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Iron Deficiency in Children

I see more and more children having low iron (ferritin on blood tests). Children require iron for their growth, development, immunity, social and mental development.

Children with ADHD, ASD and fussy eater, tend to have low iron levels.

Signs your child may have low iron include:

Pale complexion

Poor concentration, leading to behavioural issues

Pica (craving for dirt, ice, hair)

Often tired and easily fatigued

Often getting sick

Iron is an important dietary mineral, essential to carry oxygen around the body. Iron is stored and carried by haemoglobin, a part of red blood cells.

Haemoglobin levels in the blood may be low (anaemia) if you do not have enough iron.

Children Daily Iron Requirements in Australia currently are:

7-12 mths old - 11mg/day of iron

1-3 year olds - 9 mg/day

4-8 year olds - 10mg/day

9-13 year old - 8 mg/day

14 - 18 year old GIRLS - 15mg/day

14-18 year old BOYS - 11 mg/day

As you can see, once girls reach puberty and have regular menses, they require more iron.

Increasing Iron levels tip #1 - Iron and Vitamin C eaten together increases the absorption of iron into the body.

Increasing Iron levels tip #2 - It is important to first check iron status through a blood test before supplementing - increasing iron rich foods is preferred in young children (increasing red meat, organ meats, eggs, rolled oats, leafy greens, beans and legumes).

Increasing Iron levels tip #3 - Eat a range of iron-rich foods each day. There are two types of iron in food: 1. Haem iron (from animal foods) 2. Non-haem iron (from plant foods).

Increasing Iron levels tip #4 -Avoid eating or drinking iron blockers at the same time as iron-rich foods. Blockers include: tea, coffee, unprocessed bran, and some soy proteins. Some medications can also prevent iron absorption.

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