JAKARTA, KOMPAS – It is recommended to consume foods or drinks that contain vitamin C in order to absorb iron in the body. Lack of iron intake in early childhood can inhibit growth and development, and may even have an impact on future nutritional problems.
Professor of the Faculty of Public Health Sciences of the University of Indonesia Sandra Fikawati in Jakarta on Monday (January 25, 2021) said that the consumption of food derived from animal supplements such as red meat and poultry is very necessary to meet iron needs. in the body. In addition, the selection of certain foods should be considered so that iron absorption can be optimal.
“We also need to eat foods that can increase iron absorption, especially foods rich in vitamin C, such as oranges, kiwis, strawberries and guava. It is better to consume it before meals because the acidic situation in the body facilitates iron absorption,” he said.
On the other hand, Sandra added, consuming certain foods or drinks can also inhibit the absorption of iron like tea, coffee and chocolate which contain a lot of tannins. Therefore, if you want to consume these types of food and drinks at least two hours before or after meals. Soft drinks should also be avoided.
Iron supplementation, especially in preschool children, is important to support optimal growth and development. Iron is also needed to improve immune function, improve cognitive performance, and increase body productivity. This is because iron is the main component of hemoglobin that acts to deliver oxygen through the body.
We need to eat foods that can increase iron absorption, especially foods rich in vitamin C such as oranges, kiwis, strawberries and guavas.
If iron deficiency, the child will feel anemia or low hemoglobin levels in the body. Within one day, children aged 1-3 years should ingest 7 milligrams of iron. Based on the 2018 Basic Health Survey, the number of children under the age of five with anemia reached 38.5 percent. This is an increase compared to 2013, which was recorded at 28.1 percent.
“Children who have anemia can be identified with signs and symptoms, including difficulty concentrating during learning, decreased productivity, pale under eyes, poor eyesight, pale nails and palms, and often weak, tired, and lethargic,” Sandra said.
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He said children who are iron deficient can interfere with intellectual and cognitive performance. Children are also prone to experiencing psychomotor developmental disorders. Iron deficiency in early development can later cause irreparable damage to brain cells.
In the long run, if the anemia is not resolved, it can continue into adulthood. In fact, as an adult, especially in women, anemia can create problems during pregnancy and childbirth. Even babies born can experience anemia and malnutrition.
President of the Association of Indonesian Educators and Educational Staff (Himpaudi) Netti Herawati said the Covid-19 pandemic has worsened the nutritional status of children in Indonesia. According to an online survey conducted by Hanna and Olken in 2020, family food security has declined due to the pandemic. At least 36 percent of respondents in the survey said they reduced their food portions due to economic constraints.
The same thing was shown in a survey conducted by Himpaudi in December 2020. Of the 25,935 respondents, 33.80 percent reduced their consumption of food and drink. “It disrupts the nutritional needs of families, especially children,” he said.
According to him, the lack of nutrition that children consume, including iron, greatly affects the stimulus response they receive. Stimulation will not be optimal if it is not supported by good nutritional needs. In the long run, children’s math, literacy, emotional and learning ability will decrease. The generation that should be a demographic bonus is actually a demographic burden for the nation.
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“We need to work together between teachers, PAUD institutions, families and government. Intervention through holistic integrative programs is very important to save future generations. PAUD teachers are also expected to become motivating agents to change family nutrition for the better through learning.” said Netti.