My Toddler Is Anemic

by Ann Marie Michaels on August 18, 2009

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My Toddler is Anemic

I took my daughter her to the pediatrician the other day for year two-year check up. I was shocked to find out that she is slightly anemic. 10-12 is normal; she’s an 8.

This was surprising to me, considering that Kate is the only toddler I know who loves raw oysters (high in iron) and eats them every chance she can get. Still, she eats oysters only occasionally — once a week or once every two weeks. And she never eats liver anymore. I tried giving her some chopped liver the other day and she spit it out.

How Did This Happen?

She ate liver and egg yolks pretty much every day from the time she started solids at 6 months until she was 18 months old. Which is when she started rejecting liver. For a while, I emptied liver capsules into her raw milk formula (which she got until almost 2 years). But after I stopped giving her formula, I also stopped giving her the liver powder, since it doesn’t mix very well in milk.

And I noticed that lately she has been eating less and less at meals. She has been getting pickier about what she will eat and she just doesn’t seem to have the appetite she used to. She was always getting her raw milk, though, so I didn’t worry about it too much.

Milk Anemia

I talked to my mom about the anemia (she’s a retired nurse) and she said it’s pretty common with toddlers, especially if they drink a lot of milk. She said it’s called “milk anemia”. Many toddlers might not have a problem with milk anemia, even if they are drinking a lot of milk, because they are eating iron-enriched cereal. Which of course we don’t do.

I’m guilty of giving Kate milk whenever she asks for it, and I’ve been giving her 4-ounce bottles of milk at naptime and bedtime. She loves her milk like her mama does. I love raw milk more than anything — well, except for cheese and butter and cream. I didn’t name this blog Cheeseslave for nothing.

It’s also a comfort thing. She always asks for her “bobble”. And I’ll be honest — it isn’t just comforting for her. it’s comforting for me to give her a bottle, because then she’s still my baby.

Big Girl Bed

She renounced her crib a week ago Sunday. She was supposed to be napping. She just climbed out. I heard her singing to herself and the next thing I knew, there was a knocking on the inside of her bedroom door. We dismantled the crib that afternoon, and I bought her a “big girl’s bed” the next day.

My Toddler is Anemic

She is so proud of herself and her new big girl’s bed. I’m proud of her, too. It is hard to let go of your little ones as they grow and reach new milestones, but that’s the secret challenge of being a parent. It’s all about letting go. One day they’re giving up the bottle and graduating to the big girl bed, the next thing you know they’re graduating from college and getting married. (Don’t tell my husband about that part. He is not prepared.)

Bye-Bye, “Bobble”

So, anyway, we’re saying goodbye to the bottles. I’m packing them away this weekend. No more “bobble” at “night-night” time. She’ll get milk in a sippy cup with meals (whole, raw milk). But when she asks for “nuck” (milk) in between meals, she’s going to get kombucha, coconut water, kefir soda pop, or just plain water.

I think this change alone will solve the problem. We have a check-up scheduled in a month to retest her iron levels. I’ll keep you posted.

Fried Clams: The New Chicken Nuggets

But until we get her levels back up, I’m exploring ways to get more iron into this little girl. This afternoon I went out and bought 3 pounds of fresh clams and made fried clams. Not so different from chicken nuggets — but full of iron.

She ate every last bite — and licked her fingers clean. Five full ounces of clams = a whopping 40 milligrams of iron. Almost a week’s worth of her RDA in just one meal. We’re well on our way.

Click here for my recipe for recipe for fried clams.

For more information on iron deficiency in babies, see Nourished Kitchen’s recent post, Iron Deficiency and the Breastfed Baby.

This post is a part of Real Food Wednesdays, hosted this week at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.
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{ 65 comments… read them below or add one }

Carrie August 18, 2009 at 4:23 PM

So many changes! Seems like you are handling things beautifully… Hope lil’ Kate’s numbers go up and she’s feeling healthy (and hungry!) and strong. Maybe some yummy-eggy-cheesy-spinach quiche? :)

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Leesie August 18, 2009 at 4:39 PM

Hoping it all works/evens out with the changes you are making. Kate is an adorable little girl — no more baby :( You’ll have so many more milestones to look forward to. Best wishes…

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Shannon August 18, 2009 at 4:48 PM

I wonder if it is more common in babies fed raw milk than those who are not. We know that raw milk contains far more calcium than pasteurized. We also know that calcium can block the absorption of iron. So it would make sense that the babies being fed pasteurized milk wouldn’t have as much to worry about (besides all of the ickies that come from commercial milk).

