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Dietary Iron Absorption is influenced by Several Food Components1

Dietary Iron Absorption is influenced by Several Food Components

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Dietary Iron Absorption is influenced by Several Food Components1 You need to be aware that not all the iron in your baby’s diet is used by his/her body! There are manifold reasons for this:

Monday, February 27th, 2017

  • The form of iron in the diet: Iron obtained from plant- and animal-based foods is present as either heme or non-heme iron. Iron obtained from plant-based foods is present as non-heme iron. Heme iron is more readily used by the body than non-heme iron. Nearly 90%-95% of the total daily iron intake in Indian diets comprises non-heme iron. Hence, the iron obtained from traditional Indian food sources is low.
  • Presence of other food components: The absorption of iron by the body is greatly influenced by other food components that can either improve (e.g., vitamin C rich foods) or prevent iron absorption. Calcium-rich foods (e.g., milk and milk products), reduce the absorption of iron from the intestine.
  • Presence of infestations: Prolonged infestations may lead to poor absorption of dietary iron and decrease the iron levels in the blood.

What can you do to ensure that the iron in your baby’s food is actually used by his/her body?

  • Provide foods containing heme iron, e.g. meat, poultry, and seafood, green leafy vegetables (amaranth, spinach, cabbage, drumstick leaves), ground nuts, jaggery , fruits, black gram, etc
  • Include foods that improve iron absorption, e.g. fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C; and fermented and germinated food products
  • Limit foods that prevent iron absorption, e.g. nuts and seeds
  • Decrease the amount of water used for cooking foods rich in vitamin C, folic acid, and other water-soluble/heat-resistant vitamins such as vitamin B. Cooking foods in excess water and discarding the excess water may lead to loss of nutrients present in the food (e.g., – discarding excess water used to cook rice can lead to losses of vitamin B).Therefore, food should be cooked in just the amount of water it absorbs. Any excess water remaining should be used in a soup or stew so that the vitamins will not be wasted.
  • Include iron-enriched foods in the daily diet of your baby
  • Take care that your little one is treated for any infection that he/she is suffering from

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