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Iron for children: when is it needed?

Iron is an essential nutrient at all ages, but it plays a fundamental role especially during childhood and adolescence as it supports the growth and psychophysical development of children. Therefore, at this stage of life, it may be necessary to keep the daily iron intake under control. Let’s discover the importance of iron for children and adolescents.

Iron for children: from what age? 

Iron is very important for the growth and normal physical and cognitive development of children and adolescents. In addition, iron plays a role in the normal development of the immune system and in the production of haemoglobin and myoglobin, proteins that facilitate the transport of oxygen in blood and muscle tissue. Iron is also present in enzymes that regulate certain important metabolic functions of the body.

The importance of iron from foetal development to adolescence

Iron is an essential nutrient for the child’s body, even before birth. Except for major iron deficiencies in the mother, during pregnancy, the foetus absorbs iron through the placenta and begins to accumulate iron reserves that will be particularly useful during the first six months after birth. In the first months after birth, in fact, the only other source of iron is breast milk or artificial milk

At this stage of the child’s life, however, growth is rapid and requires more iron daily than will be needed in adulthood. The prepubertal phase andadolescence may also require an increased need for iron, which can be met with a varied and balanced diet and, when necessary, with specific nutritional supplements. 

Why is iron sometimes deficient in children?

Given that growth leads to an increased need for iron, it is not uncommon to find an iron deficiency in children.

The main causes of iron deficiency in children and adolescents are as follows:

  • Reduced iron intake through diet;
  • Reduced iron absorption due to conditions that reduce the ability of intestinal cells to assimilate nutrients;
  • Reduced prenatal iron accumulation: frequent especially in prematurely born babies, given that most of the iron present in the baby at birth has been accumulated in the last three months of pregnancy;
  • Increased blood loss related to particular physiological conditions (menstrual cycle), trauma or conditions and infections affecting the gastrointestinal tract.

When iron deficiency is significant, certain disorders or symptoms typical of what is also referred to iron deficiency anaemia or sideropenic anaemiamay occur. In most cases, this is a temporary condition, which sets in slowly and can be resolved with paediatric therapy involving a diet of iron-rich foods.

Amongst the most common symptoms of iron deficiency in children are the following:

  • General feeling of tiredness;
  • Irritability, headache, migraine;
  • Sleep disorders;
  • Pale skin and mucous membranes;
  • Increased fragility of nails and hair;
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing;
  • Tachycardia;
  • Difficulty concentrating;
  • Growth slowdown.

Iron for children and increased need to support growth

When a varied and balanced diet is not sufficient to ensure an adequate daily iron intake for the child or adolescent, the paediatrician can assess the use of useful dietary supplements in cases of deficiency or increased needs for this essential nutrient. 

The SiderAL®range of food supplements also includes certain nutritional supplements specific for children. The Sucrosomial® Iron contained in the SiderAL® range of dietary supplements can be useful in all situations in which an increased bodily need for iron is required. Sucrosomial® Technology enables iron to pass through the stomach intact and be absorbed in the intestine, thus preventing irritation and discomfort in the gastrointestinal tract, as well as ensuring a better taste and making it easier to administer to children.

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