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April August 18, 2009 at 5:45 PM

Have you considered not giving milk with an iron-rich meal 1x per day? If the theory is that the milk is blocking the absorption of the iron, then should the calcium be withheld until a few hours after the iron-rich meal? Have you considered serving vitamin-C-rich foods, which increases iron absorption, with an iron-rich meal once per day?

Did your daughter exhibit any signs of anemia?

We are moving to an older house with lead paint, and so will be doing a lead and iron check in about 6 months. Adiquate iron decreases lead absorbtion, so I really want to make sure DD’s iron levels stay up. I think fried oysters will become a mainstay at our house. My daughter, age 16 months, has also stopped eating chopped liver. I hope that she likes the oysters! Your post is motivating me to include an iron- and vitamin-c-rich meal each day in our weekly meal plan.

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Robyn August 18, 2009 at 6:12 PM

A couple of things we and others I know have tried and worked: carrot juice (somehow helps the absorption of iron); micro-greens (a great way to get my kids to eat green things – they love to pick the sprouts and eat them!); eating seaweed, like nori sheets, and sushi; cooking in cast iron; a finally, a supplement: Floradix. I used this when pregnant – it’s all herbal, does not cause constipation. As a lifestyle change, we love the micro-greens – it’s the only way some of my kids will eat green things. Check out http://simplegreenliving.com/?s=micro-greens and also Sprout People at http://www.sproutpeople.com/seed/microgreens.html. One of my favorite afternoon snacks is a glass of raw milk and sunflower micro-greens!

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Gina August 18, 2009 at 6:15 PM

I thought there was something in raw milk (lactoferrin?) that scavenges out iron because bad bacteria grow in the presence of iron. Hmmm…

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Erica August 18, 2009 at 6:18 PM

IMO, it’s not abnormal for children to go through periods of anemia. Consider how fast and rapid their growth and development can be at times, it can only be expected. So try not to fret, if retested a month from now, it could be perfectly normally. All things ebb and flow as our body grows and recovers. Oliver has never been tested, have never had a need too. Did she show signs of anemia?

Also agree with what April mentioned. We do the exact opposite for when I give milk. We only do water, kombucha, or water keifer at meals and milk for snacks or drinks in between. I worry about how milk can affect absorption during meals. It’s worth a thought. Protein is also best absorbed when eaten with something that is rich in vitamin C, we plan our meals around this theory lol. So I guess if they prove it wrong down the line…………hahaha. We probably won’t change, works well for us as of now.

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Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship August 18, 2009 at 6:35 PM

You’ve done a superb job coping with this, and quickly! I hope all goes well for you and little one!

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Brandy Afterthoughts August 18, 2009 at 7:32 PM

I had a rude introduction to the subject of anemia this summer when my husband, as a result of contracting E.coli 0157:H7, ended up in the hospital with hemolytic anemia. What I learned is that what we think of as an iron deficiency is actually a red blood cell deficiency. The number 8, for instance, is a measure not of iron, but is rather an RBC count.

Our doctor tells us that some folks are just low on RBCs from their youth, which might be the case with your daughter. However, iron is one of many things that can impact RBC levels, so you might want a full blood panel to be sure.

If you are looking for a creative option, liquid chlorophyll is an alternate to iron that worked well for our family when iron (for whatever reason) didn’t.

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Taylor August 18, 2009 at 7:45 PM

It’s fairly normal for kids to refuse foods they previously liked, reject new foods and be incredibly picky all of a sudden. Just continue to introduce those foods, without force, and never reward them for eating their food.

Your new plan for the milk sounds reasonable.

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Kim August 18, 2009 at 8:00 PM

Would you consider giving her the liver powder again? I am interested in this powder – I know that you thought one of the supps you were taking added to your metal levels (right?) and not thinking it is the one you give your lil girl… What kind is good for toddlers? I can only get liver in when I make it with grass fed ground beef (which is not often)…

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Jen August 18, 2009 at 8:06 PM

The first thing that popped into my brain while reading this post was: I wonder if you’re cooking in a cast iron skillet? I’m not an expert by any stretch, but I do know that when I was pregnant, I did not take my iron pills as prescribed–way too constipating–but cooked almost all meals in cast iron. I remember at one monthly check up the nurse told me I had great iron levels and that I “must be taking my pills religiously.” I smiled and nodded, but didn’t clue her in to the reality…this was a clinic that believed in scheduling c-sections, etc. Needless to say, I didn’t use that dr for my second baby….

Anyway. Didn’t mean to ramble there, but I wonder if that would help?

