A 6 month-old baby needs 4 times the iron as an adult man. Meeting these requirements through breast milk isn’t possible. Which means that iron deficiency in breastfed babies is fairly common. For pediatricians and parents, this is a problem because iron supports brain development and growth.
If you’ve been told that your baby is anemic or has low levels of iron, you might want to naturally boost you baby’s iron levels with food.
Keep reading to pick up my top 3 tips for naturally boosting iron.
1. Include Foods That Are Rich In Vitamin C
There are two types of iron in food—heme and non-heme. Heme iron comes from meat or eggs and is easily absorbed. The other is found mostly in plants—like leafy greens or cereals—and it takes more work to use. This hard-to-use iron is called non-heme iron.
Foods that contain vitamin C help with the absorption and use of non-heme iron.
Tip: Include fruits that are rich in vitamin C to help with the absorption of non-heme iron. Good examples are papaya, kiwi, raspberries, and cantaloupe.
2. Add Spirulina
Sprirulina is blue-green algae that offers a full spectrum amino acid and is also an excellent source of minerals, including iron. As it turns out, the iron in this ultra-trendy superfood is twice as absorbable as the iron in vegetable and 60% more absorbable than the iron drops commonly given to babies.
When shopping for spirulina, be sure to choose one that is grown in alkaline water. While spirulina can protect against heavy metal toxicity—it can also accumulate heavy metals when grown in a poor environment, like ponds or basins.
Tip: Sprinkle a small amount of high-quality spirulina on top of fruit, like papaya or cantaloupe.
3. Ferment Your Cereals and Your Vegetables
Fermenting your grains (commonly a baby’s first solid) will get rid of almost all phytate, an anti-nutrient in grains and seeds that binds to important baby-building minerals, like iron.
Also—by simply adding a small amount of fermented vegetables (like cultured carrots) to your baby’s meal, you double the bio-availability of iron.
Tip: Soak your cereals, grains, or seeds in water with 1 tablespoon of starter for 1 – 2 days. You will see bubbles and signs of fermentation. Rinse before cooking. You can save the soaking liquid to use in your next batch. And if you spy a jar of raw sauerkraut at your local market—grab it! Offer a spoonful to your baby at your next meal together.