Dr. Pamela Smith, ND 

Dr. Pam has a family practice at The Nest Family Wellness Centre which offers naturopathic and midwifery care. She combines science-based natural medicine with conventional medical therapeutics. Learn more about Dr. Pam and the services offered by her clinic here, or book an appointment at www.drpamelasmith.com.

Check out the latest Ask Dr Pam Q&A and posts by topic below as well as her health and wellness posts.

Ask Dr Pam   

I have read that iron is important for my 9 month old, what are some choice foods high in iron?

This is true, after 6 months of age the iron stores your baby was born with start to become depleted. On top of this, if you are like so many moms who start their pregnancy with low iron it may be even more of a concern. Since iron begins to store in the third trimester of pregnancy, babies born prematurely (before 37 gestational weeks) may be at further risk of iron deficiency. This is another excellent reason to continue with your professional quality pre-natal vitamin during breastfeeding.  

As your infant grows the demand for iron and many other nutrients increase. Iron is especially important for brain development while low levels have been casually linked with cognitive and behaviour issues later in life. In most cases, infants will get enough through their diet; this is why it is important to ensure your infant’s diet has diversity. There are many foods that provide adequate levels of this important micronutrient.

Here is a chart showing the amount of elemental iron in a variety of foods. Also included is a table of foods rich in vitamin C, an important nutrient for helping the iron from food be absorbed. Avoiding dairy in the first year of life can also help prevent iron deficiency from occurring. In private practice, it is common to screen a child around 2 years of age to assess their iron levels just like we would in an adult. Your healthcare provider might screen as early as 9 months if there are any risk factors or cause for concern. The Institute of Medicine recommends 11 mg per day of elemental iron for infants 7 months to 1 year. The daily requirement decreases to 7 mg per day from 1-3 years.

There is such a thing as too much iron so make sure you consult your Healthcare Professional before supplementing with iron, especially non-food sources.