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cheeseslave August 18, 2009 at 9:52 PM

Erica –

I forgot to mention this but my pediatrician (whom I love — she’s also a homeopath) said the exact same thing. She said that not only is this common but that toddler’s iron levels will dip down quickly and back up again just as fast.

I really think just reducing the milk intake will solve the problem. But we are going to do fried clams, clam chowder, steamed clams, or raw oysters at least once a week. And I’m making sure she gets meat or fish with most meals.

I really think this will fix it. We’ll see in a month!

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cheeseslave August 18, 2009 at 9:55 PM

Jen – Yes, I cook w/ cast iron.

Kim – We use Carlson raw beef liver, which is the brand Sally Fallon recommends. I might try adding it to smoothies here and there.

Brandy – Wow, thanks for letting me know about that. We’ll see how she does in a month. Good to keep this in mind.

Thanks to EVERYONE for all your helpful suggestions! I will keep you posted.

Hugs!

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Natalie August 19, 2009 at 1:39 AM

Ann Marie, you sound like you are doing fabulous with your daughter! She’s a total cutie pie =D

I have one questions, how many raw liver capsules did you give Kate a day? I cant’ find any info on that, so frustrating.

Thanks!

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Katy August 19, 2009 at 2:53 AM

I think that Nina Planck talks about having the same thing happen with her son in Real Food for Mother and Baby.

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Melanie Nader August 19, 2009 at 4:54 AM

I had forgotten about this, thank you for sharing and the reminder. I do find myself giving a lot of milk to my kids, thinking that it will be a good filler if they hadn’t eaten enough of their meal. Gotta keep the kombucha brewing!!

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Spinner August 19, 2009 at 5:06 AM

My concern is that what is normal may not be the same as what is healthy. If normal iron levels are based on kids who eat iron enriched cereals and drink pasteurized milk all the time (and probably started off with iron enriched formulas), then is it possible for normal to be higher than what is necessary for vibrant health? Does anyone know how normal is determined and when? Does it get re-evaluated over time?

The flip side to this is when you fall within the normal range for something, but are actually deficient. This has been my experience and has made me distrust normal.

However, more clams certainly won’t do Kate any harm! In fact, I’m a little jealous :)

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Christine Kennedy August 19, 2009 at 5:38 AM

I would also 2nd the suggestion to do milk between meals, rather than with them. If you are going to serve seafood or meat at lunch or dinner, giver her water, kombucha, or water kefir sodas to drink with it. That way the calcium won’t block the iron absorption. I would say that it is perfectly acceptable to give her some milk at nap and bedtime, because those times are separate from iron-rich meals.

If she won’t eat liver straight, why not add it to your ground beef dishes? This is what I do to make sure the kids get it. Pineapple and dried apricots are also supposed to help build the red blood cells.

I wouldn’t worry too much about her having below normal results, unless she is really exhibiting serious symptoms. I bet that this is very common in growth spurts, and we know how quickly children are growing!

Kate is getting so big!

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Laura August 19, 2009 at 5:55 AM

Iron deficiency is toddlers is very common. My daughter was anemic as a toddler, and her levels were low enough that her pediatrician sent us to a hematologist. It was noticeable – she wanted to go to bed by 5:30 or 6:00. We weren’t doing the NT stuff yet, but I did stop giving her milk with her meals because calcium blocks the absorption of iron and I fed her lots of steak. She was the only toddler I know who would eat large amounts of red meat. I think when they are anemic, they crave iron rich foods like your daughter clearly relishes those clams.

My daughter was anemic because she had been very ill as a baby. I forget exactly how this works, but she evidently used up her iron stores that came from me fighting off multiple infections and eventually recovering from surgery. I still find that she is my child who tends to get “peaked” if I don’t get her enough sleep and if she doesn’t eat well enough. It’s so frustrating when you are offering them the foods that you know their bodies need and they won’t eat it.

Anyway, I’m sure you’ve got it all under control. Just remember about the calcium blocking the iron absorption when you are planning her meals. No high calcium foods with her iron-rich foods for a while. She’s a beautiful little girl, and she’s lucky that her mom is already on board with the traditional foods. My kids didn’t get that until my youngest was a toddler.

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Angelique August 19, 2009 at 6:08 AM

Hi there!

Great post. We are dealing with low iron as well but my son has a severe casein allergy so do you have any suggestions on what to sub for the cream in the recipe? Maybe coconut milk?

