The American Academy of Pediatricians advises doctors to recommend that parents feed their baby iron-fortified formula and iron-fortified cereal between the ages of 6 – 24 months old.
This is because:
If you exclusively breastfeed your child, then it is recommended that you begin giving your baby iron supplementation in the form of liquid drops at the age of 4 months. The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends this because breast milk is naturally low in iron. Breast milk also contains iron chelators, which bind to iron and reduce even further the amount of free iron available to your baby.
As it turns out, research shows that iron-fortified foods promote the growth of intestinal bugs. Not only that, but the consumption of iron-fortified foods during infancy can alter the environment of the gut and affect overall immune function.
The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) recommends iron supplementation. However, if you do a little digging, you will find that they also tell us:
E. coli is a bug that is naturally present in the gut. Under the right conditions, it can quickly grow out of control and become pathogenic. An iron-rich environment in the gut helps to set up an ideal breeding place for opportunistic bacteria, like E. coli.
Even the body knows that iron levels play a big role in bacterial infection. Iron plays such an important role that during an infection, the body will literally make extra effort to stow away any free iron. This process, called iron withholding, happens in response to any kind of infection.
The body tucks away as much free iron as it can because bad bacteria love iron and need it to thrive, just like we do! This means that if there is more iron in the gut, whether from iron drops or fortified baby food, this could actually help to promote the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
One study found that in children with compromised immune function or in children with malarial disease, iron supplementation actually led to an increase in mortality rates. (2)
Newborns have naturally permeable guts in order to educate the immune system, which largely sits just beneath the intestinal tract. In fact, an infant’s gut may not seal completely for several weeks after birth. This is why breast milk plays such a critical role in the prevention of immune-related diseases.
Breast milk educates the child’s immune system, while also prompting the gut to seal at a normal rate. Formula-fed infants not only house a higher percentage of opportunistic and pathogenic bacteria, like E. coli, but it also takes a longer amount time for the gut to close completely.
Did you know?
When a child consumes iron-fortified foods and only absorbs 5% iron, this leaves a large percentage of iron in the gut. Pathogenic bugs in the gut need iron as much as we do, and this extra iron will actually feed gut infection.
Nature has an intelligence beyond the education and research of medical doctors. In infants, the body naturally limits the amount of iron that it has access to. This is why:
In spite of popular recommendations, iron-fortified grains and cereal can do more harm than good. Besides the fact that we absorb far less iron from fortified foods, both grains and cereals contain proteins that commonly irritate the lining of the gut. This exposes the body to potential immune disorders and gut infection.
If your baby has moved onto solid foods, choose foods that naturally fortify the diet. An excellent source of iron for toddlers and adults alike is Body Ecology’s Super Spirulina Plus.
Keep in mind that in many traditional practices, a baby’s very first food is liver or egg yolk, both of which are high in iron.
When choosing your child’s first foods, avoid iron-fortified grains and cereals. Instead, experiment with foods that are already rich in iron, as nature intended!
According to the American Academy of Pediatricians, parents should give infants iron-fortified foods between the ages of 6 and 24 months. Although iron can help to prevent anemia, it may also damage the inner ecology of the body. Iron-fortified foods can promote the growth of unhealthy intestinal bacteria. This means that iron- fortified foods could make a bad infection in the body even worse.
A baby’s gut is permeable in the first few days of their life, which is why breast milk is so beneficial to boost the immune system. When a baby gets iron from fortified foods instead of breast milk, the majority of iron will remain in the gut to feed pathogenic bacteria and infection.
Iron-fortified foods for babies can actually irritate the lining of the gut. Instead, it’s best to naturally fortify a baby's diet with iron from fermented Spirulina, egg yolk, and liver to promote a healthy inner ecosystem.