Multivitamin with Iron for Kids: Benefits, Side Effects, and More
  /   Dr. John Snow

Multivitamin with Iron for Kids: Benefits, Side Effects, and More

Vitamins and minerals are necessary for the health of people of all ages. Parents are particularly concerned about their children’s intake of vitamins and minerals. They want to make sure their child is receiving everything they need to grow and thrive. 

When picky eaters are having a hard time incorporating foods naturally rich in vitamins and minerals into their diets, parents often turn to supplements to help fill up the gaps.

Iron is crucially important for a growing body, and many children’s multivitamins don’t contain iron. This, at first glance, may be baffling to parents. 

There’s a good reason why iron doesn’t show up on the ingredients list of many multivitamins formulated for children. On the other hand, there are also good reasons why a child may need additional iron.

Before you start supplementing iron for your child, talk to your child’s pediatrician. Only your child’s doctor knows if iron supplementation is beneficial. If it isn’t, it may cause unpleasant side effects that can easily be avoided. 

The Importance of Iron

Iron is vital for the development and growth of the human body. Children are growing and developing every single day, and iron is undoubtedly necessary for the facilitation of this natural process. Iron is necessary for the transportation of oxygen throughout the body via red blood cells and myoglobin protein. The body needs a constant circulation of oxygen-rich blood to heal, grow, and fortify itself. 

The body also uses iron in the manufacturing of certain hormones, and children will begin to create more hormones as they inch closer to their teenage years. 

How Much Iron Do Kids Need?

The amount of iron children require will change throughout different stages of their life. Iron is critical in infancy and needs will gradually decrease until the onset of puberty, where their need becomes greater during this transformational period. 

  • 7 months to 1 year - 11mg daily
  • 1 to 3 years - 7mg daily
  • 4 to 8 years - 10mg daily
  • 9 to 13 years - 8 mg/daily
  • Beyond - 11 mg daily for boys, 15 mg daily for girls

To put these numbers into perspective through diet, many foods can help children achieve their iron requirements through diet. Serving up some more of these foods can help to provide your child with valuable iron. 

  • 3 ounces of lean ground beef - 2.2mg iron per serving
  • ½ cup of tofu - 6.6 mg iron per serving
  • 3 ounces of turkey - 1 mg iron per serving
  • 3.5 ounces of raw spinach - 2.7 mg iron per serving
  • 1 ounce of raw peanuts - 1.3 mg iron per serving
  • 3 tbsp of boiled lentils - 1.2 mg iron per serving
  • 1 medium white potato - 0.6 mg iron per serving

Special Cases Where Children May Require More Iron

Although the general guidelines are helpful in helping parents address the general dietary needs of their child, every child is different. It’s best not to assume, especially if you have concerns about your child’s wellbeing. 

If your child is living with a condition that impacts the way their body receives or utilizes iron, their needs may be different. The needs of growing girls and children on plant-based diets may also require special consideration.

Girls in Puberty

There is no set time at which girls begin having regular menstrual periods. It typically happens anywhere between age 10 and age 15, but that doesn’t mean that girls as young as 8 or as old as 17 won’t begin menstruating for the first time. You should always speak to your child’s pediatrician when she gets her first period, but it’s slightly more urgent to make an appointment if early or delayed menstruation is apparent. 

Menstruating girls may require higher amounts of iron than children who do not menstruate. Menstruation involves minimal blood loss, but the body does expel blood and use it differently during that time. Additional iron may be necessary. 

Children with Absorption Issues

Children can have health conditions that affect absorption or experience absorption issues as a result of surgical procedures. If your child has absorption issues, they will likely have a hard time absorbing more than just iron. Absorption issues require constant medical supervision to assure the needs of the child are being adequately met. 

Children with Iron Deficiency Anemia

Iron deficiency anemia occurs when the body isn’t receiving enough iron to manufacture an adequate amount of red blood cells. Children with iron deficiency anemia may seem frequently fatigued or weak. They may have pale skin and feel cold often. 

Children with iron deficiency anemia are likely to have poor appetites. They may have trouble breathing or feel lightheaded, two symptoms which indicate that the situation is an emergency.

Iron deficiency anemia requires proper medical diagnosis and treatment. If you suspect your child has iron deficiency anemia, book an emergency appointment with a healthcare provider. Do not attempt to treat the condition at home with iron supplements.

Children on Plant Based Diets or Children With Food Allergies

Red meat, poultry, fish,  shellfish, legumes (like peanuts), eggs, and dairy products are valuable sources of iron. These may not be a dietary option for some children. 

Children raised in plant-based households and children with allergies or intolerances to certain foods may have a difficult time obtaining the necessary amount of iron through their regular diets. Speak to a pediatrician about supplementation. 

It’s important to note that tofu and lentils are excellent sources of iron. Children in plant-based households who can safely consume lentils and soy products shouldn’t have a difficult time meeting their needs without supplementation. 

The Side Effects of Iron Can Be Serious

Iron is extremely important, but the body doesn’t require a lot of it. Children may need more than 1,000 mg of calcium per day, but iron needs are usually below 15 mg daily. A little bit goes a very long way in a body that functions as expected. 

If your child is getting too much iron in their diet or through their supplements, they may present negative side effects.

  • Stomach discomfort 
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • High blood sugar

Parents are most likely to see children experiencing tummy troubles when they’ve had too much iron. Diarrhea and vomiting can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Constipation poses its own set of challenges on a young digestive system. 

These side effects are usually avoidable when iron is only given as directed by a physician. It’s important to monitor children who are taking iron supplements as medically necessary and children who have a dietary proclivity for meats or other foods naturally rich in iron. 

Why Hiya Doesn’t Contain Iron

Iron supplementation can be extremely advantageous or even crucially necessary for some children. Yet giving iron supplementation is only necessary if your child’s healthcare provider deems it to be so. 

It’s fairly easy for most children to meet their needs through diet, and even if they don’t perfectly meet those needs completely, the amount of supplementation necessary would likely be minimal.

Our children’s multivitamin doesn’t contain iron. We formulated our multivitamin under the advice of pediatricians who observed what vitamins and minerals were lacking in the diet of the average American child. With their help, we determined the potential downside of iron toxicity from kids accidentally eating too many vitamins may not be worth the limited upside, especially considering most kids get enough iron from diet alone. So instead we focused on a vitamin  designed to be safe and convenient for most children to use.

Including iron would make our vitamin more likely to induce side effects than benefits for most children. Hiya can be taken in conjunction with an iron supplement when a child’s pediatrician believes that supplementation is necessary for the health of that child. 

Promoting Your Child’s Wellness

Hiya was founded by a couple of dads (supported by a team of children’s health professionals) who wanted the best for our kids. We’ve created the perfect multivitamin to address the needs of your growing youngster.

Our children’s multivitamin contains the things that most kids (especially picky eaters) could use a little more of. Our chewable tablet is naturally sweetened with monk fruit and contains an organic fruit and vegetable blend that adds natural flavors, natural color, and antioxidants into the mix.

Our vitamins are vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, and non-GMO. Our packaging is environmentally friendly, and our vitamins are manufactured in the United States. 

Sources:

Iron - Consumer | National Institutes of Health

Iron (for Parents) | Nemours KidsHealth

Talking to Your Child About Periods (for Parents) | Nemours KidsHealth

Iron deficiency anemia - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic

Iron supplementation in early childhood: health benefits and risks | National Institutes of Health

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