Iron For Kids


So far I have touched on various staple items that we all have on our grocery list. After all, when we go to the grocery store, we’re not just buying food for our kids. And if we weren’t previously eating properly, now’s a great time to make some changes for the whole family!

Today let’s turn our focus specifically to the importance of Iron for our kids. Why is it important? How much do they need? What are the best sources of iron, and how can we ensure that they’re getting enough?

Iron plays a very important role in a child’s physical and mental development. Babies, young children, and even teenagers are more likely to develop an iron deficiency since their increased needs are not necessarily met by their diets.

The following is the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for Iron:

  • Infants 0-6 months 0.27 micrograms/day

  • Infants 7-12 months 11 micrograms/day

  • Children 1-3 years 7 micrograms/day

  • Children 4-8 years 10 micrograms/day

A simple rule of thumb is to make sure your child is eating a minimum of two iron rich foods per day.

It is important to be aware of the fact that there are two types of iron; heme & non heme iron. Heme iron is more absorbable (with an absorption rate of approx 15-30%) and is derived from animal sources. Non Heme iron is less absorbable (with an absorption rate of approx 5%) and can be found in fruit, vegetables, and grains.

The following are examples of foods rich in Heme Iron:

  • Meats: beef, pork, lamb… (especially liver and other organ meats)

  • Poultry: chicken, duck, and turkey… (especially liver and dark meat)

  • Fish: shellfish, sardines, tuna, canned salmon, anchovies…

The following are examples of foods rich in Non Heme Iron:

  • Beans: lima beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, lentils, chic peas…

  • Iron-enriched foods: white bread, pasta, rice, cereals…

  • Vegetables: broccoli, spinach, winter squash, sweet potatoes, mushrooms…

  • Egg yolks

  • Dried fruit

  • Prune juice

  • Tofu

  • Grains: cream of wheat, wheat germ, cornmeal, millet, brown rice, bran…

  • Blackstrap molasses

  • Brewer’s yeast

Absorption of non heme iron can be enhanced by consuming foods high in Vitamin C such as:

  • Citrus fruit

  • Berries

  • Green vegetables, tomatoes

  • Peaches, apples, bananas, canteloupe, kiwi, mangoes, papayas

On the other hand, calcium decreases the absorption of iron so it’s important to ensure that toddlers drink no more than 24 oz of milk per day. Furthermore, try to avoid giving your child milk at the same time as an iron enriched meal.

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