Home > Kids > Children's General Health > Keeping Kids Healthy > How Much Iron Do Youngsters Need?
|

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

How Much Iron Do Youngsters Need?

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Shari Nethersole, M.D.

Q: My daughter is 16 months old. How much iron does she need? Do children and adults need the same amount?

A: The amount of iron that a child requires each day is actually not much less than what an adult needs. Iron is important because it helps make hemoglobin which is the major part of red blood cells. Without enough iron, children can become anemic over time, meaning that the number and size of their red blood cells decrease. There are usually no symptoms when a child has mild anemia. However, if it gets worse, symptoms can include paleness, fatigue, poor appetite, and low exercise tolerance.

Most people get the iron they need from their food. Red meats are a particularly good source of iron, especially liver and veal. Other sources of iron include soybeans and navy beans, green leafy vegetables, cream of wheat, and fortified cereals. Prunes, molasses, and avocado also have reasonable amounts of iron. Clams and oysters have very large amounts of iron, though many children don't tolerate the texture of these foods. It's important to know that the iron in meat and fish is absorbed by the body more effectively than iron in vegetables and beans. It's also helpful to eat foods containing vitamin C (like orange juice) at the same time that you are eating foods with iron. The vitamin C helps the intestine absorb more of the iron.

For adult men the recommended daily intake of iron is about 10 milligrams (mg), and for women it's 15 mg. In children, the intake varies with age. The more rapidly children are growing , the more iron they need. Thus, young children ages 6 to 36 months have high iron requirements. The recommended daily intake for this age group is 10 mg per day. Adolescents, ages 11 to 18, also have large iron requirements: 12 mg a day for boys and 15 mg a day for girls.

Ideally, the best way to get in the extra iron is to change the diet to include more iron-rich foods. Be sure to read the nutritional information on all the foods included in your child's diet to find out how much iron she's getting. If you feel your child isn't getting the proper amount of iron (considering her intake over the course of a couple of weeks, not just one day), discuss this with your child's doctor to se if she recommends an iron supplement.

More on: Expert Advice

Shari Nethersole is a physician at Children's Hospital, Boston, and an instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She graduated from Yale University and Harvard Medical School, and did her internship and residency at Children's Hospital, Boston. As a pediatrician, she tries to work with parents to identify and address their concerns.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

Healthy Smile Checklist for Kids
Have better dental check-ups with this free printable checklist that helps keep your child flossing, brushing, and smiling! Brought to you by Philips Sonicare.

Kindergarten Readiness App
It's kindergarten registration time! Use this interactive kindergarten readiness checklist, complete with fun games and activities, to practice the essential skills your child needs for this next big step. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

8 Easter Egg Decorating Ideas
Need some fun ideas for decorating Easter eggs with the kids? Look no further for colorful and cool designs!

7 Ways to Curb Kids' Exposure to Violence
American children are exposed to violence more often than you might think. Learn how to limit your child's exposure to violence and manage the mental health and behavioral effects it can cause.