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Give Your Child the Proper Nutrition to Keep Anemia at bay

Anemia is considered to be a very common condition these days among people of all ages. It can be especially detrimental to the development of children between the age 3 and 5 who are going through rapid growth spurts. Therefore, it is very important for mothers to be informed about how to avoid this condition.

Anemia occurs when there is a decrease in the red blood cell concentration or haemoglobin in your blood. The main task of haemoglobin is to transport oxygen in your blood. Not having a sufficient level of haemoglobin results in inefficiency of this function. The average haemoglobin concentration of a child between age 3 and 5 is 11.5 - 12.5 g/dl. Not having this amount can negatively impact a child’s physical as well as mental development.

One of the main reasons for a drop in haemoglobin level in your blood is iron deficiency. Not being knowledgeable about the importance of a balanced meal and how to prepare food without destroying nutrients is the main contributor to this problem; basically, not having the correct quantity of iron required in a meal. Usually we tend to eat less meat and fish. Also, there are many people who are vegetarians. Moreover, due to the habit of snacking, people do not give much importance to the main meals anymore. Worm diseases also can be a cause for this condition.

Other causes of Anemia:

  • Genetic complications.
  • Various infections.
  • Taking certain medications.
  • Bleedings that aren’t usually considered as problematic (menstruation/blood passing with urine and stool/ bleeding from gums etc.).
  • Insufficient production of red blood cells in bone marrow.
  • Worm diseases such as hookworm infection.
  • Thalassemia/Leukemia conditions.

Who is most at risk of developing Anemia?

  • Children of preschool and primary school ages.
  • Girls who have started their menstrual cycles.
  • Pregnant mothers.

Is your child showing these symptoms?

  • Extreme drowsiness/lethargy/fatigue
  • Weakness/dizziness
  • Breathing difficulties during workouts (Exercise Intolerance)
  • Paleness of lips and inner eyelids

If so, your child may be suffering from Anemia and requires medical attention.

In order to prevent your child from being Anemic, you need to ensure all 3 main meals are balanced diets.

Give them iron-rich foods daily.

    • Grains

Black-eyed peas, chickpeas, soya grains, mung grains, ulundu, dahl, and green beans.

    • Leafy greens

Gotu kola, thampala, mukunuwenna, kathurumurunga, kalu ala kola, carrot and beet leaves.

    • Animal source foods

Meats- liver, kidneys and other animal parts, beef, pork, mutton Fish- skipjack tuna (balaya), yellowfin tuna (kelawalla), dried sprats, dried fish, salmon.

    • Eggs

Chicken eggs, duck eggs, swallow eggs

Iron, Folic Acid, and Vitamin C supplements

In order to ensure the iron in the food is thoroughly absorbed in your child’s digestive system:

  • When cooking, use ingredients that have Vitamin C such as lime, narang, tamarind, and garcinia (goraka).
  • Give your child fruits rich in Vitamin C.
  • Give your child foods rich in Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid (animal source foods including yoghurt, milk, and curd).
  • Avoid giving caffeinated drinks such as coffee before and after meals.
  • If children are getting the required amount of iron:
  • They are active.
  • Immunity is improved.
  • Intellectual development is improved.
  • Memory is improved.
  • Hair and nails show a healthy growth.
  • Appetite is improved.
  • Logical reasoning skills are improved.

As a measure to keep anemia at bay, the government currently provides iron supplements to school students. They are given weekly after the breakfast meal, and also the required amount for the holiday season is provided as well. Parents need to ensure that these are kept in an airtight environment. When taking these supplements, there could be side effects such as dark-colored vomit or stool. However, this will cease after a few days. If any allergic reactions are shown, do take medical advice.

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