Thanks!
Angelique

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Stephanie Rivers August 19, 2009 at 6:34 AM

My daughter is a total carnivore but also still nurses and sometimes has raw milk. Her iron levels are usually just under the norm. She’s been getting egg yolk smoothies and hamburger laced with organ meat. She also refuses liver but will sometimes eat liverwurst. I haven’t had her iron levels tested lately, but I can tell by her energy levels that she is doing better. Good luck with saying bye bye to the bottle. She will need extra snuggles during this time.

Stephanie

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tina August 19, 2009 at 6:37 AM

Great information. I always give my almost 4 year old son milk with his meals. I will stop.

Does anyone know the nutritional differences between kombucha and water kefir soda? I think I would have an easier time making water kefir soda since I’ve made plenty of milk kefir. Thanks!

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Daily Diner August 19, 2009 at 6:38 AM

Dont forget to give her hearbal tea’s. We are not milk drinkers here at all (even though I grew up on raw milk). Bring on the raw dairy, but hold the milk (unless it’s in a recipe). We are strictly water and tea…with a little freshly squeezed fruit juice mixed in every once in a while. Peppermint tea (or as the kids call it, Candy cane tea) is a kid and adult favorite.

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tina August 19, 2009 at 6:40 AM

I should have written RAW milk with his meals…

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dina August 19, 2009 at 6:41 AM

Been there done that with our now 12.5 yr old son. Only he was breast fed until he was a little past 2. But I was anemic – so, yeah! We did add iron rich foods – it helped negligably. They eventually gave him iron drops mixed in with fruit juice. His anemia was severe enough that he wasn’t sleeping for more than an hour at a time. The first day on drops he took a 2 hour nap – I had a heart attack! – I thought he’d died!

And yes – you are absolutely correct. One day they’re giving up the bottle and the big girl bed and the next they’re 17 and heading into their senior year and talking aboutt college 3500 miles away – waaaaa! Sorry – I’ll try to hold it together. But where the heck did the time go?!

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annabelle August 19, 2009 at 7:15 AM

look at all those comments!
well, we just were told our 2.5 yr old son is anemic too. We have dairy goats now and drink tons of milk. Sorry that Miss Kate is anemic, but thrilled that I will be able to get advice from you through your site! We made (grassfed) beef liver pate and stopped serving milk with our meals and have it as a snack instead. We also got rid of the bottles quite recently. I harvested nettles OUCH! and made a concentrated tea to add to our water kefer and cooking liquids. I’ll keep it up and keep learning.

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katie August 19, 2009 at 7:48 AM

Hi! This may sound very ignorant, since I can’t remember the most important aspect, but it may be something you can look up or ask your dr. My daughter had a hair analysis after coming off of ppi’s for almost a year (prilosec/prevacid). She was deficient in almost everything. (duh) Anyway, the chiropractor mentioned that some people are deficient in iron but no matter how much iron you give them they can’t absorb it because they lack a different mineral. (Now, it’s that mineral I can’t remember…!) So, if it isn’t the calcium interference or vitamin C deficiency and the problem persists despite giving her lots of iron, she may have a deficiency in a different mineral causing her not to absorb the iron.

Enjoy your blog so much! Thanks!

(Okay, just looked up that hair analysis and I think it is zinc. She is getting a zinc supplement since she is deficient in zinc and iron. This is probably why he is giving her the zinc supplement and why she isn’t getting an iron supplement. Maybe that will be more helpful to you!!)

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Angelique August 19, 2009 at 8:28 AM

Oops. Posted the same thing in two different places. I’ll try to coconut milk and let ya’ll know!

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Julie August 19, 2009 at 9:11 AM

I am very surprised. Could the test results be inaccurate?

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Holly from SUSTAINABLE SUPPERS August 19, 2009 at 9:19 AM

Your toddler is also BEAUTIFUL!

Not on topic, but there it is. ;)

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Julie August 19, 2009 at 9:39 AM

We found out through an NT-friendly naturopath that our iron levels could use a boost, too, and, like you, I was more than a bit surprised. Since finding this out, we, as others have already mentioned, separate our raw milk from meals so as to prevent the iron/calcium bonding issue. I’m just so impressed that your precious little girl will even tolerate oysters and clams! :) I’ve never even had those! (I clearly need to catch up with Kate). :)

We also add a liver cube to meat dishes. Sure, we’re not getting a ton of iron here, but I figure that it’s better than nothing and it adds up over time, right?

You should be commended on the amazing job you are doing as Kate’s mother…keep up the good work! :)

~Jules

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Kelsey August 19, 2009 at 11:00 AM

Interesting! I knew that calcium blocked iron which is why I don’t take my cal/mag the same time as iron. Never really applied that knowledge to my kids’ nutrition, though. But, oh my gosh she has RED hair! I love it. I want a red head.

