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Blood is made up of red and white blood cells, as well as platelets which aid blood clotting during bleeding.
Oxygen is conveyed throughout our body by the red blood cells and this is what makes them red in colour. A constant oxygen supply is needed by the body to ensure growth, good health and to keep us alive.
If the red blood cell supply degenerates we can develop anaemia. This can cause tiredness, general weakness, pale complexion, moody behaviour, loss of appetites and headaches. When children become anaemic their muscles and brain can also be affected.
The most common cause of anaemia is iron deficiency. Iron is an essential component of red blood cell production. Children with an iron deficiency tend not to do so well in school even if their deficiency doesn’t develop into anaemia. Their memory is poor and their performance in class and on the sports playing field suffers.
Iron deficiency results from a diet insufficient in the mineral iron, or from blood loss. Iron deficiency anaemia is most often found in infants, and amongst girls more frequently than boys, and often goes unrecognized because it is not serious enough to generate obvious symptoms. It can, however, cause a slowing of cognitive development, reduced attention span and alertness, and a child’s ability to learn.
Iron deficient anaemia is best treated through diet. Some of the best sources of iron are:
- Breast milk
- Iron fortified infant cereals
- Prune juice
- Soy Beans
But other great sources of iron include:
- Peanut butter
- Kale and other green vegetables
Most instances of serious iron deficiency in young children result from over drinking cow’s milk, as anaemia can be made worse by this high milk consumption. This is because the iron is lost in the intestines and the body cannot readily process it. Ideally, a child shouldn’t consume more that 32 ounces of cow’s milk per day.