Cow’s Milk Causes Iron Deficiency in Children

Posted on March 27, 2012


Having healthy blood is particularly important when it comes to the health of growing babies. Although there are different kinds of anemia, the most common form is low-iron anemia. According to the National Institute of Health, staying away from cow’s milk is a good defense to avoid low-iron anemia in children:  …(read more)

Cow’s milk is a common cause of iron deficiency. It contains less iron than many other foods and also makes it more difficult for the body to absorb iron from other foods. Cow’s milk also can cause the intestines to lose small amounts of blood.[1]

Infants are usually born with iron in their system. However, due to the rapid growth during their first two years and the fact that they have a low absorption rate (approximately 10% of the iron they consume), babies need a sufficient amount of iron in their diet to avoid low-iron anemia.

It is beneficial to include a wide selection of iron-rich foods in their diet. Some healthy plant-based sources are: raisins, oatmeal, dark leafy greens (such as spinach and kale), apricots, prunes, molasses, peanut butter, soybeans and iron-fortified cereals.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) lists some other facts to keep in mind:

  • Drinking from bottles makes it easy for babies to drink too much milk. Extra milk causes iron deficiency anemia.

  • Most severe iron deficiency in young children is from drinking too much milk.

  • Iron deficiency causes attention and learning problems.

  • Too much milk blocks the iron from other foods.[2]

Although cow’s milk is known to be iron deficient, breast milk is a different story. Not only is it a rich source of iron that meets most of the needs of infants through their stages of growth, the iron in breast milk is absorbed 3 times more efficiently than iron from other sources. It appears that cow’s milk really is designed for baby cows.

© Jill Powers and The Feel Good Vegan 2012

                                                                                                              Photo courtesy of Microsoft