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Multivitamins for Iron Deficiency: A Guide for Parents

Expertly reviewed by Chris Icamen · Dietetics and Nutrition

Written by Vincent Sales · Updated Mar 09, 2022

    Multivitamins for Iron Deficiency: A Guide for Parents

    Multivitamins, when taken daily, can help provide a good foundation for health on top of protecting you when dealing with stress, lack of sleep, or not getting regular exercise. Nutritionist Dawn Lerman explains that even with a so-called “perfect” diet, these issues can make it tough for the body to properly absorb nutrients. An iron deficiency, in particular, can result in a decrease in energy, lower brain function, and red blood cells that are not as healthy.

    Importance of Iron in Multivitamins

    Iron is a mineral that the body uses to make two proteins: namely hemoglobin and myoglobin. Hemoglobin helps the red blood cells move oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Meanwhile, myoglobin brings oxygen to your muscles. Iron is also important in making hormones, as well as tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissue.

    “Iron should be in your multivitamin, but not everyone needs the same amount of iron,” Lerman advises. With iron being essential for rapid growth and development, it is particularly important when a child is growing up. Children who get anemia from lack of iron sometimes develop learning problems. Parents thus need to be more aware if something as significant as iron is present in the multivitamins that their child is taking.

    Iron Deficiency in Babies

    Approximately 10% of infants and toddlers don’t get enough iron. Premature or underweight babies may not have a lot of iron. Even a full-term baby only has enough iron for a few months before eventually running out. If not restocked, this early lack of iron could lead to behavior and attention problems later.

    One study assessed the effectiveness of multivitamins with iron as prophylaxis against iron deficiency and anemia in infancy. The subjects included full-term, healthy infants as parents administered multivitamins with or without iron orally for three months. When administered daily starting at six months, standard-dose multivitamins with iron appear to reduce anemia prevalence at nine months of age.

    In another study, multivitamins with iron were not effective in preventing iron deficiency or anemia in nine-month-old infants. However, effective prevention and treatment of maternal anemia during pregnancy and giving multivitamins with or without additional iron during infancy may prove to be important approaches to the prevention of iron deficiency among high-risk children.

    iron deficiency

    Does Your Child Need Multivitamins?

    Furthermore, Jay L. Hoecker, M.D. says that “multivitamins aren’t necessary for most children who are growing normally.” He adds that while many young children can be picky eaters, it doesn’t necessarily follow that these children are suffering from nutritional deficiencies because many common foods are fortified with important nutrients including iron.

    Talk with your child’s doctor if you’re concerned about whether they are getting the recommended level of vitamins and minerals. A multivitamin may be helpful for the child in the following situations:

    • There is a delay in physical and developmental growth (failure to thrive).
    • Certain chronic diseases or food allergies are in the child.
    • The child has a restrictive diet, such as a strict vegan diet.

    If the child’s doctor recommends a multivitamin, choose one that is designed for your child’s age group. In addition, make sure it does not provide more than 100% of the daily value of vitamins and minerals. Finally, keep multivitamins out of the child’s reach. Emphasize that these are not candy.

    Key Takeaway

    While multivitamins with iron can be a foundation for good health and help the body compensate for any deficiencies, it does not necessarily mean that children must take multivitamins. Studies involving babies and toddlers have shown that multivitamins with iron can help reduce anemia. Still, it is advisable for parents to talk to their children’s doctor to determine if they need to start taking multivitamins.

     Learn more about Child Health here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Expertly reviewed by

    Chris Icamen

    Dietetics and Nutrition

    Written by Vincent Sales · Updated Mar 09, 2022

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