The perils of iron deficiency: Natural ways to supplement an infant's diet

Tuesday, January 08, 2013 by: Raw Michelle
Tags: iron deficiency, supplements, infants

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(NaturalNews) The latest medical research from the Umea University in Sweden reveals that iron supplementation can help boost brain growth in infants, potentially keeping them safe from developmental problems later in life. Low birth-weight babies who are born prematurely are the most vulnerable category. The Swedish scientists found that their iron supplies are usually deficient, so they require a nutrient-dense diet to catch up with babies of healthy birth weight. Iron is also important in the formation of blood hemoglobin, which helps carry oxygen to all of the body's cells.

Very early term babies are usually already put on an iron rich regime, but the new research found that even slight weight differences can have dire consequences later in life. Umea scientists also managed to prove that behavioral problems in children are directly linked to infant iron deficiency.

Simple, wholesome ways to supplement a child's diet with iron

Infants need more iron than adult humans, so their dietary needs are special. Since iron deficiency can have devastating health effects, it is important to keep iron supplies at optimum levels, particularly during a child's first year. While most doctors would recommend the use of iron drops, there are natural alternatives to boosting a baby's iron intake.

Liver is a good source of iron, but it is also rich in vitamin A, and too much of it can damage the child's own liver, so babies are usually recommended no more than three teaspoons a week. One of the best ways to add more iron rich liver to an infant's diet is to mix small quantities of it with fruit and vegetable purees. Dried fruits (plums and apricots) and dark leafy greens (particularly spinach and collards) are also loaded with iron and other precious nutrients, so they make for an excellent basis for homemade baby food.

Blackstrap molasses is an underrated sugar substitute with a whole range of health benefits. Being a residue from the production of table sugar, and although it is considered a waste product, blackstrap molasses contains all the nutrients that are missing from sugar itself. Aside from iron, molasses also contains generous amounts of magnesium, calcium, vitamin B6, and potassium. Oats, barley and quinoa meals can be sweetened with blackstrap molasses to create a super baby breakfast.

Cow's milk interferes with iron absorption

Unfortunately, one of the more popular baby food items, cow's milk, is also an important risk factor in iron deficiency. Several studies managed to link it directly to childhood anemia, so it is typically not recommended to give cow's milk to babies younger than 12 months.

Research also shows that early consumption of cow's milk can also cause some gastrointestinal problems. Pure water and natural fruit juices are good replacements, as they are both healthy and will keep the infant well hydrated.

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About the author:
Raw Michelle is a natural health blogger and researcher, sharing her passions with others, using the Internet as her medium. She discusses topics in a straight forward way in hopes to help people from all walks of life achieve optimal health and well-being. She has authored and published hundreds of articles on topics such as the raw food diet and green living in general. >>> Click here to see more by Michelle

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