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Erica August 19, 2009 at 3:22 PM

Ann Marie, you sound like you have a great doctor then. Most would have said “bring on the iron supplements”, which I think do much more harm than good. Someone else mentioned herbal teas, nettles and alfalfa are great for you also. I keep a nettles/rosehip infusion in my fridge and the kids sip on that also. We just add a little organic lemon juice and they love it :)

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Amy Green - Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free August 19, 2009 at 3:54 PM

I am not a mom (except to my dogs) and don’t know anything about anemia. So, I’m not going to comment on that. I do believe that we all respond to food in our own unique way – my own experience has taught me this. I completely applaud you for the willingness to be in tune to how Kate’s body responds to food.

Your baby girl is just adorable and your love for her is so apparent. If nothing else, it was worth stopping by to see that.

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Maria Minno August 20, 2009 at 8:03 AM

Hi “Cheeseslave” I have enjoyed your tweets, also. I didn’t know you had a blog until now.

I posted your note about your little girls’ anemia on the WAPF Practitioners list and got a bunch of interesting comments, which I will include below. It’s great to see how many other people are interested in this, by all the comments you got!

I was interested in how your daughter doesn’t like liver. I am very anemic, and the worse I get the less I can tolerate liver. Maybe anemia affects your gut lining, like the villi or something, so it’s difficult to absorb nutrients and your appetite goes down. That happens to me, anyway. A shiny tongue is a sign of anemia, which shows that not enough blood is getting to your taste buds to keep them alive, so maybe the villi are affected that way, too. I take Standard Process iron supplement, because Biotics and a lot of others have the iron chelated with amino acids, and they release excitotoxins into the body, which are very bad for my brain. I think the cod liver oil is very very important for iron absorption.

One other comment: B12 deficiency causes anemia, also. Even if that’s not the cause, she may need more B12 when she gets more iron, because she’ll be replenishing her blood quickly, and that requires B12. I notice on myself that I seem to need more B12 after I take the iron supplement. The article on B12 on the WAPF website mentions a bunch of different deficiencies that can cause anemia from B12 deficiency: “Thus, deficiencies in pepsin, hydrochloric acid, R-protein, pancreatic enzymes, intrinsic factor, calcium and cell receptors can all lead to B12 deficiency through blocked absorption.”
http://www.westonaprice.org/basicnutrition/vitaminb12.html

Here are the comments from the WAPF Practitioners list, FYI:
……………………………………..
Raw milk shouldn’t cause anemia because it has lacto-ferrin in it, which
ensures that all the iron is absorbed. Nevertheless, at age 2, she should
be eating a lot of other foods. Is she getting cod liver oil? She needs
vitamin A to absorb the iron.
Yes, a cast iron skillet is a much better solution than iron-fortified
cereal.
You might see if she will snack on some organic raisins…
And linguini with clam sauce is a quick favorite at my house.
I assume you use a cast iron skillet for cooking. Apples will soon be in
season again. It’s difficult to beat sliced apples fried in coconut oil in a
cast iron skillet and sprinkled with cinnamon!

Sally Fallon Morell
The Weston A. Price Foundation
PMB 106-380
4200 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016
…………………………………………….

After sleeping on it, I also remembered that the absorption of iron is
greatly increased if it is consumed with Vitamin C….

Mary Marlowe
http://www.rhamah.com
http://www.onlynatural.info
http://www.youtube.com/marymarlowe
……………………………………………………………

One should consider that there maybe a occult loss of blood, thereby causing
an anemia. The testing of urine and stools for blood would confirm or deny
this.

Wayne
……………………………………………………..

How about beans, spinach, chick peas, etc.?
Also, is it even iron deficiency anemia?

Buddy
……………………………………………………….

Iron deficiency is common when there is malabsorption. It might not be a
dietary deficiency but a gut issue.
Elaine

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Stephanie M August 20, 2009 at 9:40 AM

I just wanted to mention that you should probably move the bed away from the wall. I have been searching for a new bed, for DS myself, & saw this artical about the minnen bed…
http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/s/203/203848_tragedy_bed_not_for_sale.html

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Helen August 20, 2009 at 9:50 AM

Hello,

It is copper that works with iron to boost iron stores. Zinc blocks iron absorption. Zinc and copper both block and balance each other. So calcium and zinc should go together, separate from copper and iron.

