Iron is a mineral of great importance in the diet. It is part of hemoglobin, responsible for transporting oxygen to cells, and myoglobin, which stores oxygen in the muscle.
Lack of iron causes anemia, the most frequent symptoms of which are fatigue and weakness. However, this deficiency is more serious than it may seem at first glance, especially in the growth stages and in pregnancy.
Lack of iron seriously affects brain development and function, can cause long-term mental retardation and behavior and behavior problems, especially when the deficiency is severe and for a long time. Growth may also be slowed, and delays in physical development may be observed in the iron-deficient child.
Unfortunately, iron deficiency usually not detected until the first symptoms of anemia appear, and at this time, the reserves are already at a minimum, so it is important to be aware of possible symptoms or early manifestations of the lack of this mineral, such as paleness, fatigue, loss of appetite, recurrent infections, or cold and feeling cold. and, before it goes to more, consult the doctor.
In the baby, iron stores are thought to last until the introduction of complementary feeding at 6 months. However, this can be affected by an early cut of the cord, which will prevent the arrival of all that blood from the placenta destined to fill the reservoirs of the newborn. Recent studies establish that the delay in cutting the umbilical cord favors the physical and motor development of the baby, which could be related to this extra supply of iron, given its relationship with brain development.
Premature babies are in a more unfavorable position with regard to their iron stores, as well as those in which cow's milk is introduced at an early age (before one year of age) and those who follow restrictive diets. With the arrival of menstruation, girls are also a risk group to take into account, and so are pregnant women, given the increase in blood volume during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester, so it is advisable to monitor their iron intake.
Iron in food is classified into two types:
1. Heme iron: when it comes from food of animal origin. More specifically, heme iron comes from red meat, chicken and fish, and non-heme from fruits and vegetables, legumes, eggs and artificially fortified foods. Heme iron is easier to absorb by the body, so its use is much greater than non-heme.
2. Non-heme iron, when its origin is of vegetable origin. To increase the efficiency in which non-heme iron is absorbed, its ingestion should be combined with foods rich in vitamin C, such as oranges, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes ...
As always, the contribution must be balanced, since an excess of iron is also dangerous to health. Fortunately, it is practically impossible to provide excess iron if the source is exclusively dietary and not from vitamin supplements.
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