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Health Information For Parents
Iron is a mineral found in plants and animals and all living things. It’s an important component of hemoglobin, the part of red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body. Iron gives hemoglobin the strength to “carry” (bind to) oxygen in the blood, so oxygen gets to where it needs to go.
Without enough iron, the body can’t make hemoglobin and makes fewer red blood cells. This means tissues and organs won’t get the oxygen they need.
People can get iron by eating foods like meat and dark green leafy vegetables. Iron is also added to some foods, such as infant formula and cereals.
Depending on their age, kids need different amounts of iron:
Iron deficiency is when a person’s body doesn’t have enough iron. It can be a problem for some kids, particularly toddlers and teens (especially girls who have very heavy periods). In fact, many teenage girls are at risk for iron deficiency — even if they have normal periods — if their diets don’t contain enough iron to offset the loss of blood during menstruation.
After 12 months of age, toddlers are at risk for iron deficiency because they no longer drink iron-fortified formula — and, they may not be eating enough iron-containing foods to make up the difference.
Iron deficiency can affect growth and may lead to learning and behavioral problems. If iron deficiency isn’t corrected, it can lead to iron-deficiency anemia (a decrease in the number of red blood cells in the body).
Kids and teens should know that iron is an important part of a healthy diet. Foods rich in iron include:
(Note: Iron from animal sources is more easily absorbed by the body than iron from plant sources.)
To help make sure kids get enough iron:
What does it mean when a kid has anemia? Learn about anemia, why kids get it, and how it’s treated in our article for kids.
Anemia happens when there aren’t enough healthy red blood cells in the body. It can be caused by many things, including dietary problems, medical treatments, and inherited conditions.
Anemia is common in teens because they undergo rapid growth spurts, when the body needs more nutrients like iron. Learn about anemia and how it’s treated.
Look at any packaged food and you’ll see the food label. This nutrition facts label gives the lowdown on everything from calories to cholesterol. Read more about food labels.
Just like vitamins, minerals help your body grow, develop, and stay healthy. Find out more about minerals in this article for kids.
Vitamins and minerals are nutrients that the body needs to work properly. They boost the immune system, promote normal growth and development, and help cells and organs do their jobs.
People choose vegetarianism for a variety of reasons. This article describes different types of vegetarianism and provides advice on ways for vegetarians to get all the nutrients they need.
Get the facts on which period problems are normal and which ones might indicate something’s going on.
People who have anemia have fewer red blood cells than normal, which can make them feel tired because not enough oxygen is getting to their bodies’ cells.
Doctors may order a ferritin test when they suspect kids have too little or too much iron in their bodies.
Iron helps the body carry oxygen in the blood and plays a key role in brain and muscle function. Too little iron can lead to iron-deficiency anemia.
Vegetarian diets have become more popular, and many parents may wonder if kids can safely follow a vegetarian diet and still get all the nutrients necessary for growing up healthy and strong.
Most period problems are common and normal. But some might be a sign that there’s something else going on.
Learn which nutrients you need while pregnant or breastfeeding, and easy ways to add them to your diet.
Find out what the experts have to say.
Find answers to common inquiries about introducing solids and whole milk to formula-fed babies.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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