Your post was a wake-up call to me. One of my twin girls, 18 months old, was anemic at 7 months. We gave her iron supplements and continued them until recently. I also became vigilant about avoiding iron and dairy at the same meal. Lately, she (like me) wants to eat yogurt at every meal and I’ve been letting her, but I need to back off so she doesn’t get anemic again. My doctor says her iron stores may still be low after being anemic once.

I’d like to drop the iron supplements but am afraid to. If iron deficiency isn’t treated it can harm brain development, so it’s something to take seriously (while not freaking out about the occasional, mild dip). My doctor said supplements were the only way to really treat anemia and that they should be continued for at least three months after the iron returns to normal, preferably six months.

My daughter eats some meat and fish, but it hardly seems enough to supply all the iron she needs by itself.

It’s good that you’re already avoiding phytate-heavy foods, as phytates inhibit mineral absorption, including iron.

Thanks for all the good and interesting info.

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Judy August 20, 2009 at 10:06 AM

When I was anemic, I discovered that bison meat has significantly more iron than beef does. Also, vitamin C rich foods with your meal enhances the absorption of the iron.

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Kelli August 20, 2009 at 12:26 PM

Thanks for this post. My daughter was just diagnosed as anemic. She is 16 months. It has like you said been just recently that she stopped eating most meats. She loves grains, though I try to limit them in our family. She hates dairy. She is breastfed as well. I have 6 weeks to get her levels up. She was prescribed supplements, and I’m torn about that. Anyway, I’ll have to try the clams.

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Jennifer from NYS August 20, 2009 at 1:11 PM

Hi, just a comment about feeding milk. You are probably aware that veal is a pale meat. This is because to produce a veal calf you feed them only milk. In a normal calf’s life they begin to nibble on grass or grain as they grow and get interested in it, but the veal calf is penned up and only has access to milk.

Can’t see any reason why this wouldn’t hold true with humans, as well. So if your little girl is chowing down on other things besides milk, she can’t have too much of a problem.

She’s a cutie, btw! :)

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Maria Minno August 20, 2009 at 3:08 PM

It’s calcium that blocks the uptake of lead. I mean, a person with abundant calcium will not uptake so much lead, because the body mistakes the lead for calcium. Cod liver oil will help with calcium uptake, and raw milk is another ideal food to improve calcium status. There is no known safe level of lead in the body.

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katie August 20, 2009 at 3:26 PM

Helen, Thanks for the correction. Like I said – ignorance…. My daughter is also calcium deficient, so that’s why she’s getting zinc, too, I guess.

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Lisa August 22, 2009 at 12:52 PM

I’ll chime in on the cast iron. We cook almost exclusively in cast iron — the really good stuff I inherited from my grandmother. While pregnant with twins I never took a supplement and my ped was amazed at my iron levels. We also do bison as our neighbors are buffalo ranchers.

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Rebekah August 22, 2009 at 5:26 PM

…… just some thoughts. USA seems to eat the most meat and milk/cheese in the world. Yet we have the highest rates of anemia and osteoporosis.
Do we consume too much daily protein? what are your thoughts on this. There seems to be many studies that show that the cause of osteoporosis is too much daily protien. Though at the same time too much calcuim blocks iron absorption. it seems that we are in a constant loop in trying to create balance.

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tina August 22, 2009 at 9:01 PM

Lisa – I cook in cast iron but it was bought within the last couple of years. What is the difference between your grandmother’s cast iron and the newer pans?

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cheeseslave August 23, 2009 at 7:20 AM

Rebekah -

Regarding the theory that a high-protein diet causes osteoporosis, please see this article:

http://www.westonaprice.org/mythstruths/mtbones.html

If I had to guess, I would say osteoporosis is more likely to be caused by the following factors:

– inadequate intake of calcium, vitamin D and vitamin K (since people nowadays avoid the sun and wear sunblock, and don’t eat a whole lot of liver, shellfish, soft cheeses, butter and cream from grass-fed animals, cod liver oil, whole milk, bone broth, etc.)

– high intake of phytic acid which blocks absorption of minerals (from unsoaked oatmeal, whole wheat bread, pasta, cereal & crackers, peanut butter, soy)

- drinking pasteurized milk instead of raw milk — see this article Got Osteoporosis? Drink Raw Milk!

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cheeseslave August 23, 2009 at 7:40 AM

Thanks, everyone for all the great comments. I hope this post helps others who are searching online.

Kate’s been doing a much better job of eating since we’ve cut down on the milk. Now she’s only allowed 4-8 oz of milk per day. She loves her kombucha! We’ve also been avoiding phytic acid.

