Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics
School of Medical and Health Sciences / Nutrition and Health Innovation Research Institute
Background: Previous research has suggested that toddlers are not provided with adequate dietary iron in long-day care (LDC) services. However, the iron bioavailability provided is unknown. The present study aimed to investigate the amount and bioavailability of iron provided to toddlers aged 2–3 years at LDC services. Methods: A cross-sectional audit was conducted using a 2-day weighed food record of 30 LDC services. Iron provision (not child intake) in LDC services across Perth, Australia was compared with the estimated average requirements (EAR) and LDC services provision guidelines (50% of EAR = 2 mg/day based on a 14% bioavailability factor). Bioavailability was estimated per mealtime using haem and non-haem iron, ascorbic acid, animal protein, calcium, soy, eggs and phytates using two pre-existing algorithms (by A. P. Rickard and colleagues and H. Hallberg and H. Hulten). Results: Median iron supplied (2.52 mg/day, interquartile range [IQR] = 2.43–3.17) was above the 50% of EAR of 2.0 mg/day (p < 0.001). Median bioavailable iron was 0.6 mg/day (IQR = 0.54–0.8) using the method of Rickard et al. and 0.51 mg/day (IQR = 0.43, 0.76 using that of Hallberg and Hulthen). The top three foods contributing to iron provision were bread, breakfast cereals and beef. Conclusions: Our results suggest that LDC services in Perth are meeting the minimum recommendation of provision of 50% of the iron EAR, and also that toddlers are provided with sufficient bioavailable iron. Future strategies should focus on promoting food combinations to maintain the iron bioavailability in meals currently served at LDC services.
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