is a nutrient that is important for your child’s health. Iron in red blood
cells carries oxygen to all parts of the body. When children don't get enough
iron, they may look pale, act cranky, and not have much energy. Iron deficiency
anemia is the most common nutritional problem children have. The problem with
iron is that it is difficult for the body to absorb. Iron in meat, poultry, and
fish is absorbed several times better than iron from vegetable sources. Animal protein
contains something called meat factor, which improves absorption of vegetable
iron eaten at the same time as meat. Vitamin C helps iron absorption, too. If
your child eats foods rich in vitamin C at the same time as foods rich in iron,
the iron will be absorbed better. Examples of meals that have both meat and
vitamin C include hamburgers and coleslaw, spaghetti with meat and tomato sauce,
hot dogs and orange wedges, and chicken with broccoli. This article has a bunch
of information about iron and your child including how much he or she needs and
the best way to get iron.
Plant sources of iron* (offer 5-6 or more
child-sized servings each day)
child-sized serving = 1/4-1/2 cup or 1/2 slice
enriched oatmeal, cream of wheat (available on WIC)
fortified cereal (WIC cereals)
tofu, lentils, split peas
seeds, roasted soybeans, or nuts -child
must be able to chew well
apricots, prunes, figs, and raisins
green vegetables (broccoli, peas, spinach, bok choy, leafy greens)
grain foods (brown rice, oats, whole wheat bread)
grains (pasta, breads, bagels)
from plant sources is absorbed and used better when you eat meat or a
vitamin C food with them.
Animal Sources of Iron (offer 1-3 child-sized
servings most days)
child-sized serving = 1 - 2 ounces (1 ounce is about the of 4 dice)
pork, lamb, veal, turkey*
be hard for young children to chew. Keep them moist & tender. Serve them
in stews, soups, & casseroles. Slice very thinly for sandwiches or finger
egg yolk is not absorbed well. Serve with a vitamin C food.
How can you get enough
- Eat foods with iron.
- Eat foods fortified or enriched with iron.
- Take a vitamin and mineral supplement with iron.
everyone needs an iron supplement. If you are pregnant, in your childbearing
years, or have a child that you suspect may not be getting enough iron from his
or her diet, ask your healthcare provider to check for iron deficiency. Men and
postmenopausal women should only Take iron supplements when prescribed by a
physician because of a greater risk of iron overload.
Some foods rich in Vitamin
and most vegetables have vitamin C
fruits have vitamin C
peppers (green, yellow, red, or orange)
100% fruit juice—remember to keep it to no more that about 4–6 ounces per day.
What is Iron Deficiency?
deficiency is when the body’s stores of iron are running out. This can be a problem
for toddlers, young woman that have very heavy periods, or pregnant woman that
have had several pregnancies close together. Iron deficiency can affect a
child’s growth and may lead to learning and behavioral problems. Why are
toddlers at risk for iron deficiency or anemia? Toddlers are at risk for a
couple of reasons. When they are babies (up to 12 months of age) they are
getting breast milk (usually pretty high in iron), iron-fortified formula, and
iron-fortified infant cereal (the dry cereal in a box). Once they turn one year
of age, most babies drink cow’s milk. Drinking too much cow’s milk can put your
toddler at risk of developing iron deficiency. Here’s why:
- Cow’s milk is low in iron.
- Toddlers who drink a lot of cow’s milk may be less hungry and less likely to
eat iron-rich foods.
- Milk decreases the absorption of iron.
How much milk does my
your child is one year old he or she only needs about 2 cups of milk per day.
The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends using whole milk to age
2. If this is a concern of yours, speak to your doctor. If your baby drinks
about 2 cups (16 ounces) of milk per day he will get the amount of calcium and
vitamin D he needs and have plenty of tummy room for his meals and snacks. Keep track of how much milk your toddler is
drinking. He only needs about 2 cups per day. Too much milk can lead to iron
woman need iron too!
women need lots of iron especially in the 2nd and 3rd trimester of their pregnancy.
Iron deficient anemia is associated with a two fold increase in premature delivery
and a three fold increase in low birth weight. Take your prenatal vitamin!! If you are nauseous
try taking your vitamin after lunch. Keep trying to take your vitamin. It is
important to have a healthy, happy baby.