We all need iron from our food but young children need more of it than adults. Iron is found in every cell and it helps carry oxygen in the blood. Young children need iron for the development of their brain, for energy, concentration and to help the body fight against infection.
Good sources of iron:
Breakfast cereals with added iron
Legumes such as baked beans, kidney beans, lentils
Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, chinese vegetables
Wholegrain breads and cereals such as oats, multigrain breads
There are two kinds of iron in foods:
Haem iron – found in animal foods such as meat, chicken, fish
Non-haem iron – found in plant foods such as grains, vegetables and legumes and the iron added to fortify foods
Haem iron is more easily absorbed by the body than non-haem iron. However you can increase the absorption of non-haem iron by:
- Eating foods that contain vitamin C, at the same meal as non-haem iron foods.
- Eating haem iron foods at the same meal as non-haem iron foods. For example, eating chicken on a sandwich increases the amount of iron absorbed from the bread, even though the chicken itself contains only a small amount of iron.
- Not drinking tea at meal times – tea contains tannin which decreases the amount of iron that is absorbed in the gut
- Zinc is found in the same foods as iron. So by including good sources of iron, you would also be getting good amounts of zinc..
Good sources of Vitamin C
- Fruit – particularly citrus, kiwi fruit, berries
- Vegetables – particularly capsicum, broccoli, brussel sprout, cauliflower
Familyfoodworks is run by Eve Reed, a leading paediatric dietitian based in Crows Nest and Stanmore. For more information about Eve and Familyfoodworks, please visit www.familyfoodworks.com.au