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What Is Iron and How Does it Help Your Child?

What is iron and how does it help your child?

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As any parent would know, raising a child is never easy especially when it comes to eating. Most moms and dads would already have a long list of do’s and don’ts from relatives, in-laws, and just about anyone who’s seen their cute little child. 

08/12/2015 - 17:14

As any parent would know, raising a child is never easy especially when it comes to eating. Most moms and dads would already have a long list of do’s and don’ts from relatives, in-laws, and just about anyone who’s seen their cute little child. Of course, in that list is a variety of vitamins and minerals that a growing child should have. Vitamin A, Vitamin C, protein and calcium, these are some of the nutrients you may hear often enough. While these are absolutely essential, you may be forgetting about the importance of iron for children.


What is iron?
Iron is an essential mineral for your child’s body. It is part of haemoglobin in red blood cells that help carry oxygen around the body.


Why is iron important for children?
Without iron, your child’s body can’t make enough healthy oxygen-carrying red blood cells. This means that your child’s body may not be getting the necessary oxygen it needs. Oxygen is required for optimum body and brain function.1


How much iron does my child need?
Your child may need up to 5.5 times of iron compared to an adult2,3! Based on the Malaysian RNI, daily iron intake for children aged 6-11 months is 9 mg/day9. While you may think your child has iron from a daily diet, it may not be enough. In fact, there is a high prevalence of iron deficiency anemia and anemia in preschool children worldwide4,5,6.


How can I provide iron for my child?
You can supplement your child’s daily diet with iron rich complementary food. Your usual home-cooked baby food can include ingredients such as lentils (50g for 69% of your child’s iron RNIs), spinach (100g for 27% of your child’s RNIs) and beef (30g for 11% of your child’s iron RNIs)7-8. In addition, complementary food with high iron bioavailability such as CERELAC® infant cereal can help to fulfill the iron intake of your child with better iron absorption. CERELAC® is one of the appropriate complementary baby foods, and it is a good choice for delivering the daily required intake of iron for your child. One serving of CERELAC® contains minimum 5mg of iron which meets 50% of your child’s daily iron needs.

It is made with Nestlé® patented method to break down carbohydrates in the cereals into smaller units, thus making them easier to digest. It also contains BIFIDUS BL probiotics to help increase the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

What’s more, the rice used in CERELAC® infant cereal is sourced from paddy fields in Alor Setar, managed by Nestlé® Paddy Club®, an initiative where we work with local farmers through a rice-growing sustainability innovation that uses environmental-friendly approaches for the manufacturing of Nestlé® infant cereal.

As a mom or a dad, your support does make a difference in your child’s growth. Remember to speak to your healthcare professional for dietary advice. You can also do your own reading to increase your knowledge and plan your child’s nutrition better. With the right nutrition, you can support your child’s growth.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: Not to be given to infants below 6 months of age unless advised by health professional. For optimal infant health, breastfeeding should continue up to 2 years of age along with complementary food. Nutritious complementary food such as rice, fish, meat, chicken, lentils, vegetables, and fruits can be introduced to infants at 6 months of age. NESTLÉ® CERELAC®Infant cereal can be part of the infant’s varied diet.


References
1. EFSA, 2013. Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of a health claim related to iron and contribution to normal cognitive development pursuant to Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/20061. Official Journal of the European Union, 11(7), p. 3335.
2. WHO/FAO Vitamin and Mineral Requirements in Human Nutrition; Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation. Second edition. WHO/FAO. 2004.
3. Fats and fatty acids in human nutrition; Report of an expert consultation. Food And Agriculture Organization Of the United Nations, Rome, 2008.
4. Black, R. E. et al, Maternal and child undernutrition and overweight in low-income and middle income countries. The Lancet, 2013, 382(9890), pp. 427-451.
5. Stevens, G. A. et al., Global, regional and national trends in haemoglobin concentration and prevalence of total pregnant women for 1995-2011: a systematic analysis of population-representative data. Lancet Glob Health, 2013, Volume 1, pp. e16-25.
6. WHO Global database on anemia. Worldwide prevalence of anemia 1993-2005. Edited by deBenoist, McLean E, Egli I, Cogswell M. WHO 2008.
7. WHO/FAO Vitamin and Mineral Requirements in Human Nutrition Report of a Joing FO/WHO Expert Consultation. Second Edition. WHO/FAO, 2004
8. Guidelines on Formulated Supplementary Foods for Older Infants and Young Children (CAC/GL08-1991)(update in process in 2013), in the absence of references values in the related standard for processed cereal-based foods for infants and children (STAN 74-1981).
9. NCCFN (2005). Recommended Nutrient Intakes from Malaysia. A Report of the Technical Working Group on Nutritional Guidelines. National Coordinating Committee on Food and Nutrition, Ministry of Health Malaysia, Putrajaya.

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