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Iron & Children


Why is Iron so important?

Apart from Calcium and Sodium, Iron is one of 3 important minerals we look at when discussing toddler/ childhood nutrition.  Iron plays a role not only as a component of blood and the transport of oxygen to tissues but also in immune health, energy production and bone synthesis.  Unfortunately iron deficiency is common in Australia and children require adequate amounts for growth and development.  The body stores iron very well so it is not needed in large amounts every day.  Preschool children require approximately 10mg of iron/ day. 

Foods high in Iron

Animal sources

Plant sources

Red meat – 1 cup lamb mince, 4.5mg

Chicken – ½ a chicken, 4mg


Baked beans – 1 cup, 4.5mg

Lentils/ chickpeas – ½ cup, 1.5mg

Dates – 1 cup, 2.5mg

*these are approximates


Signs of deficiency

  • Restlessness & irritability
  • Fatigue & tiredness
  • Pale skin, slow wound healing, brittle nails
  • Frequent infections, constipation, tummy upsets

Ways to improve iron absorption

Iron is present in animal (haem iron) and plant foods (non-haem iron).  Haem iron is better absorbed by the body.  But you don’t want your child consuming an excess of animal products, red meat 2-3 times a week is sufficient for children (the body stores iron very well).  Consuming foods high in vitamin C with animal and plant foods will improve absorption. Calcium inhibits the absorption of iron, so best to enjoy calcium rich foods away from iron rich foods.  If your child still has milk during the day, limit it to 600mls, maximum.  Not only is it rich in calories (can fill little tummies quickly!) but as mentioned above, too much calcium can interfere with iron absorption.

All in all, it all comes back to the basics - ensure your child is getting a balanced diet, full of nutritionally-rich, fresh produce.  Adhere to the little tricks above and if you have any concerns, feel free to contact me for more information.

Health & Happiness,

Kim Holmes

Kim Holmes


Kim Holmes is Platinum Pre School's preffered Nutritionist, she writes specifically tailored articles for the Platinum Newsletter and advises our staff on questions related to childhood nutrition. 

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