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List of Iron-Rich Foods for Kids

author image Sara Ipatenco
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.
List of Iron-Rich Foods for Kids
child eating at daycare Photo Credit: petrograd99/iStock/Getty Images

Iron is an essential dietary element because it helps produce the red blood cells that transport oxygen to your child's muscles and tissues. A healthy diet will ensure that your child consumes enough iron to keep the oxygen moving throughout the body. Children between the ages of 1 and 12 need 11mg a day, adolescent boys need 12mg and adolescent girls need 15mg, according to Kids Health. Many foods provide a healthy dose of iron in each serving to help you reach these goals.

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Meat and Poultry

children eating lean beef cheeseburgers
children eating lean beef cheeseburgers Photo Credit: monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

Meat and poultry are good sources of iron because they contain large amounts of heme iron, the type of iron best absorbed by the body. Lean beef, pork, liver and other organ meats can provide iron in the diet. A 3-ounce serving of beef supplies around 3 mg of iron, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Dark meat from chicken and turkey are other iron-rich food sources. Fish such as salmon and tuna can provide an additional dose of iron. Sardines, codfish, anchovies and shellfish, such as crab or shrimp, are seafood sources of iron.

Vegetables and Beans

baked potato with baked beans
baked potato with baked beans Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images/Monkey Business/Getty Images

Vegetables and beans contain non-heme iron, which is not as well absorbed as heme iron. But if your child isn't an enthusiastic meat eater, these foods will help build up his iron stores, as well as supply other essential vitamins and minerals. Dark green leafy vegetables, such as lettuce, broccoli and spinach, are among your best vegetable options. Baked potatoes with the skin are another source. Beans, such as pinto, black or white, offer iron as well; a 1/2-cup serving supplies around 3 mg of iron, the CDC states. Serving food high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, increases the absorption of non-heme iron.

Fortified Cereals and Grains

children eating cereal
children eating cereal Photo Credit: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

Many breakfast cereals are fortified with iron to help your child increase his intake. Most cereals aimed at children contain between 25 percent and 45 percent of the amount recommended for a child each day. Read the nutrition label on your child's favorite cereal to ensure that it contains at least some iron. Serve a bowl of cereal with milk for breakfast or offer the cereal dry for a snack. Some cereals can be baked into breads or cookies to enhance the nutrition. Many commercial breads are also fortified with iron; choose whole grains for the best nutritional bang for your buck.

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