Iron is the major component of the hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from the lungs to all other body parts. And all of us need it to keep our bodies strong. It plays a vital role in energy creation, muscle functioning, and brain development.
Many people do not take enough iron in their diet and become iron deficient. And this condition is known as “Anemia”. The person suffering from anemia is known as anemic. This disease is mostly found in small children. In such situations, low oxygen reaches the cells of the body cells and gives rise to learning and behavioral problems in a child.
Causes of Iron Deficiency –
- Poor diet
It is one of the major reasons for iron deficiency in small children. If a child is not given an iron-rich diet he/she can suffer from Anemia. Cow’s milk and complementary foods are poor sources of iron which can develop an iron deficiency in the child. Instead of these green leafy vegetables and iron meat should be given to the child which is rich in iron.
In addition to this, you can also give iron supplements to your kids to overcome iron deficiency.
- Inability to absorb the required amount of iron from food
Some children who are suffering from celiac disease or Crohn’s disease have problems absorbing iron from food.
- Blood loss
The problem of Anemia is commonly seen in growing teenage girls because of the loss of blood during menstruation bleeding.
- Body Changes
When the body goes through a pace of growth, it demands more iron to make more blood cells.
Symptoms Of Iron Deficiency
Iron-deficiency or Anemia develops gradually in children. At the first stage, the amount of iron in the body starts decreasing, which will affect muscles and brain functions. And if the level of iron continues to go down, then brain function is affected, and this condition is known as Anemia.
And at this point a child cannot be treated just by giving iron-rich food, he/she should be treated with the help of medicine by the concerned physician. He\She will recommend some iron supplements for your child to overcome iron deficiency. A variety of iron tablets available in the market, such as orange flavor, vanilla flavor, and chocolate flavor iron supplement.
Here are some common symptoms associated with iron deficiency
- Pale skin around the eyelids
- Weakness and tiredness
- Low appetite
- Repeat Infections
- Behavioral changes
- Excess sweating
- Strange Cravings for unhealthy non-food things such as paint, dirt, etc
- Brittle nails
For the diagnosis of Anemia, the doctor recommends a blood test to check the hemoglobin level and CBC (complete blood count) and ask some questions related to the child’s development and diet. If the hemoglobin level and a count of WBCs or RBCs come relatively low in the test, then the child succumbs to Anemia.
Sometimes doctors also take stool tests to find the actual cause of the iron deficiency.
How to Treat Iron Deficiency? –
Treatment depends on many factors such as age symptoms and general health of the child. So, asking your physician before giving iron supplements to your child is very crucial, because excessive intake of iron can cause problems. And if you already concern your doctor and started giving supplements to your loved one then you must take care of the following things.
- Iron tablets should always be taken empty stomach or with a little amount of food.
- Do not give iron with milk and other caffeine drinks because it makes it difficult to absorb.
- Try to give iron with vitamin C rich foods such as orange juice because it makes iron absorb better.
Some Iron Rich Food to Consider in Children Diet
There are two types of iron
- Heme Iron – It is more easily absorbed by the body and found in the following foods
. Beef liver
. Lean ground beef
. Skinless Chicken breast
. Whole-grain bread
- Non-Heme Iron – It is found in plants and green vegetables, such as –
. Pumpkin seeds
. Soybean nuts
. Lima beans
. Cranberry juice
. Green peas
Prevention from Iron Deficiency
- Avoid giving cow’s milk to infants younger than 1 year because it does not contain appropriate quantities of iron. Mother’s milk or infant formula milk is best for babies up to the age of 1.
- Iron-fortified solid foods such as grains should be given to children six months of age or older.
- Try to cook food in a cast-iron pan as it increases the value of iron in the food.