Iron is an essential mineral for the human body. It is particularly important for children in the growing years for their growth and development. Iron deficiency anemia may not only hamper their growth but also increases the risk of other health issues along with brain development. Many children suffer from iron deficiency but it often goes unnoticed by the parents. Since most growing children are picky eaters, this causes a deficiency of essential nutrients in their bodies. Parents need to find creative ways to feed them nutritious food that can avert nutritional deficiencies.
Why iron is important for children?
Various body functions are catalyzed by Iron. It helps in supplying oxygen from the lungs to the other body parts. It helps muscles to use and store oxygen properly. Prolonged deficiency can lead to ‘Iron Deficiency Anemia’ which is caused due to deficiency of healthy red blood cells(RBC) in the blood. This further increases the risk of infections to an extent that the kid’s body may lack hemoglobin and require blood transfusions or iron therapies to control the condition. In some cases, iron deficiency also affects the brain development of the child where he/she may exhibit behavioral problems.
Also Read: 5 Common Nutritional Deficiencies In Indians
Iron Deficiency Symptoms In Children
The signs and symptoms of iron deficiency in children are mild and often go unnoticed. Most parents come to know of it after the child develops iron deficiency anemia and show these symptoms:
- Pale complexion
- Poor appetite
- Cold hands and feet
- Behavioral problems
- Caught eating, dirt, ice or paint
- Rapid breathing
- Deep red tongue
- Brittle nails
- Cracks on side of mouth
Tips to prevent iron deficiency in children
Here are some tips to prevent and treat iron deficiency in children. Parents need to note down these helpful tips to fortify iron levels in the children.
- It is very important to give a nutritious and balanced diet to children right from the beginning. After birth, you can consult your doctor about the daily dose of iron for the child.
- There are several iron supplements specially made for kids that you can feed your child. For infants, there are iron-fortified cereals that you can give to the kid after he/she is weaned off breast milk.
- Give beans and pureed meat to suffice the iron requirement in the child’s body. Boil and mash the beans so that the kid can eat it easily without chewing efforts and easy digestion.
- For young children, add chicken, fish, red meat, spinach, beans in the diet. These are all rich in iron and would help in increasing iron in their body.
- Give them foods rich in Vitamin-C as it helps in quick absorption of dietary iron in the body. Oranges, lemon, strawberries, tomatoes, bell pepper and leafy greens should be given.
- Since they won’t eat in the vegetable form, you can give them juices and shakes with added flavors that they like. This way, they would have the food.
- If the symptoms persist for long, consult a pediatrician and get the child tested. If the iron levels are too long, he/she may need proper medical aid.
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