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Need For Iron Supplements In Children
Posted on 3rd July 2019
| General Health
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of 2011, an approximate 300 million children across the world suffered from anemia, a condition in which your blood lacks adequate red blood cells (RBCs) or hemoglobin, the protein that helps RBCs carry oxygen to different parts of the body. The most common cause of anemia is believed to be iron deficiency 1. In India and other developing countries, iron deficiency has fast become a growing public health concern. It has been estimated that most pre-school children suffer from iron deficiency. 2
Iron is an essential mineral for all tissues within a child's developing body. During childhood, when the human body is undergoing tremendous growth and development, the body's requirement for iron is high. This puts children in a high-risk group for developing iron deficiency should their iron needs go unmet. 3 Given the prevalence of iron deficiency anemia and widespread consumption of iron-deficient diets, iron supplementation has been recommended in children < 5 years. 4
So, what is oral iron supplementation?
In addition to the iron-rich food that we should consume, the dietary gap in iron can be made up for by routine iron supplementation. The iron in your body is called 'elemental iron' and oral iron supplements contain varying amounts of elemental iron. Oral iron supplements are available in different types such as capsules, tablets, drops, powders, and extended release tablets. 5
Benefits of iron supplementation
- Reduces Fatigue 6
Low levels of iron can be a definite downer for any energetic child, since low iron levels result in fatigue. Fatigue caused due to iron deficiency tends to last for several days as opposed to regular fatigue that goes away with a night's rest. Iron supplements can help replenish a child's depleted iron stores and get rid of exhaustion.
- Improves concentration 6
Iron deficiency affects are cognitive abilities too, particularly our attentiveness or concentration span drops almost immediately following a fall in iron levels. Consuming iron supplements to replenish the body's iron helps bolster concentration and other cognitive abilities.
- Improves muscle strength 6
Our muscles require iron to help provide them with oxygen which they need in order to contract. Low levels of iron in the body can result in muscle weakness. Additionally, iron deficiency may also cause the muscles tissues to get inflamed, resulting in pain. Iron supplement helps enrich your body with iron, and iron-rich hemoglobin helps repair the affected tissues and gets rid of the pain caused by iron deficiency.
- Immunity Boost 6
Yes, iron plays a vital part in giving a boost to our immune system. When we incur an injury, our muscles, tissues, and organs require oxygen to get better. Essentially, the human body requires iron to build a stronger immune system to fight off disease and infections.
- Restores sleep 6
Low iron levels have been connected to sleep issues such as insomnia. In fact, research has even showed that restless sleep in autistic children can be improved through iron supplementation.
Children are especially at a risk of developing iron deficiency and thus potentially, iron deficiency anaemia. Most children today do not consume the required amount of iron through their diet. Thus, in addition to having a healthy meal, most children below the age of 5 years have been recommended iron supplementation. There is still a tremendous gap inawareness which is reflected in that fact that poor compliance to iron supplementation is a prime contributor to the high prevalence of anemia. 7 Making the correct choice of iron supplement is crucial to aiding in compliance. There are a variety of iron supplements available today, but make sure you pick a tasty alternative that your child just can't say no to.
1 Daily iron supplementation in children 24-59 months of age. (2019, February 11). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/elena/titles/iron-children-24to59/en/
2 Ozdemir N. Iron deficiency anemia from diagnosis to treatment in children. Turk Pediatri Ars. 2015 Mar 1;50(1):11-9.
3 Domellof M, Braegger C, Campoy C, Colomb V, Decsi T, Fewtrell M, Hojsak I, Mihatsch W, Molgaard C, Shamir R, Turck D, van Goudoever J; ESPGHAN Committee on Nutrition.Iron requirements of infants and toddlers. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2014 Jan;58(1):119-29.
4 Iannotti LL, Tielsch JM, Black MM, Black RE. Iron supplementation in early childhood: health benefits and risks.
5 Iron & Oral Supplements. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/14568-oral-iron-supplementation
6 Barhum, L. (2019, May 04). The Health Benefits of Iron. Retrieved from https://www.verywellhealth.com/iron-supplements-benefits-4178814
7 Bairwa, M., Ahamed, F., Sinha, S., Yadav, K., Kant, S., &Pandav, C. (2017). Directly observed iron supplementation for control of iron deficiency anemia. Indian Journal of Public Health, 61(1), 37-42. doi:10.4103/0019-557x.200250 Share on Social Media