Pumping Iron for Babies and the Rest of Us

Iron_Rich Humans need iron.

Babies triple their size in the first 12 months, and when the body gets bigger, the blood supply must get bigger. Iron is a critical mineral to build red blood cells. Without red blood cells, the body can’t carry oxygen to the brain and vital organs.

After babyhood, children continue to grow. They need iron.

During puberty, kids grow quickly again. They need iron. When girls start to menstruate, they need iron to replace the monthly loss of blood. Read about iron for tweens and teens here and here. Consider a multivitamin with iron daily once girls get their period.

Moms also need iron! For each pregnancy, a woman needs to equip the baby with enough iron to build a health blood supply.

Where can you get iron?

The mineral is present in beans, meats, spinach, collard, and kale. Two ways to increase iron are Cream of Wheat for breakfast which can be served to babies and children of all ages and wheat germ which can be sprinkled onto yogurt or stirred into sauces.

Eat iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods to enhance absorption. Cook in cast iron pots.

About Lisa M. Asta, MD

Lisa M. Asta, M.D. is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, for which she is also a Media Representative (she has been interviewed for “Kids Health” on Health Radio, and quoted in Parenting Magazine, USA Today, and the New York Times, among other publications). She is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco and past pediatric chair at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. She graduated from Temple University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Asta is also a writer whose fiction has appeared in Inkwell, Philadelphia Stories, Schuylkill, and Zeniada. Her essays have appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Hippocrates, the San Jose Mercury News, and The New Physician Magazine. She is an occasional contributor to KQED public radio’s Perspectives series, and has written articles for Bay Area Parent, Valley Parent, Parents’ Press, and Parents Express, as well as online at WebMD.com, Rx.com, and MyLifePath.com. She wrote a chapter in The Field Guide to the Normal Newborn, ed. Gary Emmet, M.D. BabyCenter.com currently has two how-to videos for parents in production which feature Dr. Asta. For more on Dr. Asta’s writing, visit www.LMAsta.com
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