Iron is a critical mineral for health and development. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen to all cells in the body. Our bodies need iron to make hemoglobin, giving red blood cells their colour. Without sufficient iron, our red blood cells become small and pale and can't carry enough oxygen to our bodies' organs and muscles, a condition called anemia. Iron deficiency is the most common micronutrient deficiency in children, but with some attention to meal planning, this deficiency can be prevented!
Babies' Iron Needs
Babies are born with a reserve of iron from their mother's blood in the womb, and for the first 6 months of life, babies get the iron they need from breastmilk or iron-fortified formula. Once babies start eating solids, around 6 months, the amount of iron they need depends on their age: babies 7-12 months beed 11mg, and 1-3 years need 7mg.
Iron deficiency is the most common micronutrient deficiency in children, causing babies and children to be less physically active and to develop more slowly. Caregivers can prevent deficiency with some simple tips for meal planning around iron-rich foods.
Iron in Food
- Heme iron is found in meat and is more easily absorbed by the body. Good sources of heme iron include shellfish, canned sardines, beef and poultry.
- Non-heme iron is found in plants like legumes, vegetables and cereals. Good sources of non-heme iron include beans, lentils, spinach, potatoes with skin, nuts and seeds.
- Children consuming plant-based diets should consume 1.8 times more iron than the recommended daily allowance (20 mg for 7-12 months, 13 mg for 1-3 years).
- Vitamin C helps the absorption of iron in plant foods. Good sources of vitamin C include orange, red and green foods, like oranges, papaya, tomatoes, peppers, kale, kiwi, broccoli and strawberries.
- Calcium inhibits the absorption of iron, so avoid paring with iron rich food with dairy products during meals.
At Pureyay, we maximize iron absorption by pairing iron-rich foods with great sources of vitamin C, like in our Aloha Oats. Spinach and Oats contain iron, and Papaya is a great source of vitamin C. We want to make it easy for you to give your LO the best food possible, and take the guesswork out of delivering meals that are delicious and nutritious.