I’ve been giving her a wide variety of foods: eggs, bacon, beef (tacos, hot dog), beans (baked beans), pork carnitas, guacamole, salami, cheese, homemade corn tortillas, fresh fruit, and I even gave her some yogurt the other day with blackstrap molasses mixed in.

Last night we went out for seafood. She ate 4 raw clams on the half shell with a little cocktail sauce, as well as some shrimp, raw oysters and a mussel.

Tonight I’m making fried clams and calamari with homemade tartar sauce, along with crispy kale (baked with olive oil and Parmesan) and corn on the cob with butter. Tomorrow night I’ll make lasagna with meat sauce, and the night after that I’m making beef enchiladas.

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cheeseslave August 23, 2009 at 7:46 AM

By the way, I forgot to mention, our doctor did say that it’s common for kids’ iron levels can dip suddenly and come back up just as quickly.

I think, if they’re eating a varied diet and not drinking too much milk (which prevents them from eating much food), they should be able to get enough iron in most cases. Since she won’t eat liver, I’m doing the clams and other shellfish once a week.

Oh, and I do cook in cast iron about 80% of the time.

And, Kate doesn’t have any absorption issues. She was exhibiting some signs of gut dysbiosis (hard stools, and not eliminating twice a day like she normally does) a few weeks ago — I think this was from when she had to go on an antibiotic a few months ago for an ear infection. I started giving her the Biokult probiotic every day, and now she’s getting that and the kombucha, plus yogurt and other lacto-fermented foods (salsa, pickle relish, sour cream, etc.). Her poops are back to normal now.

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Christine Kennedy August 23, 2009 at 8:12 AM

This post has got me thinking about Jasmine who is almost 3 1/2 now. Sometimes I notice slightly dark circles under her eyes. She also is very restless in the night sleeping, and is up several times. She does not nap at all in the day. It might be worth trying to get some extra iron into her as well, just in case those are possible symptoms of low iron.

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Brandy Afterthoughts August 23, 2009 at 10:36 AM

Christine,

Dark circles under or around the eyes (sort of looking like black eyes) is often a sign of food allergies, especially if it is combined with other symptoms like bright red cheeks, sleep problems, excema, or tummy issues. You might want to try an NAET (allergy elimination) practioner and see if she’s allergic to anything. The nice thing about NAET is that the allergies are subsequently eliminated so that the child can live a normal life. We have done this with three of our four children, with great success.

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cheeseslave August 23, 2009 at 5:47 PM

Yes Brandy is right — could be allergies.

The sleep issues might also be due to chronic sleep deprivation. The dark circles could be due to lack of sleep.

If you haven’t read it, I really recommend Dr. Weissbluth’s book, “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child”. That book changed our lives.

He says that sleep begets sleep. If a child has chronic lack of sleep for a period of time, that builds up and they become “wired” with adrenaline — hence, they sleep less. He recommends working to help your child get more sleep. It takes a few days to a few weeks but once they get used to sleeping more, all those issues of not sleeping go away — and they go down easy for naps and sleep through the night, too. This was our experience.

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Christine Kennedy August 24, 2009 at 8:08 AM

I don’t really think she has food allergies. She was breast-fed until 19 months, and was drinking raw milk by 15 months. She did not have dairy or eggs until 1 yr. She was an unmedicated homebirth, no eye drops, not vit.K, no vax, etc. She has normal bowel movements, eats lots of fermented foods, and takes a probiotic everyday. She slept beautifully through the night up until she was 2 1/2 years old and we switched her from the crib to the big girl bed. Ever since then, she is up and down like a yo-yo! She also stopped napping since she was 2 exactly. So, I definitely think she is sleep deprived. That could be why she has the darkness under her eyes sometimes.

I should read that book you recommend AM, I know she needs more sleep. She is often very miserable by late afternoon, dinner time. But, I just don’t know how to get her to go to sleep in the afternoon.

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Karen August 24, 2009 at 4:50 PM

Chiming in late here – but I’m a big fan of liverwurst, for the nutrition, taste, and remarkably play-doh like texture. What other food can I sculpt into a car for my little Godzilla to devour? You mentioned that your daughter was refusing liver but maybe with a nice little honey-mustard dip (roll it out and cut out shapes with cookie cutters!), she’d go for it.

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cheeseslave August 24, 2009 at 5:06 PM

Karen -

I, too, love liverwurst. I grew up on it. It was always my preferred sandwich over tunafish or peanut butter.

