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Iron Deficiencies in Children

Updated on August 5, 2013
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Why is Iron Important

Most people associate iron with the production of red blood cells and most of us associate an iron deficiency with lack of energy.

Why iron is such a vital mineral to children is because it is essential for brain development. Children who suffer iron deficiencies develop behavioral issues and learning problems. Other issues with iron deficiencies in children are failure to grow at a normal rate and reduced immunity to infections.

Whether or not the deficits caused by the iron deficiencies are reversible, depends on how long the child has been low in iron for and how severe the deficiency.

It is also important not to just assume that an iron deficiency may be an issue for your child. Always see a medical practitioner and the medical practitioner can organise a blood test to ascertain your childs iron level and if you're going to go through with the blood test, be sure to ask for a full blood count. A full blood count will measure the status of a number of different features of the blood, so if iron deficiency is not the problem the blood count may show up other abnormalities if there are any.

Why Are Some Children Iron Deficient?

Diet is the single biggest cause for a childs iron deficiency . (For our family it was our milk loving son who would sneakily fill up on milk and then not eat as much).

When our children are growing rapidly they require more iron, this is particularly so during the first two to three years of life. Suddenly our children are needing the nutrition from their 'food' and their comforting, milk simply does not have the nutrition their little growing bodies need. And to top it off, this is usually when some kids become fussy eaters.

You may think it easier to just supplement with vitamins, but also bare in mind that the act of eating solid foods uses the same muscles that are needed for speech development.

Most importantly iron supplements can be toxic and should only be used under medical supervision.

Also be mindful of our older children that are too busy to eat. It is very easy for our small people to get caught up with their activities, especially 'the gamers' who are cunning enough to eat a little to keep their mum off their backs but not enough to keep up with their growing bodies nutritional requirements.

There are other causes of iron deficiency ie. prolonged gastrointestinal upsets and the causes of these upsets need to be determined. One such cause can be coeliac disease which is the bodies inability to process wheat and wheat products.

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What you can do.

Eat meat! Three to four times a week and if you're vegetarian go for the iron enriched breakfast cereals. Other iron rich veggies include legumes (chickpeas, beans) and green leafy vegetables like your good old spinach, spirulina, pumpkin seeds, prunes and it's good to eat foods high in Vitamin C because vitamin C helps iron absorption.

Basically eat a good balanced diet.

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