Parents are often concerned about iron for vegetarian kids. An iron deficiency in vegetarians is a possibility, but it can easily be avoided if you include enough plant based sources of iron in their diet.
The iron in plant based foods is not absorbed as easily as that in meat, but as vegetarians tend to eat a lot more foods containing iron this tends not to be a problem. It is a good idea to give your children a source of vitamin C at the same time as you give them vegetarian foods rich in iron, as it will aid absorption of the iron. For example you could give them a glass of orange juice with their cereal.
Good sources of iron for vegetarian kids
- Iron fortified cereals
- Blackstrap molasses
- Pumpkin seeds
- Black and kidney beans
- Dried apricots and peaches
- Tomato paste
- Prune juice
- Swiss chard
The Vegetarian and Vegan Foundation has an excellent fact sheet that goes into more detail about iron for vegetarian kids and adults, including how much they need at varying ages (will open in a new window).
An iron deficiency in vegetarians is more common in those that live on fast food and junk, so encouraging a healthy and balanced diet for your child is very important. Children are also more likely to be iron deficient if they are in a family of meat eaters and eat the same diet minus the meat, which tends to be mostly starch. If you and the rest of your family are meat eaters then you probably need to take extra care to provide your vegetarian child with enough vegetarian foods rich in iron.
Generally iron for vegetarian children isn’t an issue if they are eating a healthy and balanced diet that includes a wide variety of different foods. Make an effort to include plenty of the foods from the above list of sources of iron for vegetarians on a regular basis and you shouldn’t have to worry.