Iron, as we all know, is an important mineral involved in making hemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells (RBCs) that helps deliver oxygen throughout the body as well as aid many other body functions. Without hemoglobin, the body stops producing healthy RBCs leading to low blood, which can affect a child’s muscles, tissues, and cell growth, more than it affects adults, since children are at a growing stage.
When infants switch to eating more solid foods, they might lack iron-rich foods, which puts them at risk for iron deficiency anemia, affecting their social, mental and physical development as well as increase the risk of infections like the cold and flu.
Ideally, kids can get their iron and other vitamins from a balanced, nutrient-dense diet including fish, poultry, meat, beans, green leafy vegetables and fortified pulses, following which they won’t require any supplements. But certain hindrances like picky and moody eating habits, vegan or vegetarian diet, malabsorption, early menstruation, etc. can cause iron deficiencies which may require oral supplements.
It’s important to talk with your doctor before giving iron supplements to your child.
If your child is showing any symptoms like-
- behavioral problems
- loss of appetite
- increased sweating
- strange cravings (pica), like eating dirt
- failure to grow at the expected rate
Your doctor might take a small sample of blood to check your child’s red blood cells. If your doctor suspects your child has an iron deficiency, they may prescribe a supplement.
Best iron supplements for kids
Iron supplements for adults contain far too much iron, so they aren’t safe for children.
But there are many supplements available in tablets or liquid formulations that are made specifically for young children. These include:
1. Liquid drops
Liquid supplements are easy to take and absorb. The bottle typically comes with a dropper with markings on the tube to indicate the dosage level, making it easy to put straight into your child’s mouth.Do not forget to brush their teeth after giving any liquid iron supplement, as they cause teeth staining.
There are sugar free syrups in good flavours available for children. You can safely measure out and give your child a spoonful of their iron supplement with syrup.
If you find liquids and syrups messy, a chewable supplement is the way to go.They’re sweet, easy to eat, and typically contain many vitamins in the same table, with a delectable flavour to attract kids. It’s also important to remember to keep the bottle locked away and out of the reach of your children to prevent overdose.
Just like chew, fruity gummies are a kids’ favourite because of their taste and resemblance to candy.While it’s perfectly safe to give your kid a vitamin gummy, parents should be extra cautious to keep them out of the reach of children at all times, again, to avoid overdose.
A powder iron supplement can be mixed with your kid’s favorite foods, making it a great option for picky eaters. They won’t even realise that they have consumed a medicine and it will be effective too. It comes in packets measured to the correct dosage for your child.Word of caution
Iron supplements can cause certain side effects like digestive issues, upset stomach, stool changes, and constipation. Although they are absorbed better if they’re taken on an empty stomach before a meal, taking it after a meal may be beneficial if your child experiences any negative side effects. Remember, excessive iron intake can lead to serious health problems, so never give your child iron supplements without first consulting a doctor.