Iron is an essential mineral required by the body. It is used to synthesise haemoglobin, an essential component of blood cells, which carries oxygen throughout your child’s body. Iron is required to support rapid growth, and to ensure that your child has enough energy to learn and play. Therefore, it is important that your child has an adequate iron intake from the diet they consume.
When the child’s diet lacks good sources of iron, he or she is likely to suffer from iron deficiency. If your child shows symptoms such as generalised weakness, pale skin and lips, irritability, slow growth, decreased appetite and an overall lack of enthusiasm, visit a doctor to check if he or she suffers from iron deficiency. Since young children have a higher iron requirement per kg body weight than adults, they are more likely to develop iron deficiency.
Foods such as eggs, lamb, pork and fish are good sources of iron. Green vegetables, nuts and seeds, dried fruits, dates and whole wheat are also good sources of iron. Alternatively, food such as iron-fortified cereals may also be given to ensure that your child gets the required quantity of iron.
During preschool years the recommended iron intake is 13 mg per day for 4- to 6-year-old children and 9 mg per day for 1- to 3-year-old children.