Iron Needs and Requirements of Babies

Iron Needs and Requirements of Babies 2017-04-09T19:49:11+00:00

Key Nutrients Babies Need – Minerals (Iron, Zinc, Calcium)

Iron

Iron plays a critical role in helping to maintain healthy red blood cells and carry oxygen through our blood. It also helps the body’s immune system function properly by defending us against bacteria, viruses and other unsavory things that could make us ill. It is not commonly known that iron also plays a role in metabolism, regulating the body’s temperature, and it even helps to ensure healthy cognitive development. Iron is one of the most important nutrients that a developing baby needs!  As mentioned in Chapter One, the vast majority of babies will not become iron deficient if they do not eat a fortified baby rice cereal, nor will they become iron deficient if they do not receive supplements unless there are underlying factors such as preterm birth, low birth weight or a mother who had a poor nutritional status during pregnancy.

Iron is found in two different forms, heme and non-heme.   Heme iron is the form of iron that our bodies best absorb and use most efficiently. It makes up about 40 percent of the iron in meat, poultry (including eggs, in particular the yolks), and fish. Non-heme iron is present in animal tissue and it makes up all of the iron in plants (fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts). Non heme iron is not absorbed or utilized by the body as well as heme iron is.

breast milk & iron-fortified infant formula

dried beans

winter squash

sweet potatoes

broccoli

mushrooms

meat & poultry
(beef, beef & chicken liver, pork, turkey, chicken, egg yolks)

shellfish (clams, oysters, shrimp)

tuna, sardines, canned salmon

greens (spinach, broccoli, beet, kale etc…)

egg yolks

dried fruit (figs, apricots, prunes, raisins)

prune juice

tofu

grains
(cooked cracked wheat, wheat germ, cornmeal, millet, brown rice, farina, bran, breads, iron fortified cereals)

blackstrap molasses (try adding a little to cereal when baby is over 10 months old)

brewer’s yeast

How much iron does a baby need and what foods should I offer?

According to the National Institutes for Health (United States), the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for infants from 0-6 months is 0.27 milligrams of iron per day. For babies 7-12 months, the RDA for iron increases to 11 milligrams per day. When a baby reaches the age of 1 year, the recommended daily allowance actually decreases to 7 milligrams per day. Once children reach the age of 4-8 years old, the iron recommendation goes back up to 10 milligrams per day. These daily recommendations apply to both male and female children. Once girls reach the age of fourteen, their iron requirements increase more than those of boys, with the increase continuing to be gender driven up until the age of 50 years. Some foods that are rich in iron may be found listed below. You should try to serve your infant at least 2 of these foods every day (ensure that the foods are age appropriate) once he has begun to decrease his breast milk/formula intake and begins to eat more solid foods.

How Much Iron is in the Food I feed my Baby?

You may be surprised to see exactly how much iron is in just 1 tablespoon of some common baby foods; 1 tablespoon is equal to approximately 14 grams. According to the USDA Nutrient Database[1], take a look at how much iron is in the following foods:

[1] USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory may be accessed at http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/[/fusion_content_box][/fusion_content_boxes] Iron is found in two different forms, heme and non-heme. Heme iron is the form of iron that our bodies best absorb and use most efficiently. It makes up about 40 percent of the iron in meat, poultry (including eggs, in particular the yolks), and fish. Non-heme iron is present in animal tissue and it makes up all of the iron in plants (fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts). Non heme iron is not absorbed or utilized by the body as well as heme iron is.

Help Iron Absorption

It's Easy!

To help with the absorption of iron, serve foods containing Vitamin C with a meal.