Children Need Iron-Rich Foods

Why do kids need iron?

Iron is important for growth, brain development and learning. It carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Iron-rich foods should be included in a child’s diet every day starting at about 6 months of age.

Iron –rich foods include:

  • Meats: beef, pork, lamb, veal
  • Cereals: iron- fortified cereals
  • Poultry: chicken, turkey
  • Fish
  • Beans, peas, and lentils
  • Tofu (cooked)
  • Eggs
  • Blackstrap molasses.

Iron is best absorbed when eaten with foods rich in vitamin C including many fruits and vegetables like:

  • Oranges, grapefruits and their juices,
  • Kiwi, mango, papaya ,melons, strawberries
  • Sweet potato, sweet peppers and broccoli

Vegetarian eating

The word vegetarian means different things to different people. Lacto-ovo vegetarians don't eat meat, fish, seafood and poultry, but will have dairy products and eggs. Vegans are vegetarians who avoid all animal foods.

Vegetarian diets can be healthy for all ages and meet a child’s nutrition needs for growth and development. However, it can be challenging to get enough iron in some vegetarian diets. Dietitian Services at HealthLinkBC provides free nutrition information and resources for BC residents. Call 8-1-1 and ask to speak to a registered dietitian to determine if a vegetarian or vegan child is getting enough iron.

Further Support

Only give an iron supplement to a child when recommended by your health care provider. Too much iron can be harmful. 

Check out HealthLink BC for more information:

HealthLInkBC File #68d Iron in Foods

HealthLinkBC File #68c Iron in Health