5 Best Supplements for Iron Deficiency in Kids

Once your older kids are eating more solid food, they are in danger of eating less iron in their foods. This can lead to iron-deficiency anemia which may hamper growth and lead to other negative effects like behavioral and learning issues, muscle weakness and delayed motor skills as well as social withdrawal. Iron deficiency may also affect the immune system negatively leading to recurrent infections like colds and flu. To counter these effects, you may need to give them iron supplements for kids.

Does Your Kid Need Iron Supplements?

If your kids get adequate iron besides vitamins through a healthy, balanced diet, they will usually not need to take supplements. Iron-rich foods include:

  • Beans
  • Chicken, turkey and pork
  • Beef and organ meats like liver
  • Dark green vegetables like broccoli, kale and spinach
  • Fish
  • Prunes
  • Fortified cereals such as oatmeal

However, some children may have a high risk of iron deficiency in which case, it is necessary to give them iron supplements. Your child is at risk of iron deficiency in the following instances:

  • The diet is mainly vegetarian or vegan.
  • They are picky eaters or don’t eat well balanced meals regularly.
  • They had low birth weight or were premature.
  • They have medical conditions such as intestinal diseases and other infections which affect absorption of nutrients.
  • They were born to mothers with iron deficiency.
  • They drink a lot of cow’s milk.
  • They are exposed to lead.
  • Athletic kids exercise a lot.
  • They are teenagers or older kids who are growing rapidly in puberty.
  • Girls are in their adolescence and already menstruating.

Recommended Iron Supplements for Kids

Typical iron supplements contain as much as 100mg of iron per tablet and are not appropriate for kids.

Iron supplements made specifically for kids are available in liquid or tablet forms and include the following:

1. Liquid Drops

Liquid supplements are easy to take. They are also easily absorbed into the body. They are sold in bottles which usually have droppers whose tubes are marked to make dosage easy to measure before squirting it directly into the child’s mouth. Make sure you brush the kid’s teeth afterwards because iron supplements may stain the child’s teeth.

Leading liquid iron supplements include the sugar-free NovaFerrum Pediatric Liquid Iron Supplement Drops.

2. Syrup Iron Supplements

These are measured using a spoon. Syrup supplements like Pediakid Iron + Vitamin B Complex are flavored with fruit concentrate to appeal to kids. Your child will get about 7mls of iron from two teaspoons of the syrup. Some syrup supplements like the above may contain more ingredients than your kid needs. Therefore, take caution and look for a product that is not overloaded with unnecessary ingredients.

3. Chewable Supplements

These are sweet and generally fun for kids to take. Besides, they may contain a number of vitamins. For instance, Maxi Health Chewable Kiddievite is formulated and flavored like bubblegum. The downside is that many chewable supplements are low in iron. Remember to store them beyond the reach of your kids.

4. Gummies

Gummies resemble candy and are popular with kids. However, always remember to keep them out of the reach of the kids.

You can also get vegetarian gummies such as Vitamin Friends Iron Supplement which are gelatin-free and have no artificial colors or flavors, and are gluten, egg, dairy and nut free.

5. Powder

You can mix powder iron supplements for kids with their favorite food like yoghurt, applesauce and oatmeal.

A powder supplements like Rainbow Light NutriStart Multivitamin which contains iron does not contain artificial sweeteners and colors. It is also free from gluten, and other allergens. The powder supplement is packed in the correct dosage for kids. One packet has 4mg of iron.

How to Take the Supplements

How Much Iron Do Children Need?

While babies have stored iron in their bodies, they need more iron to support the growth and development of their bodies as follows:

Age                                        Recommended Daily Amount of Iron

7 to 12 months                  11mg

1 to 3 years                       7mg

4 to 8 years                       10mg

9 to 13 years                     8mg

14 to 18 years (girls)         15mg

14 to 18 years (boys)        11mg

More Tips

  • It is recommended that iron supplements be taken on an empty stomach although taking it with a little food or drinks like orange juice is okay. But do not give your kid an iron supplement with caffeinated drinks or milk as these interfere with the absorption of iron. Taking iron with orange juice or other foods rich in vitamin C improves the absorption of iron.
  • In as little as one to two days of taking iron supplements, kids’ health starts improving and the appetite improves. And as the body makes more red blood cells, hemoglobin levels improve. It generally takes 3 to 6 months for iron deficiencies to be corrected although longer treatment may be necessary for some kids.  
  • In some cases, treatment with iron supplements for kids may fail to work because of poor iron absorption or wrong dosage. In such cases, the child’s doctor can get a blood test done to determine the response. Where kids have severe iron-deficiency anemia, further specialized treatment including blood transfusion may be necessary.

Eat Foods High in Iron

Substantial amounts of iron are found in different plant and animal food sources.

Heme iron foods include:

  • Animal sources of iron contain heme iron which is better absorbed by the human body than non-heme iron.
  • Plant sources of iron contain non-heme iron.
  • Beef  including liver, steak, hamburger and corned beef
  • Lamb
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Veal
  • Pork
  • Fish such as salmon, halibut, haddock and tuna
  • Clams or oysters
  • Sausages

Non-heme iron foods include:

  • Oatmeal
  • Cream of wheat
  • Iron-fortified breakfast cereals
  • Beans including chick peas, kidney beans, navy beans and lentils
  • Baked beans
  • Baked potato with skin
  • Dried fruit such as raisins, apricots and figs
  • Prune juice
  • Broccoli
  • Enriched pasta
  • Enriched rice
  • Tofu
  • Iron-fortified formula
  • Molasses
  • Spinach

Add some of these foods to your child’s diet every day.

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