Do toddlers need iron in their vitamins?
Healthy kids usually get their iron from a balanced diet. But picky eaters or those with health concerns might not receive their daily iron intake. Many parents turn to a vitamin supplement with iron.
What is iron?
Iron is an essential mineral responsible for transferring oxygen throughout the blood. If toddlers don’t have enough iron, they can’t generate the required amount of healthy oxygen-carrying red blood cells. Being deficient in red blood cells is known as iron deficiency anemia.
When you're iron deficient your body can't get the oxygen you need, resulting in health concerns developing. In toddlers, some of the symptoms of deficiency anemia include:
- Pale skin
- Slowed growth and development
- Behavioral problems
- Frequent infections
- Poor appetite
- Cravings for non-food items like ice or dirt
How Can an Iron Deficiency In Toddlers Be Prevented?
While breast milk provides the best source of nutrients for babies, it might not have enough iron in the liquid. The mother could have low levels of iron reserve and unable to pass on the necessary amount through breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends an iron supplement to make up the difference.
Fortunately, iron deficiency can be prevented and treated. One of the best ways is to serve iron-rich foods. When you begin to give your baby solid foods (around 6 months), add iron-fortified foods like milk, cereal, pureed meats, and beans. As they grow into toddlerhood, add good sources of iron, such as meat, fish, beans, and dark leafy vegetables. Most vitamins and minerals, including iron, are readily available from healthy foods.
Watch the Cow’s Milk
If a toddler is consuming more than 24 ounces of milk a day, this might cause iron anemia. The reason is that toddlers will forgo eating other healthy iron-rich options because they are full of milk. Also, consuming cheese and yogurt will decrease the iron being absorbed from iron-rich foods like legumes and beans.
Enhancing Absorption with Vitamin C
Vitamin C works with iron to promote absorption. Offer your toddler vitamin C rich foods that include:
- Dark green vegetables
- Bell peppers
- Citrus fruits
- Fortified orange juice
Give Your Little One an Iron Supplement
Parents of picky eaters or follow a vegan diet might not be receiving the recommended daily dose of iron. When that's the case, choosing a multivitamin with iron will help prevent an iron deficiency. Kids need their nutrients, so selecting a kid-friendly vitamin like a gummy vitamin makes supplementing easier.
The recommended daily allowance for iron varies by age, but generally, toddlers need about 7 mg per day. Check with your healthcare provider for advice and exact dosage amount.
The question of whether toddlers need iron in their vitamins depends on different factors. Overall, a kid's multivitamin should include iron if your toddler is a picky eater, has an iron deficiency, follows a vegan diet or drinks too many servings of milk. In the end, iron in moderation will only improve your child's health.
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