Red Meat Not a Healthful Iron Source for Infants

The Physicians Committee

Red Meat Not a Healthful Iron Source for Infants

June 5, 2013

Feeding infants red meat is unnecessary and possibly harmful, according to a new paper by Ulka Agarwal, M.D., director of clinical research for the Physicians Committee. The possibility that iron-deficiency anemia may occur in infancy has led some to recommend red meat as an early complementary food for babies. However, children and adults who do not consume red meat do not have a higher incidence of iron-deficiency anemia, compared with their meat-eating counterparts. The author suggests feeding infants plant-based, iron-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, legumes, and whole grains to help develop long-term healthful eating habits. She also recommends avoiding the ill effects associated with red meat consumption, including cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Agarwal U. Rethinking red meat as a prevention strategy for iron deficiency. Infant Child Adolesc Nutr. 2013. Published head of print June 4, 2013.

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