I need to order some liverwurst from US Wellness Meats — been meaning to do it. I also plan to try my hand at making it.

I don’t know if she will eat it but I think maybe she will.

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phil by the bay August 31, 2009 at 9:25 AM

Why is it that whenever anemia is mentioned; the first thing that comes to mind is how to get more iron absorbed into the body. Well there may be a lack of iron, but why is there this deficiency? Just by consuming more iron doesn’t mean there is some place for the iron to go.

The iron is needed in hemoglobin. If there is a deficiency of hemoglobin, I doubt the body is going to absorb more iron. Even if the iron intake is doubled, if the hemoglobin stays the same, the body still has no place for the extra iron and will eliminate it.

So the real question may be, what is her hemoglobin level and how can it be increased? By increasing the hemoglobin there are now places for the iron to be useful and absorbed. The structure of hemoglobin is very similar to that of Chlorophyll. And where do we get Chlorophyll from; by eating dark leafy RAW vegetables like spinach.

Hemoglobin can also be increased through sports and exercise. The more active she is, the more the body will recognize a need for hemoglobin and will produce it.

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Kalai September 4, 2009 at 7:57 AM

Hi,

I am looking for a toddler bed for Bella; where did you find yours?

Thanks!!

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Lynn September 6, 2009 at 10:45 AM

I lost a huge amount of blood when I gave birth to my son in June. I found that cans of baby clams were the cheapest and most accessible way for me to increase my iron and help my body replenish red blood cells. I remember leaning on the kitchen counter, gasping because I didn’t have the oxygen to stand upright, running the can opener. And then alternating forkfuls of baby clams with bites of strawberries (vitamin C.) Ah, good times. I ate them almost every day, and I recovered my good health. Good luck with your daughter’s anemia, I’m sure you’re on the right track!

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LittleMissGrok September 16, 2009 at 12:22 AM

Did they check her iron levels? My normal hemoglobin is 10-11, but my iron levels are normal. I have thalasemia minor, which is genetic and can’t be fixed. Be careful with too much iron though, it can build up and cause more problems.

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Michimews September 19, 2009 at 11:42 PM

my daughter also had low iron at 18 months. She was still nursing, but no extra raw milk, except in her cooked food at times. I started giving her red meat at least once a day for a month. Also, with the meat, I gave her foods containing vitamin C, (to help iron absorption) like strawberries, oranges, and tomatoes. I would cook for her ground beef in fresh chopped garlic, sea salt and canned or fresh tomatoes. Sometimes mix the beef with rice. the next month her iron was back up to 11.

Now she is drinking some raw milk and bedtime. We will have iron checked again at 21 months and keep eating our meat. I will try recipe in Sally’s book to add liver to rice.

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Jett April 15, 2011 at 12:50 AM

wow lol about the bed :). Also interesting post, I don’t think I heard of any toddler eating liver or oysters, yeah I know you already mentioned just checked it right now to see if you did :).

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astellarbean July 17, 2011 at 9:22 AM

A late response but at one of my son’s pre-1 year old check ups the doctor insisted we test his iron levels because he was on raw goat milk. His iron was great. I do use the powdered liver.

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LeahS July 20, 2011 at 9:51 AM

Wow, that is really surprising but I guess it makes sense. I had no idea clams were so high in iron!

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Melissa October 13, 2013 at 3:23 AM

Hi, I know what you have been going though and it’s good if your daughter is eating again and her iron levels are back up, I have a similar problem with my daughter who is now 4 years. It start when she was two and she got sick with a viral infection and end up in hospital, that’s when they found our she had iron deficiency aneamia. They put her on iron supplement for three months, which didn’t make any difference, so they took her of all dairy for three months and that didn’t bake any difference.
She has been tested for celiac, IBD and that come back fine. I struggle to get her to eat.
She has just had an iron transfusion and she now has a NG tube in as she needs weight on. The doctors still have no idea what is causing her aneamia and I’m at a loss, I just keep seeing her get sicker.
If you or anyone eles have any suggestion that would be great.

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maya November 20, 2013 at 11:06 AM

This is for Melissa — please ask your doctors to check her for more rare anemias, such as DBA (Diamond Blackfan Anemia) and others. It sounds like the issue is definitely deeper than nutrition. If you haven’t sought a second opinion from a pediatric hematologist, now is the time. My sympathy.

For everyone else, and the original post, thank you. This is very helpful as I create a list of questions for our doctors who just say “eat meat” when we want our child to be vegetarian. I suspect it’s not as 1:1 as that and the chlorophyll thoughts are especially appreciated.

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