Iron !! Is my child getting enough ??
Bsc. Food and Nutrition, PG in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics with specialization in Pediatric Nutrition.
- Posted On June 14, 2017
Did you know??
According to World Health Organization Iron deficiency is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world, affecting 40% of pre-schoolers and children in developing countries.
Prolonged Iron deficiency Anemia caused due to lack of iron through diet, this may lead to decreased immunity and can lead to a number of other conditions.
Let us understand why and how Iron is important to us..
- Heme groups attach to iron molecules in the body combines with globin - a protein to form Hemoglobin giving the red colouration to blood.
- Plant food contain non- heme iron while animal food contains heme - iron. The iron from animal foods are better absorbed by the body than that from plants.
- It is required for increasing the lean body mass particularly muscle myoglobin. Hence this nutrient becomes very essential for growing children. Girls generally require a little more iron when compared to boys.
- Iron helps in the development of cognition and intellectual skills during infancy and early childhood. Therefore forms an intergral component right from the first 1000 days of life.
- Iron is also associated with building body’s immune response to virus and bacteria thus preventing diseases.
Some Signs to watch for :-
- Pale skin
- Spoon shaped nails
- Irritability or fussiness
- Lack of energy or tiring easily (fatigue)
- Rapid heart beat
- Sore or swollen tongue
- Sudden weight loss
- Wanting to eat odd substances, such as dirt, calk or soil. This condition is known as Pica and is very commonly seen in children suffering from iron deficiency anemia.
Anemia can be prevented by the addition iron rich foods in children’s daily diet. Listed are some foods packed with iron and a must in every child’s diet:-
Some rich sources for non-vegetarians
- The richest source of iron is poultry and animal meat which includes liver and spleen of pork, chicken and goat. However one may not be able to consume these foods on daily basis.
- Vegetarian sources which can boost your daily iron intake are:
- Cereals like amaranth / rajgira or bajra which are rich in iron.
- Pulses like Horsegram dal (kulith), lentil and soyabean contain good amounts of iron.
- Nuts and Oilseeds like Garden cress seeds, sesame seeds and niger seeds are the richest sources of iron.
Key guidelines to enhance Iron absorption in the body:-
- Vitamin C along with iron rich food helps better absorption of iron in the body. Dash of lime, or a juicy citrus fruit can do wonders with the key nutrient.
- Sprouting or fermenting iron rich foods before consuming helps in better iron absorption as they inhibit anti nutritional factors like oxalates and phytates present in raw foods. Whole pulses when sprouted are easily digested by children at all meals.
- Avoid consuming calcium rich foods with foods rich in iron as they compete in absorption and may not be adequately absorbed by the body. Knock out milk products like curd / paneer / cheese with a bajri or rajgira roti.
- Keep children away from beverages like tea and coffee as they contain tannins which react along with foods rich in iron and interfere with its absorption.
- Plenty of iron fortified cereals are available in the markets. They can be included provided that they are portioned out correctly to balance out carbs and sugars in the daily meals for children. Reading food labels can be essential part to using such fortified products.
Foods definitely have the super power to increase the dietary iron intake in children.
Our Fitterfly workshops with children can teach you to count your nutrient requirement according to the daily allowances.
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