Children aged 1-12 need 7-10mg of iron a day (lower end for smaller children, increasing as they grow) and if your child isn't eating meat it can be hard to hit that total each day. Adding an iron supplement to their diet is one option, but most taste horrible and are rejected by the child. Here is a list of iron levels in common foods and ideas to help aid iron absorption.
To help aid iron absorption:
- Continue serving iron-fortified cereal until kids are 18-24 months old.
- Serve iron-rich foods alongside foods containing vitamin C — such as tomatoes, broccoli, oranges, and strawberries — which improves the body's absorption of iron.
- Avoid serving coffee or tea at mealtime — both contain tannins that reduce iron absorption.
- If you have a vegetarian in the family, monitor his or her diet to make it includes sufficient iron. Because iron from meat sources is more easily absorbed than iron from plant sources, you may need to add iron-fortified foods to a vegetarian diet.
Signs of an iron deficiency:
- feeling tired and weak
- decreased work and school performance
- slow cognitive and social development
- difficulty maintaining body temperature
- decreased immune function, which increases susceptibility to infection