Do we really have to worry about iron?
That’s the question that struck me when I was a first-time mother. My breastfed baby seemed very healthy, and I was aware of the risks of iron supplementation. It can cause diarrhea and pain. And if a child doesn’t suffer from a deficiency, that artificial iron boost can cause health problems and retard growth.
But I was told my baby was mildly iron-deficient and that breast milk doesn’t contain enough iron to remedy the shortfall.
The pediatrician ordered iron drops, and I tried. I really did. But what little I managed to get into the baby — she rejected the drops even when I mixed them into her favorite food – caused gastric misery.
Hmmm, I thought. Breastfeeding isn’t enough? How did our ancestors – who didn’t have iron drops – cope?
You might think they avoided iron deficiency through diet, and I suppose they did. But if you read the research on iron absorption, you’ll see it isn’t enough to eat from a list of iron-rich foods. That list I got from the pediatrician – and the standard advice that many parents get about boosting iron levels – is missing some key information.
Iron-rich foods may not help much unless your child changes his diet in other ways.
The problem is that the iron in many foods isn’t easily absorbed. If you eat cooked spinach, for instance, you probably won’t absorb more than 2% of the iron in it. And calcium interferes with the absorption of iron, so if your child eats milk products with his meal, he’s unlikely to get much benefit from eating iron-rich foods.
So here’s what I wish I had known before my baby was diagnosed with iron deficiency. Three research-based tips for boosting iron levels in young children.
1. Whenever you serve your child an iron-rich meal, make sure he gets a source of vitamin C, too.
Experiments show that a little vitamin C – when consumed in the same meal with iron-rich foods – increases iron absorption by 300%.
2. Don’t serve milk products and iron-rich foods at the same time.
As noted above, calcium interferes with the absorption of iron. So to maximize iron absorption, skip the milk products during meals intended to boost iron levels.
3. If your family is carnivorous, add a little meat to your meal.
In addition to being a good source of iron, animal muscle tissue contains ingredients than enhance iron absorption.
image by Adrià/wikimedia commons
Read more from source:“babycenter-com-baby”
what baby experts dont tell you about iron deficiency
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