Iron has received a lot of flak in recent times due to its importance in brain development for children. However, we perceive Iron as a nutrient to be supplemented no matter the age, physical fitness or nutrient needs of your child. Read along to know more about the functioning and requirement of Iron in the body.
Role of Iron in the body
The most prominent function of Iron in the Body is that of transferring Oxygen & carbon dioxide (by binding to hemoglobin) from the lungs to the cells & vice versa. Simply put, Iron makes sure that oxygen reaches the cells and carbon dioxide is thrown out of the body. Oxygenation is a very important mechanism by which the cells function efficiently – keeping the body healthy. Healthy cell functioning means a healthy metabolism, healthy weight, healthy mind and freedom from illnesses. Oxygenation is also linked to good memory & enhanced brain function. More the oxygen – better is the child’s concentration & productivity.
Iron is also an important component of immuno-globulins, which means that immune cells need iron to form & function efficiently. Adequate iron levels in the body ensure a good immunity, resistance to outside infections and a reduction in cold/ cough/ flu bouts.
Iron deficiency Anemia
Iron aids the production of RBC (Haemopoiesis) from the bone marrow and is responsible for it’s oxygen-binding capacity in the blood. A deficiency of iron in the blood leads to a condition commonly known as ‘Anemia’. Anemia can manifest as lowered concentration & learning, tiredness, drowsiness and lethargy. Supplementing Iron through food cures this condition. However, Anemia is not always a result of Iron-deficiency! It is important to know that Anemia can also be due to Folic acid deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency or protein deficiency or due to the destruction of RBC’s.
Supplementation & Toxicity
Many of us tend to supplement Iron using synthetic tonics & fortified to enhance our child’s performance at school. However, supplementation may not always be safe/ required. Like mentioned above, Anemia is not always ‘Iron-deficiency Anemia’. Hence supplementing Iron tonics for Anemia may lead to excess Iron in the body. Since the body cannot throw out the excess synthetic Iron, it causes a state of toxicity by getting deposited in the liver.
Top 10 Iron Rich Foods for Kids
1. Green leafy vegetables
Green Leafy Vegetable like Spinach are rich in Iron and is one of the best source.
They can be given as
2. Tahini Or Sesame Seeds paste
Sesame seeds are another good source of Iron and this Tahini Paste can be used in Hummus, as spreads, salad dressings etc.
3. Cranberry Juice
Cranberry Juice is rich in Iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and Zinc. They are also helpful against respiratory disorders, urinary tract infections.
Raisins are one of the best food for babies and children and they help in
Potatoes in contrary to the popular belief are good source of Iron
Potatoes can be given as
6. Sundried tomatoes
Tomatoes deteriorate rapidly, removing water and preserving them as dried tomatoes preserves their life.
They are packed with nutrients, with highest source of Potassium and about 82% of Iron.
You can try this Penne with Sun dried Tomatoes
7. Soybean & Tofu
Some children do not like Tofu as such, you can try this yummy recipe below
8. Dark chocolate
Can you believe it? Dark Chocolate is rich in Iron!!! So hereafter no excuses for eating chocolate 😉
9. Sunflower & pumpkin seeds
Sunflower and pumpkin seeds are rich in Iron. They can made as this trial mix and be given to children.
Broccoli and cauliflower are the richest source of Iron and Can be given as soups, kebabs, cutlets etc.
Hope this list of Top 10 Iron Rich foods was helpful. If you have any queries or doubts, please leave a comment below, will get back to you ASAP.
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Please note – All most all recipes can be given only to toddlers except the puree recipes.
Article by Dhvani Shah