Head of Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Prof. Dr. Sema Anak warned families against anemia, which is common in children, by drawing attention to the well-known mistakes in the society. Anak stated that the childhood period, which lasts until the age of 18, includes continuous growth and development, and said, “The nutrients and minerals that will provide this must be consumed in sufficient quantities. Insufficient intake of foods such as iron, B12, and folate, especially in infancy and preschool, adversely affects growth and development as well as intelligence development.
While mothers are trying to do their best with great sensitivity, they can unfortunately make some well-known mistakes. First of all, it should be noted that breast milk is unique. It meets all the requirements of a full-term child, especially in the first 6 months. Vitamin D, sometimes iron, may be added. Breast milk should be given up to 2 years, but necessary supplements should be made after the 6th month. Failure to do so can lead to significant anemia. For example, if the iron requirement cannot be met, the child is very restless at night and has difficulty sleeping.
Emphasizing that the best source of iron is red meat, Prof. Dr. Anak continued:
“Liver, red meat, offal, poultry, dark green leafy vegetables, fish, legumes, nuts, fresh and dried fruits, eggs can be listed as the best source of iron. Vitamin B12 and iron are mostly found in red meat and egg yolks. White meat, such as chicken and fish, does not have as much vitamin B12 and iron as red meat.
Folic acid is mostly found in green leafy foods. We can also get iron from plant foods. Iron is found in green leafy plants, in foods such as lentils, chickpeas, beans, which we call cereals. However, the best absorbed iron from our body is animal iron. Offal is known to be a good source of iron. However, babies under one year old should not be fed any offal except liver. Especially foods such as brain, kidney, spleen, tongue and rumen are extremely risky for microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria.
Contrary to popular belief, Anak stated that there is little iron in spinach. Spinach is only rich in minerals such as folic acid, magnesium, phosphorus. In addition, it is not recommended for infants due to the nicotine it contains.
Broccoli has more iron than spinach. Likewise, the iron in molasses, which is highly recommended as an iron source, is not as much as an animal protein. Molasses contains iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and is an easy and nutritious energy source. It can be used as a sweetener alternative in infant and child nutrition with high iron requirements.
However, due to the rapid increase in blood sugar, attention should be paid to portion control and it should not contain glucose-fructose. Mediterranean Anemia is also common in countries located in the Mediterranean belt, such as our country. There is iron accumulation in both carrier and disease. Only when iron deficiency anemia and Mediterranean carrier state coexist, iron can be used under the control of a doctor.
Noting that goat’s milk has been recommended in recent years because of its similarity to breast milk, Anak warned:
“Nothing can replace breast milk. Also, using it alone can cause problems. Goat milk also has its shortcomings. Anemia occurs if the baby is fed only goat’s milk. Iron, copper, folic acid and vitamin B12 deficiency can cause anemia. It is also deficient in vitamin D. The use of cow’s milk is another important cause of iron deficiency. Cow’s milk does not contain enough iron anyway. Consuming large amounts of cow’s milk can lead to the development of iron deficiency by causing fine bleeding from the intestine as well as impairing the absorption of iron. Preferably, cow’s milk should not be consumed in the first year. Babies younger than one year old can consume forms such as yogurt and cheese instead of milk. Cow’s milk can be consumed after one year of age, but it should not exceed 500 milliliters (2 cups) per day.
Anak, who also made statements about kefir, which has been used rapidly in recent years, said, “Although kefir is very useful, it does not contain all vitamins as it is included in some sources. Kefir; It contains vitamins A, B2 and B12. Although it does not contain very high amounts of vitamins A and B2, it contains large amounts of B12, which is an extremely important type of vitamin. One and a half glasses of kefir each day will ensure you get all the B12 you need. It is observed that amounts above this cause accumulation.
In addition, kefir; It is not a product that can be consumed alone, it can be recommended as a supplementary food. Certain foods can also make it harder for the body to absorb iron. These are tea, coffee, fiber, soy protein and egg white. In children treated for iron deficiency, drinking too much tea may impair absorption because the theine in it binds iron. Similarly, when taken with milk, yogurt and cheese, calcium binds iron and reduces its absorption. For iron to be absorbed in the stomach, the environment must be acidic. For this reason, the absorption of iron medicine drunk with orange juice may be higher.