Iron in the food is usually present as heme or non-heme iron. Nuts, beans, and vegetables are good sources of non-heme iron. Meat, seafood, and poultry products are good sources of heme and non-heme iron. Your baby can absorb heme iron more readily than non-heme iron. So remember that although plant-based foods are a good source of iron, the iron in these foods is not readily available to your baby for absorption.3
The amount of iron absorbed by your baby’s body generally depends on the way you cook food. By applying simple cooking methods such as soaking and roasting, sprouting pulses and cereals, you can help your baby to absorb most of the iron present in his/her food.1,4 However, achieving an adequate nutrient level can be challenging, especially when you are feeding your baby mainly with plant-based foods. Also, feeding your little one with simple foods which are not sprouted or soaked and roasted in order to enhance their nutritional value is usually insufficient to meet the energy and nutrient requirements recommended for his/her age.4
Food products can be modified to include certain nutrients so that the absorption of these nutrients can be enhanced. Such food products are called as fortified foods. The use of iron-fortified foods can help to control iron deficiency.1 Therefore, in order to ensure that your growing baby’s iron requirements are met, include iron-fortified foods in his/her diet.
- World Health Organization. Guidelines for the use of iron supplements to prevent and treat iron deficiency anemia. Available at: http://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/micronutrients/guidelines_for_Iron_supplementation.pdf Accessed on June 24, 2016
- World Health organization. Complementary feeding: Family foods for breastfed children 2000 Available at: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/66389/1/WHO_NHD_00.1.pdf?ua=1&ua=1 Accessed on June 24, 2016.
- National Institutes of Health. Iron. Dietary supplement fact sheet. Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/IronHealthProfessional/Accessed on June 23 , 2016. Accessed on June 24, 2016
- World Health Organization. Complementary Feeding. Report of the global consultation. 2001. Available at: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/42739/1/924154614X.pdf Accessed on June 24, 2016