The Important Functions of Iron in Kids

By Demi Sumler 


Iron is a mineral with multiple roles, the most significant of which is transporting oxygen throughout the body as part of red blood cells. Haemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that delivers oxygen from the lungs to all areas of the body, is made using iron. Myoglobin is also a protein that transports oxygen throughout the body’s muscles. For growth and development, the body requires iron. This article will discuss the important functions of iron, particularly in kids.


Iron Deficiency

A common problem among kids is iron deficiency. Iron is needed for your child’s growth, and a lack of iron can impact their development and health, potentially leading to anaemia. Anaemia is a disorder in which the blood lacks sufficient healthy red blood cells. Iron deficiency anaemia is a kind of anaemia that arises when the amount of haemoglobin in the blood falls below the recommended level. The body will stop creating healthy red blood cells if there isn’t enough haemoglobin, and your child’s tissues, muscles, and cells won’t get enough oxygen if there isn’t enough iron.

Your child’s capacity to function properly may be harmed if they have too little iron. However, many signs and symptoms of iron insufficiency do not show until iron deficiency anaemia has developed.

Slowed growth and development, poor appetite, fatigue, unusual cravings for non-food substances and pale skin as haemoglobin levels decline are all signs and symptoms of iron deficiency. Iron deficiency can also put kids at risk for infection.


The Causes of Iron Deficit

Kids go through frequent growth spurts, which increases their iron requirements. A variety of factors causes iron deficiency in kids:

Iron deficiency is more likely in newborns born prematurely or with low birth weight as their iron levels are dependent on their mother’s nutrition.

In the second part of their first year, a baby’s iron reserves deplete. If they don’t eat enough iron-rich solid food, they may develop an iron deficit.

Even though breast milk contains a small amount of iron, it is a poor source of iron. Extended breastfeeding can lead to iron insufficiency, particularly if breastmilk is substituted for solid meals. Iron deficiency is a risk for kids who drink cow’s milk. Keep in mind that cows milk should not be given to babies under 12 months old because it may cause iron-rich solid foods to be displaced.


Preventing Iron Deficiency

Because the body does not produce iron on its own, it must be consumed regularly. To prevent iron deficiency in kids, it is essential to include iron-rich foods in their diet. These include red meats, poultry and fish. Plant-based food sources high in iron include iron-fortified cereals, legumes, tofu, and dark leafy greens such as broccoli and spinach. When consuming plant-based iron sources, have a source of vitamin C to help with absorption.

Some kids are more susceptible to iron deficiency and may require supplementation. Kids who are picky eaters, on a vegetarian or vegan diet, ingest too much cow’s milk, are exposed to lead, or young kids born to iron-deficient moms are examples of those at higher risk.