Iron and kids
Iron is best known for the part it plays in helping red blood cells transport oxygen around the body as an essential element in haemoglobin. Indeed, almost two thirds of all the body’s iron is found in the blood.
Although the body can store some iron, growth and menstruation deplete these stores. Therefore it’s important to make sure children have enough iron rich food each day to keep their levels up.
Which foods are rich in iron?
There are two kinds of iron found in foods; haem, which is readily absorbed by the body, and non-haem, which has a slightly different chemical structure and is less easily absorbed.
Good sources of haem iron include lean red meat, chicken and fish. Generally, the darker the meat, the more iron it contains (eg. the darker thigh of chicken is richer in iron than the breast).
Non-haem iron can be found in fortified breakfast cereals such as Sultana Bran Buds, beans and lentils, wholegrain bread, dried apricots, green peas and spinach.
If you are a vegetarian or vegan, then obviously your choices are limited to foods containing less readily absorbed non-haem iron. Including plenty of vitamin C rich fresh fruit and vegetables with non-haem iron foods can help increase the absorption of iron.
Read more about kids' nutrition
- The a-z of vitamins and minerals
- Learn about the glycaemic Index
- Healthy food pyramid
- Iron and kids
- Calcium and kids
- Exercise for kids health
- Health and fitness for kids
- Nutrition information panels
- Eating for peak school performance
- Picky eaters
- How much fibre does my child need?
- Why fibre is fabulous
- All about fibre
Ready Set Learn
This article was supplied by the team of Nutritionists at Kellogg's for Kidspot, New Zealand's leading education resource for parents.