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Iron is one of the most important minerals the body needs to function optimally. Among it’s many uses within the body, iron helps bring oxygen to the body’s various organ systems and tissues, making it a vital nutrient for proper circulation. Having too little iron can lead to anemia as well as symptoms like dry, brittle hair, fatigue and/or weakness, headaches and cold feet and hands.

But how much iron we need throughout our lives varies, based on age and gender. Having too much iron can also lead to iron poisoning, which is why it’s important to know what the body needs and adhere to the advice of your medical professional.

Women who are pregnant are one of the groups most susceptible to iron deficiency due to the excess blood they produce while carrying the baby. Pregnant women are advised to have 27 mg of iron daily to prevent anemia and support both their body and the developing fetus. If a baby doesn’t get adequate iron while in vitro, they’re more likely to be born prematurely or with a low birthweight. Inadequate iron can also negatively impact cognitive development. Taking a quality prenatal vitamin and eating a balanced diet should ensure this daily requirement is met, but your doctor will let you know if more is needed based on your regular checkups during the pregnancy.

Once the baby is born, women don’t need as much iron, 18 mg if they aren’t breastfeeding and 9 mg if they are. Breastfeeding women need to be especially careful since they can transfer that iron to their child.

Babies and young children are also more susceptible to iron deficiency due to a potentially limited diet. Newborn babies don’t need more than 0.27 mg of iron each day to help them develop. Once they reach seven months, they need 11 mg a day until the age of one. This daily recommended dosage will continue to fluctuate as they age, but proper diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables like spinach, beans, fortified cereals and lean protein like meat and seafood along with a children’s multivitamin should help them cover all their nutritional bases, including iron. Make sure to pay close attention to all supplement dosages and consult your physician when purchasing a product to adequately meet your baby’s needs.

It’s vital to keep any and all supplements out of reach of babies and toddlers. They can easily develop iron poisoning by taking an adult nutritional supplement. If you use a vitamin that tastes sweet, they may try to go for more once they can walk, so make sure these products are stored in a cabinet out of reach. Use a lock or childproof latch to further limit access.

Providing your child with adequate iron will help them grow and develop properly, giving them the strength and energy they need to explore their world and learn. Regular checkups will help you manage their dietary needs more easily from day one.

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