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Iron Helps Support Brain Development

Iron Helps Support Brain Development

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Adequate nutrition is essential for normal development of your baby’s brain. Iron is one such nutrient that helps support normal brain functioning and development.1,2 Brain areas that are associated with memory, learning, and mental function usually develop in the last trimester of pregnancy and mature by the time your baby is 2–3 years old. Therefore, ensure that your baby’s food includes iron-containing foods, especially during the first 2–3 years.2

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Once your baby reaches 6 months of age, introduce iron-rich foods, such as, apple, spinach, beans, fortified foods, and whole-grain breads in his/her daily feeds.2,3

How does iron help your baby’s brain development?

  • During the first year of life, your baby’s brain grows rapidly, and iron is an important nutrient required by rapidly growing body cells.2
  • Iron supports normal brain development and function. It is involved in several processes that influence attention span, motivation, motor control, and memory.2
  • It also plays an important role in the development of the hippocampus (a part of the brain responsible for recognition, learning, and memory).4
  • If your baby’s food does not contain iron in sufficient quantities, then he/she may have problems in learning, and memorizing information. 2

Therefore, make sure to include foods with sufficient iron content in your baby’s diet.


  1. Domellof M, Braegger C, Campoy C, et al. Iron Requirements of Infants and Toddlers. JPGN 2014;58: 119–129.
  2. Radlowski EC, Johnson RW. Perinatal iron deficiency and neurocognitive development. Front Hum Neurosci. 2013; 7: 585.
  3. Canadian Paediatric Society. Iron needs of babies and children. Paediatr Child Health. 2007 Apr; 12(4): 333–334.
  4. Fretham SJB, Carlson ES, Georgieff MK. The Role of Iron in Learning and Memory. Adv Nutr. 2011; 2:112–121.

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