite, slow growth and development, behavioural problems, abnormal breathing and an increase in infections.

Prevention

There are several preventative measures you can take. You can introduce a liquid iron supplement to your child’s diet, following the recommended guidelines. If you’re wondering what is an iron supplement?, it’s typically drops that children can take to boost their iron. Serve an iron-rich diet and enhance it with foods rich in Vitamin C as this will help promote the absorption of dietary iron.

How much iron do we need?

Breastfed babies generally receive enough iron from their mothers until they are 4 to 6 months old. Infants up to 12 months old need 11 milligrams a day. The amount drops slightly until the child reaches the age of 13 years. 15 milligrams are required for girls aged 14 to 18 because during these adolescent years, they grow rapidly and begin menstruating. Young athletes engaging in intense exercise will need additional iron. In addition, people who don’t eat meat may need extra iron.

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