This post is intended to be educational. This is in no way to be used in place of medical advice. Please see your doctor if you require medical advice.
Iron is a mineral found in our bodies, which allows oxygen to be transported to our organs, for optimal functioning. In children, it is also vital for growth and brain development.
A deficiency of iron can lead to problems with weight gain, reduced energy levels, difficulty with concentration and can affect school performance.
Risk factors for iron deficiency include: being preterm, inadequate iron in the diet, excess dairy milk intake, among others.
If you have any concerns about iron deficiency, you should make an appointment to see your child’s paediatrician/doctor, as your child will need to be examined, potentially have blood tests or start supplementation.
If your doctor has recommended iron, have your child take iron with a source of vitamin C as this increases absorption. Avoid iron being taken with dairy milk as it can disrupt absorption.
Breastmilk for the first 6 months, or, alternatively iron-fortified formula from birth to the time dairy milk is started. Other foods that contain iron include meats, lentils, leafy green vegetables and legumes. It is important to limit dairy intake to 500-750mL/day as higher dairy intake can lead to iron deficiency. If starting solids, start with iron-rich foods.