If your kiddo is iron deficient or anemic, then you may wonder how this can affect their immunity. Especially with experts predicting a pretty icky flu season. But no need to worry, Picky Parent. After battling a pandemic with a little one at home, there’s nothing you can’t do!
So, let’s get into all things iron deficiency, anemia, and flu season.
Iron Deficiency and Anemia
Before we dive into immunity, let’s get this iron deficiency and anemia sorted out. Because it’s actually not the same thing.
Iron deficiency means our bodies don’t have enough iron. And this is a BIG deal! You see, our bodies need iron to make Hemoglobin — the protein found in red blood cells that distributes oxygen to the rest of the body.
Because of hemoglobin (made from iron, remember!), your kiddo can make healthy red blood cells to give their growing muscles the oxygen they need.
Now, Anemia is a little different. It’s when our bodies don’t have enough red blood cells. There are many reasons why your body may not have all the red blood cells it needs. But the leading cause of anemia is. . .
Yup, you guessed it: Iron deficiency! When we leave iron deficiency untreated, it can lead to Anemia.
And here’s the kicker.
Iron is one of the main mineral deficiencies of children in the U.S.
If your little one is experiencing iron deficiency symptoms, then you may want to talk to your pediatrician.
How does Iron Deficiency affect Immunity this Flu Season?
Iron Deficient Anemia has been shown to lower immunity. Which means iron is super important for boosting the immune system and keeping sickness at bay! Basically, not getting enough iron can mean more infections and more colds.
This is especially important for flu season for 3 reasons.
- Flu season occurs in the winter months when we tend to spend more time indoors. This makes the flu and other respiratory illnesses easier to transmit.
- Shorter days can cause lower levels of Vitamin D, which can compromise our immune system.
- Viruses, such as the flu, can survive better in colder, drier climates
What to do if your child is anemic?
After that trifecta of doom and gloom, now it’s time for the good stuff! If your little one is iron deficient or anemic, there’s plenty you can do to protect them from icky viruses this winter.
- Talk to your pediatrician of course!:)
If your child is showing signs or symptoms, please make sure you go and see your pediatrician as soon as possible. Even low levels of anemia can have an effect on your child’s focus, energy and overall ability to learn. Chronic iron deficiency anemia is a serious condition that can result in permanent impairment of development, so make sure you have your child’s blood work done regularly!
- Stay Active this Winter
Vitamin D levels can also decrease in the winter due to lack of outdoors time. (remember, low levels of Vitamin D can compromise our immune system!) So on sunny days, bundle up, and let the kiddos soak up the rays.
- Add iron-rich foods to your kiddo’s diet.
Kiddos can be prreeetttttyyyy picky. Or have a “refined palate” as we like to say. But an iron-rich diet can do wonders for their iron levels!
***PICKY EATER TIP*** Your child’s body will absorb iron better when the iron is ingested along with a source of vitamin C! To increase the amount of iron absorbed by the body, serve iron-rich foods alongside foods rich in vitamin C.
- Supplement with Iron for children
If your little one won’t eat anything with a hint of nutrition, then an iron supplement for kids might be just the ticket! Especially if they’ve already been diagnosed with Iron Anemia.
So if you’re looking for a kid’s iron supplement, then check out Renzo’s Iron Strong. We use a special form of iron that’s gentle on the tummy and combined with Vitamin C to maximize iron absorption.